When buying a water rower, it is useful to keep these factors in mind:
- Easy to change resistance level. While more advanced models allow you to change the resistance level using a dial or switch, basic water rowers often require you to manually change the amount of water in the reservoir.
- Performance monitoring. Most water rowers have a basic console to display data such as time, distance, calories burned, and power output. However, some also offer Bluetooth functionality to track your performance using fitness apps.
- Seat and handle feel. A comfortable seat and handle are important. You will also need to decide if you want one or two handles and what type of grip you prefer. If you have a larger or smaller frame, choose a machine that you can adjust for a better fit.
- Price. In addition to the price of the rower itself, you’ll want to consider other costs, such as shipping, delivery, and assembly. Because rowing machines aren’t cheap, it’s also important to pay attention to the company’s refund policy and included warranty.
To decide which water rowers would make our list, we considered:
- Ease of use. The best water rowers stand out for their ability to quickly change resistance levels mid-workout. They are also suitable for beginners and experienced rowers.
- Handle design. Classic style rowers usually have a handle. However, some models come with two handles, allowing for a greater range of motion for your upper body during your workout. We’ve included options for both.
- Storage and portability. We researched water rowers suitable for a variety of workout spaces.
- Price. We know budgets can vary, that’s why we’ve included rowers at several price points.
- Customer reviews. The rowers on our list have mostly positive reviews online.
Best Overall Water Rower
WaterRower Natural Rower
If you’re looking for a rowing machine that also functions as a beautiful piece of furniture, then you’ll love the WaterRower Natural rowing machine.
The machine is made from durable solid ash wood and stained in a warm honey oak tone.
Besides looking good, the wood material helps absorb sound and keep vibrations to a minimum.
WaterRower machines feature a patented flywheel resistance system which is suitable for users with joint problems. The rower also features a balanced teardrop handle designed to help prevent wrist squeezing.
Although it does not fold, the rower can be stored upright.
Your purchase includes the rower itself, water purification tablets, an Allen key for easy adjustments, a siphon pump, an owner’s manual and an S4 performance monitor to view key stats such as your distance, your duration and intensity.
Two things to keep in mind: the rower sits flat on the floor, and it doesn’t come with Bluetooth connectivity. However, high rise leg mounts (as shown in the image above) and a Bluetooth CoModule are sold separately on the company’s website.
Best water rower for beginners
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rower
The Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 is ideal for beginners as it is a smaller investment but still provides a dynamic rowing experience.
The rower features a water resistance system with 16 hydraulic blades on the flywheel, which create additional resistance the faster you row.
The machine also includes a high profile molded and padded seat and sweat resistant handlebars for added comfort. However, some users find the seat and handle take some getting used to.
The machine is equipped with an R2 counter that records your total time, 500 meter time, total strokes, calories, ambient temperature, etc. and displays them on a simple LCD screen.
If you’re trying to save space, this machine can be stored upright when not in use. It also includes high-density, non-marking rubber wheels to help you move it around the room.
Just keep in mind that while this rower offers a lot for under $500, you can find machines for $100-200 more that are Bluetooth-enabled and offer more advanced performance tracking.
Mr. Captain Water Rower
Offering height-adjustable footrests with straps, the Mr. Captain Water rowing machine is a great option if you’re struggling to find a rowing machine that’s right for you.
You can also customize your workouts by choosing manual, custom interval, or target mode on the Bluetooth monitor.
Designed to replicate the shape of a ship, the Mr. Captain Water rowing machine is another stunning option and is available in red walnut, vintage oak or zebra wood. It also has transport wheels and can be stored vertically to save space.
The rower receives excellent reviews for its comfortable seat, ergonomic handle, and smooth, quiet operation. Customers also love that you don’t have to add or remove water to adjust the resistance level during a workout.
One thing to consider is that some users had to find replacement parts sooner than expected. However, many still say that this rower offers excellent value for money.
Best Basic Water Rower
Merax Water Rower
If you’re looking for a basic, no-frills machine priced under $500, consider the Merax Water Rower.
The rower includes an LCD display to show key metrics including your workout duration, calories burned, stroke count, distance and heart rate.
It also offers a competitive racing mode for an extra challenge, as well as quick start and stop buttons.
The Merax comes with a contoured padded seat for added comfort and pedals with Velcro straps to keep your feet secure during more intense rowing sessions.
The pull handle is a straight metal bar with rubberized grips that provide some comfort, although the handle isn’t as ergonomic as the others on this list.
The handle also lacks pulse sensors, so you’ll want to wear a fitness tracker or chest strap if you want to monitor your heart rate.
Finally, while the water reservoir is positioned at an angle for optimal resistance, you will need to add or remove water from the reservoir to adjust the level of resistance during your workout.