Hydrow Vs NordicTrack RW900: Which Rower Is Best?

The rowing motion that is simulated through rowing machines is one of the most powerful additions to a home workout routine. Rowing not only burns calories and promotes weight loss, but it also targets all of the body’s major muscle groups.  

So the question isn’t whether or not a rower is worth it - the answer is yes! - but rather, which rowing machine is right for your home gym? After scouring the market for the best rowing machines, two models stood out as the best for those looking for a high-end, advanced rower: the Hydrow and the NordicTrack RW900.  

In this comparison guide, we’ll be covering the similarities and differences of the Hydrow vs NordicTrack rowers to help you choose the right one for you. 

We’ll cover each of the features in-depth later on, but if you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick comparison of the winning rower for each feature of the Hydrow and RW900: 

Feature 

Hydrow 

NordicTrack RW900 

Footprint  

Cell

Rowing Experience  

Cell

Weight & Height Capacity 

Cell

Aesthetics & Build Quality  

Cell

Integrated Tech Features 

Cell

Performance Monitoring  

Cell

Ease of Assembly 

Cell

Purchase Price & Ongoing Costs 

Cell

Hydrow Vs NordicTrack RW900 - Which Is Best For Your Garage Gym? 

Model
Hydrow Connected Rowing Machine, Subscription...
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine with 22”...
Image
Hydrow Connected Rowing Machine, Subscription...
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine with 22”...
Dimensions
86”L x 25”W x 47”H
86.5″L x 22.0″W x 50.4″H
Weight
145 lbs
108 lbs
User Weight Capacity
375 lbs
250 lbs
User Height Limit
Fits up to 36” inseam
Fits up to 34” inseam
Resistance Type
Digital + electromagnetic
Digital + air
Resistance Levels
Up to 300 “drag” settings
26 digital + 10 manual air resistance levels
Display
22” touchscreen
22” touchscreen
Heart Rate Monitor
Bluetooth 5.0-enabled for heart-rate monitors
Must purchase separately
Interactive Training
On-water workouts
iFit studio workouts
Warranty
Frame: 5 years Parts: 1 year
Frame: 10 years Parts: 2 years
Model
Hydrow Connected Rowing Machine, Subscription...
Image
Hydrow Connected Rowing Machine, Subscription...
Dimensions
86”L x 25”W x 47”H
Weight
145 lbs
User Weight Capacity
375 lbs
User Height Limit
Fits up to 36” inseam
Resistance Type
Digital + electromagnetic
Resistance Levels
Up to 300 “drag” settings
Display
22” touchscreen
Heart Rate Monitor
Bluetooth 5.0-enabled for heart-rate monitors
Interactive Training
On-water workouts
Warranty
Frame: 5 years Parts: 1 year
Check Price
Model
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine with 22”...
Image
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine with 22”...
Dimensions
86.5″L x 22.0″W x 50.4″H
Weight
108 lbs
User Weight Capacity
250 lbs
User Height Limit
Fits up to 34” inseam
Resistance Type
Digital + air
Resistance Levels
26 digital + 10 manual air resistance levels
Display
22” touchscreen
Heart Rate Monitor
Must purchase separately
Interactive Training
iFit studio workouts
Warranty
Frame: 10 years Parts: 2 years
Check Price

As long as you’re willing to spend a hefty amount of cash on your new rowing machine, then either of these machines can serve you well. But before you buy, it's extremely important to weigh the pros and cons and compare the features of each.  

There are a lot of things to think about when buying any cardio machine. Just to name a few, you have to think about the footprint, storage, weight limitations, tech features, and assembly. Below, we’ve covered all the important considerations for choosing the one that’s right for you: 

Footprint In The Home  

Both machines are designed to look sleek and stylish, but in terms of dimensions, the NordicTrack rower takes the cake. While it’s about the same length as the Hydrow, it’s smaller in width, so if you’re short on space, this one is the winner.  

Both machines weigh a significant amount, but luckily both rowers fold up for easy storage. The RW900 is designed to fold in half, and the Hydrow folds upright for vertical storage. Unfortunately for the Hydrow, you’ll need to purchase additional equipment to safely store it upright. 

Comfortable & Realistic Rowing Experience  

Both machines create a comfortable, smooth rowing motion, but the Hydrow goes above and beyond in this department. The company designed the rower to use a computer-controlled, electromagnetic drag system, which is as close to real rowing as you can get.  

The NordicTrack uses a more traditional digital resistance system as well as 10 levels of manual air resistance. These are perfectly adequate for mimicking real-life rowing, but this system isn’t on the same level as Hydrow’s more advanced drag settings.  

In terms of other comfort features, there’s no clear winner. Both machines offer a sturdy frame (although the Hydrow can support more weight), a comfortable seat, handle padding, and adjustable foot straps.  

