It’s fascinating to steer boats on the water whether its models or the Real McCoy. This no-nonsense guide looks at some of the best radio-controlled or RC boats available. Keep reading if you want to be the captain of your vessel and take to the helm—figuratively speaking. There’s something here for everyone, from the novice to the experienced.

Budget
best-budget-RC-boat
SZJJX RC Race Boat
4.1/5.0
Model Type: Speedboat
Top Speed: 6mph (10km/h)
Anti-tilt modular design, decent range, easy-to-use.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-RC-boat
UDI001 Venom RC Boat
4.4/5.0
Model Type: Speedboat
Top Speed: 15mph (24km/h)
Easy to control, anti-tilt ABS hull, water-cooled single-prop motor.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-RC-boat
Aquacraft Wildcat EP BL
4.7/5.0
Model Type: Catamaran
Top Speed: 40mph (64km/h)
Has a surface drive propeller. Made from molded ABS plastic.
Check Amazon

Aye-Aye Skipper

The reviews are simple and straight to the point. They are even easier to follow if you can speak the language. Here are the basic RC boating terms new captains should revise:

  • Brushed motor: cheapest but not as efficient as brushless motors (see below)
  • Brushless motor: faster, less maintenance, longer-lasting, more efficient
  • Transmitter: the radio-control (RC) to operate the boat
  • Bow: the front end of the vessel
  • Stern: the back end of the vessel
  • Port: the left side of the vessel
  • Starboard: the right side of the vessel.
  • Hull: The vessel’s body
  • Deck: The top of the vessel
  • Keel: the center of the bottom of the vessel (think of it as the boat’s spinal cord)
  • Strake (also stringer): line of plates along the hull from stem to stern
  • Rudder: a vertical underwater blade that steers the vessel
  • Strut: support bracket for the propeller at the back of the vessel
  • Draft: vertical distance between the waterline and bottom of the hull (keel)

Choose Your Hull with Care

Knowing the parts of your boat makes you a better captain. You also want to decide on the kind of hull to opt for when you buy your next model. There are three types as follows:

  1. Monohull: a single V-shaped body
  2. Hydroplane (racing boat): two smaller immersed front hulls on each side
  3. Catamaran: two parallel hulls along both sides of the vessel

Monohull models are the most popular, especially for newbies. Look for hydroplane RC boats if you need more oomph and excitement on the lake. Choose catamarans if you want a stable craft for choppier waters. Other factors are the ease of handling, age limit, battery life, and charging times. The range is a factor for experienced RC captains, but always keep the boat visible.

Stranded Out at Sea (or Pond)

Always consider what happens if the power dies or the boat flips over. It’s easy to get the model back if you’re in a pool. It’s more of a problem if you’re on a large pond, river, or lake. It’s never a good idea to swim out as that could be dangerous. The safer option is to wait for the model to drift back to shore. The best RC boats can flip back up using a self-righting feature.

A boat that has a low battery warning indicator prevents the lost power issue. Some RC boats are more watertight than others. Keep any cheap models that let in water—even small amounts—to the pool.

About My Reviews

I’ve included a range of faster boats in this review guide but not fishing vessels or warships. There are inexpensive toy-like RC boats, an impressive RC sailboat, a catamaran, and a few racers. Price options start as low as $25 to over $300 and everything between the two. These picks are not only my choices. I’ve also considered the opinions of experts along with real user feedback.

The reviews are short and cover all the essential features in plain English. At the end of each review is a quick summing of the main tech specs and any pros and cons for the product. The table below this paragraph shows the RC model boats as they appear in this guide. The top three are the best budget, best value, and top choice. The remaining models are in price order, least to most expensive.

RC Boats Comparison Table

Make and ModelModel TypeTop SpeedPrice
SZJJX Kid’s Remote Control RC Racing BoatSpeedboat6mph (10km/h)Check Price
Speedy UDI001 Venom Remote Control BoatSpeedboat15mph (24km/h)Check Price
Aquacraft Wildcat EP BL Catamaran RC BoatCatamaran40mph (64km/h)Check Price
SZJJX High-Speed RC BoatSpeedboat16mph (25km/h)Check Price
Force1 Radio Controlled Fast BoatSpeedboat20mph (32km/h)Check Price
Miss Seattle U-16 Unlimited HydroplaneHydroplaneNot specifiedCheck Price
DragonFlite 95 950mm RC SailboatSailboatNot specifiedCheck Price

#1 SZJJX Remote Control RC Race Boat

SZJJX Remote Control RC Race BoatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.1/5

My choice for best budget RC boat is the V-hull design from SZJJX. It sports a lot of the features found on costlier models at a fraction of the price. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype.

