Top 6 Best Hydraulic/Piston Rowing Machines – Eliminating Noise From Your Workout

The world of rowing machines is very diverse and full of different designs. One niche of rowers you don’t really hear about too much are hydraulic or piston rowers.

Today we are going to show you our picks for the top 6 best hydraulic/piston rowing machines on the market. Some of these are easily among the best rowers on the market right now. Further down in the guide, we will go into what benefits this design brings to the table and why you should consider these.

By the time you’re done reading, you should have all the necessary information.

Top 6 Best Hydraulic/Piston Rowing Machines:

Kettler is one of the giants of the fitness industry. Their machines are always at the very edge in terms of performance, features and just about any metric that matters. Kettler Kadett is a piston rower with a twist. This design isn’t really representative of most piston rowers, but there is no denying that Kettler has found a way to merge two very different designs and make something truly great.

What you see here is a rowing machine that works just like any other rower on the market. You get the same motion and mechanics as you do with water rowers for example, only the resistance is being produced by a set of pistons. One more interesting thing about the Kadett is the fact that it offers adjustable resistance. You can choose a value from 1 to 12 and always have a challenging workout. In all honesty, this machine offers a pretty authentic experience.

The way the levers are positioned mimics the oars pretty well. The whole thing sits on a very robust frame while the seat itself is quite comfortable. On top of all that, you also get a large display unit to track your progress and workout regimen.

Another Kettler model we want to show you is the Favorit. Compared to the Kadett, this one is a whole different kind of beast. Favorit is much more in line with what most think of when they think piston rowers. It is a fixed seat design with a very smooth and consistent piston mechanism.

Sticking to the more traditional design gives the Favorit one very real advantage. It is super compact. If you have enough room to sit on the floor with your feet extended in front of you, you will have enough space for this rower. One cool thing about the Favorit which you don’t really see too much on this type of rowers are the long stroke pistons. Different brands choose different size pistons but you generally see smaller cylinders used across the board.

Kettler’s decision to implement larger hydraulic cylinders means that you are getting a much more consistent resistance on each stroke. Despite its simplicity, Kettler Favorit comes with adjustable resistance settings and a very advanced display unit. You can set a whole variety of resistance levels by simply engaging the mechanism on the oars themselves. Because of all this, Favorit really is an awesome choice.

Stamina is a brand that many fitness equipment enthusiasts have heard of to say the least. If we are being honest, they control a hefty amount of the market share. There is a good reason for that too. When you are consistently producing affordable and reliable machines, you are bound to gain a good reputation.

The BodyTrack Glider 1060 which we are looking at here checks all of those boxes. However, despite this being a very affordable model, it still comes with a rail mounted seat so that you are engaging your legs as well as your upper body when you row. One thing worth noting is that Stamina went with a single piston design for this rower. Where most other brands use a piston for each oar, Stamina has decided to bolt both of the oars to a single cylinder located under the main rails.

The seat is a plastic molded piece with a very comfortable contour to it. It offers decent comfort during use and can get you through a longer workout session with very little fatigue. Another cool thing about this rower is the fact that it comes with a display unit. It is simple but effective.

One quick glance at the ProGear 750 should tell you that it is anything but an ordinary rower. In fact, it is so outside the range of the usual piston design that some might even refuse to consider it a proper rower. However, it is one, for sure. What ProGear did with this model is simply extend its functionality.

They’ve found a way to include more than one workout into a machine whose primary function is to be a rower. This means that you can do rows, shoulder presses, pull downs, bent over rows and a whole bunch of other workouts on the sample platform you use for rowing. that is pretty amazing if you really think about it. Its diverse functionality aside, ProGear 750 packs two very sturdy cylinders and a seat that isn’t fixed.

Sure, you don’t get a very extended range of motion out of it, but it still allows you to engage your lower body as well as your upper body during rowing. Somehow ProGear has managed to make this rower compact despite all of the things it can do. The last little detail we’d like to mention is the simple display unit it comes with.

