The 10 Best Water Rowers of 2021

The Best Water Rowers

The goal of a home rowing machine is to as perfectly imitate the real, on-the-water rowing experience as possible. Nothing does this better than a water rower. The water rower isn’t like rowing with water – it is rowing with water. That means that you get the smoothest, most fluid, and natural row short of being on the lake. In this article, we review the best water rower, along with its 9 nearest competitors. 

The Best Water Rower of 2021: WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

The 10 Best Water Rowers:

1. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

Waterrower Natural Rowing Machine
  • Stylish Wooden Design
  • Strong polycarbonate tank
  • Ergonomically designed handles and seat

The Waterrower Natural Rowing Machine stores upright when not being used, taking up as much room as a dining chair! The polished wooden styling of the waterrower compliments any decor.

The polycarbonate tank of the Waterrower makes it one of the toughest plastic tanks on the market. The rest of the unit is made from wood. This provides the advantages of strength, sound absorption, vibration, and imperviousness to moisture and sweat. The use of a sprag clutch rather than an index clutch provides zero-backlash and smoother action.

The Waterrower has been ergonomically designed for both comfort and performance. The handles are foam-coated and contoured to allow for a natural, firm grip. The drive strap is made from military-grade polyester strapping. It is super strong, corrosion-resistant, and requires no lubrication. All of this adds up to a very stylish, functional rower that gives you an amazingly realistic and comfortable rowing experience.

2. Life Fitness Row HX Trainer

Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
  • Foldable
  • Four levels of resistance
  • Stylish wooden design

The Life Fitness Row HX Trainer is made from natural wood and tempered style to provide a great-looking exercise machine that delivers a very realistic rowing experience. There are four resistance levels on this machine, which you can adjust with the simple twist of a dial. The rowing experience on the HX Trainer is very smooth and natural, thanks to its fluid technology resistance system. 

The HX Trainer is a compact machine with a small footprint. It is lightweight and easily transportable thanks to the wheels that are built into the machine. This is a folding machine, with a folded length of just 7 feet. The weight limit on this machine is 330 pounds, which is pretty impressive for a home rowing machine. The foot straps and footboard on this machine are fully adjustable to allow you to get the ideal positioning for your body. 

The HX Trainer does not come with any programs built into the console. It also provides a low seat level, putting you just 11 inches off the ground. That could be a problem for some people who are not very mobile. There is also no built-in heart rate monitoring on this water rower. 

3. First Degree Fitness Fluid Rower

First Degree Fitness Fluid Rower
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Quiet, smooth action
  • Ergonomic seat

The First Degree Fluid Rower Newport Challenge Adjustable Resistance (AR) rowing machine is one of the few water rowers that allows you to adjust the resistance level from your seat by turning a dial. Intensity levels range from ‘feather light’ to ‘Olympic sprint.’

The water-based resistance delivers a very smooth rowing experience without any dead periods or jerkiness. The water tank also produces an extremely quiet rowing action, with the only sound being the extremely refreshing and relaxing rotation of the water.

The ergonomic seat of the AR Newport provides a superior level of comfort for those extended rowing sessions. The precision bearings and rollers on the base of the seat ensure a very smooth and natural seat movement up and down the arm rail. Soft grip handles and an adjustable footboard allow for customized position and comfort. 

This water rower features a powder-coated high-quality steel frame, a patented adjustable water resistance water-filled tank, and easy vertical storage.

4. Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine
  • Water + fan blade resistance
  • Lightweight, durable steel
  • Advanced console
  • 300 lb max user weight

The Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine is the most economical water rower machine that we have come across to date. Resistance is provided by a combination of a flywheel with 16 fan blades and the interaction with the water. This machine is made from lightweight yet durable steel. The ergonomically molded seat is positioned higher than many water rower seats, making it suitable for the elderly and those with mobility problems. 

The console on the Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine is an R2 fitness meter that gives you an accurate readout of such training diagnostics as your total strokes, heart rate, ambient temperature, and heart rate. Non-marking rubber wheels make this an easy machine to transport around your home. When not in use, it can be stored in an upright position.

