The 7 Best Folding Rowing Machines – [2020 Reviews]

Cardiovascular exercise has countless benefits for both the mind and the body, though most people resort to running or using the elliptical or a spin bike for their workout.

There’s actually another very effective form of cardiovascular exercise you can do: rowing.

However many people don’t have room to keep a rowing machine in their living room or spare room but their is a solution: A foldable rowing machine!

This way when you are done with your workout, just fold it up and store it in a closet or against the wall.

We’ve spent the past month reviewing and testing countless models to bring you the top folding rowing machines available today. Let’s jump right in and get started!

Best Compact Foldable Rowing Machines

 Merax Magnetic Exercise RowerLanos Hydraulic Rowing MachineStamina 35-1405 ATS Air Rower
editorschoice
Size:73" x 16" x 21" 73" x 16" x 21" 78" x 31.5" x 19.75"
Weight:74 Pounds34 Pounds73 Pounds
Resistance Mode:MagneticHydraulicAir
Weight Capacity:264 Pounds250 Pounds250 Pounds

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Folding Rowing Machines

  1. Merax Magnetic Folding Exercise Rower
  2. Lanos Hydrsulic Compact Rowing Machine
  3. Stamina 35-1405 ATS Air Rower
  4. Sunny Health & Fitness Incline Rowing Machine Rower
  5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine
  6. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
  7. Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable  Rowing Machine

Our reviews to the top rated compact rowing machines with our comparison table and buyers guide will help you choose the right folding rowing machine for you.


Compact Rowing Machine Reviews

Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower

The first of the best foldable rowers in our guide is the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower.

Merax is a highly respected brand in the fitness equipment world, so it comes as no surprise that this model scored so well with us and other consumers.

The level of quality is evident right when you look at it, with solid construction and sharp lines that look sporty and heavy-duty.

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With 8 different levels of resistance, you’ll get quite a bit of versatility so you can change up your workout routines and not hit a plateau right away.

The adjustable resistance knob is very simple to turn and takes only an instant to do, so you can create hills and intervals easily.

A foldable frame and built-in wheels make this an excellent option if you don’t have a dedicated space for your rowing machine. It’s easy to transport and even easier to stow away.

Not only is it easy to put away and move, but it’s also very comfortable.

The 15-degree angled seat rail and built-in magnetic flywheel make it very smooth and almost silent, even during more intense workout sessions!

The smooth feeling makes it more efficient, too, as there’s no clunking around. The seat features extra padding which makes it easy to use for longer periods of time.

Not only that, but it slides and supports the lower back to ensure correct circulation in the glutes which is essential in extended sessions.

The footplates are nice and big, with straps to keep your feet in place too. We would’ve liked them to have bit a bit more grippy, but overall they performed well.

The large LCD display is front-and-center, showing your time spent, count, calories burned, total count, and more to help you keep track and make real progress.

 

Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower at a Glance:

  • Size: 73″ x 16″ x 21″ 
  • Weight: n/a
  • Resistance Mode: Magnetic
  • Weight Capacity: 264 Pounds

Lanos Hydraulic Folding Rowing Machine

Another one of the best compact rowers we’ve had the pleasure of using is the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine.

As the name suggests, it utilizes hydraulic resistance with a manual control knob. This makes it simple to customize your workout meticulously to suit your needs and goals perfectly.

If you’re on a budget, then this model is a great option. It may not look the most sleek, admittedly, but it gets the job done well.

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The unique design lets you take advantage of a full-body workout, including the entire back, the legs, arms, and more.

However, it doesn’t have to be guess work with the effort you’re putting in.

An easy-to-read, clear LCD screen will show you all essential stats, like time, row count, and calories burned.

The scan function is also a favorite among users, going through each workout metric every 6 seconds. Just remember that to use it, you need a single AA battery for it to operate.

To ensure you’re able to work out as long as you’d like without pain or discomfort, it comes with an ergonomic design, a molded seat that smoothly glides, and pivoting footplates to promote natural and safer motion.

The 2 foot straps can be positioned to secure a wide range of foot sizes, too.

The all-steel frame construction can hold up to 250 pounds, and is made to last for years so it’s great for every-day use!

 

Lanos Hydrsulic Rowing Machine at a Glance:

  • Size: 73″ x 16″ x 21″ 
  • Weight: 34 Pounds
  • Resistance Mode: Hydraulic
  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds

Stamina 35-1405 ATS Folding Air Rowing Machine

The Stamina 35-1405 ATS Air Rower Rowing Machine is another great budget selection, so if you want to get in a good workout but keep the wallet padded, don’t go anywhere.

