5 Best RC Airboats for 2019

Posted on
3D Insider is ad supported and earns money from clicks and other ways.
DJI has just released the Mavic Air 2. See all of the specs here.

RC airboats are unique in their design, performance, and application. It’s always baffled me why there aren’t more choices available for these incredible vessels. This guide reviews 5 of the most popular products available right now. Jump to the reviews if you know everything about these shallow-draft boats. Or, keep reading this short introduction if you don’t.

GARTT RC Swamp Dawg
Airboat Type: Airboat
Top Speed: 20 mph
2300kv brushless motor, multi-terrain capable, fast, agile.
Check Amazon
Best Value
LYXF Air Cushion Hover boat
Airboat Type: Hovercraft
Top Speed: 12.4 mph
Centrifugal fan, educational, in-situ steering function.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
Aerotrooper Brushless Airboat
Airboat Type: Airboat
Top Speed: 20 mph
Brushless motor, reverse capable, military-style scale details, bright LEDs.
Check Ebay

What Is an Airboat Exactly?

Airboats are also called swamp boats and both names are appropriate. Most are smallish in size with an open deck and an ultra- thin draft. The traditional types move across shallow waters driven by a caged aircraft-type propeller. The prop sits above the boat’s rear transom. These puppies can move fast as they skim across shallow wet terrains and swamps, hence the name.

Airboats Vs. Hovercraft

Both airboats and hovercrafts are amphibious—to a point. They’re multi-terrain vessels that can transition between various surfaces. That includes things like very shallow water, wet mud, and other places regular boats can’t get. The main difference is the way each type travels. A hovercraft sits on top of the water whereas an airboat sits in it, more like a regular vessel.

Hovercrafts “hover” on a cushion of air. That means they don’t create a wake as they float across the surface. The large props on conventional airboats propel them across the surface. That design makes them better than hovercrafts for navigating through densely vegetated swamps. Both vehicles exploit the use of air, so I’ve included each type in the reviews.

Buying Considerations

The buying considerations for radio-controlled airboats are the same as other types. You may want to look at running times on a single charge, battery charging times, and the cost of spares. Control distance is another, and some users may have an interest in top speeds. You can also build an RC airboat from scratch—a process known as scratch building. Boat kits are another avenue to explore.

About My ‘RC Airboats’ Guide

It wasn’t hard to compile a shortlist of airboats due to the scarcity of these models. I’d have preferred more choices, but the ones here offer a great introduction to the hobby. I also looked at real user feedback before settling on the final 5 products. The first three reviews are for Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top Pick. These products may change over time as more models become available.

RC Airboats Comparison Table

1. HobbyKing RC Swamp Dawg Air Boat | Best Budget

HobbyKing RC Swamp Dawg Air BoatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The Best Budget airboat goes to the GARTT RC Swamp Dawg. The model is about the size of a shoebox and perfect for skimming across pools and ponds. The initial assembly takes around 45 minutes.

  • Best feature 1: Unsinkable design
  • Best feature 2: Almost ready to run (ARR),
  • Plus points: 2300kv brushless motor, multi-terrain capable, fast, agile
  • Minus points: Needs extras to complete, no instructions

High-Speed Swamp Dawg Highlights

Hobbyking’s Swamp Dawg has a foam-filled plastic platform that renders it unsinkable. The airboat is almost ready to run (ARR), which means you need to do a little assembly. It comes with a powerful 2300kv brushless outrunner motor and 9g servo. This airboat rides effortlessly over multiple terrains once assembled, including snow. It’s nippy too.

The Swamp Dawg is incredibly agile on the water. It has super-fast acceleration and turns in an instant. You think it’s going to flip over, but it never does. The suggested 2S battery is okay, but the extra power provided by a 3S LiPo should result in even better handling.

