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The 7 Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines For Your Home Gym

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Hydraulic rowing machines are a popular choice for beginner rowers as they’re quite affordable. They’re also great for those who have less space, as they’re pretty compact in comparison to other rowing machines.

If you’re considering investing in a rower that’s perfect for both your skill level and your wallet, we’ve put together a list of the best hydraulic rowing machines on the market.

A man working out with the best hydraulic rowing machine
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In a Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Hydraulic Rowing Machine with Smart Workout...
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Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine | Adjustable Resistance | Rowing Machines...
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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Rower with 12 Level...
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Kettler Home Exercise/Fitness Equipment: Kadett Outrigger Style Rower...
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No products found.
Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine with Folding Arms, Adjustable Resistance,...
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EFITMENT Total Motion Rowing Machine Rower with Full Arm Extensions, 350 lb...
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Product's nameBest Overall
Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Hydraulic Rowing Machine with...
Best for Tall Rowers
Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine | Adjustable Resistance |...
Best Budget Hydraulic Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Rower with...
Best Warranty
Kettler Home Exercise/Fitness Equipment: Kadett Outrigger...
Best Compact Hydraulic Rower
No products found.
Best Range of Motion
Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine with Folding Arms,...
Best Weight Capacity
EFITMENT Total Motion Rowing Machine Rower with Full Arm...
VerdictVersatile, easy, compact footprint. Plus, affordable.Looks a bit like an insect, but excellent for taller rowers, up to 6'7".Naturally compact depsite not being foldable, great budget choice.Great warranty for a hydraulic machine. Worthwhile looking at for those who place value on warranty.Love that this flattens so compactly and can slide under a bed or couch.Great for range of motion thanks to its independent arms.Heavier rowers can struggle to find rowers to accommodate them. This one has a great weight capacity.
Floor Space58.25 x 42.5 x 18.12 inches50 x 36.22 x 20 inches20 x 54 x 23 inches49 x 31 x 10 inches44 x 12 x 6 inches50 x 36 x 20 inches55 x 13 x 10 inches
Weight Capacity250 lbs330 lbs220 lbs285 lbs250 lbs250 lbs350 lbs
Height CapacityUp to 6’Up to 6’7”Not for rowers over 6’Up to 6’Not specified, but shorter rowersUnspecified, but shorter rowersUp to 6’, maybe taller (38” inseam)
Resistance Levels12 resistance levels12 resistance level12 resistance levels12 resistance levels12 resistance levels12 resistance levels12 resistance levels
FoldabilityYes, to 23.5” x 46”Yes, to 49 x 23 x 29 inchesNoArms fold inwardsFolds almost flatYes, folds almost flatNo
Price$$$$$$$
Learn moreSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at AmazonNo products found.See at AmazonSee at Amazon

Why Trust BoxLife?

Here at BoxLife, we’ve got decades of cumulative experience with every piece of gym equipment available. Rowing is one of the choice forms of cardio for CrossFitters, and between us, we’ve rowed on pretty much every type of rower you can get.

We know how they work. We know how they feel. And we know which one works best for different goals. Plus, we’ve done extensive research on every aspect of every machine… If we didn’t know it before, we sure do now!

We’ve gathered our knowledge and research together to provide comprehensive, detailed information so you can make an informed decision.

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine
4.5

Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

Who Should Choose a Hydraulic Rowing Machine?

Hydraulic rowers are the ideal choice for new rowers who aren’t completely sure that they’re going to love the exercise. They’re significantly more affordable than other rowing machines, so if you decide later on that you don’t really like it, you haven’t shelled out a fortune.

They’re also great for people who live in a small apartment and don’t have a lot of space for exercise equipment, thanks to their compact footprint.

We don’t recommend them for experienced rowers, as they don’t quite offer what an advanced rower would need.

To summarize, this guide is for you if you’re:

  • Looking for the most affordable rowing machines
  • Not completely sure if you like rowing but want to try
  • In need of a rower that’s very compact
A man using the best hydraulic machine
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How We Chose the Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines

All of us here at BoxLife have our own ideas of the best hydraulic rowing machines, but we didn’t just stop there. We scoured the internet to find valuable, information-packed reviews from real people who’ve used these machines.

