Best 5 Compact Rowing Machine Reviews (2019)

If you live in a small flat, a compact rowing machine is may be the best home exercise equipment you can invest into. Since they have a small footprint, you can use them comfortably even if you have just a small room. Also, they are foldable, so you store them easily, and put it into the boot of your car if you travel.

If you ask a fitness expert what is the most beneficial cardio equipment for home, the answer is a treadmill or an indoor rowing machine for sure.

best compact rowing machine

Personally, I prefer a rower since it is useful not only for improving the cardiovascular system and burning fat but also strengthening muscles. They provide a total body workout, and helps to get results fast.

Within this article, I would like to give you help to find the optimal small footprint rowing machine. You will learn the various types, get buying tips and find the reviews of the best five models.

Best Compact Rowing Machines Comparison Chart


Stamina Air Rower


  • Wind-resistance
  • Large footplates for any size user
  • Folds for storage
  • 250 lb max capacity
  • 77 by 18 by 22 (L x W x H)


Stamina Orbital Rower


  • Hydraulic cylinder resistance
  • Pivoting foot plates
  • Full range-of-motion rowing
  • 250 lbs capacity
  • 48 x 32.5 x 27.75 inches (LxWxH)


LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine


  • 16.5-pound flywheel resistance
  • Smooth and quiet drive system
  • 300-pound maximum user weight
  • 34×19×64 inches (L x W x H)


Stamina Body Trac Glider


  • Gas-shock resistance
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Affordable price
  • 33”L x 19”W x 46”H; 39 pounds
  • 77 by 18 by 22 (L x W x H)


Stamina InMotion Rower


  • Hydraulic cylinder resistance
  • Five levels
  • 250 lb capacity
  • 56.5L x 19W x 23.5H inches

Portable Rowing Machine Reviews

1. Stamina Air Rover Review - The Best Buy

stamina ats 1399 air rowing machine

This compact and folding rowing machine is one of the most popular in this price range. As it is in its name, it comes with an air resistance. Users like it for its wide foot plates, inclined seat rail and thickly padded seat. Many users think it is the best alternative to Concept 2 rowing machine.

Pros & Features

  • It allows to set the workout intensity, so it is suitable for all the members of your family.
  • The wind resistance system provides a smooth and realistic rowing stroke.
  • It has a small footprint and foldable. You can use it in a small room comfortably.
  • The performance monitor displays accurately essential data you need to know about your workout such as distance, time and calories burned.
  • Its oversized seat, large footplates and foot straps provide comfortable and efficient usage for almost any body-type.


  • Well, be prepared that is rather noisy, but by using headphones you might get rid of it.
  • The design engages more the upper body. So, if you want to focus on your lower body as well, you may not find it beneficial.
  • Advanced users find it easy to work out with it. If you are a pro, you will need something more professional.
Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
1,080 Reviews
Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
If we check the price and the features, this air rover is worth considering. It is sturdy and provides a good workout for an average user for years.

2. Stamina 1215 Orbital - Giving Full Range of Motion

stamina 1215 orbital rower with free motion arms

Very compact design but gives good workout experience

Rowers from Stamina are the highest quality ones on the market these days. And that applies to this model even if it comes with hydraulic cylinder resistance. It provides smooth movement, 12 levels of adjustments, compact design and 5 years warranty.

Pros & Features

  • The rowing arms are foldable making it easy to store.
  • It provides a full range of motion that leads to better muscle stimulation.
  • Good features for comfort: thickly padded seat and handle grips for extended workouts.
  • ​It enables to adjust the levels and the incline of the machine to customize it for your fitness needs.
  • Users experience natural, and smooth rowing that is almost is the same as real rowing.


  • It would be useful if the handlebars could be adjustable.
  • Beginner ladies find it hard to strike with it even at the lowest level.
More details on Stamina 1215 Orbital with Free Motion Arms
368 Reviews
More details on Stamina 1215 Orbital with Free Motion Arms
Overall, 1215 is a good option for those who need a compact rowing machine and does not have enough money yet to buy a more professional product. As it can be adjusted for different levels, it is a great buy for a family.

3. LifeSpan RW1000 - Highest Weight Capacity

LifeSpan RW1000

Foldable portable rowing machine

LifeSpan RW1000 provides a smooth and quiet workout. It supports five levels of resistance making it suitable for anyone in the family. Although, it needs some improvements from the manufacturer side.

Pros & Features

  • Although it comes with a flywheel because of it unique technology, RW1000 is a quiet rowing machine. Hence, you will not disturb anybody around you.
  • A foldable rowing machine to store it easily.
  • ​It comes with three LCD console showing you calories you burned, the distance, speed and the number of strikes.
  • ​It supports up to 300lbs, so suitable for most of the overweight people.
  • ​It comes with padded hand grips and swivel foot pedals so even if you use it for a long time it will not hurt your hands and feet.


