This post was last updated on November 9th, 2021 at 12:11 pm
Best Remote Control Boats for Kids - 2021
Quick and easy fun powerboating with these r/c speed boats
When you buy a remote control boat for kids, most of them will be ready to run (RTR) straight out of the box. You'll be getting a plastic hulled craft fitted out with all the equipment needed to control it remotely.
The boats we'll be covering here are toy-grade and not hobby-grade boats. They're all powered by small but powerful electric motors.
Hobbyists tend to use more sophisticated radio control setups and use gas engines or bigger electric motors in their craft. Their boats can be much larger and heavier, and the average hobby-grade boat can be a lot more expensive to buy and run and involve more specialist knowledge to operate and maintain.
However, RC toy boats are still impressive. Big things really can happen in small packages!
When we talk about RC, r/c, remote control, or radio control, we refer to the same thing. That is, controlling a model vehicle - a boat in this case, but it could be a toy car, plane, truck, quadcopter, or drone - wirelessly from a distance away.
With ready-to-run electric RC boats, you don't have anything to build. You will need to consider a few things to ensure your child gets the most enjoyment from them.
Remote Control (RC) Boat Buyers Guide
Out of the box, your RC boat has a ready-assembled hull fitted with motor and hardware, a transmitter/controller, a rechargeable battery pack for the electric motor, and a charger or charging lead. You will need to buy batteries to power the transmitter.
How does the remote control work?
When your boat is on the water, kids control it with a handset that transmits control signals to the model boat. A radio receiver in the boat translates those signals to the boat's steering and speed controls. These are an electronic speed controller (ESP), which regulates the electric current to the motor, and a servo for steering.
The radio transmitter handset comes in a couple of styles. The traditional r/c handset and the pistol-grip type. They both do the same job; it's just a matter of choosing which setup you prefer.
The r/c handset has two control sticks which you operate with your thumbs or thumb and forefinger combined.
One control stick is for speed control, the other for steering - left and right. Alongside the control sticks, there are usually minor 'fine tuning' controls called trim buttons that help you adjust the setup to get the boat running true.
The pistol-grip transmitter controller uses a trigger for speed control and a steering wheel type knob for directional control. Both of these should give proportional control when operating your rc boat. The trim controls also allow adjustments to get the boat running straight and true.
Speed control and steering are proportional, and not just full-on - as in full left only, full right only, full forward only.
Movement of the control mechanisms in the RC boat will be in direct proportion to the amount of movement you apply to the control sticks, trigger, or wheel knob.
What is inside the boat?
When you remove the hatch, you'll see the motor and radio installations:
Everything will be in place with nothing further to do except clip a freshly charged battery pack into its holder, possibly snap some cables together, and fit dry-cell batteries into the transmitter/controller.
Batteries and charging
Rechargeable batteries are used to power the motor. If you run your boat at top whack, they will discharge much quicker than if you vary your speed. You need to trade-off between speed and duration.
Charging times are a lot longer than playtime/runtime, so it makes sense to take extra fully charged battery packs when you set off for an RC boating session.
Many RC boats use brushed motors, but some of the more powerful and expensive ones use the newer tech brushless types.
Some motors will be water-cooled. When the boat starts to move forward, water will be scooped through the inlet beneath the hull, through plastic tubing inside the hull, and metal tubing wrapped around the motor and will exit at the side of the boat—the constant flow of cold water cools the electric motor to prevent over-heating.
Where to use remote control boats?
The RC boats we show here are all designed for freshwater use - on lakes and ponds and in pools. They are unsuited to running in the sea.
Apart from the fact they are relatively small and not designed to contend with the heavy mass of waves, saltwater can cause severe corrosion to components if it gets into the boat. Some water will always find a way in, no matter how thorough your waterproofing.
A boat with a water-cooled motor will need all the tubing cleaned out and flushed through with fresh water every time it has been used in the sea.
The hull interior would need to be lightly cleaned every time, to remove salt residue as well. The prop shaft would need more cleaning and oiling.
Best stick to all the freshwater options. And check before using any inland waterway that RC boating is permitted. It's common courtesy, if nothing else.