We checked out reviews on Amazon, a variety of sports good retailers, and even fitness websites. To get a well-rounded idea of how people felt about the rowers, we also browsed through forum sites like Quora and Reddit. Real people, real opinions!

How We Tested Them

Once we’d found the hydraulic rowers that people really liked, we tested them by focusing on 7 specific features:

  • Floor Space
  • Build Quality
  • Weight Capacity
  • Height Capacity
  • Resistance Levels
  • Foldability
  • Monitor Quality

These features make a big difference to the quality and durability of the machine, as well as the user experience. We’ll discuss them in more detail later on in the article.

The Best Hydraulic Rowers – Our Top Picks

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 – Best Overall

The BodyTrac Glider is one of Stamina’s most popular pieces of equipment, as well as being very affordable. It’s versatile and easy to use.—the perfect hydraulic rower for home use.

Why We Like It

The Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 is great for beginner and intermediate rowers. It requires a space of 5′ x 4′ to use it comfortably, due to the way the arms move. Unlike other rower types, there are two independent arms that move in a wider range of motion than your conventional rowers.

One of the things we really like is that you can row in a traditional wide-arm rowing movement, or keep your hands closer together for a more gym-like experience. Whatever your preference!

A single-piston setup underneath the rail allows for 12 different resistance adjustments. It’s easy to adjust, just reach underneath the rail and turn the knob—you can even do this in the middle of your rowing session.

It’s worth noting that the resistance will increase as the oil in the piston heats up, but keep at it for too long and it may decrease again. For this reason, it’s recommended for beginner to intermediate rowers rather than advanced rowers.

Unlike many hydraulic rowers, the seat on this one does slide along the rail, which gives you a more full-body workout by increasing leg activation.

Surprisingly, this affordable rower has a steel frame that can handle up to 250 lbs of weight and accommodate rowers of up 6’ in height. Unscrew the arms and fold them inwards to reduce its footprint and save space.

Comes with a one-year frame warranty and a 90-day parts warranty.

Pros

  • 12 resistance levels
  • Versatile independent rowing arms
  • Sliding seat increases range of motion
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • The foot plates may not keep your feet steady and secure
  • Seat feels uncomfortable on long rows

Key Specs

Floor Size58.25 x 42.5 x 18.12 inches
Build QualityGreat for the price
Weight Capacity250 lbs
Height CapacityUp to 6’
Resistance Levels12 resistance levels
MonitorDigital, battery-powered
FoldabilityYes, to 23.5” x 46”

Best Hydraulic Rower

With a great build quality, wide range of motion, and ample resistance levels, we highly recommend this easy-to-use hydraulic rower.

Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine – Best for Tall Rowers

It can be tricky to find hydraulic rowers that are comfortable for taller users. The Lanos isn’t just great for tall rowers, but it can accommodate heavier rowers as well.

Why We Like It

The Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine is the rower of choice for tall (and short) rowers. According to the manufacturers, it can easily work for rowers between 4’2” and 6’7”!

This is rare but much appreciated by non-average sized rowers, but keep in mind that the arm length doesn’t change, which may cause the rowing stroke to be a little uncomfortable. You can switch them out with other, longer arms, though.

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine
4.5

Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

As well as being great for tall people, it has a max weight capacity of 330 lbs, allowing heavier rowers to use it with confidence and comfort as well.

Comfort is top of mind, helped by an oversized, padded seat, pivoting foot pedals with two strap positions, and foam padding on the handles.

A basic LCD screen gives you simple data to keep an eye on as you row. Keep in mind that there’s no way to calibrate the rower to your measurements, so calorie counters are likely to be inaccurate.

You’ll be pleased to know that assembly is very easy right out the box. So is folding the machine up, which you’ll get the hang of very quickly.