  • Best feature 1: Self-Righting
  • Best feature 2: Full waterproof hull
  • Plus points: Anti-tilt modular design, fast (for a toy), decent range, easy-to-use
  • Minus points: Playing time, plasticky

This cheap little RC boat has a self-righting feature, also called self-flipping. It’s not new technology but always welcome with any watercraft model. That means when the boat capsizes—and it will—it can flip back to its normal position right away. The watertight hull implies no water gets in and damages the electronics.

The anti-tilt modular design helps to keep the boat steady as you steer it through the water. It’s not 100% reliable, but it’s better than nothing. The top speed of around 6mph (10 km/h) makes it a fast vessel for a toy. The 30-meter range is also impressive for a boat in this class. And perhaps most important of all is that the model is easy to use.

The Not So Good

The main problem with this toy boat is the short playing time of just 8-10 minutes. That’s quite normal for these models, but it’s still disappointing. It takes 1–1.5 hours to charge a flat battery. It’s a good idea to buy one or two extra batteries to prolong the fun and avoid the tears. Note that this is a toy-grade affordable boat with a plasticky build. That means it can break with rough treatment.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 9.4 x 3 x 3.1”
Product Weight: 1.05 lbs
Motor: Brushed
Top Speed: 6 mph (10km/h)
Range: 98 ft. (30 m)
Battery: 3.6V 500 mAh Ni-CD
Charging time: 60+ minutes
Running time: 8–10 minutes
The Pros
Affordable and capable
Pleasing design for kids
Self-righting feature
Full waterproof hull
Anti-tilt modular design
Fast top speed (for a toy)
Decent range
Easy-to-use
The Cons
Playing time
Plasticky

#2 UDI001 Venom Remote Control Boat

UDI001 Venom Remote Control BoatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

My best value electric RC boat pick is also an Amazon’s Choice Product. It’s worlds apart from the previous one. The boat also happens to be a limited-edition model which makes it kind of unique.

  • Best feature 1: Fast top speed for its class
  • Best feature 2: Bonus battery included
  • Plus points: Robust build, easy to control, anti-tilt ABS hull, water-cooled single-prop motor
  • Minus points: Prone to let water in, exaggerated top speed

This puppy is fast and going to speed past a lot of other RC boats on the water. You can expect to get a good 10–15 minutes playing time despite all that power. The even better news is that the UDI001 Venom comes with two batteries to prolong the fun. It’s a good idea to let the motor cooldown between battery swaps though (follow maker’s recommendations).

The ABS impact-resistant plastic makes the model robust enough to stand up to moderate prangs. Controlling this RC speedboat is a cinch—at any level. Simple controls and an anti-tilt ABS hull means fewer chances of bangs and collisions anyway. And you don’t have to worry about overheating with the reliable water-cooled single-prop motor. It’s easy to see why the UDI001 Venom’s a best seller.

The Not So Good

There are some reports of water seeping inside. Sadly, this is a common problem with many RC boats despite claims to the contrary. The problem isn’t widespread, but there are enough complaints to warrant a mention. One way to prevent water issues is to apply a little marine tape to the hull. The final con is the exaggerated speed. It’s still fast, but not as quick as the claims suggest.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 14.6 x 10.7 x 5.2”
Product Weight: 2.6 lbs.
Motor: Brushed
Top Speed: 15 mph (24 km/h)
Range: 300 ft. (91m)
Battery: 3.7v 600mAh Li-Ion
Charging time: 90 minutes
Running time: 10–15 minutes
The Pros
Sporty design, limited edition
Robust ABS construction
Fast top speed
Bonus battery (2 batteries)
Easy to control
Water-cooled single-prop motor
Anti-tilt ABS hull
The Cons
Exaggerated top speed
Prone to let water in

#3 Aquacraft Wildcat EP BL Catamaran

Aquacraft Wildcat EP BL CatamaranView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Aquacraft Wildcat EP BL Catamaran is my top pick. It’s a super-fast stable RC boat with an eye-catching design. Aquacraft use an efficient, longer-lasting brushless motor to power this puppy.

  • Best feature 1: Brushless motor
  • Best feature 2: Fast top speed
  • Plus points: Surface drive propeller, low voltage warning, molded ABS plastic
  • Minus points: Battery and charger not included, limited user feedback

The RTR Wildcat catamaran—cat for short—is for you if 40+ mph speeds and stable sailing is your thing. The boat propels through the water using a half in/half out, surface drive propeller. The great thing about surface drives is that they’re more efficient than other propulsion systems. The low voltage warning system tells you it’s time to bring her back to shore before the battery dies.

This cat has a lot going for it (see specs table below), but it’s not a toy, and it’s not cheap.

