The 10 Best RC Boats
This wiki has been updated 34 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Just because it may be a few more years before you can afford that yacht you've had your eye on, it doesn't mean you can't have a blast on the water today. With one of the remote-controlled vessels on this list, you'll find yourself in thrilling, breakneck races or gently cruising around the local pond, lake, or river, depending on what type of RC model suits your budget and taste. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 06, 2020:
The world of RC boats moves as fast as the vessells themselves, so it was necessary to make quite a few changes to the previous list for reasons of availability and some models being upgraded. The Top Race TR-1100 replaces a very similar model that was no longer for sale. The newer model comes with spare batteries as well as two extra propellers. The Pro Boat Blackjack was added because of its obvious quality, which is reflected in the higher price than other boats on the list.
The impressive-looking Sowofa SO-11 made the list as one of the fastest electric RC boats available. It also has an impressive signal range for racing and an anti-capsize feature to keep you in the running. It is certainly not a toy like other boats on the list and is not suitable for young children. The fun and fast-turning Deerc H120 is more of a toy and can be run by kids as young as eight. The transmitter has four channels so that you can race them with three of your friends.
November 07, 2019:
Radio-controlled boats offer a relaxing way to have fun at the body of water of your choice. The products we've picked out generally have long ranges, so you can operate your vehicle from a real vessel or from dry land. The newer models have controllers with LCD displays that make it easy to see how fast you're going, how much distance you've covered, and whether your battery is running low. We've also made sure to include a decent mix of price points, as we understand that both kids and serious hobbyists alike enjoy playing with these nifty little toys.
The Pro Boat Aerotrooper, Meknic Fishing, Pro Boat Stealthwake, Super Joy FT016, and Gizmovine T02 are all new additions to the list. These boats have different features and come in a variety of shapes — the Meknic Fishing, for instance, is a bait boat — but each one was singled out for its thoughtful design and quality build. On the other hand, the SZJJX Terrain Twister, USA Toyz Voyager, CsFly AB60, TR-1200, and Traxxas DCB M41 Brushless Catamaran got the ax due to both quality and availability issues.
T50 Carbon Fiber Racing Sloop Perfect for budding shipwrights, the T50 Carbon Fiber Racing Sloop comes as a kit that includes a pre-formed carbon fiber hull and mast, a mahogany deck, real brass and stainless steel hardware, and sail and rudder servos. This beautiful sailing ship replicates all modern yacht construction techniques as well as materials. tippecanoeboats.com
A Brief History Of Radio Control
Starting in the late 1940s, a number of other RC designs emerged and the RC craft hobby market was born.
Radio control is an old technology that has been around since the 1898 when Nikola Tesla designed the first ever radio controlled boat and demonstrated it to a stunned crowd at Madison Square Garden. Not long after that in 1903, Lonardo Torres Quevedo built the first RC apparatus at the Paris Academy of Science, the Telekino. He used electromagnetic waves to remotely control a robot, running it through a serious of commands. WWII prompted further development of the technology when Archibald Low created a radio controlled aerial drone plane for the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, which was to be used as a guided bomb.
Later on in 1937, William and Walter Good constructed the first RC airplane, "Big Guff". They pioneered the vacuum tube-based control system and paved the way for hobby RC crafts. Starting in the late 1940s, a number of other RC designs emerged and the RC craft hobby market was born.
The initial focus of early radio-controlled vehicles was on boats and airplanes, but 1967 saw the beginning of RC hobby car racing and then in 1968, Dr. Dieter Schulter built the first RC helicopter. RC hobby technology continued to develop into the 1970s when integrated circuits allowed for the production of smaller and cheaper electronic control systems, helping RC crafts gain mass popularity.
Radio remote control systems continued to miniaturize and become more affordable well into the 1990s, and by the 2000s RC became commonplace for even the smallest and cheapest of toys. Nowadays, RC is so advanced that it is being used for interplanetary exploration vehicles like the Mars rovers.
Types Of RC Boats
There are 6 main types of RC boats you will find for commercial sale, and most of the powered types can be found in gas, nitro, or electric-powered models. Fun sport boats are by far the most common and the most popular among casual hobbyists. In the past, gas-powered RC sport boats were faster, but with recent advancements in lithium polymer batteries and brushless motors, electric-powered models can be just as fast these days.
In addition to using radio waves to control steering, they also utilize it to adjust the position of, or trim, the sails.
High-end electric hobby quality sport boats start at around 20 MPH, with some capable of speeds over 40 MPH right out of the box, and reaching over 60 MPH with some modifications. At the toy-grade level, RC sport boats often top out at 15 MPH.
RC sailboats are wind-powered, like their larger brethren. In addition to using radio waves to control steering, they also utilize it to adjust the position of, or trim, the sails. Both RC sailboats and RC sport boats are available in racing models, with the racing of RC sailboats being governed by the International Sailing Federation, which is the same organization that governs full-sized crewed sailboats.
There are also RC scale boats, which are exact replicas of full-size boats and, as the name implies, built to scale of their larger counterparts. They range from miniature models small enough to fit into the palm of your hand to large, trailer-transported models. While it is categorized as a different type of RC boat, scale model tug boats are similar to other scale model RC boats, but these generally often include a scale drive system.
An interesting offshoot of RC boats is the competitive combat boat. These are built like real warships and designed to fire some kind of projectile at opposing ships in the hopes of damaging or even sinking them. These models are often simplified as they tend to need repairs on a regular basis.
Choosing The Right RC Boat
Deciding which type of RC boat is the best choice is a personal endeavor, and depends entirely on where and how you want to use it. If you are buying one as a gift for a child or to use periodically on the weekends when you take your kids to the park, a toy-grade sport boat is usually a good choice. They are easy to control and can be found in nearly every price range.
If you are in pursuit of a more leisurely repast, an RC sailboat is probably your best bet.
On the other hand, if you enjoy speed, plan on using your RC boat regularly and are willing to spend a little more for something that really flies over the water, you might want to look at hobby-grade RC boats or RC sport racing boats. Mechanically inclined people who enjoy working on engines, might prefer gas-powered models as they have working combustion engines that may be easy for them to maintain and modify.
If you are in pursuit of a more leisurely repast, an RC sailboat is probably your best bet. They require the least amount of maintenance and can be the most fulfilling in terms of boat-handling skills. As with full-sized sailboats, they require you take things like wind direction and speed and water currents into account. They can also be great practice for people looking to improve their real life sailing skills, as they can help you gain a deeper understanding of the best sailing techniques and tacking approaches.
If you are a military buff, then you'll probably have the most fun with an RC combat boat, you may just want to look into RC combat boat clubs in your area first, as a combat boat with no opponents might get boring pretty quickly.