Utilizing air resistance, it’s a very simple product with a fan-powered cage which is dynamic – just pull harder for more resistance or ease up for less!

Despite being so affordable, they don’t skimp at all on comfort. The foam-padded seat is very nice to use, even for extended periods of time.

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Overall, it slides quite smoothly, though very rarely there were slight little hand-ups.

The large footplates make it easy to keep your feet secure, and the adjustable straps only aid with this so you can row as hard as you want with confidence.

The included LCD screen is nice and large with easy-to-read text so you don’t have to strain your eyes or hunch over to see your stats.

It displays your speed, distance traveled, time and calories burned.

The best compact rowing machine is easy to fold up, and the built-in wheels let you simply roll it away when you’re done!

 

Stamina 35-1405 ATS Air Rower at a Glance:

  • Size: 78″ x 31.5″ x 19.75″
  • Weight: 73 Pounds
  • Resistance Mode: Air
  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds

Sunny Health & Fitness has recently become one of the most recognizable names in the workout equipment world.

Their products are consistently affordable, convenient, and effective.

Their Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine Rower fits all of those descriptors, easily making it one of the best folding rowing machines out there today.

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Right away, you can see just how sleek and attractive this model is. With smooth, solid aluminum rails, it’s very sturdy yet very lightweight at just 39 pounds!

This makes it an exceptionally convenient model to have at home as it’s so easily portable.

Though the machine itself is so light, it can hold up to 350 pounds, which is around 100 pounds more than what most competitor options can.

You may also notice that it’s not built like your traditional rowing machine. This best foldable rowing machine comes with non-slip grip handlebars.

These handlebars offer a full range of motion for maximum health and benefits.

The way this one works, is that it comes with 5 different incline levels.

Essentially, you’re using gravity and your own bodyweight for resistance, which can offer a great quadricep and arm workout.

The fully-padded seat is very comfortable, too, so you can row for ages without experiencing hot spots or soreness.

The digital console is easy to see, though a bit oddly placed in our opinion. It displays your time, calories, reps/min and total count.

 

Sunny Health & Fitness Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine Rower at a Glance:

  • Size: 55″ x 22″ x 18″
  • Weight: 39 Pounds
  • Resistance Mode: Gravity
  • Weight Capacity: 350 Pounds

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Folding Rowing Machine

Yet again, we bring you another one of the best compact rowing machines by Sunny Health & Fitness. This time, it’s the SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower.

This machine is just a bit more expensive than the latter, using magnetic resistance and some of the top technology on the market today.

With adjustable magnetic resistance, it’s no easier than ever to change up your workout routines.

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Just with one quick twist, you can choose between 8 different levels of resistance, making it perfect for versatility.

Comfort reigns supreme here, with textured non-slip foot pedals that will keep your footing secure even during the most vigorous of workouts!

The foot straps are there to further aid in this, also helping with leverage so you never feel unbalanced.

Foam grip handlebars help to eliminate any pains or calluses, also helping you to keep a more solid grip.

A LCD monitor is right there in the center, conveniently displaying time spent, count, calories burned, total count, and scan.

We did feel it was a bit small in comparison to others we’ve featured, but it wasn’t “bad” by any means.

When you’re all finished with your workout, the built-in transportation wheels will help you out without any struggling.

 

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine at a Glance:

  • Size: 37″ x 19″ x 53.5″ 
  • Weight: 59 Pounds
  • Resistance Mode: Magnetic
  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds

Heading towards the end of our list, we have the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine. This machine looks cool and sporty, utilizing hydraulics for resistance.

While we have many other budget-friendly options on our guide, this one is still hard to beat in terms of price!

Scoring 4 out of 5 stars, it did really well with just about every consumer, too.

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The full range of motion it offers does a great job of actually being out on the water, while offering an excellent cardio and strength training workout.

The design is very well thought out, with foldable arms and a lightweight frame for easy transport and storage.

While it doesn’t come with transport wheels like many others do on our guide, it proved not to be an issue at all.

The molded seat works with the body instead of against it, so you’ll never be uncomfortable.

Textured footplates make it easy to keep your feet in place and the straps keep them even more secure so you’ll be able to get a more effective workout.

Each hand grip comes covered in a thick padding, as well, so no need to worry about callouses.

The electronic monitor sits between the feet, and it’s neither too small nor very big but will display all necessary stats to achieve your goals.

 

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine at a Glance:

  • Size: 37″ x 19″ x 53. 5″
  • Weight: 59 Pounds
  • Resistance Mode: Hydraulic
  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds

Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine

Finally, we come to the last item on our guide today: the Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine.