Weight & Height Capacity 

The NordicTrack rower is smaller and more compact than the Hydrow, which also means it doesn’t support as much weight. The RW900 can handle up to 250 pounds of user weight, while the Hydrow can handle a whopping 375 pounds.  

There aren’t many weight limitations for either machine, but there have been some complaints from taller RW900 users. The Hydrow fits up to a 36” inseam, which means that even the tallest individuals can use it. The NordicTrack, on the other hand, is best fitted for users under 6’2” in height. 

woman using hydrow rowing machine

Aesthetics & Build Quality  

Aesthetically, most people prefer the design of the Hydrow. This machine is sleek, mainly thanks to the fact that the frame is built around the internal mechanisms. This means that the resistance system isn’t visible to the eye; it’s enclosed in the sturdy, stylish aluminum casing with black and silver accents.  

The color scheme of the RW900 is basically identical to the Hydrow, with an entirely black and silver design that looks good in any room. It’s still nice to look at, but it doesn’t have the same flair and finesse as the Hydrow rower. All in all, the Hydrow wins in this category, not just in terms of aesthetics but also when it comes to overall build quality and construction.  

Integrated Tech Features  

Both the Hydrow and RW900 are built with large 22” touchscreen displays, and both displays deliver content in high definition with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. With the RW900, the display streams on-demand iFit workouts directly on your rowing machine. It can be adjusted and rotated to an angle that works best for you, which isn’t something that the Hydrow display is capable of doing.  

One thing that the Hydrow rower has that the RW900 doesn’t is a front-facing speaker system. This means that the audio features are more immersive on the Hydrow, so if you prefer to crank the volume up during your workouts, you’ll love the Hydrow’s speaker system.  

With the NordicTrack rower, most of the rowing workouts included on the iFit platform are streamed from a fitness studio, but iFit has recently added waterway workouts on real rivers around the world. You can follow trainers on the River Thames and other iconic waterways, or you can choose from one of the thousands of in-studio workouts.  

The iFit membership is free for the first 30 days with your RW900 purchase, but unlike the Hydrow, it’s not required to use your machine. If you do prefer to use the iFit subscription to help you train, you can get an individual plan for $180/year or a family plan for $396/year.  

Hydrow’s paid monthly membership (it’s $38/month) gives you access to live workouts and an on-demand library containing over 3,000 pre-recorded workouts. Each membership includes unlimited user profiles, so you won’t have to pay more for multiple users, but you do need to have the subscription to continue using the rower. 

NordicTrack RW900 Rowing machine

Weight Loss & Performance Monitoring  

Both machines make it really easy to monitor your performance throughout the workouts. As you row, the touchscreens continuously update your progress with info on your strokes per minute, speed, calories burned, time lapsed, and more.  

One thing that we love about the RW900 is the Automatic Trainer Control. This feature automatically adjusts the resistance on your rower based on trainer recommendations, so even as the intensity changes from the warm-up to cool-down, all you have to do is continue rowing.  

If you are using your rower to lose weight, you really can’t go wrong with either the Hydrow or RW900. Both rowers allow you to choose from thousands of weight loss programs, and they both allow users to burn calories at a similar rate.  

Ease of Assembly 

Unfortunately, neither machine comes fully assembled, so unless you pay an additional fee for expert assembly, you will have to put in some work to get them up and running.  

According to the Hydrow assembly guide, the company says that “Hydrow is designed so that it can be assembled without professional assistance. However, we strongly suggest using two people during the assembly process.”

Assembly shouldn’t take more than an hour, and thanks to the clear instructions, it’s fairly easy to do. Once everything is put together, just follow the on-screen prompts to create or log in to your account and agree to the terms of service. 

With the NordicTrack RW900, the machine is designed for out-of-the-box easy assembly. Because of the heavy components, it's still best to have two people present to put it together. If you follow this video tutorial, you shouldn’t have any trouble assembling the machine in about 45 minutes.   

Purchase Price & Ongoing Costs  

When comparing the costs of the Hydrow vs NordicTrack rowers, the Hydrow is undeniably the more expensive choice. Even without the required membership of $38 per month, this machine has a higher initial cost. To minimize your costs, try purchasing the machine while it’s on sale, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  

If you prefer not to pay for a monthly subscription, you don’t have to with the NordicTrack RW900. You will get a free 30-day trial for iFit, but if you don’t want to continue after 30 days, you don’t have to. If that’s the case, you can use the machine’s preset workouts, but just know that there aren’t nearly as many as there are on the iFit platform.  

Surprisingly, the NordicTrack rower has a longer and more comprehensive warranty policy than the Hydrow. The RW900 is protected by a 10-year frame warranty and a 2-year parts warranty, while Hydrow offers a 5-year warranty on the frame and a 1-year warranty on parts and electronics.  