Even though piston rowers are very simple and often times really affordable, that doesn’t have to mean that you can’t find a model that offers great bang for the buck. Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine is another rower on our list that utilizes the single cylinder design.

Being mounted under the rail, this beefy cylinder is capable of delivering quite a decent amount of resistance. One of the often overlooked benefits of using only one cylinder is synchronicity of motion. You simply don’t have to worry whether or not both of your arms are synced up. With this system they have to be. The next feature worth mentioning is the adjustable resistance level. You can choose between various resistance settings and find one which is the most engaging.

For an affordable model such as this one, having the ability to do so is quite impressive. Then there is the display unit which offers all of the usual information. What we really like about this one is its size. You are looking at a pretty legible display that quite easy to navigate and use. Lastly, we would like to mention the awesome aesthetics of this model. It’s a good looking fitness machine.

If there is one brand you will often run into on in lower price ranges, it is Sunny Health & Fitness. Their SF-RW5639 is one of the best piston rowers you can get for this kind of money. They have used all of the design features and solutions you would expect them to. Is this rower innovative or special in any particular way? Not really. But that tends to be its main benefit.

Sunny has used all of the features, design solution and general hardware that has been proven so many times by now. By doing so, they have ensured that you’re getting reliable performance that you can rely on day in, day out. That alone makes this rower pretty awesome. When it comes to design, this is a single piston rower with 12 levels of adjustable resistance.

It comes with a large seat that isn’t padded but offers plenty of comfort. Despite its shorter rail, you are getting a full range of motion, thus engaging your lower and upper body as you exercise. The display unit on this model is pretty basic and quite small. Even so, you shouldn’t really have problems reading getting the info you need from it.

What Are Hydraulic/Piston Rowing Machines?

Rowers are pretty straight forward machines. The core design hasn’t really changed much since these first hit the market way back when. However, as time went on and markets evolved, we started seeing different models appear which use radically different mechanics to achieve the same or similar goals. 

With piston rowers, that is exactly what you get. These are bringing you very similar results but they take a whole different approach to getting there. That is one of the main pros but also the cons of this system. 

Hydraulic rowers are rowers, but barely. Lets take a moment to discuss which features and elements are going to be different from what most other designs use.

Mechanics Of A Piston Rower

One of the main design differences is the fact that you are not mowing your body as you row like you do with magnetic rowers. A good amount of piston rowers come with fixed seats, but there’s a good amount of them that don’t, as you can tell from our list. 

Kettler KadettRight off the bat you can tell that piston rowers are compact. Since you don’t need to have a massive rail with lots of travel, you can keep the overall size of the machine down quite a bit. 

The con of this approach is that your legs aren’t being engage almost at all while you row. If that is important to you, we suggest that you take a peek at water rowers as they offer optimal rowing emulation.

Budget Friendly Design

The largest benefit of owning a piston rower is the fact that it is very budget friendly. These machines are about 50% cheaper than their counterparts on average. 

If you are just getting into fitness or rowing for that matter, and you are working with a limited budget, one of these might be the perfect fit. However, there are expensive hydraulic rowers out there. 

Some of the models on our list fall within the $500 rowing machines category. Despite that, you are still getting a pretty good bang for your buck. That is guaranteed.


Or to be more specific, the lack there of. One of the main issues that plague rowing machines is their noise. No matter which resistance system you go with, chances are that you will have to endure quite a few decibels as you row. 

With piston rowers you simply don’t have that issue. These are super quiet even under heavy loads.

The Ver(ve)dict

Hydraulic rowing machines are a very interesting design that offer a good balance of simplicity, efficiency and low prices. The models we have listed above are by far some of the best you can find on the market right now. 

We did our best to put together a list that represents a good cross section of the market, so that you are likely to find something to fit your particular needs. If you are dealing with a limited amount of space and need a compact machine, hydraulic rowers are probably going to give you the best bang for your buck.