This model is a bit more expensive than others we’ve covered so far, but it’s more than worth it.

The performance is hard to match, and every aspect of the design is made with durability and top-notch operation in mind.

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Comprised of heavy-duty steel and aluminum, it’s also difficult to find a rower that can compare in durability.

The blend of metals allows it to be tough but still relatively lightweight, so you can easily transport it.

Moreover, it can be folded up and rolled with the transport wheels so you’ll never have to struggle to stow it away.

Using a magnetic flywheel, you won’t find a rower quieter than this one.

If you’re someone who likes working out late at night or early in the morning and don’t want to disturb anyone, then this is the one for you.

It offers various resistance levels too, so you can quickly change it up for more challenging or efficient workouts.

To keep track of how you’re doing, you’ll find a large LCD screen panel to easily view your speed, distance, time spent, calories, SPM, date, and even ambient temperature!

This one kind of goes above-and-beyond in helping you reach new fitness levels.

Finally, the seat comes reinforced and injection-molded to provide the highest level of comfort and support.

The foam-covered handlebars and adjustable foot straps help even more with this.

 

Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine at a Glance:

  • Size: 49″ x 20.5″ x 51″
  • Weight: 90 Pounds
  • Resistance Mode: Magnetic
  • Weight Capacity: 300 Pounds

Folding Rowing Machines Comparison Table

Folding Rowers SizeWeightResistance ModeWeight CapacityRating
Merax Magnetic73"x16"x21" n/aMagnetic264 lbs4.2 / 5.0
Lanos Hydraulic Rowing73"x16"x21" 34 lbsHydraulic250 lbs4.6 / 5.0
Stamina 35-1405 ATS Air78"x31.5"x19.75"73 lbsAir250 lbs3.7 / 5.0
Sunny Health & Fitness55"x22"x18"39 lbsGravity350 lbs4.3 / 5.0
Sunny Health & Fitness37"x19"x53. 5" 59 lbsMagnetic250 lbs4.3 / 5.0
Stamina Body Trac Glider 105037"x19"x53. 5"59 lbsHydraulic250 lbs4.1 / 5.0
Circuit Fitness Deluxe49"x20.5"x51"90 lbsMagnetic300 lbs4.2 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Folding Rowing Machines – Buying Guide

best foldable rowing machine

Now that you’ve taken a look at each of the folding rowing machines, have you decided which one is right for your body and your home?

If not, then it’s important to take a look at the right questions to ask yourself before you decide on a certain type.

We know how difficult it can be, so we have taken it upon ourselves  to go ahead and write up the comprehensive buying guide, below.

By the time you’re finished reading, there will be no doubt which is the one for you!

Type of Resistance

There are 4 resistance types that are covered in the models on our guide: air, hydraulic, magnetic, and gravity/bodyweight.

Air: This is perhaps the oldest type out there, but is tried and true. It’s also probably the most common type that you see in gyms/health clubs.

The resistance will vary depending on how hard you’re rowing. The more intense, the more resistance you’re going to have.

The fans due create a noticeable amount of noise, but the actual rowing motion is pretty smooth.

Hydraulic: These are typically very compact and easy to stow away when you’re not using it. Resistance is typically simple to adjust and are very quiet.

They’re oftentimes the most affordable products out there.

Magnetic: These ones are also incredibly quiet – practically silent due to the magnetic braking system that actually provides the resistance.

The rowing motion is the smoothest and resistance is easy to adjust. However, resistance is occasionally less than what air rowers offer.

These are typically incredibly long-lasting and require little-to-no maintenance.

Size

One of the most important things to look at is the size of the machine. If it doesn’t fit in your home, or with your body then there’s not much point in focusing on anything else.

Rowing machines vary in length, so if you’re taller you should select an option that will adjust to work with your height.

The manufacturer’s site will inform you of the heights that will work with the model in question. If the height works for you, it’s not going to matter much if it can’t support your weight.

That’s why you must look into the weight limit of the machine you have your eye on.

Weight limits vary greatly, depending on the manufacturer and model, however 250 pounds seems to be the standard.

Display Screen

While this isn’t the most crucial feature in choosing a model, it’s very important to have some kind of tracker so you can accomplish your fitness goals.

They can also affect your motivation levels and subsequently, your results.

For many of us, it can be hard to stay motivated during cardio workouts, as they tend to be monotonous and time can feel like it’s passing slowly.

Stats play a huge role in staying motivated during these moments.

