The best RC boat
RC boats can be fun for people of all ages -- they're not just for kids. In fact, many of the more powerful models out there aren't suitable for use by under 14s. Whether you want to race competitively or simply have some fun, there's a remote control boat for you.
We've put together this guide to teach you more about RC boats and their most important features. The Traxxas DCB M41 Widebody Brushless Race Boat is our number one RC boat. It's a high-end choice with a high top speed and arrives fully assembled and ready to go.
Considerations when choosing RC boats
Powerboats vs. sailboats
The vast majority of RC boats are powerboats. These have motors that are powered by batteries or fuel. You can choose between either racing powerboats (made for competitive use) or sport powerboats (made for recreational use). Although less common, you can also find RC sailboats. These aren't powered by a motor; instead the remote control only serves to move the position of the sails and rudders, letting the wind move them across the water.
The vast majority of RC boats are battery powered. Although batteries are improving, battery life can leave something to be desired, so you generally need to carry a couple of spares. A handful of RC boats are powered by nitro or gas instead. This solves issues with battery life and means you don't need to worry about keeping spare batteries charged, but it is messier to work with.
RC boats tend to have one of three hull types:
Monohulls generally give you a quick and maneuverable boat but aren't always the most stable choice.
Double hulls (found on catamarans) give you increased stability, so they're great for use in rough water, but the increased drag slows them down.
Hydroplane hulls are found on RC boats designed for oval racing, so they're best at turning right -- not great all-rounders.
Top speed: The fastest RC boats can reach up to 50 mph, but a top speed of 15 to 25 mph is more common.
Range: The range of an RC boat is how far it can go from the controller without the signal cutting out. This is usually between 100 and 500 feet.
RC boat prices
You can find some basic RC boats for under $50, but these are just for fun and may not have a great range of features or a long battery life. Mid-range models cost around $100 to $200, whereas high-end choices can cost more than $500.
Q. Are RC boats difficult to control?
A. Some RC boats are more difficult to control than others. Part of this comes down to the boat itself (for instance, how its size, weight, speed, and hull shape impact its overall maneuverability) but the rest is due to the controller. You'll find some highly intuitive RC boat controllers and others with a much steeper learning curve. Everyone has their own preferences, too, so a controller that one person finds easy to use, another might struggle with. If you're new to RC boats, we'd recommend trying out a few different controllers to see what works best for you.
Q. Will I need to assemble my RC boat?
A. For some people, part of the run is assembling or at least partially assembling their remote control boats. However, if you'd prefer to buy a model that's fully assembled, look for one that's listed as RTR -- that's "ready to run" or "ready to race" in RC lingo.
RC boats we recommend
Best of the best: Traxxas DCB M41 Widebody Brushless Race Boat
Our take: This huge 40" race boat can reach a whopping 50 mph, but it does come with a high-end price tag.
What we like: The long, wide body is extremely stable. Creates very little water resistance. High-output brushless motor.
What we dislike: May be hard for beginners to control due to its high speed.
Best bang for your buck: Udirc Venom High-Speed Remote Control Electric Boat
Our take: Despite its compact 12-inch size, this boat can reach speeds of 25 mph. An excellent affordable choice.
What we like: Includes a spare battery for when the primary one runs out of charge and a low-battery indicator on the controller. Easy to control. Self-righting feature.
What we dislike: Poor battery life.
Choice 3: Volantex Vector28 795-1 RC Racing Boat
Our take: Due to its small size and relatively impressive speed and maneuverability, this is the perfect choice for pool racing.
What we like: Arrives ready to run. Lightweight and straightforward to pilot. Water-cooled motor is safe and reliable. Fully sealed and waterproofed.
What we dislike: No batteries included for the controller.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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