Hydrow vs Concept2: Which Rower Wins Head-to-Head?

Hydrow vs Concept2: Which Rower Wins Head-to-Head?

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Have you tried rowing workouts? They have become one of the trendiest things among fitness enthusiasts.

Most people are quickly realizing the numerous benefits that rowing machines can offer over other commonly used home workout equipment.

These rowing machines provide the user with the ability to have a full-body workout. It’s a huge difference compared to treadmills and stationary bikes which have their inherent limitations. With such machines, you’re usually limited to a lower-body exercise. Although they’re certainly worthwhile, you don’t get the same full workout that you’d have with a rowing machine.

As a result, many brands are coming out with improved and more feature-packed rowing equipment for fitness enthusiasts. Hydrow and Concept2 are two examples that are leading the pack.

Both rowers have their unique features.

In this detailed review & comparison of Hydrow and Concept2, you’ll have the opportunity to get valuable information about these two brands to help you choose the best one for you.

Rower Head-to-Head: Features Highlights for Hydrow & Concept2

In this section, you’ll learn the key features of each rower that you ought to know before buying. But first, let’s look at an overview of these two companies.

The Hydrow Rower (read review) typically sits at the spectrum’s opposite end when it comes to technology and price. If you’ve seen the Hydrow, you might think that is a product of a science fiction movie. It is packed with all the latest, more advanced features. The monthly membership provides users with access to 3,000+ on-demand workouts. However, the most popular feature is the live classes uniquely designed and delivered by the best trainers and coaches.

Concept2 is regarded as the pioneer of the indoor rowing industry. Concept2 was founded in 1976 when a few former Olympic rowers decided to develop their set of oars. But, within several years, they succeeded to create the best-selling indoor rowing equipment of all time. As of now, Concept2 continues to be a best-seller. When compared to other rowing machines like the Hydrow, the Concept2 is a very cost-effective piece of home gym equipment.

So, what is it about each machine that would make a person want to buy it? Below is a breakdown of the main features for each:

1. Hydrow Key Features

Kevin Felton dressed in all black works on his Hydrow Rower

  • Built-in microphone, camera, USB connections, and Wi-Fi capabilities.
  • 22-inch HD front-mounted touchscreen comprising dual Hi-Fi speakers.
  • Access to an expanding library of live instructor-led courses and on-demand workouts.
  • 500 pre-recorded rowing sessions either on the river or in a studio.
  • Electromagnetic resistance system that typically makes up to 240 micro-adjustments per second.
  • Front-facing speakers.
  • Industrial-grade webbed strap.
  • Steel and aluminum frame.
  • 300 levels of electromagnetic resistance for seamless and quiet rowing
  • Futuristic design
  • Interactive training
  • Commercial-grade components

As you can see, the Hydrow row has a long list of features. Most of its features are integrated into its structure and design. This includes a 10-roller seat system and ergonomic grips.

The bottom line is that whatever is worth including in rowing equipment, then Hydrow has already found a way to implement it.

2. Concept2 Key Features

a man in blue shirt works out on a black Concept2 rowing machine

And now we come to its counterpart. Here is a quick look at some of Concept2’s key features.

  • Bluetooth connectivity for accessories such as fitness trackers and heart rate monitors.
  • Quick-release frame lock that enables quick storage of the rower.
  • A PM5 performance Monitor that primarily tracks and displays your workout information.
  • Low profile.
  • Nickel-plated chain.
  • Flywheel design.
  • Air rower so the resistance depends on your effort.
  • Adjustable footrest.
  • 2-piece storage capability.

Get Concept2’s Best Price at Rogue Fitness

Concept2 doesn’t pay more attention to fancy features or technological advancements. They don’t need to because they already have a solid reputation as the original supplier of the rowing machine.

Simplicity and durability are what they sell. And you can’t say the same for the Hydrow Connected Rower.

In general, the Hydrow rower is a good example of how far home workout machines have come over the past two decades. It consists of all of the most advanced characteristics that could be integrated into a piece of rowing equipment at this point.

