The 10 Best RC Trucks
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Some remote-controlled trucks can climb steep, rocky obstacles as readily as they can race along a flat track. We've included models on our list to satisfy those with a need for speed as well as some for those who prefer off-road adventures. A few are better suited for children and novices, while others are geared toward collectors. There are even a couple of lifelike replicas. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 09, 2020:
There are two main types of buyers for these RC trucks: parents whose kids want to have fun with their friends, and hobbyists who enjoy all the minute details that go into their trucks. The latter, of course, is probably willing to spend more money and can appreciate an increase in power. However, while trucks like the Traxxas Rustler and Traxxas Stampede are fast and fun, they don't come with everything you need like wall chargers or even batteries in the case of the Stampede. That's not a big deal to grown-ups who enjoy switching out parts and customizing their trucks, but it means the unit that comes out of the box isn't perfect.
We've put an emphasis on value this time around, placing models like the Deerc Crawler and Phywess Offroad near the top because they come with everything you need. While speed can be fun, if the truck is too fast, it can be difficult to drive, so models like the Bezgar 6 Hobbyist Grade and Traxxas Stampede that have training modes can be helpful. The Bezgar 6 Hobbyist Grade also has kid-friendly controls, as does the Monster Jam Mega Grave Digger, so if you're shopping for a gift for a youngster, they are worth considering.
The top choice this time is the Laegendary Brushless because it fits perfectly into the middle ground between a kiddie toy and a major commitment. It's powerful without being overly expensive, and comes with the full package: two batteries, a charger, a wall adapter, and extra tires in case you get into some mischief.
November 12, 2019:
RC trucks come in a variety of styles, some of which are well-suited to racing and others that are better for rock crawling. They also come in various quality levels from expensive, hobby-grade models, to affordable kids toys. We did our best to ensure there is at least one model to suit every need, however, since this is a list of the best RC trucks, you will notice more of the former than the latter.
During this update, we felt the need to remove the K-5 Ascender. Though it performs well, it suffers from availability issues from reputable sellers, so we thought it better to replace it with the Vaterra 1972 Chevrolet K10 Pickup Ascender, which also features an officially-licensed Chevrolet body and is just as capable at rock climbing, but has the added benefit of coming with a functional spare and, in our opinion, a cooler and more detailed design.
We also eliminated the Traxxas Revo 3.3, which, surprisingly considering it comes from a well-respected manufacturer in the field, had many complaints of component failure. Taking its place is the HBX 1:18 Scale 18859E, which straddles the middle ground between low-quality kids toys and higher-end hobby-grade models. For its relatively affordable price, you'll get a durable model that has a decent control range, and which can stand up to tumbles well.
Another new addition is the Team Redcat TR-MT10E, which flies over mud, dirt, sand, and nearly any other low-traction terrain thanks to its extra-wide tires and powerful motor. It offers a lot of ride adjustability too, including the ability to change the camber, toe angle, shock mounting positions, and more.
October 22, 2018:
Did away with a few discontinued models, and found some even better models to replace them. The Traxxas 2WD Bigfoot No. 1, for instance, carves out its own niche, both in terms of price (middle-tier) and design. Most models here are either entry-level units or premium models meant for enthusiasts, but the list attempts to look at each item for its own merits and in the context of the position it holds in the market relative to its price and quality.
Rovan 45cc Baja MAX This is a big, heavy gas-powered option for serious enthusiasts. It has a pull-start system for the engine, hardened steel gears, and a roof-mounted light bar. While much pricier than most RC trucks, when you see how fast it goes, you'll understand the difference. rovanrc.com
A Broad Spectrum OF Power
Given the size of some of these motors and the quality of the materials used in their construction, a lot of these trucks get up to around 16 lbs.
When most people think of RC vehicles, be they cars, or trucks, or some other land-based machine, they often call forth images of children mindlessly ramming toy trucks into walls, failing miserable to control them.
The trucks we're talking about here today are of a different class altogether, though there are a couple on our list designed as bridges between the world of RC toys and a more adult RC experience.
Those gap models are usually electric, receiving a radio transmission from your handheld controls and translating it to movement from an electrical motor that pumps the wheels. There are extremely high-end electric models (some well beyond high-end), as well, that reach incredible speeds and require minimal maintenance.
Other models utilize small internal combustion engines more akin to what you'd find in your actual car, just scaled down tremendously and running on a very different kind of fuel mixture that more closely resembles the mix in a lawnmower. These models will usually operate on a basic throttle, the reverse action of which will apply a kind of engine breaking as it reduces the mixture flowing through the carburetor.
Whatever method of motion you employ, these trucks get more expensive as you add nicer features, like improved shock absorbers and stronger chassis, which will increase the durability of your truck over hard terrain.
And don't be shocked if you get a workout just picking the truck up and moving it from one place to the next. Given the size of some of these motors and the quality of the materials used in their construction, a lot of these trucks get up to around 16 lbs. in weight.
Trucking To The Ends Of The Earth
An RC truck is, by default, a rugged character. I'm tempted to compare them to characters of the old American west for their perseverance, strength, and singular vision, but even there something is amiss. Something about that doesn't quite do these trucks justice.
Perhaps it's that there's a greater variety of applications for a given RC truck than you might get from a lonesome cowboy. They could shoot a gun and ride a horse, and that was about it. These trucks are far more specialized.
You either love maintaining your RC truck, or you put up with the maintenance of your truck until you can get it back out on the tracks.
Depending on what kind of trucking you do, you'll want to target certain features that some models lord over others. If speed is your game, for example, and RC racing is an active part of your life, then you want to get your hands on the fastest thing out there. If you're more into climbing through rough, impersonal terrain toward the height of some desert or wooded landscape, than a truck with more torque and more flex in its chassis would suit you best, without as much thought for top speed.
No matter what your preference, though, be it speed or strength, or maybe even replication of other classic trucks, there is one variable that will guide you toward your perfect pick: maintenance.
You either love maintaining your RC truck, or you put up with the maintenance of your truck until you can get it back out on the tracks. There's little room in between.
Simply put, electric motors require less maintenance. Sure, a truck with an electric motor will still have a similar variety of moving parts and potential problems in every area other than the engine, but electrical motor maintenance is simply cleaner and less time-intensive. Fueled trucks are going to require greater knowledge and handling of precision parts, as well as an inevitably greater mess.
Some people revel in that mess. You may not be one of them. If you are, then dive into the fastest or the strongest, most complicated machine you can find. Otherwise, look to keep it electric.
Freed From The Slots
Although Lionel and other companies produced remote controlled slot cars as early as the 1910s, wireless RC cars didn't make their way to the market until 1966. That was when Elettronica Giocattoli, an Italian company nestled in between Bologna and Parma, produced an electric 1:12 scale model of the Ferrari 250LM. It hit the UK in December of that year, and the popularity of that and their next model, a 1:10 Ferrari P4, spread through most of Europe by 1968.
US-based companies caught onto the trend and began manufacturing small RC vehicles of their own in the early 1970s.
US-based companies caught onto the trend and began manufacturing small RC vehicles of their own in the early 1970s. In true American fashion, these vehicles renounced the use of the electric motor in favor of a nitro-powered .21 cc engine.
Within a few years, racing, hobbyist, and enthusiast groups cropped up throughout the country, and gave birth to a craze that still ripples throughout the land. Manufacturers, in response to the specialized intelligence of their particular demographic, have doubled down on an effort to increase the precision and quality of their lineups, offering variety and customization like never before, as well as a whole scale of introductory, beginner, intermediate, and professional models to get you started and keep you trucking.