The ‘oak’ frame gives the rower an elegant look and sturdy construction – easily on par with the WaterRower Classic.
It appeared to be a solid choice that would provide a realistic water rowing experience – making you feel like you’re sitting inside an actual boat.
After further research, I realized Mr. Captain is a Chinese-based company looking to replicate the WaterRower brand – AKA a bit of a knockoff.
On one hand, a LOT/MOST of the rowing machines sold by top-ranked brands are made in China, or at least feature Chinese-made parts. So just because it’s a Chinese-based company doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice. On the other hand, I have seen these types of companies give consumers more trouble with quality complaints and warranty claims
In this Mr. Captain Water Rower review, we’re going to take a much closer look at the quality of the product and weigh up all the pros and cons to determine if it can live up to the WaterRower models.
The Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine is, as you’ve probably guessed, a water resistance rower.
Users fill the tank with water to the recommended/desired level, and as the user hauls on the handle, the rope spins paddles inside the tank.
The spinning paddles displace the water, but thanks to the nature of water resistance, the faster the row, the harder it becomes.
This provides a really interesting training experience. Users have total control over the difficulty of their workout: make it easier by slowing down, or speed up to increase the challenge level.
Water rowers offer “variable” resistance, compared to the “adjustable” resistance offered by magnetic rowers. With a magnetic rower, you have dials, knobs, or digital displays to raise or lower the difficulty. With a water rower, you are in control over your difficulty level and you can adapt the resistance simply by speeding up or slowing down.
Find out more about the different resistance types here.
Water resistance offers a lot of benefits! Not only is it incredibly smooth, but it’s also surprisingly strong.
Water rowers like the Mr. Captain also provide a lot of versatility simply by adding or subtracting water.
The more water you add into the tank, the harder it becomes for the paddles to displace it, so you feel like you’re rowing a boat with passengers. Take water out, and the water displacement requires far less energy, so it feels like you’re in a single-person boat.
During my research, I found a lot of people praising the water rower for its workout quality. As one user said, “If you row correctly you’ll feel it in your core, legs, arms, and back; great full body workout!”
Now, it’s important to note that the originator of this design, WaterRower, is known to offer one of the smoothest rowing motions on the market. So how does the Mr. Captain compare?
According to a lot of customer reviews, the rowing action on the Mr. Captain lives up to the WaterRower. Users state that it’s “incredibly smooth” and “very fluid”.
A lot of reviewers also love how soothing the rower sounds. Instead of the whirring of a fan (with air rowers), the water inside the tank splashes around and generates an almost white noise-like sound that is surprisingly calming. Some people actually called the noise “meditative”.
The noise level is also much lower with a water rower like the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine. You can watch TV, listen to an audiobook, or enjoy music out loud while working out.
If you’ve got someone sleeping next door to your workout room, the noise is very unlikely to wake them up.
The Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine meets the high standard set by the WaterRower brand for resistance and workout quality. There are few complaints in that regard, at least.
It’s great for mimicking the action onboard a real boat, and you’ll get a solid full-body workout thanks to the variable water resistance.
The Mr. Captain Water Rower comes with a built-in digital LCD monitor that comes with a lot of really useful features for tracking your workout. The data readout will show you:
- Strokes per minute
- Total strokes
- Calories burned
- Pulse (for this, you will need to buy a separate heart rate chest strap)
There are also three pre-set programs:
- Manual mode – Allows you to simply row however you please. The monitor will track and display your data.
- Target mode – Lets you set targets for metrics like calories burned, strokes, time rowed, and more. You’ll get to track your progress as the machine counts down to reaching that target.
- Interval mode – Lets you create a custom high-intensity interval workout using intervals of work and rest.
An LCD display is powered by 4 AA batteries, which are provided in the box.
The Mr. Captain Water Machine Rower comes with Bluetooth connectivity that makes it easy to pair your smartphone with the digital monitor.
The rowing machine is compatible with the FitShow fitness app, which is available on both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Pairing your devices with the rower will allow you to track and record your workout, making it easier to see how much progress you’ve made over days, weeks, or months of regular rowing.
Some users have complained that the monitor is not very intuitive to use and doesn’t include an instructions manual.