Although it does drive up the cost a little, the result is a more effective and complete workout experience.

So which one wins? Is it Hydrow or Concept2?

Well, each brand has a different approach when it comes to its resistance mechanism. Ultimately, the Hydrow consists of a much more innovative resistance mechanism that resembles what you’d experience on the water. As a result, it is the clear winner in terms of providing you with the experience you’d have while rowing on water.

RELATED: Peloton vs Hydrow

Although Concept2’s flywheel design is undoubtedly an excellent option, it will feel as if you’re exercising on a piece of workout equipment. On the other hand, Hydrow put much research and development into making sure the user experiences improved immersion. It’s especially true when you consider the inclusion of the 22-inch HD display.

The Hydrow consists of both an HD display with front-facing speakers that may help simulate the sensation of being on the water. Unfortunately, the Concept2 can’t offer a similar immersion with a display that’s not nearly as immersive and a less smooth rowing experience.

Concept2 primarily aims at offering the end-user the info they need instead of an immersive experience above everything else.

Connected Workout Comparison

Let’s look at the connected workout options between these two. What is the difference?

1. The Hydrow Workout Options

a live workout on the Hydrow monitor

The Hydrow is certainly a ‘smart rower’ in every aspect. They utilized the digital and connected approach to produce a rowing machine. It’s safe to say that Hydrow saw the demand and the potential of a smart rowing machine and then they capitalized on it. As of now, they are the top manufacturer in terms of offering the ultimate rowing experience.

What’s more, Hydrow has a workout app that can be streamed directly from the built-in HD touchscreen.

Apart from live workouts, they also provide on-demand workouts that enable you to immerse yourself in rowing exercises led by world-class instructors and coaches. With its real-life sounds and crystal clear display, you get a unique experience.

You’ll also get access to (LOR) Live Outdoor Reality which builds up your workout and help inspire you to continue to push yourself. You’ll gain access to 400+ live and on-demand workouts. Most of these exercises will place you inside the water and offer you an immersive experience. And since they’re filmed in first-person, you actually feel like you’re on the water rather than inside your home gym.

Although you’ll have to pay $38 per month to get access to these expertly taught workouts, the price of admission is worthwhile.

2. Concept2 Connected Workout Options

streaming a workout on an iPad attached to a concept2 rower

Concept2 pays much more attention to offering a more gym-like and grounded experience. There is undoubtedly nothing bad with the experience it offers.

Most of the folks that are used to having an unconnected and offline workout experience may even feel comfortable with it. It’s an air rower and it’s popularly used because it’s no-frills rowing equipment that delivers excellent results.

Unfortunately, you won’t get access to live or on-demand workout videos from world-class coaches and instructors. Instead, you’ll be left to come up with your workouts.

The best part is that Concept2 now has a device mount, Concept2 Performance Monitor, that can be used with a wide range of compatible apps. These apps provide you with a variety of additional features and functions, such as live and on-demand classes, training programs, virtual racing, and much more.

With regard to workout options, the Hydrow is certainly the winner.

Concept2’s Aire Rower vs Hydrow’s Magnetic Resistance

One of the easiest ways to classify rowing machines is by the kind of resistance they use. So, how do Hydrow and Concept2 compare in terms of magnetic resistance?

In general, rowers can use four primary types of resistance:

  • Magnetic
  • Hydraulic
  • Water
  • Air

Although you might find some rowers that use combinations of magnetic and air, most of them mainly use magnetic systems.

That being said, Concept2 and the Hydrow differ in the kinds of resistances they use. Concept2 is an air rower while the Hydrow is a magnetic rower.

As a magnetic rowing machine, the Hydrow utilizes an electromagnetic system to offer resistance. In turn, this makes it a very smooth and quiet operation.

However, the Hydrow differs from most magnetic rowers. It is typically accompanied by a patented, computer-controlled resistance that is uniquely made to offer the feeling of rowing on water. Magnetic rowers often come with specified resistance levels that deliver a continuous resistance irrespective of how fast you row. Well, the Hydrow does not.

