Hydrow Vs Concept2 RowErg – Which Rower is Best for You?

By Matt
Last Update
hydrow vs concept2

This is our comparison of the Hydrow vs Concept2 RowErg rowing machines.

I have had the pleasure of using both of these machines and spent way too many hours diving deep into comment sections to find all the things the companies don’t advertise. I’ll lay out the major differences between the rowers, and explain which rower will work best for different situations.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, skip ahead to our Final Thoughts.

A Quick Look

Your workout preferences will be the largest deciding factor in which rower is best for you.

If you’re looking for an almost silent rowing machine with a beautiful touchscreen display and tons of interactive programming, the Hydrow Rower is built for you.

If the noise isn’t an issue and you prefer to just row or jump on and off as part of a HIIT workout, then the Concept2 is the better choice. The Concept2 is also cheaper, lighter, and easier to move around the room if space is a concern.

Read below to get into more specific comparisons and all the information you need to pick the right rower for your home gym.

HydrowConcept2 RowErg
ResistanceMagnetic, with electronically adjusted dragAir with adjustable damper
Monitor22” touchscreenInstructor led workoutsspeakersPM5Workout trackingGames
ConnectivityBluetooth, WifiBluetooth, ANT+
Dimensions86”L x 25”W x 47”H
Seat Height 14”
95”L x 24”W x 30”H
Seat Height 14”
Machine Weight145lbs, 197lbs boxed57lbs
User Weight Limit375lbs 500lbs
Warranty5 years Frame1 year components1year labor5 years – frame2 years – components
ShippingFree$55
PriceCheck Price on HydrowCheck Price on Rogue Fitness

Resistance

The Hydrow uses magnetic resistance, which is what makes it so quiet to operate. Cheaper magnetic rowers use a constant resistance regardless of how hard you pull, meaning it doesn’t at all resemble what rowing on the water feels like. In water, the harder you pull, the harder the row is going to be.

The patented electronic controlled magnetic resistance on the Hydrow acts more like air or water resistance, and increases as you pull harder.

There is an adjustable drag setting on the Hydrow to dial in to a level that suits your body, and then doesn’t need to be adjusted. The drag setting is not meant to be a difficulty setting as the difficulty is determined by how much effort you put into each stroke. It’s meant to be more of a personal setting to optimize comfort during the stroke. As Hydrow explains:

This is sort of like adjusting your seat and mirrors before you drive a car. Once they’re optimized for you, you don’t need to reconfigure them for more intense driving.

Hydrow.com

The Concept2 is an air resistance rower meaning it uses a fan pushing against the air as resistance. This mimics the feeling the rowing on the water and the more effort you put into each stroke, the harder it will be.

There is an adjustable damper on the side of the fan cage that allows varying amounts of air into the fan housing. The more air in the housing, the more work it takes to spin the fan against the air. It will also slow the fan down faster in between strokes requiring more work on the next stroke.

Like the drag setting on the Hydrow, the damper setting changes the feel of each stroke instead of being a difficulty or intensity setting. As explained by Concept2:

At a damper setting of 1–4, the indoor rower feels like a sleek racing shell; at the higher numbers, the indoor rower feels like a slow row boat.

Concept2.com

The downside of the air resistance on the Concept2 rower is it generates a lot more noise than the Hydrow. The decibel tests are shown in this video list the Hydrow in the 60db range comparable to normal conversations, and the Concept2 in the 70db range which is comparable to a vacuum running. 

The Concept2 is not so loud that you can’t hear music in your headphones or have a conversation, but if rowing at 5 am beside the kid’s room is your only option then the Hydrow might be a better choice.

Monitors

The Hydrow comes equipped with a 22” full HD touchscreen display. The downside of this display is that it costs $38/month to access the library of 4000+ workouts on the rower and Hydrow App.

If you do pay for the membership, the workouts are very high-quality video recorded in beautiful settings. The workout library resembles the Netflix menu and can be filtered by the athlete (coach), duration, workout type, and location.

For each workout, you can customize the music and coach speaking volumes and can connect the audio to your Bluetooth headphones, or use the provided speakers. You can also connect your Bluetooth heart rate monitor in the workout menu.

The monitor allows you to enter personal details, and keep track of all your workouts and milestones. There is also a live leaderboard for some workouts which can really get the competitive juices flowing.

If you do not pay for the membership, you’ll be limited to a very basic ‘just row’ feature that is essentially a blank screen with a 15-minute countdown on it. The total meters, calories, and 500m split time will be shown during your workout, but it will not save or log any of the info.

The Concept2 rower comes equipped with the PM5 monitor included on all Concept2 cardio equipment. It may not be as visually impressive as the Hydrow touchscreen, but it is still quite advanced. 

The PM5 is able to track metrics like force curves and has built-in workouts, pacer boat options, and games. It has Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, and a USB slot for storing workout data.

One nice feature of the Concept2 is that it will start tracking your workout as soon as you pull the rower handle, without having to press any buttons on the screen to wake it up. This is especially nice if you are using the rower as part of a HIIT workout and need to start and stop quickly to keep your heart rate up.

The default ‘just row’ function of the Concept2 tracks and records your time, strokes/min, 500m split time, and total meters. This is considerably better than the free ‘just row’ option on the Hydrow, so if you don’t plan on paying for the subscription, the Concept2 is the better choice.

Frames

The most important thing to look for in a rower frame is one that will be sturdy during exercise. The Hydrow is not only sturdy but looks like a piece of art in the room. The downside to being that sturdy is that it’s over double the weight of the Concept2 at 145lbs.