Getting accurate feedback on your monitor will undoubtedly help you become more physically fit, and accuracy varies per model and manufacturer, too.

Maybe you would like to only burn 200 calories and move on with your day. If you don’t have a display screen, how will you know how many you have really burned?

Improving our body composition is a science, and real stats are required to correctly track this.

However, not every screen is the same. Some are more dated-looking, grayscale screens which only show the very basics and are very small and more difficult to read.

Others are full-color LCD, backlit screens which most of us have become accustomed to in the age of technology.

Comfort

When it comes to exercising, discomfort should be expected. However, this should never be due to a poorly designed model or workout equipment.

The top designs need to have comfort at the forefront, because if you don’t feel good you’re not going to use it – it really is that simple.

There are a few different places to look in terms of comfort in rowing machines: the footplates, seat, and handlebar(s).

Footplates: These need to be large enough to fit your feet comfortably and still allow for a bit of extra room for them to slide around as they naturally will when you’re rowing.

In addition, they’ll ideally have a non-slip surface and grooves or nubs to help keep your feet in place, no matter how vigorously you’re rowing.

There are some models that allow the footplates to rotate a bit, which will allow for more natural movement and motions.

This rotation will also help to lower the risk of injury while letting you move easier to have better results.

Seat: The seat must fit your body in every way, providing you with the support you need while being able to move around naturally without having to continuously re-adjust your body to avoid losing your balance or feeling unsteady.

Contoured, molded seats will help to lower the risk of soreness and keep you centered, working with the natural shape of your body instead of it being hard and flat, which can leave your bones feeling uncomfortable quickly.

Handlebar(s): Some models just have one handlebar, while others have two. This doesn’t really affect much, so no matter what, you don’t want them to cause soreness or chafe your hands.

The models to look at will have handlebars covered in a thick foam material to protect your hands and fingers from the hard bar inside.

Contoured bars help with this, too, and can help you grip onto the bar more securely.

As you’ll be pulling back with quite a bit of strength, a strong grip is crucial to avoid injury and burn as many calories as possible.

Portability

Chances are, if you’re looking for folding rowing machines, you need something that you can easily put away when you’re done using it.

If you have a dedicated space you can keep the machine, you may not have to think much about this.

However, if you don’t, then look for one that is foldable, lightweight, and has built-in transport wheels so you can easily roll it away once you’re done.

If it’s not foldable but it has wheels, then this will also help. The machines on our guide vary in weight a bit, anywhere from around 39 pounds to 90 pounds.

Price

How much are you willing to spend on a good foldable rowing machine? It’s a good idea to have a number in mind and not go over this budget you’ve set for yourself.

Once you start shopping around, it can be easy to go over this budget, which can end up in buyer’s remorse. We want you to be 100% happy with your purchase.

No matter what your budget is, we’re confident we have at least 1 solid selection for you!

FAQs About Compact Rowing Machines

Q: Which is best magnetic or air rowing machine?

A: There’s no one answer for this. Magnetic models are going to be more quiet and probably last a bit longer, as they virtually require no maintenance.

However, air rowing machines offer a bit more resistance typically (though not a rule).

Q: Is rowing better than cycling?

A: It’s a great alternative, that’s for sure! You get a full-body workout which you don’t really get with cycling, and it’s low-impact so easy on the joints.

Q: How do I choose a rowing machine?

A: Make sure it’s comfortable, works with the space you have alotted for it, is smooth, effective, and accurately tracks your progress.

Q: Is rowing better than running?

A: Rowing is much more low-impact and easier on the body than running. You’ll also get a more complete workout with rowing.

Tips For Choosing Folding Rowing Machines

#1: Make sure you have enough space.

Each model varies a bit in size.

It’s not only important that the specs suit the room or space you have available to work out in, but that you have at least a couple feet around it for you to workout effectively in without hitting your arms or back on the wall.

#2: Remember the weight capacity.

Each model has a different weight capacity with the lightest being about 250 and the heaviest around 350. It’s important not to go over this as you can have lasting damage on the machine.

#3: Consider the noise it produces

This one is often overlooked by those who haven’t used a rowing machine before. Air rowers are by far the loudest, though they’re very reliable and provide smooth and consistent resistance.

Summary

Now that you know just about everything you could ever want to know about the top compact folding rowers, which model will be landing on your doorstep?

If you still haven’t figured it out, know that whichever one you select you’ll be getting one of the top models out there.

However, what’s most crucial is that you select just the right one for you and your body.

We hope that our guide has helped you to do exactly that. Thanks for joining us and we hope to see you again soon!

Notice:

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