The Not So Good

There are no batteries or battery charger included despite the higher price tag. You need to choose batteries with care. The recommendation is 3S LiPo of at least 2000mAh but no larger than 3500mAH. Anything bigger may not fit properly in the battery stand. The other downside of the Wildcat catamaran is the lack of user feedback. That’s due to it being a higher priced model aimed at advanced users.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 36.4 x 11.1 x 8″
Product Weight: 5.3 lbs.
Motor: Brushed/Brushless
Top Speed: 40 mph (64 km/h)
Range: 200+ ft. (60m+)
Battery: 3S Lipo 11.1V no larger than 3500 mAh (not included)
Charging time: Depends on battery
Running time: Depends on battery
The Pros
Beautiful design
Well-priced for its class
Powerful brushless motor
Fast top speed
Surface drive propeller
Low voltage warning
Tough molded ABS plastic build
The Cons
Battery and charger not included
Limited user feedback

#4 SZJJX High-Speed Radio-Controlled RC Boat

SZJJX High-Speed Radio-Controlled RC BoatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

SZJJX’s high-speed RC Boat is great fun, sells well, and enjoys plenty of positive feedback. One of the best things about this streamline racer is the fast 50-minute charging time.

  • Best feature 1: Fast battery charging time
  • Best feature 2: Long range
  • Plus points: Low battery warning, auto flipping, high-performance motor, air cooling system
  • Minus points: Short playing time, poorly written manual, takes a while to master

The H100 RC speedboat has an incredible control range just short of 500 feet. And the low battery warning means no wading in or swimming out to retrieve the model. It’s nice to know the automatic flipping feature is there even though the boat doesn’t capsize easily. The high-performance brushed motor is durable and reliable. Even so, always allow a cooling down period between battery swaps.

The Not So Good

The playing time is a limited eight minutes at best. It’s always wise to invest in one or two spare batteries with an RC boat. There are some complaints that the user manual is ambiguous. Why these Chinese companies don’t pay for expert translation is beyond me. The lousy guide issue is not a problem unique to this model. The final gripe is that the boat takes a while to master.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.6 x 3.5”
Product Weight: 2.05 lbs.
Motor: Brushed
Top Speed: 16 mph (25+ km/h)
Range: 492 ft. (150 m)
Battery: 7.4V 600mAh lithium ion
Charging time: 40–50 minutes
Running time: 7–8 minutes
The Pros
Modern, streamlined design
Fast battery charging time
Low battery warning indicator
Automatic flipping
Long range
High-performance motor
Air cooling system
The Cons
Short playing time
Poorly written manual
Takes time to master control

#5 Force1 H102 Velocity Radio-Controlled Fast Boat

Force1 H102 Velocity Radio-Controlled Fast BoatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The Force1 is another electric radio-controlled boat with a fast speed of around 20 mph. And the large prop motor makes plenty of waves as it propels the speedboat across the water.

  • Best feature 1: Fast top speed
  • Best feature 2: Large prop motor
  • Plus points: Double-hatch, easy to control, anti-flip, bonus battery, drydock stand
  • Minus points: Vague instructions, long charging time

The double hatch design means the boat’s double-sealed to ensure no water gets inside. Leaking RC boats is a common design fault with a lot of models. But you can hit the waves with extra confidence knowing there’s a double hatch to protect the vessel.

Easy Control Features

The H102 Velocity is an easy RC speedboat to control when compared to some models. Its Capsize Recovery feature works fast and gets you back into the race in no time. The controller has a handy RC display that lets you keep a close eye on essential data. The LCD shows the signal and the remaining battery power. You can also adjust the trim from the controller to maximize the boat’s performance.

The Not So Good

The user manual is not the best, but it’s better than some. The readability isn’t the problem here. The main issue is that the manual is vague in parts. It’s a frustration for sure. Still, sellers are usually quick to respond when people do have questions. The biggest gripe, though, is the 2-hour charging time. Spare batteries are a must-have of course.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 14.5 x 11 x 5”
Product Weight: 2.5 lbs.
Motor: Brushed
Top Speed: 20 mph (32 km/h)
Range: 395 ft. (120+ m)
Battery: 2 x 7.4v 600mAh Li-ion
Charging time: 90–120 minutes
Running time: 10–15 minutes
The Pros
Eye-catching design
Easy to control
Powerful large prop motor
Fast top speed
Double-hatch protection
Bonus battery
Anti-flip design
Drydock stand
The Cons
Some instructions vague
Long charging time

#6 Miss Seattle U-16 Unlimited Hydroplane

Miss Seattle U-16 Unlimited HydroplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

This is a pricy though gorgeous-looking feature-packed hydroplane. Aquacraft hasn’t stated the top speed of the Miss Seattle U-16, but it’s fast and kicks up lots of water.