The Not So Good

This airboat needs extras to complete it. They include a 2CH radio system (transmitter & receiver) and a 20A electronic speed controller (ESC). It also requires a 1000mAh 2S 7.4v LiPo battery and compatible charger. The biggest negative with the product is that there aren’t any instructions. You can find owner video tutorials online that are helpful, but you shouldn’t have to.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: HobbyKing
Dimensions: 18.8 x 7.42 x 7.71”
Product Weight: 22 oz.
Top speed: Approx. 20 mph
Max Range: Depends on radio system
Battery: 2S 7.4v LiPo (not included)
Running time: depends on the battery
Charging time: Depends on the battery/charger (not included)
The Pros
Unsinkable design
Almost ready to run (ARR),
Powerful brushless motor
Multi-terrain capable
Fast acceleration and top-end
Incredibly agile
The Cons
Needs extras to complete
No instructions

2. LYXF RC 4-Channel Hovercraft Airboat | Best Value

LYXF RC 4-Channel Hovercraft AirboatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The Best Value air-powered boat goes to the LYXF 4 Channel amphibious RC hovercraft. It’s a good-looking boat that’s easy to handle, and great fun to drive, on and off the water.

  • Best feature 1: Multi-terrain capable
  • Best feature 2: Double rear-mounted fans
  • Plus points: Centrifugal fan, educational, in-situ steering function, soft rubber cushion
  • Minus points: Quite expensive

RC 4CH Hovercraft Air Boat Highlights

The RC LYXF 4-channel hovercraft airboat is an impressive vessel. It’s most at home on the water, but it can also ride over smooth ground, snow, and ice. A centrifugal fan located in the center of the model inflates the base the moment it’s switched on. The boat is super agile too, thanks to its in-situ steering function. This puppy rotates at 360° with a radius of 0.

The powerful double fans provide the thrust needed to propel the vessel freely on all its sides. It can advance, turn, and retreat with grace. Another interesting point about RC hovercrafts is their educational benefit. Speed control and direction teaches kids how to think quick and react fast. It also helps to develop hand-eye coordination.

The Not So Good

This boat provides excellent value for hovercraft fans. However, it’s quite expensive for anyone who’s not sure whether this kind of RC boating is for them. There are cheaper first-time models to experiment with if you’re on the fence.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: LYXF
Dimensions: 13 x 13 x 5.11”
Top speed (Ground): 3.1 mph
Top speed (Water): 12.4 mph
Battery: 9.6V700 mAh
Running time: 10+ minutes
The Pros
Multi-terrain capable
Fast and agile
Double rear-mounted fans
Centrifugal fan
In-situ steering function
Soft, durable rubber cushion
Educational benefits
The Cons
Quite expensive for a toy

3. Aerotrooper 25” RC Brushless Airboat | Top Pick

Aerotrooper 25” RC Brushless AirboatView on Ebay

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Pro Boat PRB08034 Aerotrooper makes the Editor’s Top Pick. You can drive this powerful airboat anywhere—well almost. Think water, land, densely vegetated swamps, snow, ice, and grass fields.

  • Best feature 1: 3-blade aircraft-style pusher prop
  • Best feature 2: Injection molded parts
  • Plus points: Brushless motor, reverse capable, military-style scale details, bright LEDs
  • Minus points: Plasticky, battery not included

25” Brushless RC Airboat Highlights

The Aerotrooper is a sleek ready to run (RTR) 25-inch RC brushless military-style airboat. It’s suitable for year-round environments and multi-terrain capable. Power comes from its 2080kv 480 brushless outrunner motor. And the 3-blade aircraft-style pusher prop can propel the model to speeds of 20 mph on water and 30 mph over land. The Dynamite brushless ESC with reverse is another welcome feature.

It’s a robust airboat with an injection-molded two-piece composite hull and composite canopies. The scale details look cool if you’re into the military theme. There are removable guns, a protective cage, and molded handrails. You can even fit an action figure into the seat of the scale cockpit. This boat also comes equipped with bright LEDs, so there’s no reason to stop the fun when the sun goes down.

The Not So Good

The Pro Boat Aerotrooper looks fantastic but feels cheap to the touch. It’s durable, but fiberglass would have been so much better, especially at this price range. It also needs a battery (sold separately).

View on Ebay

Tech Specs
Brand: Pro Boat
Dimensions: 25 x 8.74”
Product Weight: 3.9 lbs.
Top Speed (Water): 20 mph
Top Speed (Smooth land): 30 mph
Battery: 3S or 4S 5000mAh 50C w/ EC3 connector (not included)
Running time: Depends on the battery
The Pros
Ready-To-Run (RTR)
3-blade aircraft-style pusher prop
Fast land and water speeds
Multi-terrain capable
Injection-molded parts
Powerful brushless motor
Reverse gear
Military-style scale details
Bright LEDs
Includes radio system (Tx/Rx)
The Cons
Battery not included

4. Terzetto 3-in-1 Waterproof Hovercraft Drone

Terzetto 3-in-1 Waterproof Hovercraft DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

Meet the Terzetto 3-in-1 Hovercraft Car Drone. It’s a fun toy for kids with hovercraft and drone capabilities. That means it can drive on water, land, and fly in the air.