Overview Of The Hydrow Rowing Machine 

Hydrow Connected Rowing Machine, Subscription...
  • LIVE OUTDOOR REALITY (LOR) ROWER: Meet...
  • REDEFINED ROWING EXPERIENCE: Hydrow uses...
  • AN IMMERSIVE WORKOUT: The Hydrow features a...
  • WORLD-CLASS ROWING INSTRUCTION: Hydrow...

Before comparing all of the features and functions for each rower, let’s start by talking about Hydrow. The Hydrow company designed their world-class rower to work for anyone at any fitness level. According to them, this machine

“brings the outdoors into your home with immersive, full-body live and on-demand workouts.” 

Aside from the interactive workouts, the main selling point of the Hydrow rower is that it targets 86% of your muscles, which is almost twice the engagement of spin bikes, running, and other forms of cardio. 

The machine itself is sleek and stylish, and the workouts are challenging, engaging, and interactive.  

All of the on-demand workouts are led by athletes who are considered professional rowers. 

Even if you’re nowhere near the pro-level rowing status, they make the workouts fun while immersing you in a life-like row that’s similar to the real thing. 

hydrow rowing machine

Pros & Cons Of The Popular Hydrow Rower 

As is the case with any piece of fitness equipment, there are both good and bad aspects of the Hydrow rower. The main con is that this is one of the most expensive rowers on a budget, so even though the workouts are designed for everyone, the price tag is not.  

Here’s a full breakdown of the Hydrow pros vs cons:  

What We Like 

  • Massive touchscreen that’s easy to navigate 
  • Sleek machine design 
  • Innovative content that’s different from any rower on the market 
  • Rowing accessories included with purchase 
  • Money-back guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied 

What We Don’t Like 

  • High cost and required monthly subscription 
  • For upright storage of the Hydrow, additional equipment is needed 
  • An extremely heavy piece of equipment 

Overview Of The NordicTrack RW900 Rower

NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine with 22”...
819 Reviews
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine with 22”...
  • 30-Day iFIT Family Membership Included;...
  • 22” HD Interactive Touchscreen Display...
  • 26 Digital Resistance Levels; Your iFIT...
  • Innovative SpaceSaver Design; Your rower...

NordicTrack is one of the most respected fitness brands, and similar to Hydrow, their machines are designed to cater to all fitness levels. They have innovated new home fitness solutions like cross-training, strength training, interactive running, treadmill training, endurance running, and studio cycling, and the RW900 is the perfect example of that.  

There are three different models in NordicTrack’s RW line of rowers, and the RW900 is the most advanced by far.

It comes with a smart high-def touchscreen, access to immersive workouts led by professional trainers, and even daily recommendations for how to work out.  

This rower connects to the iFit training platform through WiFi.

NordicTrack RW900 Rower

Every iFIT rowing workout features Automatic Trainer Control, where the trainers adjust your rower's digital resistance for a great workout. That means you won’t have to make any adjustments while you row, so your workout will be that much better. 


Pros & Cons Of The Popular NordicTrack RW900 Rower 

It’s easy to assume that this machine is perfect, especially considering NordicTrack’s amazing reputation. But just like the Hydrow, there are both pros and cons of choosing the NordicTrack RW900, including:  

What We Like 

  • One of the most affordable high-end rowers 
  • Small storage footprint with foldable design 
  • Combined digital + air resistance 
  • Free iFit trial included with purchase 
  • Large display with interactive rowing content  

What We Don’t Like 

  • Lower weight limit compared to the Hydrow 
  • Some height limitations, particularly for users over 6’2” 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can Hydrow be used outside? 

Many people wonder this, so Hydrow answered in detail on their support page: 

“Hydrow is only intended for use indoors. Using Hydrow outdoors will void the warranty, regardless of the temperature. Storing Hydrow outdoors, even when protected from the elements or harsh temperatures, will void the warranty.”  

Does Hydrow use iFit? 

No, Hydrow workouts are not streamed through the iFit platform. Hydrow workouts are filmed on the water to give users a real-life rowing experience, whereas iFit workouts are filmed in a studio environment.  

Is Hydrow worth the subscription costs?  

It depends on your workout preferences. If you want to row along with an on-water athlete who is leading your workout, then yes, it’s worth the monthly costs. However, if you prefer an in-studio environment or you don’t care either way, then the NordicTrack rower may be better suited to your needs.  

Which of these is better suited to women? 

When comparing the NordicTrack RW900 vs Hydrow, either machine is great for females. The main thing to keep in mind is that the RW900 has a lower weight and height limit, so larger individuals will definitely want to check into that before buying. 


Conclusion

There is not a winner for everyone in the Hydrow vs NordicTrack showdown. It all comes down to your budget, your workout preferences, and any height and weight limitations that you need to consider.  

If we HAD to choose a winner, though, the award would go to Hydrow. This is a premium piece of cardio equipment that has been designed by engineers, rowers, and exercise scientists. Hydrow’s live outdoor workouts take this machine to the next level, so as long as you’re willing to spend the money, it’s a great investment for any home gym. 

Paul J