Hydrow Rowing Machine Review: Is It Worth The Price Tag?

Hydrow Rowing Machine
Our Rating:
4.8/5
The Hydrow rowing machine aims to provide the ‘feel of the river’ whilst working out from the comfort of your home. The state of the art rower offers a truly immersive rowing experience. But is it really worth the money? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the Hydrow rowing machine.

PROS

  • Smooth gliding rowing motion
  • Access to hundreds of pre-recorded and live workouts
  • 22” HD touch screen with interactive features
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Easy assembly
  • Quality build
  • Includes heart rate monitoring 
  • Adjustable resistance

CONS

  • Price tag
  • Membership not included
  • Storage kit sold separately
  • Heavy and space-consuming without storage kit

Things To Consider Before Buying the Hydrow Rower

There are some things you should consider whilst reading this Hydrow Rower review that should help you make a decision on if it’s worth buying. The first and most obvious is the price. 

As one of the most expensive rowers on the market, it really is a premium product that delivers a unique home rowing experience. But if the price is a major concern for you then consider why you even want this rower. Are the features it delivers important to you? Will they help you reach your goals? If not, just go for a cheaper option. There are plenty of excellent rowers to choose from. 

The best thing about the Hydrow is using the monitor and making the most of all the benefits and features it offers. If you’re used to putting on your headphones, music blazing, and powering through your workout with no distractions then this experience will differ a lot. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy both, just be aware that this rower offers a different experience and is not worth the money if you are not going to immerse yourself in it.

If you’re still unsure after reading this review, Hydrow does offer a 30-day free trial. So you can give it a really good test run for a month and if you love it, great! If not, you can just send it back to them. 

Resistance Type

The resistance used on the Hydrow machine is pretty unique. It uses an electromagnetic drag mechanism with computer-controlled resistance. This makes the machine super quiet (much quieter than any air rower) so you can feel comfortable exercising without disturbing the other members of your household. 

It also provides an ultra-smooth rowing motion which is designed to mimic the feel of rowing out on the water. I’m not convinced it achieves this better than air or water rowers but I haven’t heard any complaints from users. In fact, user feedback has been excellent regarding the feel of the resistance.  

Man rowing on Hydrow rowing machine

You can adjust the resistance levels by using the touch screen monitor. The electromagnetic drag can be set on a scale from 0-300. The Hydrow coaches personally suggest starting from anywhere between 95-104 and rowing for a 20-minute “sweat.” During this time you can adjust your resistance every 5 minutes until you reach a position where you feel comfortable rowing. This will take some tweaking until you find your rhythm. Finding a range within 5 on the scale that is challenging will get you the best results.

If you just want a number to start with to get going then go for 104.  

The Hydrow coaches explain the resistance mechanism as a “set it and forget it mentality.” Meaning you set the resistance you want at the beginning of your workout, then you forget about it and the computer system will take care of the rest. 

This doesn’t mean that you are virtually stuck with one resistance setting from start to finish. You can get an intense workout at low drag and high speed or high drag and low speed. The computer is able to automatically adjust the resistance in real-time during some workouts so it can handle high-intensity interval workouts just as easily as steady-state cardio workouts. 

With an air rower, the resistance level is dependent on how fast or slow you pull the chain. The slower you row, the lower the resistance, the faster you row, the higher the resistance. If you are used to air rowing machines, then you will find that the Hydrow does also respond to your rowing speed.

Although the resistance on the Hydrow will actually increase the faster you row it is nowhere near as responsive as air rowers such as the Concept2. But actually Hydrow has done very well to create such a quiet machine with responsive resistance. And I’m sure this will only improve with time.  

