Aviron vs Hydrow: Which one to buy?

Last updated March 10, 2022
Aviron vs Hydrow

Cardio is changing. The old days of staring blankly at a basic screen whilst you wait for your workout to end are over. Part of the new revolution in cardio is the gamification and interconnectivity of your machine. You’re not just training now - you’re part of a global workout. So… Aviron vs Hydrow. Which to pick?

Here I’m going to break down and review the Aviron and Hydrow machines, using my nearly 20 years in the space to give you an honest opinion on which one you should buy…

Overview of the Key Differences

Aviron Tough

Aviron Tough Advantages

  • It’s built like a tank - strong and stable
  • Massive upper weight limit (507lbs / 230kg)
  • Reinforced seating and rails to support more weight
  • Commercial grade bearings for smooth operation
  • Low seat height
  • More personalized adjustments for user comfort

Aviron Tough Disadvantages

  • The machine doesn’t fold - could be an issue if you live in a small apartment
  • It’s pretty heavy at 125lbs / 57kg
  • It’s 300 bucks more than the Aviron Impact

Aviron Impact

Aviron Impact Advantages

  • It folds for easier storage
  • Easy to move around on account of the 4 wheels
  • It’s significantly lighter than the Tough (97lbs / 44)
  • Stands upright, making it easy to put away
  • $300 cheaper and offers all of the essential features

Aviron Impact Disadvantages

  • Reduced upper weight limit (although still high at 397lbs / 180kg)
  • No commercial grade bearings
  • Reduced personalized movement


Hydrow Advantages

  • It’s smaller than either Aviron model
  • Computer-controlled action, making it mimic water more closely
  • Super quiet operation - great for apartments
  • Lighter than both Aviron rowers
  • Cheaper monthly membership

Hydrow Disadvantages

  • Less user data available
  • Membership benefits are limited - Aviron is more immersive, has more functionality and games
  • Fewer adjustment options to make the machine more comfortable

Build quality


The Aviron series is built from a combination of steel and aluminium - this combination provides rock-solid build quality and very little in the way of construction issues. Any good rower has to be able to withstand some serious abuse, because you’re literally pulling the machine as hard as you can at times. 

In the case of the Tough model, there is a double width reinforced rail for ultimate strength and stability. In truth this is probably overkill, but if you’re a big, powerful guy the extra security afforded by this design may provide you with more peace of mind.

In addition, the Tough Series is equipped with commercial grade bearings & double width rollers which Aviron claims will increase the machine longevity. This may be true, but that depends on the use and abuse the machine gets. For the vast majority of home users, I’d question you’d notice the difference.

A lot of rowing machines use a chain for the pull cord system, whereas the Aviron uses a nylon belt. This is interesting (and functional) for a couple of reasons - it keeps operation really quiet (around 60 decibels) and also it reduces the amount of moving parts, therefore points of potential breakage. 


The Hydrow is much the same - the materials are also aluminium and steel, but the design is perhaps sleeker. You get the feeling the Hydrow is built with aesthetics as well as functionality in mind and they’ve managed to combine the two. Not only does the Hydrow look great, it’s also really well made. 

Build quality issues with the Hydrow are very rare, the operation is very quiet thanks to a nylon belt pull cord and the seat sitting on 10 rollers, making its movement very smooth. Speaking of seats, the Hydrow seat is more comfortable than the Aviron, thanks to the ergonomic design and better padding.

Whilst this isn’t a deal breaker as such, it’s something to be aware of. It’s not to say the Avirons are uncomfortable, but it’s my job to point out the nuances here.

Which one is better for tall people?

Let’s call this a draw - both rowers will accommodate people around 6’7-6’8 (201-203cm), so there’s very little to distinguish. If I was going to be super picky, the additional adjustments available on the Aviron Tough would edge it for me, but there’s no stand-out winner in this category.

We looked across the owner community and there were no complaints about the comfort of either machine amongst tall people, so both companies have done a good job for their taller users.

Weight capacity

There’s a very clear winner here - the Aviron Tough can cope with users up to 507lbs / 230kg. In all honesty, it’s unlikely anyone near that weight will be using it, but the comparison criteria was weight capacity and therefore the Tough is the winner.

The max weight capacity of the Aviron Impact model is still an impressive 397lbs / 180kg and the Hydrow will cope with users up to 375lbs / 170. All of the models are pretty generous in this regard, which is a testament to the build quality and the materials used in their construction.

Weight capacity Aviron Tough Aviron Impact Hydrow
In lbs 507 397 375
In kg 230 180 170

Which one is louder?

The beauty of these models is they’re all really quiet, making them perfect for the home gym user. If you compare the air and magnetic resistance employed by the Aviron models, or the electromagnetic resistance used in the Hydrow to the flywheel technology in the Concept2 models, it’s significantly different. At a max effort, a flywheel kicks out around 74 decibels, which is around 10 decibels louder than the Hydrow. 

