Do you remember your first RC car? It was probably flashy, fast, and just all around fun. You can take that experience out of your driveway and onto a wide open space where you can get fast: the water.
RC boats are a logical next step if you want the speed and thrill of remote control vehicles. If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve compiled a list of our nine favorite RC boats. Plus we’ve answered a few questions about how to choose your first (or next) boat. Let’s take a look.
High Speed, Sailboat, Catamaran. There’s a boat to make your inner child scream with joy.
US Toyz Force 1 H102 Velocity - Best Remote Control Boat
Our first remote control boat is a high-speed electric boat with capsize recovery and a long range remote. It has a one button balance system to quickly right the boat if you flip it during runs. The large-prop motor can get up to 20 miles an hour or possibly more depending on space and maneuvering.
It has a double hatch for increased water resistance. You can take it in a pool, or in places like a lake or pond. This isn’t for use in salt water, and be careful of smaller spaces like pools because of the speed.
It has two 7.4v 600mAh Li-Po RC batteries and an improved LCD. You can see both signal and power meter, plus left/right throttle switch modes. The velocity is more comfortable to control, but this boat is still best for older kids, 14 years old or over.
USA Toyz UDI001 Venom - Best For Lake
The Venom is water cooled, single-prop motor with an estimated speed of about 15 miles an hour or above depending on conditions. It comes with a single battery plus an extra. It has an anti-tilt hull to keep capsizing from ruining the fun.
Controlling right out of the box is easy. It has a four channel transmitter and a one-touch anti-capsize feature that rights the boat no matter where it is. It has a long range remote operating at 2.4 GHz. Prop it up on the stand between uses to allow it to dry completely.
Gizmovine RC Boat - Best Remote Control Boat For Kids
Gizmovine’s boat is a super fast, 20 plus mile an hour boat with an anti-flip design. Even at higher speeds, it resists capsizing so you can play longer. It uses a rechargeable high power battery, 3.7v 600mAh lithium-ion.
The LCD gives you a clear indication of voltage, and when battery life is running low, so you don’t get stuck wading out into the water to get your boat. It has a long range with a water cooled engine and a racing time of about eight to ten minutes. The package comes with an extra battery so you can play a little longer.
It’s suitable for a slightly younger age range, but you should still consider your environment to avoid damaging the boat at high speeds.
TR-1200 - Best Professional Grade Boat Under 200
This RC boat is a professional-grade electric racing boat that tops out around 30 miles per hour. It has a powerful, rechargeable battery (11.1V 1800mAh lithium ion) and the remote takes double A batteries.
The boat has a range of over 300 feet, which is good for high-speed races. It has a water-cooled, brushless motor. It has protections against overcharging and takes about two hours to charge adequately for an eight to ten-minute run cycle. It’s probably too fast for younger children to operate.
It has an anti-capsize function that rights the boat if you flip it during a run. (red) It has a high frequency remote but no LCD, so you’ll have to get used to feeling the controls without the use of the display.
Aside from that, the remote is ergonomic and comfortable to control right out of the box. The boat itself is streamlined and has a large 18-inch body that’s flexible at turns and resists capsizing.
USA Toyz UDI007 Voyager - Best Under 100
USA Toy’s Voyager is a swift remote control boat that reaches speeds of up to 18 miles per hour and resists capsizing. The battery is a 3.7v 1500mAh lithium-ion battery with automatic alerts for low battery life. It has a four channel radio frequency, so you don’t have to worry about interfering with another RC boat in the area.
The controls are intuitively designed so both adults and kids should be able to master them. There’s no LCD, but the remote is ergonomic and should fit a variety of hand sizes. It’s made for use in lakes where the water might be a little murkier. It also has a propeller safety feature that prevents it from spinning unless the boat is in the water.
It comes with two batteries so you can charge both for long periods of play. To right a capsized boat, flick your wrist and the boat should right itself wherever it is in the water.
Haehne H102 - Best Cheap Mini RC Boat
Haehne’s boat is a four channel, high-speed boat with a professional propellor. It reaches distances of up to 300 feet and goes up to almost 30 miles per hour. It’s not as intuitive for kids to control, so this one is better for older teens.
It has an automatic overturn if you accidentally capsize the boat. The LCD helps you keep control of voltage and battery life, so you aren’t stuck retrieving it way out. The high capacity rechargeable battery is 7.4V600mAh for a good boost of power.
It takes roughly two hours to charge the battery, but it only has a life of about eight minutes or so. Not great for a battery of that size, but considering the speed, it isn’t so bad. The LCD automatically switches from right to left controls and gives you an overview of the power.
Radio Ranger lll 34″ - Best RC Fishing Boat
The Radio Ranger is a huge remote control boat, almost three feet in length, with a 300-400 foot range. It’s suitable for wider age range for supervision. It’s a remote control fishing boat capable of catching fish up to four pounds.
It takes a lot of power. The remote control requires eight AA batteries, and it runs on a 7.4 Volt 1500mah battery. The upside is that you’ll get between 20 and 30 minutes of run time each time. It comes with a full fishing set specifically for the boat, an extra propeller, and decals for decoration.
The 2.4 GHz controller improves the connection between the boat and the receiver so you can go farther out. The remote is simple to use right out of the box with a minimal learning curve. There isn’t much point if you aren’t going fishing, but if both hobbies are your interest, it’s a good mix.