  • Best feature 1: Three-in-one hovercraft, car, drone
  • Best feature 2: Lightweight and durable
  • Plus points: Easy to use, 1-key takeoff/landing, low battery alarm, USB charging
  • Minus points: Short cruising time

Terzetto 3-in-1 RC Hovercraft Highlights

This toy is more of an all-around introduction to the world of RC for kids. It has water mode, ground mode, and a flight mode, so there’s plenty of fun with this 3-in-1. There’s a 49ft (15m) range on the water and about the same on the ground when sliding over smooth surfaces. It skims across the water like a real hovercraft. The toy has a lot to offer, yet it’s super easy to use at the beginner level.

Safe Easy Flying

The Terzetto is lightweight, durable, and crash-resistant. Its flight mode gives you an extended range of around 98ft (30m) and 6 minutes of flying time. There are failsafe features as well. They include a simple 1-Key takeoff/landing and an automatic alarm with auto-land function. These features kick in when the battery power gets low, letting you know it’s time to bring the bird down to earth.

The Not So Good

It’s a toy-grade model, and that means poor battery life. Flying gives the most time on a single charge, but on the water, it barely lasts 4 minutes. The USB charging is reasonably quick at around 60 minutes or just under. The battery is removable, so it’s worth buying extras to extend the playtime.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Terzetto
Dimensions: 5.76 x 3.68 x 2.8”
Product Weight: 1.8 oz.
Max Range (Water): 49ft (15 meters)
Max Range (Land): 49ft (15 meters)
Max Range (AIR): 98ft (30 meters)
Battery: 3.7V 150mAh LiPo
Running time: 4+ minutes
Charging time: 60 minutes
The Pros
3-in-one Hovercraft Drone
Lightweight and durable
Easy to use at the beginner level
1-key takeoff/landing
Low battery alarm
Auto landing function
Fast USB charging
The Cons
Short cruising time on the water

5. Aquacraft Models RC Mini Alligator Airboat

Aquacraft Models RC Mini Alligator AirboatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

The last review looks at the Aquacraft Mini Alligator Tours ready-to-run (RTR) RC airboat. The model replicates what you’d expect a real-world, high-powered swamp boat to look like.

  • Best feature 1: Realistic appeal
  • Best feature 2: Injection-molded protective cage
  • Plus points: Ready to run (RTR), twin air rudders, broad, flat ABS hull, strakes, foam flotation
  • Minus points: Slow for an airboat, average running time

Mini Alligator RC Air Boat Highlights

This model is so at home on the water as it performs sliding airboat turns just like the real thing. The scale look adds to the realistic experience. Its injection-molded protective cage is both practical and aesthetically appealing. And the twin air rudders remove the issues that water rudders have with underwater obstacles. They still produce plenty of prop thrust to make steering this puppy a breeze.

The Mini Alligator sports a broad, flat-bottom ABS hull that helps it navigate the shallowest waters. Stability is enhanced further by the built-in strakes, and the foam flotation improves overall safety.

The Not So Good

Aquacraft’s Mini Alligator Tours Airboat would have made the top pick if it wasn’t so underpowered. It has a 380 brushed motor and NiMH battery. Combined, they give the model a top speed of around 10 mph and 15 minutes of run time. That feels fast enough in a pool or small pond, but it’s a mere crawl on a larger lake. RC tinkerers can always upgrade it to a brushless motor and LiPo battery.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Aquacraft
Dimensions: 18.25 x 7.25 x 7”
Product Weight: 24.6 oz.
Top speed: 10+ mph
Battery: 4 x AA NiMH
Running time: 15 minutes
The Pros
Ready to run (RTR)
Scale look
Realistic on-water experience
Suitable for entry-level
Durable build
Injection-molded protective cage
Twin air rudders
Broad, flat ABS hull
Built-in strakes
Foam flotation
Magnetic hatch
The Cons
Slow for an airboat
Average run time
0/50 ratings