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Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Looking for a budget rowing machine? A hydraulic rower could be your perfect match. Also known as piston rowers, hydraulic rowing machines are the cheapest indoor rowers available. As well as being priced low, they are usually portable, run quietly, and require little space. You can also find hydraulic rowers that offer a wide range of resistance to support all skill levels. But this all comes at a price. Hydraulic rowers are not as durable as other rowers. It really comes down to whether you are willing to make some sacrifices for the sake of your home gym space and budget. Check out our top 3 hydraulic rowing machines on the market below, and scroll down to learn more about rowers in this category.

Best Overall

Stamina BodyTrac Glider

Rating: 78%

Our Top Three Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Model

Rating

Resistance Type

Weight Capacity

Folding

Resistance Levels

Pricing

Reviews

Trusted Name
Stamina BodyTrac Glider
Stamina BodyTrac Glider
Most Resistance Levels
Kettler Favorit Rower
Kettler Favorit Rower
Compact Pick
stamina-1333-rower
Stamina 1333 Rower

78%

Hydraulic

250 Lbs

Yes

12

55%

Hydraulic

285 Lbs

No

50

55%

Hydraulic

250 Lbs

Yes

12

Hydraulic Rowers—What To Expect

Hydraulic rowing machines are the cheapest indoor rowers available. If you’re completely new to rowing, a hydraulic rower could be your best bet. You’re not going to be forking out hundreds of dollars for a machine that will just sit in the corner, if you decide rowing isn’t for you a few weeks down the line. They’re also a good fit for people with very limited space. Aside from being compact machines, they’re usually also foldable. Some models can be folded by folding the metal arms inwards allowing you to pack away the machine under a bed or in a closet. Some models simply tilt vertically so you can fold the machine up against a wall. They also tend to be very quiet rowing machines, allowing you to exercise at all hours without disturbing the rest of your household.

 

Just remember that hydraulic rowers are budget machines. They won’t be as durable as an air or water rower because they normally consist of at least some, or many cheaper parts. The resistance will not be as challenging, or the levels as diverse as on rowers in other categories. We haven’t seen many hydraulic rowers packed with features such as a flashy console with a library of workout programs. That said, you can find some models that have a good selection of features such as wireless heart-rate monitoring and some onboard programming. You will have ongoing maintenance with hydraulic rowing machines. As they are usually simple mechanical machines with pistons and moving arms, components will need tightening every few workout sessions. This all said, shoppers looking for a compact, quiet, simple rowing machine that doesn’t break the bank should start in the hydraulic rowing machine aisle.

 

How Do Hydraulic Resistance Rowing Machines Work?

Hydraulic rowers use fluid or air for resistance. With a hydraulic rower, it’s all about the movement of force. They usually have one or two pistons (cylinders filled with hydraulic fluid or air) that engage when the rider pulls back. The hydraulic cylinders are commonly attached to the handlebars of the rower. Resistance on each piston is altered with a dial or via grooves on the arms. You can then work against this force. Some hydraulic rowing machines have sliding seats to support full-body aerobic workouts, like the Avari Easy Glide Rower. Other hydraulic rowers are designed only for upper-body exercise and lack sliding seats. These are quite small machines yet can still be used by tall trainees (for example, the Stamina 1205 Precision Rower is only 48” long).

 

How Powerful Is The Resistance?

Resistance on hydraulic rowers is preset with light to heavy levels. For instance, the popular Stamina BodyTrac Glider has 12 resistance levels. Manufacturers of hydraulic rowing machines rarely provide specifics about their strength. Our hydraulic rowing machine reviews use customer comments for guidance. Which brands lead the hydraulic rower industry? Stamina Rowers are the leading manufacturer of very simple and low-budget hydraulic rowing machines, while Kettler makes more expensive hydraulic rowers that include heart rate monitoring.

Pros

Compact
Quiet
Price

Cons

Durability
Resistance
Maintenance

1. Stamina BodyTrac Glider

At just $137.99, the Stamina BodyTrac Glider is certainly a budget machine. Saying this, it’s one of the best rowing machines that uses hydraulic resistance on the market. It’s sized to fit most adults and is more durable than other options in its price class. For such a bargain buy, the BodyTrac Glider features a wide range of resistance. It has 12 resistance levels that are comparable to an estimated 2-50 pounds of force. We have some concerns about the longevity of the machine, but if your budget is tight, this is one of the best options in its price category.

Read the Full Stamina BodyTrac Glider Review

Pros

Price
Durable
Easy Folding

Cons

Loose Foot Straps
Nylon Bearings
No Programs

2. Kettler Favorit Rower

With a typical retail price of just $399, the Favorit rower is the lowest-priced rowing machine currently manufactured by Kettler. Its budget hydraulic resistance keeps the machine’s size small and the price low. You can adjust the resistance by re-positioning clamps on the pistons. Although there are technically 50 levels of resistance on the Kettler Favorit, it isn’t a machine for intense workouts or advanced trainees. That said, it’s a sturdy enough machine for casual workouts, and does feature a small LCD which displays your essential exercise data. You can also monitor your heart rate by using infrared with an ear clip (included) or wirelessly with your own chest strap (not included). At just 52″ x 32″ x 10″ and weighing 44 pounds, it’s a wonderfully compact rowing machine that’s easy to move around. But as mentioned, this lightweight rower can’t support high-intensity workout sessions. This is further demonstrated by its light 285-pound weight capacity.

Read the Full Kettler Favorit Rower Review

Pros

Quiet
Complete
Heart-Rate Monitoring

Cons

Resistance
Maintenance Required
Non-Folding

3. Stamina 1333 Rower

Looking for compact, basic, and dirt cheap? That’s Stamina’s strong suit, and the 1333 Rower is one of many examples from the brand that will tick those boxes without fail. Is it any good? Well, that really depends on what you’re looking to get out of a rowing machine. Units like this won’t give you that real-world rowing feel. The mechanics of your motions will feel a bit clunky and awkward, you’ll still get a workout.  The advantages here are really cost and size, and that’s about it. For the occasional user that wants something more than nothing, is tight on space, and is on a shoestring budget? It might be passable for you.

Read the Full Stamina 1333 Rower Review

Pros

Quiet
Compact
Strong Beam

Cons

Hydraulic Resistance
Some Cheaper Parts
Price
 
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