Best Rowing Machines of 2021
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With a global pandemic disrupting supply chains around the world, the home fitness industry has been awash with updates, pricing changes, and product upgrades. Indoor rowers remain a top pick for folks deciding to ditch the commercial gym, or those who simply want options when it comes to exercise. The list of best rowing machines for 2021 sees some familiar brands in the lineup, but notice the changes in prices, warranties, and interactive training packages.
We’ve rounded up the best rowing machines on the market for 2021 and know there is something here to fit every age and stage with interest. And whereas other machines, such as treadmills and bikes, remain popular as well, its tough to beat the bang-for-the-buck that rowing provides. Strength and cardio, weight loss and flexibility, the rower hits it all. And, we’ve been pleased to see, interactive training for rowers continues to advance, not just in terms of online apps, but in the rowers themselves.
Our Top 7 Rowing Machines for 2021
- Best Rower for Interactive Training: Hydrow
- Best Budget Alternative to the Fancy Hydrow: NordicTrack RW700
- Best Air Rower: Concept2 Model D
- Best Value For Money Rower: XTERRA ERG600W
- Best Rowing Machine for Seniors: Concept2 Model E
- Best Budget Rowing Machine: Stamina X
- Best Water Rowing Machine: WaterRower Classic
1. Best Rower for Interactive Training: Hydrow
Designed specifically with interactive training in mind, the Hydrow Live Outdoor Reality™ program features both live and on-demand programming led by world-class champions. Founded by U.S. National Team Coach Bruce Smith, the Hydrow has been compared to Peloton for the strength of its community following. Whether rowing solo or as part of a team within the greater community, participants can get all of their metrics logged for personalized workouts. The Hydrow is also designed to share workout data with other apps such as Strava quite easily. Or, the machine does work without the $38 per month app if users so desire a free row.
As with any machine built for interactive programming, the screen is key. The Hydrow features a 22″ HD touchscreen which swivels 25 degrees for those wanting to bounce off for extra stretching or floorwork. The machine is also Bluetooth-enabled for heart-rate monitoring with the Polar H7 or Wahoo TICKR. With front-facing speakers, rowers get an immersive experience. Another interesting point worth mentioning is the company donates to Water.org in the user’s name after rowing for 60 days.
Measuring 86″ x 25″ x 47″, the silent magnetic rower can hold up to 375 lbs in user weight. The silent magnetic resistance has become the most popular form in recent seasons to the smooth manner in which it ratchets up the work, in the case of the Hydrow, to 300 levels. And yes, it’s a bit pricier than the rest at $2,095. But if the sensation of a genuine row on the water is what one is after, then Hydrow is definitely a go.
See our detailed review of the Hydrow.
2. Best Alternative to the Fancy Hydrow: NordicTrack RW700
The RW700 is NordicTrack’s mid-level air-magnetic rower. For the 2021 season, the RW700 serves as the replacement for the RW500 and earlier models. The brand’s top line remains the the RW900 with the RW600 at the entry point.
Priced at $1,299 with a 1-year iFit Family Membership included, the RW700 features 26 digital levels of silent magnetic resistance, which is quite sufficient in providing a workout for any level of fitness. Smooth transitions are the name of the game thanks to the inertia-enhanced flywheel. The added benefit is the air resistance element which will increase and decrease based on intensity/stroke speed.
The rotating 14″ HD touchscreen affords rowers the opportunity to get on the floor and do bodyweight drills or work with dumbbells along with the nearly unlimited routines offered by iFit. Both live and video, the iFit program allows remote trainers to control the resistance of the rower in accordance with the routine.
Measuring 87″ x 22″ x 47″, the rower will carry up to 250 lbs in user weight. Other benefits include the Bluetooth audio capabilities and ergonomic handle.
3. Best Air Rower: Concept2 Model D
Priced at just $900, the Concept2 Model D rower remains a top seller for many reasons other than price. A variable air resistance model, the rower has damper settings 1-10 to alter the feel of the stroke rowed. This type of resistance will generate nearly silent resistance while adding a breeze, all following the user’s own level of effort.