The maximum user weight is 300 lbs. The large non-slip footpads on this rower feature secure velcro nylon straps. The pedals pivot to allow for natural foot movement and foot stabilizers allow you to get a solid and secure positioning regardless of how true your floor is.

5. Merax Water Rowing Machine

Merax Water Rowing Machine
  • Angled water tank
  • Max user weight 330 lbs
  • Compact
  • Built-in programs

The Merax Water Rowing Machine is a stylish, compact budget water rower that is made from lightweight aluminum. Despite its lightweight, it can handle a user weight of 330 pounds, which is very impressive for a low-priced rowing machine. This is one of the most compact water rowers you will find, making it ideal for confined exercise spaces. When not in use, this water rower can be stored upright.

The Merax Water Rowing Machine delivers a smooth gliding rowing experience that is jerk-free and does a great job of simulating the on-the-water rowing experience. 

Merax has made use of a unique angled water tank on this machine which the manufacturer claims provide more resistance levels than a standard flat tank. The rower is fitted with a comfortable contoured seat and a 20 inch padded handle to ensure comfort when you’re working out.

The console on the Merax Water Rowing Machine is easy to read and functional, providing details on all of your key training diagnostics. It also comes with several built-in training programs designed by professional trainers. There is, however, no backlight on the console, so it may be difficult to read your training data under some light conditions. 

6. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5910 Phantom Hydro

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5910 Phantom Hydro
  • 11 inbuilt workout programs
  • 60 degree angled water tank
  • 7 adjustable resistance levels
  • 300 lb max user weight
  • Compact and durable
  • 16 hydro blade sell fan

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5910 Phantom Hydro sets itself apart from other water rowers offered by Sunny with its 60 degree angled water tank. This makes the unit more compact while also offering a greater resistance potential. There are seven adjustable resistance levels on this machine, making it suitable for every member of the family. 

The slide rail of this water rower is slidable, making for compact storage in an upright position. It is made of solid steel which makes it very durable, allowing for a maximum user weight of 300 pounds. A 16 hydro-blade steel fan sits inside the water tank, providing that resistance through the water you need for a smooth natural rowing action. There are 7 preset markings on the tank that you can fill to for different levels of resistance. 

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5910 Phantom Hydro comes with four-way adjustable pedals and an ergonomically designed extra wide padded seat for comfort. The console provides all of the diagnostic monitoring of your workout that you need along with 11 inbuilt workout programs. 

7. Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine

Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine
  • Raised seat
  • Stylish oak finish
  • 320-pound max user weight
  • Customizable Bluetooth monitor

The Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine is an extremely compact wooden rowing machine with a different look. It is made from polished timber and has a raised padded seat. It is also very well priced. This rowing machine is easy to put together and provides a very smooth natural rowing action that does a good job of replicating the water rowing experience.

The oak frame of this machine not only looks great, but it is also vibration absorbing and strong, as attested to by the 320-pound maximum user weight. The rower is fitted with a customizable Bluetooth monitor. It allows you to set up three training modes; Manual, Interval Custom, and Target. Comfort has been built into the Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine, thanks to its ergonomic seat, active recoil system, and height-adjustable foot straps and footplates. 

A moveable pulley on this machine means that you can adjust the machine with no effort at all. In addition, a 3-D ergonomic seat provides more padding than you will find in most other water rowers. The seat is also much higher than most, making it extremely user-friendly for those who are not able to bend down to the floor level. 

8. Harrison Rowing Machine

 Harrison Rowing Machine
  • Budget-priced
  • Comfortable
  • Height adjustable LCD monitor

The Harrison Water Rowing Machine is another budget rowing machine that is both compact and functional. It is built with a solid steel frame to provide a solid ride and plenty of durability. The seat on this rower is ergonomically designed and generously padded, and your feet are securely held in place with foot straps and adjustable footplates. 

The LCD monitor on the Harrison WaterRowing Machine is pretty impressive considering the price. The monitor is height adjustable, providing you with all the training data you could expect, including strokes per minute, distance, training time, and calories burned. You won’t get any built-in workout programs with this machine, but, considering the price, that is to be expected. You do get an Ipad or tablet holder with this machine. 