Technical Specifications

  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 86.0″ x 25.0″ x 47.0″ (from floor to top of screen).
  • Stored Dimensions (W x D x H): 25.0″ x 33.0″ x 86.0″.
  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Maximum user weight: Holds up to 350 lbs.
  • Material: Aluminum and steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body, soft rubberized feet to protect floors.
  • Handle: Low-stress handle grip with ergonomic design.
  • Monitor/screen: 22” 1920 by 1080 Full HD touch screen resolution. 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction.
  • Workouts: Over 500 pre-recorded river and studio rowing sessions.
  • Four types of rowing videos: Live Rowing, Rows on Demand, Serene River Rowing, Whole Body Fitness.
  • Resistance: Quiet, electromagnetic resistance.
  • Connections: Bluetooth & WiFi.
  • Heart rate: Heart rate monitoring enabled.
  • Functions: Speakes, microphone, and camera.
  • Seat: 10-roller seat roller system facilitating a smooth operation.
  • Warranty: 18-month labor warranty; 2-year warranty on wear items, screen, and other electronics; and a 6-year structural frame warranty.

Build Quality

The Hydrow not only looks sleek and stylish but it’s also built to last. Weighing around 145lbs its as sturdy as they come, which is what you’d expect for the price. The ergonomic body has an aluminum frame with plastic outer casing.

Although sturdy, it is not the most mobile of rowers and it’s much better to find it a home and leave it there as you won’t be able to fold it up and store it away like you can with some other rowers. 

Hydrow rowing machine

The handle is attached to a nylon belt as opposed to a chain. The belt system is way quieter than a chain-driven system and it does work very smoothly. 

To me, the Hydrow resembles more of a longboat than a machine, but maybe that’s just me? Anyway, it is built to the highest quality. 

Display/ Monitor

For me, the monitor is the best thing about the Hydrow. You get a stunning 22” 1920 by 1080 Full HD touch screen resolution with front-facing dual 3W speakers and a ton of cool interactive workout features (more on this later). 

Hydrow monitor display

The monitor is sweat and dust resistant and comes with live outdoor reality technology which allows you to enjoy your workouts in different locations and surroundings with the sounds of the natural environment. This can be a real game-changer if you find the standard rowers a tad monotonous. 

The monitor comes Bluetooth enabled, which means you can pair it up with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor (if you need one, I suggest the Polar H10) as well as Bluetooth headphones. You will need to plug the monitor in to operate both the screen and the resistance. And of course, you’ll need a wifi connection to stream the in-app rowing workouts. 

Speaking of wifi, one thing you will not be able to do with the Hydrow is stream your favorite video services such as Netflix, Youtube, or Amazon Prime. This would be an awesome feature and I would love to see Hydrow add it. Eventually, someone will, so why not be the first Hydrow?

If this was something you were counting on then don’t threat! You can always purchase a standard rower and set it up near your TV or laptop. Maybe not as cool, but is essentially the same and saves you some money.

Rowing and chill aside, the display and the videos you can watch are of a very high quality. Along with the videos, you can track the usual metrics such as strokes per minute, calories burned, time, average split time, and 500m split. 

Below is a video explaining the screen navigation. 

You can also adjust the monitor angle and rotate the screen so that you can still easily see the display for workouts out of the rowing seat. So you’ll be able to follow along to mat workouts such as yoga or ab exercises just as you would whilst rowing. It’s a very nice touch.  

Comfort and Capacity

The Hydrow is a comfortable rowing machine. It comes with a cushioned seat that rolls on a 10-roller system that Hydorw says can support users of up to 350lbs. This machine may be well suited for taller users too as the seat rail design should accommodate athletes as tall as 6’6” comfortably. 

The adjustable foot straps will also feel comfortable and large enough for most users to fit into with no problems. 

All that being said, if you have never used a rowing machine it may take you some time to get used to it and you may find that you end up a bit sore. This is normal if you don’t usually row (or exercise for that matter). It shouldn’t last. 

Shipping and Assembly

The Hydrow rower is not difficult to assemble. The majority of the rower comes pre-assembled so all you really have to do is attach the front legs and the monitor. Plug it in and you’re good to get going. 

