When you are used to home fitness equipment in metal, whites and grey the wooden water rowers are like a breath of fresh air. Instead of hiding it away between uses, this would be one machine that would have pride of place!
Water not only provides more realistic resistance – it also makes the resistance more uniform. You get that satisfying sound of oar against water too. This page looks at the most popular home water rowers available, and compares them. By the time you finish here you’ll see your main choices of water rowing machine – and understand what makes them different.
First of all below is a table showing 3 different models. You’ll notice that water rowing machines have a high price tag – so after a bigger description of each one and a features checklist below – I have included a couple of quality machines which do not use water resistance.
Water Rower #1 - The WaterRower Natural
This beautiful model stunned the fitness world - it is now available for home users. Ash body, fully featured with super-smooth water resistance.
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Water Rower #2 - The A1
A stripped down design compared to the 'natural', with a high-end feature set. This water rower is cheaper (mid-range+), and combines great looks with that realistic water rowing action.
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Water Rower #3 - Skandika Nemo
Polycarbon frame, unique looks and a patented dual chamber resistance control mechanism. This great looking model from Skandika is also great value.
Update: This model is currently unavailable - I will update again when they either start selling again or come up with a new model!
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This is the model that made a big splash in the press when it was first released a couple of years ago. I have to say it was deserved. The creators of the Water Rower natural broke all the rules, creating a piece of home fitness equipment that looks amazing. The key is natural wooden frame, which is a pale ash with the natural curves of the original tree still in place.
What you might not know is that this natural looking rowing machine also has some high-tech tricks. The resistance is famously smooth (no dead spots with water based rowers) and can be adjusted depending on your workout / fitness level. You also get a console with programs and POLAR compatible monitoring via a chest strap. Capping it all is the sheer robustness of this model. Users up to 350kg can use it (that is 55 stone).
Feedback from buyers is top-rated as you might expect from a high-end machine like this one. This is one rower that will have pride of place – though it does wheel around if you need to move it!
Check out the spec, and full picture gallery for the Water Rower Natural on this dedicated product page at amazon.co.uk
Alternatively, you can read my detailed review here.
The A1, from the same company as created the ‘Natural’ water rower above, is a slightly cheaper model – though comes with a lot of the same technology (and certainly the same good looks) as the previous rower.
Instead of the wooden frame going the full length of this rowing machine, only the base, which includes the water container, is framed in wood (with a little bit capping the other end). This is not as big and heavy as the Natural model, with a max user weight of 125kgs (19 stone).
You will get a large console, fitted into a wooden dashboard. This gives you all the key stats on strokes per minute, distance, time and calories burned. The water bowl will provide super-smooth resistance (without the dead spots of mechanical / magnetic rowers) which can be adjusted.
This machine can be folded up vertically when not in use – and also has wheels to move it into place. This certainly looks the part. If you want a water rowing machine, though are not so keen on the wooden look – then the same company make a fully stainless steel model. There is a table showing several models available if you scroll down the product page for the A1.
I recommend checking the gallery and buyer feedback for this one – see these on the dedicated amazon.co.uk product page.
Alternatively, you can read my detailed review right here.
Not all water rowers are covered in wood. The Skandia has polycarbonate design, making it strong and lightweight. It also has a patented system of switching the resistance level while you row. This uses a clever 2-chamber design, which you adjust using a dial on the top of the water chamber.
I love the clean look of this model, which is lower priced than either of the wooden ones covered above – thanks to a large amazon.co.uk discount. (I should add my usual ‘at the time of writing’ here, as these do change).
It is the small touches which make the Skandika water rower stand out. This include adjustable footplates, an ergonomically designed seat and a big LCD display with all the important stats. You can store this model upright without spilling the water – a big plus for those of us strapped for cash. My only small concern is that this model has not had the time to build up much user feedback as yet.
Check out the impressive Skandika design and full spec of this model on the dedicated amazon.co.uk product page.
Once again, I have a detailed review for you, which you can find here.
When it comes to home water rowers, the ‘elephant in the room’ is that they are more expensive than higher end magnetic devices.
Whether this is worth it comes down to 2 things.
Firstly, the look of these models. If you want a stylish gym (or spare room!), then there is no doubt that a water rower will look amazing. This particularly applies to the ash models covered above – though the Skandika one also looks impressive.
Secondly, the resistance. The big selling point of these machines is the smoothness of the resistance. Whether you really notice this will depend on your experience level. Splashing sounds are great to make you feel like you are really rowing – though for the casual user, I am not convinced that this would be hugely noticeable.
Here are some examples of higher end rowing machines which use magnetic resistance and have impressive specs – and are all lower priced than the water rowers above. I’ll agree they do not look so good, though for the money these are quality machines.
This is a serious piece of fitness equipment that is much closer to the models you will find in commercial gyms than a typical home rowing machine. It has a mid-range price tag. The resistance is magnetic, and with 42 levels you can find tune this to your needs. I recommend checking out the computer console too. You can read my review here, or check out the full gallery on the amazon.co.uk product page.
I’m including this as an alternative for those who prefer a mid-range price tag. You’ll get a solid build (Kettler are known for multi-gyms!), a lot of features and smooth magnetic resistance – all without breaking the bank. You can check my review here, or see the latest discount for yourself on the amazon.co.uk product page.
Still can’t decide? Head to my Home Rowing Machine Reviews main page for more ideas!