The max weight capacity on the Harrison WaterRowing Machine is 300 pounds, which is a little lower than most of the competition. The most important thing is a smooth, on-the-water-like rowing experience and, on that front, the Harrison WaterRowing Machine delivers.

9. First Degree Fitness Evolution Series E-316 Fluid Compact Professional Rower

First Degree Fitness Evolution Series E-316 Fluid Compact Professional Rower
  • Vertical water tank
  • 16 levels of resistance
  • Dual seat rails
  • Twin tank system

The First Degree Fitness Evolution Series E-316 Fluid Compact Professional Rower is a unique compact water rower that features a vertically positioned water tank. This considerably shortens the length of the machine, making this a great option for confined training spaces. It features 16 levels of patented variable fluid resistance. When you ride on this machine, you will experience just what it is like to row on the water, complete with the sights and sounds of that experience. 

The seat of this machine provides dual rails for the smoothest movement up and down the rail that is possible. You can adjust the resistance with the simple adjustment of a lever from your seated position. The twin tank system provides a massive range of resistance levels to meet the training needs of every member of the family.

10. Snode Water Rowing Machine

Snode Water Rowing Machine
  • 16 hydro blade energy system
  • Ergonomic seat
  • 43-inch slide rail
  • Max user weight 331 lbs

The Snode Water Rowing Machine features a fluid water drum with a 16 hydro blade energy system. It provides an impressively smooth, jerk-free, natural rowing experience. Large adjustable pedals provide foot security when you are exercising. The seat is ergonomically designed to fit in with your hip contours for maximum comfort. 

The 43-inch slide rail of the Serene Life Rowing Machine allows for a full range of motion on every row. A max user weight of 331 pounds speaks to the durability of the steel frame of this machine. 

Buyers Guide

Once you have decided to purchase a water rowing machine, here are several factors to take into account when making your selection:

Frame 

Consider the material that the frame is made from. Some water rowers, such as those produced by Waterrower, the original water rowing machine producer, are made of natural timbers that look like a work of art.

As well as looking great, a wooden frame has more flexibility to it than a steel or aluminum frame. If you are after a lightweight, portable water rower, an aluminum frame will be the best option. The strongest frame will be steel, which will also carry the longest warranty. 

Console

The console features on your water rower should allow you to get a detailed analysis of your workout performance. Ideally, it will pair with an app that drills down on your training diagnostics. You should expect the console to provide you with a running readout of your time, distance, speed, calories burned, and rpm.

More expensive models will also come with inbuilt training programs. Decide what you will actually use as there is no point paying extra for console features that you will ever use.

Dimensions

A water rowing machine is not as portable or foldable as a standard home rowing machine. As a result, it will probably remain in the place where you will be using it. Measure out your available space to ensure that the water rower will easily fit in with at least 18 inches all around for ease of movement.

FAQs

What are the benefits of a water rower?

A water rower provides the most realistic simulation of on-the-water rowing that you are likely to find. A water rower is a great machine for those wanting a realistic, functional rowing experience. In fact, exercising with a water rower allows you to use the cleanest technique possible, perfectly simulating an on the water row. 

Does a water rower require more maintenance than a regular rowing machine?

No, a water rower does not require more maintenance than a regular rowing machine? The only thing you need to do with a water rower is make sure that the water level in the tank is at the required level. We also recommend adding purification tablets to the tank every few months. Because there are no cables or cogs on a water rower, you do not have to oil the machine.

Can I lose weight on a water rowing machine?

Yes, you can lose weight on a water rowing machine. That’s because it is an effective calorie burner, with the ability to burn up to 750 calories in an hour. Be sure to combine your water tower workouts to burn calories such as water rowing with a reduced caloric consumption and the avoidance of high sugar carb foods. 

Conclusion

A water rower will provide you with the closest on-the-water experience you can get without actually getting wet. The best rower on the current market is the original Waterrower

Natural rowing machine. This natural ash wood-framed rower looks great in any environment while also performing exceptionally well and being virtually maintenance-free. 

This article was last updated on July 6, 2021 .

By Steve Theunissen

Steve is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and 20-year veteran of the fitness writing industry. Steve has written for websites such as Hardcore Muscle, Fitness, Carblite, and Men's Health and has been a fitness expert columnist for 2 international magazines.