Model Boating Safety
Kids' remote control boats are safe and easy to use but require some basic commonsense to avoid unnecessary little accidents. Important areas to be aware of are the propeller, motor, and rechargeable battery pack.
Some RC boats have a sensor that prevents the motor from running until the boat is in the water, which helps prevent fingers from being cut by the prop.
The motor gets hot when run at high speed, and so does a battery as it discharges quickly. Kids should not handle them as soon as a boat comes in after a run.
Kids should also let the boat 'cool down' for 15 minutes or so before fitting a fresh battery for another run. This delay will help protect the life of the motor and battery.
While they are waiting, they should wipe the water off the deck and hatch so none drips inside the hull when removing the canopy. Then remove the canopy top to aid cooling.
Many manufacturers of remote control boats for kids recommend an age range of 14 years and older. With adult supervision, younger kids can use these RC boats quite safely. Kids are quick to pick up the controls, so it's mainly the safety aspects that they need to understand.
O.K. Let's get to the boats.
Our Choice of Best Remote Control Boats for Kids
Cheerwing Venom RC Racing Boat
The Cheerwing Venom is available in a black hull/deck with orange and white flashing or black hull with orange decking - the latter is easier to see at a distance.
It has a capsize recovery feature if the boat flips over, a weak signal alarm, and a low battery alarm, all of which are helpful time savers.
The powerful motor is water-cooled for efficient performance and reliable operation.
The boat stand is a good addition as it makes drying off that bit easier.
The packaging is attractive. You can see the boat itself through the acetate window, which creates a great first impression when received as a Christmas gift.
It has an impressive performance and is a lot of fun. However, it only has one battery pack, so you will need to buy additional ones - you can get them HERE!
Haktoys HAK 606 Remote Control Boat
This eye-catching boat is fast, fun, and easy to use. It has a high-powered motor, which, together with a high-torque steering servo, enables fast, sharp turns. It is capable of a 180-degree capsize recovery. It boasts a good control range in the 2.4GHz band so that you can race against other boats.
Double hatches create a better seal against the ingress of water. The LCD on the radio transmitter has a low battery warning and signal strength indicators.
The HAK606 provides high-speed thrills and is a lot of fun.
Force 1 Velocity H102 Pool and Lake R/C Boat
The H102 is a fast powerboat with some good features to improve your kid's boating fun. It needs to be on the water for the motor to start, which is a good safety detail. You can see radio signal strength and battery power on the transmitter's LCD, so there is no reason to drive out of range or keep racing when the battery is running low.
Twin hatches are a good design detail to improve waterproofing and capsize recovery is neat too. Force1 Velocity is available in blue, green, or red finishes. Specifications may vary.
DEERC H121 RC Model Boat
The H121 from DEERC is an improved design providing several exciting features. The large-prop water-cooled motor gets the boat up to 20 mph on the water, and with self-righting, double hatch protection and low battery, and weak signal warnings from the transmitter, you can have a worry-free session on the water.
The modular battery - there are two of them - is easy to install and charge. It just clips into a battery box without the need for cable connectors.
Cool LED lights in the bow on the deck are a fun feature but valuable if you are still boating in fading light.
DEERC have a good quality boat with the H121.
Cheerwing Arrow Large High Speed RC Boat
The Arrow is the longest boat shown here and the fastest. It uses a brushless water-cooled electric motor to reach speeds around 30 mph.
It has the other features you would expect of a boat in this class - self-righting hull design, capsize recovery, double hatch protection - and is probably closer to a hobbyist's boat than a toy RC boat.
It comes with only one battery which is the only disappointment about this lovely boat. However, if you are erring more on the side of a hobbyist-type RC boat, then making up a few extra battery packs yourself is probably par for the course!
Always follow the manufacturers' guidance on the use of additional and replacement batteries. Motors in these RC boats run at high speed, and using more powerful batteries than recommended can cause motors to overheat and burn out. Similarly, please resist the temptation to tow another craft at speed, as this can apply more load to the electric motor and cause it to wear out prematurely.
Remote control boats for kids are great fun - Enjoy yours!