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Best Compact Rowing Machine

Best Compact Rowing Machine

Looking for the best compact rowing machine to start exercising? Well I have the complete list of best options!

First, I’ll outline the questions to ask yourself when you start looking for a compact rower.

Then, I’ll list out the best options in each resistance category and price range, so you can find the perfect compact home rowing machine.

While some rowing machines are big while using, they can fold up quite small for storage.

You may also be surprised to find out some small rowing machines cannot fold for storage at all and may not even fit in your closet!

Continue reading below for a few tips on finding the best compact rowing machine and then check out my list of top models!

Why Buy a Compact Rower?

There are plenty of reasons to look for a compact home rowing machine and some people just don’t want a huge piece of fitness equipment taking up all their space!

Some of the biggest reasons for needing a compact rower is due to people living in a small apartment, having a small fitness area, or living with a roommate and needing to exercise in their room.

Others may not be able to leave it out and need to be able to store it under their bed or in a closet. I have also known people to have to move the rowing machine from one room to another or up and down stairs, so they needed a very lightweight rower or one with good transportation wheels.

Compact Rower

Whatever your reason, you will have to think ahead about where you plan on using this rower, where it will be stored, and some of the features and dimensions you want.

This will lead you to pick the best compact rower and not have any issues after it arrives!

Questions to Ask Yourself?

As I just mentioned, there are a few important questions to first ask yourself before buying a compact rowing machine.

#1: What resistance type do you want?

There are rowing machines in many different resistance categories with the main five being:

  • Water
  • Air
  • Magnetic
  • Air-Magnetic Combo
  • Hydraulic-Piston

Some resistance types will have smaller footprints than others, but it’s a great idea to become familiar with each  type and rank which are your favorite.

You can read my rowing machine resistance type article here for an overview on each category.

I also have a few comparison articles if you narrow it down to two types. You can compare air and water rowers, which are both ‘variable’ resistance.

You can then compare magnetic and air rowers which help compare the difference between ‘variable’ and ‘adjustable’ resistance.

#2: What is your budget?

This is a pretty straightforward question. You can think of rowing machines as being budget ($300 & Under), mid-range ($300-$600), or high-end ($600+).

Rowing machines are like cars, you can’t find a new Cadillac at a budget price. As you go up in price, you will have better build quality, more monitor functions, longer warranties, etc.

However, you can still find great budget rowing machines that can fit all of your needs. Plus, the lower cost models are usually more compact.

#3: What are your exercise space and storage dimensions?

Some people need a compact rowing machine because they don’t have a lot of floor space to exercise, while others need one because they want it to fit into a closet.

First, decide if you need a compact rower due to a small exercise spot, for storage purposes, or for both!

Then, either measure or estimate the dimensions of each area.

#4: Think of any other features you want/need?

Finally, you can think of any features you need or really want on a rowing machine.

This can mean you need a rowing machine with transportation wheels or you want it to be less than 40 lbs.

You may also need certain capacity features such as needing a higher than 250 lb. weight capacity.

All of these special features are outlined in my reviews, so you will just have to click on your favorite model and jump ahead to your desired section.

Best Compact Rowing Machine

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear cut winner for “Best Compact Rowing Machine”. This is due to people having different wants and needs.

Plus, some people want an air rower, while others want magnetic. Some people want to pay $200, while others want to spend $900.

First I will list the top 3 budget compact rowers, which all come in under $300 (prices can change). Then I will list the higher-end compact rowers.

Best Budget Compact Rowing Machines

#1: Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine (Hydraulic-Piston)

The Stamina 1215 is one of the most compact rowing machines while in-use and for storage. It can be used in a very small space and can fold to fit under many beds.

Stamina 1215 Compact Rowing Machine
Stamina 1215 Compact Storage

In-Use (L x W x H):

48.0″ x 32.5″ x 27.75″

Storage (L x W x H):

48.0″ x 32.5″ x 10.0″


52 pounds

Please read my full Stamina 1215 Free-Motion Rowing Machine review here for more details.