Pros

  • Can accommodate rowers up to 6’7”
  • Oversized seat for comfort
  • 12 adjustable resistance levels
  • Easy, quick assembly

Cons

  • No transport wheels
  • Inaccurate calorie counter
  • Plastic nut on piston is not durable

Key Specs 

Floor Size50 x 36.22 x 20 inches
Build QualityGood for its price
Weight Capacity330 lbs
Height Capacity Up to 6’7” 
Resistance Levels 12 resistance level 
Monitor LCD, battery-powered 
Foldability Yes, to 49 x 23 x 29 inches 

Perfect for Taller & Heavier Rowers 

If you’re an-average sized rower, you’ll appreciate this rowing machine for its lengthy rail. The sliding seat allows you to get a full range of motion quite comfortably, increasing both comfort and performance for tall rowers.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 – Best Budget Hydraulic Rower

Sunny Health & Fitness is the perfect choice for rowers on a tight budget. This single-handle rower is an excellent piece of equipment at an affordable price for apartment-dwellers. 

Why We Like It 

If you’re looking for a budget rower that offers more than you expect and gives you an excellent workout, this is the one. 

Unlike the two we’ve already reviewed, the SF-RW1205 doesn’t have two separate arms. Instead, it features a single handle on an arm that runs right between your knees when you’re sitting on the machine. 

This is the more traditional motion that you find on rowing machines at the gym. The handle is comfortably padded, and the motion is easier for those who are new to rowing and need to work on their form. 

Another excellent feature of this particular rower is the angled seat. It angles downwards towards the piston, which adds more natural resistance on top of the 12 resistance levels, increasing leg activation as you row. 

The rowing machine isn’t foldable, but it only weighs around 20 lbs so it’s easy to pick up and move. You only need a space of 4.5 ft x 2 ft to use it, so it’s ideal for those who live in small apartments. 

Although there are no built-in workouts, you can set your own time or distance goals on the console to give you a challenge. 

We also appreciate the warranty on this budget machine—a 3-year frame warranty and 6 months on the parts.

Pros

  • Single-arm rower for added stability and muscle engagement
  • Ergonomic design for a high level of comfort
  • Angled seat for more resistance
  • Goal-setting function included

Cons

  • Lower weight capacity than most
  • Not foldable

Key Specs 

Floor Size 20 x 54 x 23 inches 
Build Quality Good for lighter rowers 
Weight Capacity 220 lbs 
Height Capacity Not for rowers over 6’ 
Resistance Levels 12 resistance levels 
Monitor Digital, battery-powered 
Foldability No 

Budget Pick

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, this is it. It’s surprisingly good quality for its price point, although keep in mind it’s made for smaller rowers.

Kettler Kadett Outrigger Rowing Machine – Best Warranty

The Kadett Rowing Machine is Kettler’s higher-end rowing machine. It might look a little complicated, but it’s easy and effective, plus it has a superb warranty. 

Why We Like It 

If you’re looking for the hydraulic rowing machine with the best warranty, you’ve found it. The Kettler Kadett Outrigger provides a lifetime warranty on the frame and a three-year warranty on everything else, which is significantly more than most. 

The build quality is top-notch, featuring a powder-coated steel frame and sealed bearings. Everything else is well-made too, including the comfortable seat and slightly pivoting foot pedals. 

This machine functions similarly to our first two, with two independent arms that move like an on-the-water actual rowing motion. The handles rotate, which is great as they move with your natural motion and prevent uncomfortable chafing during your wider rowing arc. 

You can adjust the levels of resistance of each arm independently thanks to the dual pistons, which is unusual but excellent for ironing out muscle imbalances. And for those who need more legroom, you can extend the foot plates to suit your height. 

As a nice touch, the rower comes with an infrared earlobe-clip heart rate monitor. This is handy, but can be uncomfortable. It’s also compatible with wireless chest HR monitors if you have one.

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty on frame, 3-year warranty on everything else
  • Excellent build quality, highly durable
  • Adjustable resistance on both arms
  • Includes an earlobe HR monitor

Cons

  • In some cases, the resistance may feel different on each arm
  • A little on the pricey side

Key Specs 

Floor Size 49 x 31 x 10 inches 
Build Quality Excellent 
Weight Capacity 285 lbs 
Height Capacity Up to 6’ 
Resistance Levels 12 resistance levels 
Monitor LCD, battery-operated 
Foldability Arms fold inwards 

Wonderful Warranty 

Those who value warranties will be pleased about this one. The Kettler Kadett Outrigger Rowing Machine offers a much more robust warranty than most, so if that’s something you require, we can highly recommend this rowing machine.