Instead, it works more like water or air rower, where the actual resistance you feel is based on how quickly you row. That means you’ll get more resistance if row faster, and less resistance if you row slowly. This is how it operates when rowing your boat on the water.

The good thing is that the Hydrow also consists of adjustable drag settings, which enable you to fine-tune the feel of your exercise. The drag could be set anywhere between 0 to 300 (the company recommends beginning at 104 and advancing from there) and is usually adjusted through the console.

RELATED READING: Hydrow vs Aviron

Quite frankly, adjusting the Hydrow’s drag is like adjusting an air rower’s dampers. It changes “the overall weight of the boat”. That said, your general resistance still relies on how quickly you’re rowing. Therefore, the Hydrow is usually accompanied by a very advanced, computer-controlled magnetic resistance system that replicates the feeling of rowing on water.

Although Concept2 also mimics the feeling of rowing on water, it is in a much simpler way. The Concept2 is a classic air rower, which means it utilizes spinning fans that cut through the air to offer resistance. It is a highly efficient design for rowers primarily because the resistance you feel also relies wholly on the speed of your rowing, much like water.

One of the common drawbacks you’ll find is that the machine’s fans produce noise and wind during workouts. That means if you’re looking for a very quiet piece of equipment, it could be a problem. With that said, some people may find the noise soothing.

As an air rower, the Concept2 has no resistance levels or anything else to mess with. However, there is an adjustable damper that allows you to control the amount of air that gets to the flywheel. It works like the Hydrow’s drag setting, enabling you to fine-tune the feeling of each pull.
Generally speaking, the Concept2 and the Hydrow can both offer effective exercises with resistance systems that are directly associated with the speed of your rowing. What’s more, they both do a great job at imitating the feel of rowing on water.

In terms of magnetic resistance, the Hydrow wins. Primarily, this is because the magnetic rowing mechanism of the Hydrow is much quieter. You won’t have to deal with the strange noises that come with its counterpart.

Footprint and Storage Comparison

Hydrow and Concept2 also have some differences when it comes to the size and total footprint. Is one smaller and more compact? How do you store them? Which one is easier to store? Here’s how they compare:

1. Hydrow’s Footprint & Storage Options

a Hydrow Rower stored upright using their storage kit

The Hydrow typically measures 86 inches long and 25 inches wide. This is a fairly long footprint. However, if you would like to store it upright, all you will require is the Hydrow Upright Storage Kit to minimize storage space to 33 inches long x 25 inches wide on the floor with a height of 86 inches.

It’s worth noting that the storage kit can’t minimize the Hydrow’s length (or height, based on how the device is positioned). Nonetheless, it can make it slightly less obstructive by enabling you to secure your machine vertically to the wall.

In general, the storage kit product enables you to secure your device to a wall to ultimately save space and have a relatively smaller footprint (33 inches x 25 inches) in your living space. The storage kit also comes with fasteners to help in securing the storage hook to drywall or masonry, for instance, bricks or concrete blocks.

Typically, the wall hook comes in at 2.5 lbs. or slightly more than a kg. The storage kit is silver/black and usually has a one-year warranty.

The product always comes with a set of detailed and comprehensive instructions/ guidelines for mounting, and most customers report that the description and info are always spot on! To work correctly, the storage kit needs to be correctly mounted.

For this reason, ensure that you read the description and instructions carefully. Hydrow clients love this product and so will you!

2. Concept2’s Footprint & Storage Options

a black Concept2 folded and stored upright

Let’s start by admitting that you should store your rowing machine in a room whenever possible.

Although some things are specifically made for outdoor use, others are ideally used indoors. Well, this is the case with your rower. It might seem as if you could do a workout outdoors, so why don’t you leave it in the same spot overnight. That’s not really a prudent idea though.

Did you know that Concept2 can separate or fold to occupy a smaller space half their size? That’s right! You can take apart the Concept 2 for easy storage and even fold it up to 27” x47”x54.5”.