One reviewer explained it like this: “The monitor / computer however leaves a lot to be desired. It’s essentially a stroke counter. Every other metric is derived from the stroke count. Each stoke equals 6 meters of distance, whether a 2 year old pulls the handle 6 inches, or an adult is slamming along at 36 spm. Every stroke is half a calorie, whether your effort is 1% or 100%.”
This is actually a fairly common issue with mid-range water rowers, which is why most professional rowers and Olympic trainees typically use higher-end air rowers or the WaterRower brand. They’re more accurate for calculating distance records and establishing race times.
For those who are serious about improving their rowing performance, this makes the Mr. Captain Water Rower a less-than-ideal choice. You won’t be able to track more complex metrics like watts or splits, and the data provided is not up to par with industry-leading brands like Concept2 or WaterRower.
However, for home users who aren’t reliant on minutely detailed data, but simply want a good workout, it’s a decent option nonetheless.
The Mr. Captain Rower is certainly a good-looking machine, built from high-quality MDF engineered wood that is waxed and oiled to give it a highly durable and appealing oak finish.
(Note: The sales page describes the rower as being made of “solid wood”, which it technically is by modern furniture standards. It is not, however, made of solid oak.)
Of the user reviews posted online, none complained about the frame’s build quality. In fact, a lot of the comments praised the solid feel of the rowing machine, remarking on its workmanship and sturdy materials.
I tested it out for myself, pushing through the fastest interval workout I could handle. I’m not a big guy (175 lbs/80 kg) or the strongest rower around, but I couldn’t get the frame to rock, shift, creak, or move.
The Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine lived up to my test, at least. I felt like it was very sturdily built and capable of handling some pretty intense training.
The tank is made of polycarbonate, one of the toughest plastics available today. Users were happy overall with the tank.
Really, the only maintenance required for using this rower is to change/clean/purify the water in the tank, as per the instructions in the provided manual.
It’s a testament to the quality of materials used by the Mr. Captain manufacturers that all the reviews about the rower praise how well it’s constructed. It’s certainly living up to the WaterRower it was modeled after in this regard.
Build Quality Complaints
A large number of negative reviews on Amazon complain about the foot pedals—specifically, claiming that the build quality is poor.
Some users found one or both foot pedals wouldn’t lock in place, so the pedals slid around when any pressure was applied.
Others discovered that the foot pedal cover was too wide on one or both pedals, which makes the pedal actually unusable and requires replacement.
There were also complaints that the foot pedals squeak or come unlocked too easily.
While the build quality overall is sturdy, this one flaw in the manufacturing is a potential downside to be aware of.
You can get a good idea of the quality and general overview of the model by watching this video:
The Mr. Captain Water Rower comes with a seat that is ergonomically shaped for both comfort and support while rowing.
It’s padded with impact-resistant heavy-duty foam and covered with a layer of sweatproof faux leather. This helps to cushion your pelvic bones and hips for a better, longer-lasting workout with less joint fatigue.
A lot of reviewers praised how easily the seat glided back and forth on the rails, with one calling the action “seamless”.
When I tested it out, I was also very impressed with how smoothly the seat moved as I went through the rowing motions. The sealed ball-bearing rollers glided very nicely on the rail, which was covered with a heavy-duty aluminum alloy.
There was no resistance to my sliding back and forth, no creaking, and no wobble (a common problem with poorly designed rowers).
As for the handle, it is ergonomically designed to reduce strain on your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.
The handlebar is padded, so you won’t have to worry about developing calluses or straining your grip.
Aside from one reviewer complaining about the seat being a bit too low (making it uncomfortable for his joints), I could find no real complaints about the comfort of the Mr. Captain Water Rower.
The only other item to mention is your feet will be closer together on ‘dual rail’ water rowing machines like the Mr. Captain. This happens due to your feet being between the two rails as opposed to being on the outside of a single rail. You can look at where the footrests are in the picture above to understand what I am referencing.
This might bother some larger users but most people find the foot placement to be fine.
Between the well-padded seat, sweatproof finish, ergonomic handle, and smooth gliding action, it’s got everything you need for a comfortable workout.
Storing the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is super easy, thanks to the built-in heavy-duty concealed wheels.