Afully Rowing Machine – Best Compact Hydraulic Rower

Want to get a good workout and simply slide your rower under the bed when you’re done? The Afully Rowing Machine is the one for you. 

Why We Like It

We love that this rower folds almost completely flat. Just slide it under a bed or stand it up inside a closet, and it’s out of your way. It’s perfect for small homes or those who don’t like their exercise equipment being left out. 

It’s not a complicated machine. Strap your feet into the non-slip, adjustable pedals, get comfortable on the padded, contoured seat, and start rowing with the arms. Separate arms means your range of motion is slightly larger, and you can adjust the resistance separately if necessary. 

The basic LCD screen shows you calories, stroke rate, time, and distance. Something else we like is the slightly angled rail, which adds a touch more resistance on the push.

Pros

  • Folds almost flat for easy storage
  • 12 resistance levels of each arm
  • Angled rail adds to the resistance
  • Non-slip foot pedals

Cons

  • May not be the best for tall rowers

Key Specs 

Floor Size 44 x 12 x 6 inches 
Build Quality Great 
Weight Capacity 250 lbs 
Height Capacity Not specified, but shorter rowers 
Resistance Levels 12 resistance levels 
Monitor LCD, battery-powered 
Foldability Folds almost flat 

Excellent for Small Spaces 

While most hydraulic rowers are already compact and fold even smaller, this one folds almost flat, allowing you to easily store it under a bed or table. Ideal for small spaces.

Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine – Best Range of Motion

Despite the compact footprint of this rowing machine, the Harvil provides a full range of motion that will make you feel like you’re out on the water for real. 

Why We Like It 

The separate arms on this rower offer a wide range of motion. Want to row in a straight line like the rowers at the gym? You can if you want to. Want to row in a real-world rowing circular motion? You can do that too. 

To increase muscle activation in the legs, Harvil has opted for a sliding seat as well. This gives you the real push-pull motion. 

A small but more than adequate LCD screen gives you a view of your stats, like how long you’ve been rowing, how far you’ve rowed, your row count, and calories burned

When you’re done with your workout, simply fold the arms inwards and slide the rower into a corner, under a bed, or place it in a cupboard. It also comes with a 180-day warranty.

Pros

  • Wide range of motion for both arms and legs
  • Sliding seat for great muscle activation
  • Steel frame is highly durable
  • Folds up easily and compactly

Cons

  • Flimsy foot straps
  • Shorter warranty than others

Key Specs 

Floor Size 50 x 36 x 20 inches 
Build Quality Excellent 
Weight Capacity 250 lbs 
Height Capacity Unspecified, but shorter rowers 
Resistance Levels 12 resistance levels 
Monitor LCD, battery-powered 
Foldability Yes, folds almost flat 

Your Choice of Motion 

Those who want to have the option of rowing with a closed or open stance will appreciate the range of motion on this rowing machine. It’s versatile and yet extremely compact.

Efitment RW032 Total Motion Rowing Machine – Best Weight Capacity

This inconspicuous rowing machine can handle weights of up to 350 lbs, ideal for those who want to lose weight without spending a fortune on a cumbersome machine! 

Why We Like It 

We highly recommend this machine for heavier rowers who want to use rowing for weight loss without bringing a chunky piece of equipment into their space. 

A weight capacity of 350 lbs is impressive for a smaller rower such as this one. Although it has a smallish footprint, 55 x 13 x 10 inches, the weight capacity and extended rail make it suitable for both heavy and tall rowers. 

We like that you can set the arms to either fixed or movable, allowing you to choose your range of motion depending on your preference or your mood. 

As well as the movable arms, a cushioned seat, padded foam handles, and comfortable foot pedals make rowing on this machine a pleasant experience. 