Built to last, the rower measures 96″ x 24″ x 14″ and sports a whopping 500 lbs user weight capacity. Even without a screen, the rower remains a connected machine. Equipped with a PM5 monitor, Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity, the rower can connect with wireless heart-rate monitors as well as afford rower-to-rower racing while tracking key metrics. The machine also comes with 10 workout programs built into it,
User comfort is a key consideration here as the rower is built to store in two easy-to-assemble sections, with transport wheels added for extra benefit. The unit is compatible with the brand’s free ErgData app, and given its design for home use, one can always park it in front of a smart television set and use any number of entertainment options.
See our detailed review of the Concept2 Model D rower.
4. Best Value For Money Rower: XTERRA ERG600W
For the money spent, it’s tough to beat the EXTERRA Erg600W. A water rower with real rowing-like stroke motions, the machine replicates the feel of water. At just $799, the rower is a strong buy. With six different water-based resistance levels which can be modified via the level of water in the tank, the activity can be programmed via the console for programs as diverse racing, calories, strokes, and distance.
Measuring 80.7″ x 22″ x 33″ the rower features a maximum user weight of 300 lbs. The console includes a 5.5″ LCD and the machine is Bluetooth-enabled for heart-rate monitoring and feedback. Sports a range of comfort features including a contoured seat, adjustable Flex Pedals, and an ergonomic rowing handle, the unit is built with a convenient stand-up design for easy storage.
Whether specifically looking for a water rower or not, the price and overall quality of the machine make it worth a look for sure.
See our detailed review of the XTERRA ERG600W rower.
5. Best Rowing Machine for Seniors: Concept2 Model E
One of two top models offered by the same brand, the Concept2 Model E rower is priced online for $1,490 and can certainly be found at bargain levels. Measuring 96″ x 24″ x 20″ the unit sports an amazing 500 lbs user capacity. Built solid for sure, the unit also brings a 20″ high seat into the mix, which is comparable to a typical chair. This makes the rower particularly good for seniors, or anyone with mobility issues.
Like its brand-mates, the Concept2 Model E rower is connected, but without the bells and whistles. Compatible with wireless heart-rate monitors, the unit is built to work with the free ErgData app, but can also be parked in front of a smart television set or used with a tablet or phone. It does come with a PM5 screen that features 10 built-in workouts, meaning it can be used with or without an app. Designed as an air resistance rower, the machine has a damper with 1-10 levels for stroke adjustment, and can handle users of any fitness level.
See our detailed review of the Concept2 Model E rower.
6. Best Budget Rowing Machine: Stamina X
When one simply wants to row and doesn’t want to spend a lot, the Stamina X brings a strong package. Part of a great lineup of rowers, the Stamina X can handle users up to 6’5″ tall and 250 lbs. Measuring 78.5″ x 18″ x 29″ the machine sports a small LCD screen which displays strokes per minute, count, distance, speed, time, and calories.
Simple for sure, with no Bluetooth option, the rower is priced around the $330 mark. As an air resistance rower, the machine responds to user effort, the harder you work, the stronger the resistance becomes. Its seat is a bit harder than some pricier alternative, and the rower itself doesn’t have built-in workout programming. That said, one can always place it in front of a television set for entertainment. Meanwhile, the rower features a metal chain as opposed to a cheaper tension cord, a steel frame, and a seat which glides on metal bearings instead of nylon wheels. Definitely one of the top budget rowing machines on the market using air resistance on the market this year.
7. Best Water Rowing Machine: WaterRower Classic
It’s named “Classic” for good reason. the WaterRower Classic is smooth as silk with a sustainably sourced black walnut frame and natural water resistance. With a unique WaterFlywheel design, the unit offers a real stroke as if one was out on the lake. Reviewers agree its easy to fall into a meditative state with water rowers, and this one makes it easy to see why.
Priced around $1,560, the rower measures 82.5″ long by 22.5″ wide and offers an amazing 700 lbs weight capacity. What that should tell customers is that this rower is solid to the core. Equipped with an S4 monitor, the user-friendly system stores workout data including time, distance, speed/intensity, stroke rate, and heart rate. The unit is capable of storing up to nine self-designed programs, although it comes with none of its own.
And for the right buyer, this all-wood rower just feels and looks right. Let’s face it, water rowers are taste, and with wood added in one can certainly feel the pull of a canoe on water.
See our detailed review of the WaterRower Classic.
Want to browse some other models or learn more about what to look for when shopping for a new rower?
Check out our extended best rowers list to explore rowers in every category and price range.