The rower and it’s parts are quite heavy though so you will most likely need a partner to assist you like in the assembly video below. Bear this in mind and have someone ready to help when you’re rower arrives. Nothing worse than getting a new toy and not being able to play with it straight away. 

Hydrow offers free standard shipping with shipments leaving their warehouse within 2-4 days when ordered during business hours. You can read more about their shipping information on their website. 

Set-up process

Once you have plugged your Hydrow in you should go ahead and follow the on-screen instructions and prompts. This will involve connecting to your WIFI and entering your password. The machine will then run a software update and you’ll be prompted to sign up for a Hydrow account or login if you already have one. 

During the set-up process, Hydrow coaches will take you through everything you need to know on-screen, from adjusting your foot straps to rowing with the correct technique. Its a very useful guide, especially for beginners. 

I’ve included a handy video that will give you a better idea of what to expect when setting up your rower. . 

Hydrow setup and configuration with tutorial Rowing workout

Storage

As I’ve already mentioned, this rower is quite heavy and you won’t want to be moving it around often if you don’t have to. Find a good place for it (or create one) and leave it there if you can. 

If you want to create some more space you do have the option of turning the machine and storing it upright. The monitor folds inwards so don’t worry about it getting damaged. 

Hydrow offers an upright storage kit that you attach to the wall which straps to the rower to keep it in place. Unfortunately, this piece of equipment does not come with the rower so if you want it, you’ll have to purchase it separately. It would definitely be a nice gesture from Hydrow to include this for free. 

It’s necessary to point out that you don’t need the kit to store the rower upright. It will stay up on its own but if you want peace of mind (and why wouldn’t you considering the investment) you should get the storage kit or create your own if handy with tools. 

Warranty

I’ve heard differing opinions about the warranty offered by Hydorw. Some are elated and others think the cover should be greater considering the price. 

Overall I would have to say that I think the warranty is pretty good. You get a 6-year warranty on the frame and storage kit, 2-years on wear items (which includes the handle, strap, seat assembly, and the hinge on the screen carriage, 2-years on the screen and other electronics and 18 months labor.

I think most people would like to see a higher warranty on the electronic components as they potentially have a higher risk of something going wrong. This may be true, but comparing the warranty of the screen with the warranty of rowers without a screen is not really fair. When comparing the screen with other electronic items, 2-years is usually standard.

Higher coverage is obviously preferred and welcomed but the warranty is not so different from competitors NordicTrack and their RW900 rower, although this does come with 10 years on the frame!

You can read more about Hydrows warranty on their site. 

Price and value

The first thing I stated in this review is if you can’t afford this rower or justify the benefits and features then this is not the rower for you. Instead, you should look at one of our other rower reviews or best rowing machines review.

However, if you have the means to get your hands on a Hydrow then you won’t be disappointed. It’s the best magnetic rower with interactive workouts on the market. You get huge value in build quality, design, video production, workouts, and motivation. Plus, it makes working out fun!

If you’re interested in a financing plan, Hydorw makes it easy for you to make monthly payments with no money down & 0% APR financing. 

You can also team up with Hydrow by supporting water.org. For every 60 days rowed on Hydrow they will make a donation to water.org. 

To top it all off, Hydorw has a fantastic support team that will be happy to help you with any issues that may arise. 

Hydrow Rower Membership

The Hydrow Rower membership is what gives you access to all of the cool functions that make the rower worth getting. Once you’ve signed up you’ll have access to an array of workout options, including leisurely rows down the river or more intense sessions competing against others or trying to match your coaches efforts. 

It’s important to note that any of the features listed cannot be accessed without a membership. The membership is not included with the price of the rower but is a monthly subscription, currently $38/month (subject to change). 

If this puts you off, there is a “Just Row” mode which will allow you to use the basic features (tracking metrics and setting resistance levels) without a subscription. This would be a complete waste of money (in my opinion) if you decide to do this. The glory of this rower is truly in the membership. 

And to be honest, the subscription is worth the price. 

