High-quality construction and mechanics. Wide, XL body provides stability while reducing resistance. Fast; races through water at 50mph or more. Superior performance on just about every level.
Expensive. Batteries and charger must be bought separately.
Sturdy construction with anti-tilt design. Convenient capsize recovery feature. Easy-to-use controller with low-battery alert. Comes with spare propeller and 2 rechargeable batteries.
Turning mechanism could use more precision. Battery life is a bit short. Water seal needs improvement.
Solid boat with excellent motor and water cooling system. Fully waterproof motor and battery compartment. Easy-to-use with good range. Highly responsive and agile, even in choppy water. No assembly required.
On the smaller side. Requires USB charging port. Controller batteries not included.
Tough, durable body. Hull is designed for reduced resistance. Adequate range and moderate speed. Responsive and easy to control.
Chunky design is lacking in detail. Lower range and speed than more expensive models.
Attractive, detailed exterior made from impact-resistant ABS. Fantastic distance and speed. Easy, accurate controls with capsize recovery. Controller comes with LCD battery display and alarm.
Only comes with one rechargeable battery that has a rather short running time.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you love boats but don't have the budget, inclination, or lake for a full-sized vessel, an RC boat might be just the thing to provide hours of fun.
You'll find a huge range of makes and models on the market, though, so it can be tough to pick the best RC boat for your fun on the water. Sailboat or scale boat? Fuel or battery? Monohull or hydroplane? The choices can seem overwhelming, especially to those new to the hobby.
If you're ready to sail away, read on for our full guide to RC boats.
RC sailboats have sails and rudders, just like real sailboats. They're not powered by batteries or fuel. Instead, they have a simple receiver, which allows you to turn the sails and rudder using your remote control. So, essentially, these boats are powered by the wind. The great thing about sailboats is that they're low maintenance, as there's no engine, batteries, or fuel to worry about. They're quite different to drive compared to other types of RC boats, and you may find it tricky at first, but many people enjoy driving RC sailboats, especially those who have experience sailing full-sized boats.
RC power boats are a bit like remote control speed boats. They're streamlined, speedy, and one of the most popular types of RC boats. You'll find two subtypes of RC power boats: racing boats and sport boats. Racing boats are extremely fast and can be difficult to maneuver, especially when you're starting out. Sport boats are a little slower, so they're better for beginners, or for recreational users who care about more than just speed. Most RC power boats are battery-powered, but some run on gas or nitro.
Scale RC boats are for the history fanatic or ship enthusiast. Essentially, they're remote controlled, scale models of real ships. They're not designed to be the fastest RC boats on the water – instead they're more about appearance and how realistic they look.
Apart from sailboats, which are wind-powered, most RC boats run on either batteries, nitro, or gas. But what's the difference, and which power option should you choose?
RC boats that run on batteries are easy to operate and maintain.
With batteries, there's no need to keep spare fuel and refill a fuel tank, which can be inconvenient and messy.
Battery-powered RC boats are very quiet.
You can use battery-powered RC boats indoors as well as outdoors.
Battery-powered RC boats can't run for long periods of time before you have to recharge.
Most people who use battery-powered RC boats choose to carry extra batteries with them, which can be expensive to purchase.
RC boats powered by nitro are extremely quick and responsive.
It's easier to fine-tune the performance of RC boats that run on nitro.
As long as you have more fuel, you can run your nitro-powered RC boat for as long as you like.
Nitro-powered RC boats are faster than comparable gas and battery-powered models.
RC boats that run on nitro are probably the hardest to maintain.
Due to fumes, you can't run nitro-powered RC boats indoors.
Nitro fuel is fairly expensive to purchase.
Nitro-powered RC boats are fairly noisy.
If you like scale boats, you might be interestested to know that gas-powered RC boats are often available in slightly larger scales than other models.
Gas is a relatively inexpensive fuel to buy.
RC boats powered by gas are generally easier to maintain than nitro-powered vehicles.
Gas-powered RC boats tend to be slower than comparable nitro and battery-powered options.
RC boats powered by gas can be expensive to purchase.
You can only use gas-powered RC boats outdoors.
The hull type of your RC boat is one of the main factors that affects its performance, so it's important to pick the right one for your boating conditions.
Monohulls are boats with single, V-shaped hulls. Monohulls are quick, maneuverable, and retain stability in rough water. This is by far the most popular hull type.
Catamarans have a larger hull footprint than other types of boat. This is due to the two sponsons, one attached to each side of the hull. This gives them increased stability in average conditions, though they don't stand up well to rough waters. They're also slower than monohulls, due to increased drag.
Hydroplanes have hulls that look like a two-pronged fork. They're designed for oval racing, which means that they're not great at turning left, so they're not good multipurpose RC boats.
You don't want to buy an RC boat only to realize that it's near-impossible to control. As such, you should look for a model with a simple, intuitive remote control that's easy to operate. If you're just starting out, don't run before you can walk – look for an RC boat that's geared toward beginners. There's plenty of time to upgrade once you've learned the ropes.
Think about how important speed is to you in an RC boat. You can find boats with top speeds of anywhere between 5 and 50 mph, or even faster. Even if you've got a true need for speed, we wouldn't recommend too fast an RC boat if this is your first time driving one. The faster your boat is, the more difficult it will be to control. Beginners should probably stick to boats with a maximum speed of no more than 20 mph.
You can find basic RC boats starting around $15 to $30. However, they don't tend to be of the greatest quality, and they’re more like toys than serious RC vehicles.
Mid-range RC boats usually cost between $30 and $100. You can find some excellent boats in this price range, especially at the higher end.
Expect to pay from $100 to anywhere up to $2,000 for a high-end RC boat. The most expensive models are professional racing quality. Those at the bottom end of the price range are more than enough for most hobbyists.
Check whether your chosen RC boat requires assembly or adjustments. If you see the term "RTR" in the product description, that means “ready to run.” I.e., the boat doesn't require any assembly.
Find out whether spare parts are easily available. You may need to repair your RC boat at some point, but if you can't find spares, you'll need to replace the whole boat.
Q. Can children use RC boats?
A. Most RC boats have a recommended age range, and those designed for adults aren't generally recommended for children under 14. This can vary, however, so check the age limit on your chosen RC boat. That said, you can also find RC boats designed for use by children. These tend to be slightly slower and easier to control.
Q. How do I recharge by RC boat's batteries?
A. With most battery-powered RC boats, you have to remove the battery to recharge it. However, you can find a handful of models that let you leave the battery in place and charge it using a USB cable that goes straight into the boat.
Q. How should I store my RC boat when it's not in use?
A. When it's not in use, keep your RC boat somewhere dry, where it's not exceptionally hot or cold. If you won't be using it again soon, take the battery out and store it separately to avoid leaks.