You could separate it into two parts and then keep it standing up. It is a straightforward process and takes only a few seconds to put away. And since it also comprises wheels and weighs 65 lbs., it is comparatively easy to move. The Concept2’s monitor arm does not fold back for storage.

As you can see, it’s relatively easier to store the Concept2 compared to the Hydrow. Therefore, Concept2 becomes the better choice in terms of storage.

Pricing Head-to-Head

Let’s be honest: a rowing machine may have all the key features you want. However, pricing and financing choices are always crucial factors in any decision.

Although price shouldn’t be the determining factor, it has to be at least on your mind. You’ll also have to think about what you will receive for your cash and if you’ll utilize those features. So what’s the pricing difference between Hydrow and Concept2?

1. Hydrow Pricing Options

On face value, Hydrow is noticeably costlier than Concept2 rowing machines. You can find Hydrow at a minimum price of $2,000 (discounted cost) for its most affordable package and may go up to $2,700 for its costliest package.

Typically, the $2,000 price point will get you just the rower. And at the $2,200 price point, you can have the starter package. It includes the machine, heart rate monitor, headphones, and a safety mat. You’ll have to pay $2,700 to access the package that has all the workout accessories already stated, plus resistance bands, a foam roller, and yoga blocks.

Hydrow offers to finance for its indoor rowers. It sometimes offers deals for free shipping, as well as additional price cuts.

2. Concept2 Pricing Options

Concept2 retails for approximately $900 – $1,250 for its three main models. At the $900 price point, you can have Model D which provides you with the basic features. Each model also progressively incorporates different options.

The Dynamic Rower is the most expensive and is meant to replicate water rowing. The cost includes only the rowing machines.

So, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll realize that Concept2 offers significantly more cost-effective options. Although this isn’t to say it’s the best overall value. Most customers appreciate the lower cost, as well as the ability to purchase just the equipment and focus on the various models vs extras. The good thing is that Hydrow and Concept2 have three different choices and are always transparent about their pricing.

That’s everything you need to know about these two brands. You already enough to help you make a prudent decision. Below is a summary of everything you have learned.


It is safe to say that both of these rowing machines have a solid reputation and can be considered to be among the most preferred home rowers on the market. And as previously stated, there are no wrong answers when it comes to selecting between rowing machines like these. It always comes down to the specific features you are looking for.

But which of these two fitness machines should you choose? Several crucial factors have to be considered to answer this question, particularly before you go spending large amounts of cash on an indoor rowing machine.

Both of these rowers have their unique advantages and features. It’s only a matter of determining which one suits you best.

Below are a few reasons why you should choose each:

You Should Consider Hydrow If…

  • You’re an athlete that’s looking for an incredibly realistic exercise
  • You don’t like studio-style sessions
  • You love the notion of being outdoors wrapped by Mother Nature
  • You prefer live classes and on-demand training sessions
  • You are looking for a smooth, practical, and quiet electronically guided resistance system

You Should Consider Concept2 If…

  • You are looking for a rowing machine consisting of an unbridled pedigree and solid reputation
  • You prefer build-quality over technology
  • You want a rowing machine that folds away easily and quickly
  • You’re an athlete who would prefer to utilize a third-party fitness app of your choice
  • You’re looking for an easy-to-read rower, with reliable workout metrics and data without all the fluff.

Get Concept2’s Best Price at Rogue Fitness

Of course, budget plays a huge role. So, the Hydrow is a bit more expensive compared to Concept2. It’s safe to say that the Concept2 is greatly priced for an elite rower with an esteemed reputation.

Another factor to consider is noise. If you are looking for a quieter rower, then you should go for Hydrow’s magnetic system over its counterpart’s louder fan system.

To reiterate, whichever way you go, you won’t go wrong. Always ensure that proper relaxation strategies, stretching, and nutrition are part of your general health and fitness plan. And that’s all!

Happy rowing!