For perspective, a conversation is around 60 decibels, city traffic is around 70.

How loud are the Aviron Impact and Aviron Tough?

The Aviron models operate in the mid-60 decibels in normal use. As mentioned above, this is around the volume of normal conversation. It’s certainly not particularly loud, especially when compared to the noise from a treadmill or a flywheel rower at full gas. Pretty apartment-friendly if you ask me.

How loud is the Hydrow Rower?

The Hydrow operates in the upper 60’s-low 70’s at average use. Interestingly, the harder you row, the quieter the Hydrow is. There’s also an odd ‘whining’ noise from the Hydrow when in use. Again, not a deal break (and probably drowned out by the noise from the screen), but something to consider.

Which one is easier to start?

The Aviron models come boxed and need to be set up. Of course, the time this takes depends on your practical skills (they don’t offer assembly), but most people seem to get this process done in around an hour. 

Once you have completed the machine set up, you’ll have to go through the process of signing up etc. It only takes a few minutes so it really isn’t a big issue.

Hydrow is a much simpler operation. The unit comes mostly ready and the remaining assembly is really rather basic. It’s a question of attaching the feet, monitor etc. Even the most basically-skilled DIY’er will have no trouble setting up the machine.

The online connectivity with the Hydrow again is very simple. Set up an account and away you go - a few minutes tops.

Obviously, both machines will need access to external power and the internet, so bear this in mind when you decide where it will live. If your home gym is a building outside of your main house, without internet connectivity and a power source, you may want to rethink things.


We’ve entered a new age here, with the connectivity of home cardio machines reaching new heights. The user experience of them largely depends on the effectiveness and online environment. A deep, stimulating experience will transform how willing to use the machine you are.

Both machines are WiFi and Bluetooth enabled.


In the case of Aviron, once the machines are connected to the internet, you have a fantastic game-led environment. There are no instructor-led classes, but there are plenty of challenges, games, and a workout library. If you’re looking for lots of new training variety, this is impressive. I particularly like the comparison challenges, where you can compare yourself to pro athletes - it’s a new feature in the space.

I can’t (and won’t) ignore the lack of instructor-led classes though, because, with the advent of technologies such as Peloton, the immersive class experience is a huge plus. It’s one of the most powerful motivators of the lot. I’d say therefore that the Aviron may be best suited to those who are already pretty motivated to train. 

Being connected to YouTube is a plus because you can get lost in your favourite videos as you row. 

The dedicated app means you can store your workout data, track your progress, make friends with other rowers in the community and compete against others. It’s another step of the gamifying nature of home-based cardio. 


The Hydrow online user environment is a step beyond from an interactivity point of view. First off there’s a dedicated Hydrow app, which allows users to take workouts on-the-go, interact with the community and track their progress. This is a pretty standard feature now, as you’ve seen with the Aviron. 

Hydrow has a feature whereby you can ‘row’ in different places around the world. I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but this is a style over substance point for me. It’s hard to imagine yourself rowing through Sydney harbor when it’s a cold January night and you’re surrounded by snow! Still, I’m sure some folks will like it. 

The big difference between the Hydrow and the Aviron though is the classes. There’s no comparison here because Aviron doesn’t do classes. Hydrow is the clear winner in this regard. Sure, it doesn’t have the games and challenges of the Aviron system, but the classes are a huge motivating factor for those who want additional motivation and coaching. 


Aviron Impact and Tough Monitor

The Aviron monitor is the same on both models. The greater specs are as follows…

  • 22 inch hd touchscreen
  • 32 GB storage
  • Android OS, 
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 2MP camera
  • 2x2 watt speakers

Hydrow Monitor

The Hydrow monitor is credited with being an improvement on the Aviron one. It is more immersive, richer, and has better speakers…

  • 22 inch touch screen
  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD
  • Bluetooth 5.0-enabled for heart-rate monitors and audio
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Ethernet (optional) Wifi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac;
  • Amplifier x2 channel, 3W, 8 ohms speakers

In all honesty both monitors are more than up to the requirements for a rowing machine. It’s an important part of the experience, but both of them are very good. 


The only real storage issue here is with the Aviron Tough. It’s the only model that doesn’t break down, so storage is potentially a problem and something you’ll need to bear in mind, especially if you don’t have a dedicated gym space. 

The Aviron Impact can be folded, which makes storage easier. It’s also possible to stand the impact model on its end, which means it has a smaller footprint and can be stored up against a wall much more easily.

The Hydrow can’t be folded, but it can be stored upright if you purchase the Hydrow upright storage kit for an extra $80. In all honesty though, I think you could fashion something yourself for a literal fraction of that price. 