The weight isn’t a big deal if you have the space to leave it out all the time, but if you need to wheel it around for storage then it may be an issue. Hydrow sells the upright storage kit for an additional $80 that consists of a D-ring designed to be mounted to a wall stud, and a strap to secure the rower.

When standing upright the Hydrow is a little over 7 feet tall, so make sure your room has at least an 8-foot ceiling.

The Concept2 weighs in at 57lbs, making it slightly easier to maneuver around the room than the Hydrow. Even though it’s lighter it’s rated to hold a 500lb user compared to 375lb for the Hydrow, and still feels extremely sturdy when rowing.

When standing upright the Concept2 is just under 8 feet tall and although it doesn’t fold, it can be broken down into 2 pieces for storage.

Warranty

Hydrow offers a home use limited warranty at no additional cost with the purchase of a new rower. This warranty includes:

  • Structural Frame & Upright Storage Kit: 5 years
  • Components*, Screen, & Other Electronics: 1 year
    • *Handle, strap, seat assembly, and hinge on the screen are considered components
  • Labor: 1 year

Concept2 offers a comparable warranty that includes:

  • Frame Parts: 5 years
  • All other parts: 2 years

What Customers are Saying

Hydrow received 4.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot from 9420 reviews mostly in part to their excellent customer service. Customers also seem to be really happy with the workouts, programming, and live leaderboard despite the monthly fees. 

Hydrow also received 4.7 out of 5 stars on BestBuy from 490 reviews. The bulk of the good reviews come from the design and quality of the rower, and the variety of workouts. 

The few negative reviews sprinkled in addressed connectivity issues with various Bluetooth devices, and glitchy Wifi connections. One reviewer was pretty disappointed about paying the monthly subscription. Always do your research before buying something!!

The Concept2 is also a highly rated and well-reviewed piece of equipment. Amazon users give Concept2 4.9 out of 5 stars from 11,390 ratings, and Rogue Fitness gives it 5 out of 5 stars from 1462 reviews.

The common theme with Concept2 is the build quality, and ease of setting it up. The complaints are few, but they mostly seem to be centered on issues with the PM5 monitor. Some issues were with data storage and some with error messages between the monitor and the machine. 

There were actually a few reviews I found where the person writing complained that there was virtually no resistance unless you used perfect form. I had to chuckle when I read these. Perfect form should be your first consideration regardless of what exercise or activity you’re doing.  

Price

The price is where these two rowers really differ from each other. At the time of writing the costs of these rowers are:

  • Hydrow – $2495
  • Concept2 – $990

These are the base prices for the rowers alone. Both companies also offer a variety of accessories that you might want to consider. Keep in mind that to get full access to Hydrow’s programming and workout storage you will need to pay a $38/month subscription fee. Hydrow also offers:

  • Upright Storage Kit – $80
  • Machine Mat – $90   

The Concept2 rower can be used with full functionality without an additional monthly fee. They also offer a few nice accessories to consider:

  • Floor Mat – $55
  • Rower Cover – $65
  • Seat Pad – $3.50
  • Heart Rate Monitor – $85
  • Tall Legs Retrofit Kit (raises seat to 20” off the floor) – $220 

Either of these rowers is going to be a considerable investment. It is nice to know that with the long warranty and good reputation of these brands, the investment will provide you with many years of quality rowing workouts.

To Sum Things Up on Hydrow vs Concept2

Here is a quick recap with some pros and cons of both rowers.

Hydrow ProsConcept2 Pros
Smooth and quiet belt driveVery durable nickel-plated chain drive
Bluetooth heart rate and audio connectivityBluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
Can support up to 375 lbsCan support up to 500 lbs
Vertical storage optionCan separate into 2 parts
Near-silent electromagnetic resistanceAir resistance closely resembles rowing on water
Sleek design with 22” touchscreen displayFunctional design with PM5 monitor
Lower price point
Hydrow ConsConcept2 Cons
Much higher price pointLonger footprint requires more space
$38 monthly fee for access to programsPre-programmed workouts aren’t nearly as interactive and immersive as Hyrdow
Extra Cost for vertical storageChain drive and fan are noisier
Basic “Just Row” setting lacks features

Final Thoughts

When looking to invest this kind of money into fitness equipment, make sure you pick one that you will be motivated to use. Coming from personal experience, it’s pretty depressing when your cardio machine becomes a dirty clothes holder or towel-drying rack!

It’s tough to pick a clear “winner” because the machines are tailored to different buying groups, but my choice would be the Concept2 RowErg. The deciding factor mostly has to do with the budget. Both machines offer a realistic rowing workout but the Concept2 is less than half the price.

If you are driven by the competitive nature of Hydrow’s live leaderboards or rowing with a live coach then Hydrow’s programming is the way to go. Also, if you are new to rowing, the videos offer coaching and tips on correct form and easily justify the price of the Hydrow.

If you have budget concerns or just want to direct your own training then it makes sense to go with Concept2.

If these are the rowers you have it narrowed down to then you’re on the right track. You really can’t go wrong with either choice for your Home Gym.

If you’re brand new to rowing, keep in mind you’ll be working some muscles that aren’t always engaged day to day so you might feel sore after the first couple of workouts. Take it slow at the beginning so you don’t lose motivation and you’ll be crushing 5K in no time! 

Happy Rowing!

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AUTHOR

Matt is a Professional Firefighter/Paramedic and a Certified Personal Trainer who has been passionate about fitness for nearly 20 years. He is active in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and enjoys many outdoor hobbies and sports.