This is one of the few hydraulic rowers that include a tablet holder for your device. You can easily watch a movie or series while rowing, because the motion is smooth and quiet.

Pros

  • Can accommodate rowers up to 350 lbs
  • 45-inch slide rail can handle taller rowers
  • Fixed or movable arm motion
  • Includes tablet holder

Cons

  • Only designed for about 20 minutes of use
  • Not foldable

Key Specs 

Floor Size 55 x 13 x 10 inches 
Build Quality Excellent 
Weight Capacity 350 lbs 
Height Capacity Up to 6’, maybe taller (38” inseam) 
Resistance Levels 12 resistance levels 
Monitor LCD, battery-powered 
Foldability No 

Can Handle Anything 

The hardcore steel construction of this rower means it can handle a max weight capacity of 350 lbs and the extended rail means even tall people can use it with ease. Add to that the versatile range of motion, and you’ve got an excellent hydraulic rower. 

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Hydraulic Rowing Machine 

Not sure what to look for when deciding on a hydraulic rowing machine? Here’s what we recommend looking at before you choose the right one for you. 

Resistance Levels 

Although the resistance increases the hotter the oil in the cylinders gets, most hydraulic rowing machines do allow you to choose a resistance level for your workout. It’s usually controlled using a dial on the arms. 

Most hydraulic rowers offer up to 12 resistance levels. However, the resistance will naturally increase the harder you row, so don’t be surprised if fewer than 12 levels still offers excellent resistance! 

Seat Height/Rail Length 

Taller people will need a longer rail length to accommodate their leg length. It’s also easier for them if the seat or rail height is a little higher than normal. You don’t want to have to squat too far down to seat yourself on the rower. 

On the other hand, average-sized or shorter rowers shouldn’t have any problem fitting onto a rower with a shorter seat height and rail length.

A man at the gym using the best hydraulic machine available
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Dimensions & Foldability 

Hydraulic rowers are usually quite compact, more so than most other rowers. However, you’ll need to double-check that the size actually fits into the space you have. 

Some hydraulic rowing machines also have the ability to fold into a smaller footprint, so if you’re extremely short on space, this could be a good compact rower option for you. 

Weight Capacity 

Hydraulic rowing machines tend to be smaller and less durable than other rowers. This means they may not be able to handle as much weight as other rowers can. It’s important to check the weight capacity before investing in a hydraulic machine. 

If you can’t find a hydraulic rower that can handle the amount of weight you need it to, you may need to consider a different rower type. 

Comfort Level 

Comfort is important, especially on hydraulic rowing machines. They’re not usually designed for smooth, comfortable motion, so it’s important to make sure the rower you choose has a comfy seat, ergonomic handles, and a sturdy frame. 

Price 

Hydraulic rowers have the bonus of being the cheapest rowing machine type you can find. The price range starts at around $100 and extends to about $600, making them suitable for beginners who are looking for cheap and fairly effective indoor rowers.

A woman at the gym using the best hydraulic machine
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FAQs

Are Hydraulic Rowers Good? 

Hydraulic rowers are better than no rower! However, in comparison to other types of rowing machines, they’re likely to be the least effective for advanced rowers.

On the other hand, for beginners who need to learn proper rowing form and are still using a low level of resistance and doing shorter rowing sessions, hydraulic rowers are still a good choice to build up your fitness level. 

How Do Hydraulic Rowers Work?

A hydraulic rowing machine uses a piston system. Simply put, it features hollow hydraulic cylinders with a piston that moves up and down inside it, lubricated by oil. As you move the arms, the pistons move inside the cylinder, allowing for the movement of the arms.

The only thing you need to know is that as the oil heats up, the resistance on piston rowers lessens somewhat. You may need to adjust it to a higher resistance setting halfway through your workout.

You can find either dual piston rower styles, or a single-piston design. They function mostly the same, but it comes down to personal preference and what provides a comfortable workout for you.

Are Hydraulic Rowers Expensive?

Hydraulic rowers are the least expensive rowers. However, that means that they lack the natural feel and progressive nature of other rowing machine types.

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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