  • Best feature 1: Powerful brushless inrunner motor
  • Best feature 2: Breakaway rudder
  • Plus points: Double-hatch, hydro turn fin, 2-blade prop, low voltage warning, display stand
  • Minus points: Battery and charger not included, high price tag

The Miss Seattle U-16 Unlimited Hydroplane comes equipped with a lot of good gear. A powerful water-cooled, 6-pole brushless inrunner motor propels it effortlessly across the water. The motor has a CNC water cooling jacket. The breakaway rudder is a neat feature as it swings up if it strikes an underwater obstacle. That means there’s much less risk of damage to the rudder and transom.

The U-16 Unlimited Hydroplane has a double hatch to make sure water stays out. Anyone who’s familiar with cheaper, leaky RC boats know the value of a double hatch.

Handling the Hydroplane

Racing this boat is a lot of fun thanks in part to the mini hydro aluminum turn fin. Impressive tight turns and floating-through-the-air performance is possible with the right captain at the controls. The 2-blade prop gives the boat more speed and rpm than 3-blade options. The controller has a low-voltage warning so the skipper can bring the vessel back to shore before its power runs out.

You can put the Miss Seattle U-16 on its purpose display stand (included) when the fun stops.

The Not So Good

The boat is not cheap at around 200 dollars (at the time of writing). It doesn’t come with a battery or charger despite the higher price tag. It needs 11.1V LiPo at least 1000mAh to function. Choose batteries with care as the design of this model limits the battery size somewhat.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 23.9 x 9.9 x 7.2”
Product Weight: 4.95 lbs.
Motor: Brushed/Brushless
Top Speed: Not specified
Range: Not specified
Battery: 11.1V LiPo at least 1000mAh (not included)
Charging time: Depends on battery and charger (not included)
Running time: Depends on battery
The Pros
Gorgeous looking hydroplane
Powerful Water-cooled, 28-35-2200kV brushless motor
Breakaway rudder
Unique cinch motor coupler
Double-hatch design
Low voltage warning
Hydro turn fin
30mm two-blade FRP propeller
Drydock display stand
The Cons
Tends to let in a little water
Battery and charger extras
High price

#7 The DragonFlite 95 950mm RC Sailboat

The DragonFlite 95 950mm RC SailboatView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

My final pick is the incredible DragonFlite 95 Plug N Play (PNP) sailboat. It’s a real enthusiast’s model aimed at passionate folks who like to tinker and love to sail. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Best feature 1: Easy to sail despite its complexity
  • Best feature 2: Cutting-edge components
  • Plus points: Race-ready, lightweight, carbon fiber keel fin, one-piece carbon mast, long hull, performs well in strong winds, display stand, perfect handling and balance on the water
  • Minus points: Radio transmitter and receiver extras in PNP version, high price

They called it the most anticipated RC yacht in the world. That’s exactly what it was for some. The DragonFlite 95 is not a toy. It’s a high-end RC sailboat with a high price tag to match. The yacht is easy to sail despite its beautiful and intricate design. There’s no expense spared in the construction either. It’s equipped with cutting-edge components throughout.

What Makes this Model Special

This lightweight vessel has a carbon fiber keel fin, one-piece carbon mast, and long narrow hull. It arrives race-ready, but the radio system is a separate purchase for this PNP version.

The sailboat’s main preinstalled parts include the following:

  • Servos
  • Drum winch line
  • Running rigging
  • Boom fittings

Another impressive thing about this model is that you can make it your own. There’s a plethora of aftermarket parts and accessories to customize it for those who want to. It’s possible to sail her in most wind conditions with the right setup. Seriously, even non-sailor types would find it hard not to like the pure beauty of this extraordinary boat.

The Not So Good

This PNP RC sailboat does not come with a radio transmitter or receiver (antenna). Many enthusiasts prefer to choose their radio systems anyway. I can see that the Flysky telemetry transmitter is a favorite choice among a lot of RC sailors. The higher cost of the DragonFlite 95 950mm RC Sailboat means it doesn’t fly off the shelf. Those who do invest in it are very happy with their purchase.

Don’t worry too much about the lack of user reviews. You can find lots of online videos where proud owners show off their beautiful yacht to other fans.

amazon

Tech Specs
Dimensions: 374 x 7.9 x 590.5”
Product Weight: 4.41 lbs.
Motor: Brushed/Brushless
Top Speed: Not specified
Range: Depends on radio/receiver used
Battery: 4 x AA (not included)
Charging time: Depends on charger used (not included)
Running time: Not specified
The Pros
Great looking model sailboat
Easy to sail despite light weight
Perfect balance on the water
Performs well in strong winds
Latest in radio sailing design concepts, build, and parts
Cutting-edge components used
Race-ready, carbon fiber keel fin
One piece carbon mast
Long hull
Display stand included
The Cons
Radio and receiver extras in PNP version
Highish price
4.6/57 ratings