#2: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 (Magnetic)

The Sunny SF-RW5515 is a compact rowing machine with foldable storage, that many consider the best budget magnetic rowing machine. With it’s great price and strong magnetic resistance, this model has been selling like hot cakes!

Sunny SF-RW5515 Compact Design
Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Compact Storage

In-Use (L x W x H):

82.0″ x 19.0″ x 23.0″

Storage (L x W x H):

33.0″ x 19.0″ x 53.5″


59 pounds

Please read my full Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower review here for more details.

#3: Stamina 1399 ATS Rowing Machine (Air)

The Stamna ATS 1399 is very similar to the Sunny SF-RW5515 due to it’s compact size, great price, and excellent resistance. However, the main difference is one being air resistance and the other being magnetic. Lucky for us, we have both options at budget prices! Read my magnetic vs. air comparison to help choose between the two.

Stamina 1399 Compact Rower
Stamina ATS Air Rower Compact Storage

In-Use (L x W x H):

77.0″ x 18.0″ x 22.0″

Storage (L x W x H):

28.0″ x 18.0″ x 48.0″


55 pounds

Please read my full Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 review here for more details.

High-End Compact Rowing Machines

While high-end rowers will have much bigger “in-use” dimensions, many can still fold up to fit in a closet or fold upright against a wall.

#1: Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine (Air)

The Model D is the #1 bestselling rowing machine on the market and it is even used by Olympic Rowers for off-the-water training. It has the best performance monitor, excellent build quality, and great resistance. While it is long to accommodate very tall athletes, it can be taken apart in under 10 seconds and stored in a closet. It can also be stored upright!

Concept2 Model D
Concept2 Model D Storage

In-Use (L x W x H):

96.0″ x 24.0″ x 42.0″

Storage (L x W x H):

33.0″ x 24.0″ x 54.0″


57 pounds

Please read my full Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower review here for more details.

#2: Stamina Avari Programmable Rower (Magnetic)

The Stamina Avari is considered the best high-end magnetic rowing machine under $1,000. It has an advanced programmable monitor, strong magnetic resistance, and can fold for storage. This is the go-to model for anyone wanting a high quality magnetic rower. It is a bit heavy, but the transportation wheels make it easy to move around.

Stamina Avari Compact Rowing Machine
Stamina Avari Folding Storage

In-Use (L x W x H):

81.0″ x 20.0″ x 24.5″

Storage (L x W x H):

36.0″ x 20.0″ x 53.5″


86 pounds

Please read my full Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower review here for more details.

#3: WaterRower Rowing Machine Models (Water)

WaterRower makes the best water resistance rowers on the market. They are constructed from wood, which gives them a unique look and style. Like the Concept2, they are fairly large while in-use, but they can store upright and take up very little floor space. People love these rowing machines in their living room and they are barely noticeable when not being used!

WaterRower Natural Home Rower
WaterRower Compact Upright Storage

In-Use (L x W x H):

83.0″ x 22.0″ x 21.0″

Storage (L x W x H):

21.0″ x 22.0″ x 83.0″


117 pounds (Full)

WaterRower has a few different model rowing machines that all function exactly the same. They are each constructed from different wood types, which changes the pricing.

You can visit my “Compare Rowing Machine Models” page, filter by water resistance, and see the full WaterRower lineup.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of different compact rowing machines in different resistance and price categories.

The easiest way to narrow down your compact rower options is to first pick your favorite resistance type and then pick a price range.

Even the biggest rowing machines can fit into a fairly small area and can fold or be stored upright.

There are some compact home rowing machines in the “Under $100” price range but they have lighter resistance and lower build quality. You can visit my rowing machine comparison page and filter to the lower price group to take a look.

You can also let me choose a model for you by filling out my Personal Rowing Machine Concierge Form. Just list as many details as you can with your size requirements and I will list my top choices based on your preferences.

I hope you enjoyed this article detailing the best compact rowing machine in different categories! Please drop a comment below!

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