Traxxas DCB M41 - Best Brushless Catamaran Boat for Adults
Traxxas is a flashy, catamaran style speedboat with a brushless motor and a 2.4 GHz remote. It requires two 11.1V lithium polymer batteries and four AA batteries for the remote.
It uses tuning algorithms for greater control within its electric motor. It’s called Traxxas Stability Management (TSM), and it can be turned on or off. The remote is easy to use and is intuitive to learn. You control the TSM through any smart device. You can adjust during a run, track speed and voltage, and fine-tune the acceleration.
Catamarans have a wider hull which gives you more control through the body. It gets on plane much more quickly because it has less hydrodynamic resistance. It reaches nearly 50 miles per hour and sometimes over that depending on control and conditions.
There are a few things you need to consider, especially if you’re a beginner.
Gas or Electric
Gas boats may pack a lot of power, but they’re going to be a lot of upkeep. You probably don’t want to deal with that kind of maintenance as a beginner, so electric is a better choice.
Much like your car, a gas-powered boat requires oil changes, engine tune-ups, and routine cleaning. An electric boat only needs a battery change. They’re so much more beginner friendly.
Electric boats have plenty of power, and with larger capacity batteries, you should have everything you need for your high-speed racing, or just tooling around the pond.
How much speed do you need? More experienced drivers can find boats that top out almost at the speed of a car, but for beginners, a slightly slower speed helps you practice handling and turns.
If you’ve only got a small space, such as an outdoor pool, higher speeds cause more frequent accidents. Braking on the water requires more space the faster your boat is going. The last thing you want to do is crash it right into the wall on your first go round.
If you have more open space, like ponds or lakes, and are more familiar with RC boat handling, you can invest in a higher speed. Some catamaran style boats reach speeds of over 50 miles per hour. You’ll need a wide range and plenty of room with no walls.
RC engines come in two different types.
- Brushed motors – slower and cheaper. Some are rebuildable and some you have to replace. Mostly toy grade.
- Brushless motors – faster than brushed. They operate more efficiently, but cost more than brushed. Some have high power, but lower power brushless motors have more torque.
Type of Boat
There are a few different types of boats you can choose. Each one has pros and cons.
Monohulls are probably the style of boat that you’re thinking about. They resemble those sleek James Bond speedboats with the ultra pointed nose and squared-off back end. Monohulls turn well and compress air as they pick up speed.
It can take a bit to plane, but for beginners, these are fast and easy to handle without being too much to control. If you’re planning to run the boat in a body of water with a lot of waves or choppiness, a monohull handles the roughness because the nose picks up and rides over waves well.
They turn well in both directions. Beginners won’t have much issue keeping them right side up. Many of them have anti capsizing features built into the design to make getting them righted easier than wading out to the middle of a lake.
RC catamarans are built very close to full-sized catamarans. They’re ultra fast and reach plane much more quickly than other types of RC boats. They turn very aggressively but aren’t quite as comfortable in choppy water because of the way air directs underneath the boat.
They’re more susceptible to turnovers, but if you know that the water is pretty peaceful, they’re good for sport-runs and races as well as agility style courses. Air passes underneath the hull so they don’t experience much water drag, but you’ve got to have a handle on their controls to keep them upright.
This style may be better suited to intermediates because of the handling. They turn well, but the amount of power behind the handling makes it easier to capsize or get off course.
There are two types of hydroplanes, but the idea is the same. Air passes under the hull, so the boat is riding on that air cushion. They’re very fast but likely to blow over. If you know you’re racing pretty straight, and not doing a lot of turning, these are great little racing boats.
If you’re learning to maneuver, or the conditions of the water and wind are pretty choppy, this style is going to frustrate you. Outrigger hydroplanes are particularly fast, but the tradeoff is balance and turning.
Use them in calm water exclusively and in courses where you’ve got a mostly straight line. They tend to turn only in one direction, so a long slightly curved path is best.
You can get sailboats with adjustable sails and working rudders. They require some maneuvering, but their slower speeds usually translate to more run times on a single battery charge.
They have a beautiful design. You can get both toy class boats and more elaborate hobby boats with sails that operate independently of the rudder. Some of them are simple plastic designs, but some are racing levels in themselves.
Engine and Operating Temperature
Running high-speed boats causes a lot of heat in the engine. Many of the RC boats are water cooled, meaning the natural temperature of the water prevents engine overheating. Consistent overheating burns out your motor and damages the battery. All of the boats on our list have water cooled engines, so you don’t have to think about it.
Some boats require assembly before running the boat the first time. Others need fine tuning for the controls or other small parts.
Beginners should get a boat that’s ready to run straight out of the box. You shouldn’t have to set anything up, so you have more time to learn the controls and get the hang of maintaining the boat. As you get better at RC boats, it might be fun to invest in assembly-required boats or ones where you can fine tune how it runs, but RTR (ready to run) boats are good first starts.
No one can tell you how much to spend on your boat. For a beginner, you don’t need to go much over $100 to get a monohull boat with excellent handling and decent battery life.
As you get better and want faster boats or more features, you can adjust the price you’re willing to pay. You do get what you pay for, but more expensive doesn’t automatically mean a better boat. Instead, consider your ability level, the environment you’ll run the boat, and the features you want. It’s best to use price as a tie breaker or as a starting point for narrowing boats down.
RC boats have the same thrill as cars, but on water, you can reach even faster speeds. We recommend investing in a good monohull RC boat if you’re an absolute beginner and progressing up to some of the faster, but more difficult, boat styles.