The wheels aren’t visible when the machine is set up, and they won’t interfere with your workout or make the rower rock.
But when the time comes to lift and move the rower, they glide easily and allow for pretty great maneuverability.
The frame and water tank were a bit heavier than I expected, but even though I’m not the strongest guy in the world, I could lift it pretty easily.
If there was one complaint about the storage process, it’s that there’s no built-in handle to lift and move the rower. I had to grip it by the frame, and, as one user so eloquently puts it, “I’m afraid I won’t have a good grip one day and drop it or have it scratch the wall.”
According to Amazon, the maximum capacity is 320 pounds/145 kg.
By contrast, the WaterRower Classic is able to hold up to 1,000 pounds/454 kg.
However, though it may not be suited for heavier users, it’s a good option for taller rowers.
The seat track can accommodate up to 120cm/47 inches of leg length, which means users up to 2 meters/6 ½ feet should be able to use it comfortably.
Users praised the “ample leg room”, and one extra-tall user said, “I am a bigger guy (6’3″, 245lbs) and have very long legs – this rower fits me and my size 14 shoes well.”
- Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 84.0″ x 22.0″ x 20.0″
- Storage Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 20.0″ x 22.0″ x 84.0″
- Shipping Box Dimensions (L x W x H):
- Not specified
- Assembled Weight:
- 58.5 lbs/26.5 kg
- Shipping Weight:
- Not specified
The Mr. Captain Water Rower is packaged and shipped with easy assembly in mind.
Customers seem to have a fairly easy time assembling the water rower, even those who aren’t experts at building complex machines.
It can be assembled by one person, though it’s easier with two.
Some users complained that the pictures in the manual “could be clearer”, but they were able to figure it out nonetheless and get it assembled.
The box does come with extra screws (in case you lose one/some), so be aware of that so you’re not thrown off when you find you have spares lying around.
Assembly time is around 30-60 minutes, but it’s a fairly straightforward task with pieces clearly marked and labeled so you know what goes where.
You can check out the video above for an unboxing/assembly example. Also, the video below is the assembly of another WaterRower knockoff, the”Mr. Rudolf” (very similar to Mr. Captain):
Pros and Cons
- Sturdy build
- Easy assembly
- Comfortable seat and handle
- Smooth gliding action
- Easy to raise and store upright
- Solid tank
- Good-looking oak finish
- Basic monitor with less-than-precise tracking
- Poor foot pedal manufacturing/quality control
The majority of consumer reviews highlight how sturdy the Mr. Captain Water Rower feels, how smooth and easy it is to row, and how easy it is to assemble.
There are some complaints about the footrest and the monitor’s tracking capabilities. However, overall, the vast majority of Mr. Captain Rower owners found the machine reliable and well-built.
It is made of some “cheaper” materials but it has a good price point – so most users weighed the pros and cons.
Click here to see full Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine Reviews.
Average Rating: 4.6
Mr. Captain Water Rower Price
As you probably expect, the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is less expensive than the WaterRower Classic.
It’s not hand-crafted or made from truly solid wood like the WaterRower machines, but the durable MDF core frame is tough enough to handle daily use and the oak finish gives it an appeal easily on par with the pricier machines.
The options to weight are price and quality (monitor as well). Some people fall into the “good enough” category and other want “top of the line”. No choice is right or wrong.
The Mr. Captain Water Rower is sold exclusively on Amazon, which I find not only ensures a great price, but also much better customer service. Amazon prides itself on ensuring that you, the customer, get what you pay for, so it’s much easier to go through their help desk than contacting a manufacturer directly. They also offer free shipping on qualified purchases!
The Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine may be a ‘knockoff’ of the WaterRower, but I believe it lives up to the standard of excellence in most areas.
Yes, there are some downsides to the product (quality control issues, overly simplistic monitor, etc.), but for the price, it’s a machine that delivers exactly what you need in a sturdy, easy-to-assemble package.
If you’re in the market for a mid-priced water rower that looks and feels high-end, you aren’t going to find many better options than this model.
If you want to check out some of the higher-end options, I’d start with these 2 models:
You can also check out some cool mid-range options like the following:
I hope you enjoyed my Mr. Captain Rowing Machine review! If you have any thoughts, questions, or feedback, feel free to comment below.