  • Some users have complained about broken plastic parts.
  • A few users have negative opinions because this rower has no chains. The mechanism is just a strap of fabric.
  • Also, a few users complain about skipping on the floor while they strike.
LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
108 Reviews
LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
Lifespan RW1000 Rower is a robust model, but there are a few minor problems with it. Anyway, it is good for an average user, but not for pros.

4. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 - Best Inexpensive Rowing Machine

stamina bodytrack glider

The best price/value compact rowing machine

1050 is the best budget rowing machine for sure costing about $100. Even if this equiepment is a basic model with gas shock resistance, it has thousands of positive reviews. It is tiny, foldable and affordable, but certainly not for intermediate or advanced users.


  • Because of the small design it can be used almost anywhere, plus foldable. You take it with yourself everywhere you go.
  • Unlike other rowers, it has two sperate handles, so you have the feeling as if you row in a real boat.
  • Adjustable seat to set it for your height to perform the move more comfortably and efficiently.
  • ​Even if this is a cheap model, it is sturdy and does not wobble. Also, it has floor protection.
  • ​It can be adjusted manually with a control knob.


  • Like other gas shock fitness equipment, it is noisy and creaks a little bit for the first few minutes.
  • A few users complain about the oil leaking from the cylinder. That can lead to pressure loss.
  • If you use it for a long time, the pistons can heat up. That can stop the machine to function correctly. You need to wait a little until it cools down.
Find more customer reviews about Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine here
2,500 Reviews
Find more customer reviews about Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine here
Regarding the price, this product is the best compact rower you can buy. However, compared to other models this one is a very basic one, but might be suitable for beginners.

5. InMotion Rower - The Cheapest

stamina inmotion

It is another affordable and compact exercise machine with basic features. It supports 5 levels. Its slim and compact design makes it a good option if you live in a small apartment but want to burn calories at home.


  • The cheapest, actually under $100 making it an excellent exercise equipment to buy if you are on a budget.
  • Users find it comfortable to use even if they have bad knees.
  • ​Very easy to assemble even if you are not a techie.
  • ​Its hydraulic resistance is at the front of the equipment while others have it beneath the user. That makes the strikes more natural.
  • ​It lets switch between 5 levels. Set it to a low a lower level to do more intense workouts that are better for cardio. And by setting to the higher level you can strengthen your muscles more.


  • A few users complain about broken parts.
  • Also, there are a few bad opinions about the customer service and missing parts.
Stamina 35-0123 Inmotion Rower, Silver
243 Reviews
Stamina 35-0123 Inmotion Rower, Silver
For this price, you will not get a perfect equipment for sure, but for an average user, it provides a good workout at a low price.

Buying Guide for Folding Rowing Machine

What types of machines are there?

The most important feature of a rower is the system it has for resistance.

Hydraulic Piston

Typically, these are the cheap rowing machines, and they are almost always foldable. Hydraulic pistons are attached to the handlebars that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the hardness of the training. Compared to others they do not provide such smooth movement.

hydraulic piston


These fitness machines come with a flywheel that generates the resistance, and they provide smoother operation. The more the wheel turns, the more power you use for your workout. Some users do not like these models because they are a bit noisy.



These models are more expensive but give better user experience. The resistance is generated by electromagnets. This equipment lets choose from various levels, and they are the quietest. However, they are bigger and cannot be folded.

magnetic resistance


This types of indoor rowers are the best for sure. However, they are big and cost far more than the others. They provide a feel as if you row in a real boat. There is a water tank with paddles inside, and as you pull the handle bars, the moving paddles generate the counter power for the training. Also, you can hear the sound of the splashing water. But they are not compact rowing machines, since they are big and need space to use them comfortably and safely.

The Concept2 Model D is the far the most popular model recommended by experts that use water resistance.


As you are searching for a compact machine, you can get one only with a hydraulic piston, air or magnetic resistance system.

Pre-Purchase Considerations

  • Even if only small rowers are listed below, always check the size of the model.
  • If you are serious about working out at home, get an air rower or magnetic one. These models provide more functions, more durable and smoother to use.
  • Do not forget to check the weight capacity of the product you want to buy. Typically, they support around 300lbs.
  • Always check the customer reviews of the machine you want to buy to see how it works for others. If most of the users have positive reviews, that is a good sign that the machine is worth to purchase.
  • Depending how much you can buy a portable rowing machine from about $100 to $500. The better air rowers are more expensive, but they give more efficient workouts.

There is no doubt that a home rower is good buy if you wan to lose weight and keep your body fit and healthy. You can read about its benefits here.

And The Winner Is..?

Because of the workout experience, the price, the customer reviews and its premium features, our winner is the Stamina Air Rower. It is best folding rowing machine that provides a superb workout at home. If you are searching for a more professional equipment, check out the best rowing machine for home use here.

Did you find the best compact rowing machine for you? Share with your friends!

Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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