Dimensions of Hydrow

The standard dimensions of Hydrow during operation are 86″L x 25″W x 47″H. When stored upright, Hydrow's measurements are 33"L x 25"W x 86"H.

Dimensions of Aviron Tough

The Aviron Tough is the biggest rower on review here today. It’s 98" x 21" x 44" (L x W x H), regardless of operation status, given it can’t be stored in any other way.

Dimensions of Aviron Impact

The Aviron Impact measures 97"L x 21"W x 43"H when in normal operation and 54"L x 21"W x 62"H when folded up ready for storage.

Foot Plates

The foot plates on the Aviron Impact are fixed in position but can be adjusted for length depending on shoe/foot size. This is pretty standard in most rowing machines.

The Aviron Tough takes the footplate adjustment a step further - they are adjustable lengthways to adapt to different foot size, but in addition, they can also be adjusted width-ways, which can add to user comfort and personalization.

The Hydrow footplates are set in position, but are adjustable lengthways like the Aviron Impact. Again, pretty standard approach.


The Hydrow is a really easy construction - it’s essentially a case of putting together the final bits of the machine such as the wheels and the monitor. Everything is pre-built, so it’s a connection job essentially.

Here’s a simple video showing the process…

The Aviron models are more involved when it comes to setup - there are more screws, more fittings and fixings but even then it’s not a huge undertaking for most people. Follow the instructions, take your time and you’ll get it right.

This video gives somewhat of an idea of what to expect…


Aviron offers a two year warranty to buyers of their machines. This covers all of the usual suspects in terms of broken or missing parts, sensors, etc. 

Hydrow offers a more different warranty package - they give 5 years on the frame and upright storage package, but components (monitor, seat, handles, etc) only get 12 months warranty. 

Perhaps concerningly, the warranty for either company doesn’t cover software, even if sold with or embedded in the product, or internet connectivity. 

Given internet connectivity is a vital part of the user experience, this would be a big issue for me. There’s not much in the way of criticism about the connectivity of the devices, by the way, so assume they work - just be prepared for a fight if they don’t.


The pricing models are similar for both companies - pay up front for the machine, then subscribe to the ongoing service. There are add-ons and different packages available for the rowers, but for the sake of simplicity I’m going to give you the basic rower price and the ongoing subscription costs.

Aviron Impact: $2199 up front, $29 per month ongoing ($25 per month if paid in an annual lump sum)*

Aviron Tough: $2499 up front, $29 per month ongoing ($25 per month if paid in an annual lump sum)*

Hydrow: $2495, $38 per month ongoing*

* All prices are correct at the time of writing.

Who should go for Aviron?

The Aviron Impact is the best rowing machine for regular exercisers - people who want a rowing machine at home to add variety to their workouts. 

The Aviron Tough is best for big, powerful guys who are going to give their machine a high-intensity beating. It’s also only really suitable for those with enough space because it can’t be folded down.

The Aviron system is better for people who are self-motivated in that they don’t need to attend an online class to keep them going. The machines are high quality and the user experience is heightened by the sheer number of workouts and games on the software.

Who should go for Hydrow?

The Hydrow is best suited for a rower who wants the online classes. If you suffer from reduced motivation and think a class will help you, this is a great solution. The classes are frequent and varied, which is an important feature for many people. Evidence shows that classes help with motivation to exercise, so it’ll probably see you stick with exercise for longer if you’re new to it

The coaching element of the Hydrow system is a good one, making me think the Hydrow is also better for the person more interested in developing their rowing ability, as opposed to using it just as a pure fitness tool.

The ‘journey’ element where you row around different parts of the world strikes me as a bit ‘gimmicky’, but some people may love it. I just can’t see how you can truly transport yourself into somewhere exotic whilst you’re sweating hard in your own house!

Verdict - Which one is better?

If you’re a self-motivated exerciser and are looking for an immersive at-home rowing machine, I think you’d be best off going with the Aviron Impact. It’s well-made, it has a lot of workout variety and support… plus it’s the cheapest of the rowers here.

If you aren’t as well motivated and feel like the class element would be key for you, the Hydrow is the better solution. The classes are challenging and varied, so they’ll keep you engaged and excited about using the rower.

In reality, all of the machines reviewed here are excellent rowing machines and you won’t go wrong with any of them. I’ve pointed out the nuances here simply to help you make the best decision you can for you and your needs. Read the information in this article, decide on what you need rather than what you want and make your choice. They’re both excellent machines in their own right.

About Steve Hoyles
Steve Hoyles is a personal trainer and weightlifting coach with two decades in the industry. He is the owner of MyGym, a strength and conditioning facility in the UK. His fitness copywriting has been featured in magazines and websites all over the world.
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