I suggest looking at it as your gym membership or the cost of having a personal trainer. Because that’s essentially what you’re getting. Your membership will give you access to hundreds of pre-recorded workouts that you can access any time you want. Plus you can expect Hydrow to add even more videos in the future as well non-rowing workouts such as yoga, functional movement routines, stretching, pilates, and resistance training (some of which are already available).  

You’ll also be able to stream live rowing workouts. This feature allows you to follow along with coaches and other members during live workouts. We’re talking about live broadcasts straight from your coaches boat on the water or studio to your home. This really does help keep the workouts motivational and fun. 

The Hydrow membership also allows you to set up unlimited profiles for your family so that everyone can track their individual progress. 

Key features of the Hydrow Rower Membership

  • Live Rowing Workouts
  • Rowing on demand
  • Learn rowing basics from your coaches
  • Keeps you motivated and accountable to help you achieve better health and fitness results
  • Become part of the Hydrow rowing community with live leaderboards
  • Gives you access to future benefits and updates 

Alternatives To The Hydrow Rower

NordicTrack RW900 vs. Hydrow

The NordicTrack RW900 is currently the most like for like rower on the market when compared with the Hydrow. 

Like Hydrow, it utilises a magnetic resistance as wells air resistance, comes with a 22” touchscreen monitor and has features that include on-demand workouts and pre-recorded classes out on the water.

NordicTrack RW900

It doesn’t have the same size catalougue of workouts as the Hydrow or the same community support but the RW900 will cost you less to purchase. On top of that, you will get a free 1-year subscription to iFit Coach compared to the equivalent Hydrow membership that you’ll need to pay for monthly. 

So if you really want a more interactive rowing experience and workout support but the Hydrow is above your price range, NordickTracks RW900 could be a good alternative. 

Concept2 Model D vs. Hydrow  

Often cited as the industry standard, and at less than half the price of a Hydrow, you can’t go wrong with the Concept2 Model D. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of the Hydrow but you’d do well to find a rowing purest that doesn’t train on land with an offering from Concept2. 

Concept2 Model D

As a matter of fact, it is also the rower of choice for most competitive athletes and sportspeople in general. 

There’s a reason it’s one of the best selling rowers on the planet, with a history of durability, reliability and constant high quality. 

Unlike Hydrow, the Model D is an air rower with a flywheel that generates air resistance. It comes with a PM5 LCD monitor with various settings and built-in features. 

If the features of Hydrow don’t excite you, (on-demand workouts, training, community etc.) and you just want a workhorse of a machine then go ahead and check out our full Concept2 Model D review. You won’t be disappointed.   

Ergatta vs. Hydrow

Another interactive rowing machine that aims to offer a unique rowing experience on their game-based workout platform. 

The main difference between the Ergatta rowing machine and the Hydrow is the resistance type. The Ergatta uses a water resistance system which is great if like the sound of the water whilst rowing. 

As mentioned, the Ergatta offers a more gamified experience where you are able to race against your own times and other users. But in terms of workouts and immersive features, it offers a lot less than the Hydrow. 

The display is also smaller at 17.3” and lacks the sound quality of the Hydrow. 

Aesthetically I think the Ergatta is beautifully designed and will look great in any room. Both machines are built superbly and can be stored upright with attachments. 

The Ergatta rower is slightly cheaper and also offers a monthly subscription. But in terms of interactive functionality, you definitely get more for your money with a Hydrow. 

Final Thoughts (should you buy the Hydrow Rower?)

If you’ve made it to the end of this review then you must be really interested in this rower. If you want to know if you should buy the Hydrow rowing machine then the answer is yes (assuming you can afford it). I say this because there is no downside other than the loss of your time. You get to try out a quality product and if you don’t like it you just send it back within 30-days. If you do like it, then you’ve just joined an evergrowing community of likeminded individuals that will help keep you motivated towards reaching your health and fitness goals. Sounds good to me!