When it comes to indoor walking or jogging on a budget, manual treadmills are where it’s at! Or, at least, they should be. The best manual treadmills offer dynamic walking and jogging workouts without the need for a motor or a big, bulky machine. They’re easy to use and last a long time. Sadly, there are just as many models on the market that tick none of those boxes.
In this guide, we’ll help you avoid the painful, clunky manual treadmills so many of us have suffered through using. We’ll tell you what makes for a great manual treadmill and introduce you to a few of our favorites.
Keep on reading to find out which models our experts currently recommend, and to find out why!
|ProGear 190 Manual Treadmill With Twin Flywheels||13.25"W x 43"L||$|
|Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill||19.1"W x 47.2"L||$$|
|Exerpeutic 100XL High Capacity Magnetic Resistance Manual Treadmill||16"W x 45"L||$$$|
Best Manual Treadmill Reviews
This ProGear model is currently the least expensive manual treadmill we recommend. It’s half the cost of our top quality recommendation but still offers many of the same features. We suggest it to anyone shopping on a tight budget. It’s also a good choice for folks who are buying a manual treadmill for only occasional use.
For an inexpensive machine, it boasts impressive build quality. The ProGear has a steel frame that’s rugged and durable. It’s rated for users up to 230 pounds, which is very impressive at this price!
It’s a great little treadmill, within its limits. It’s equipped with big belt rollers that move smoothly and stay aligned. You can adjust the incline between 6 and 10-degree positions, too, so you can have a bit of control over how challenging your workout will be.
It has better ergonomics than other inexpensive models. The ProGear has wide side rails to keep you safe and long handles with foam grips that are much more comfortable than the budget-range competition.
It folds up for easy storage. There are also wheels on the frame, so it’s easy to move around when you’ve got it folded up.
The basic computer system displays time, calories burned, speed, and the distance you’ve walked. It’s not the most accurate thing on the market, but it covers all the essentials and allows casual users to gauge their workouts and fitness progress.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty. We’re also impressed that this is just as reliable as many models twice the price. Then again, that doesn’t say so much about the ProGear as it does about “premium” manual treadmills. Still, it’s nice to know that you’re not sacrificing reliability to save money!
It’s no worse than other models in this category, but the ProGear’s track record is decidedly mixed in the reliability department. We definitely recommend purchasing an additional warranty policy for this one. If you’re planning on using your manual treadmill every day, it’s worth spending more for the Confidence Fitness.
We’ve also heard of quality control issues with this one.
It’s very limited in terms of features and adjustments. You can’t adjust the resistance on this one at all. The incline adjustments also offer fewer options than some other models.
We wouldn’t recommend running on this. It’s built too lightly and has a relatively low maximum user weight rating.
The computer is pretty inaccurate, though you can certainly use it to roughly gauge your walks.
This Confidence Fitness model is our recommendation to most buyers. It’s a quality midrange option with plenty of features to keep the average user interested and challenged. Unless you know you want the extra adjustments or need the extra weight capacity of the Exerpeutic, we think this is as much as you need to spend.
It features adjustable resistance. This one uses a magnetic resistance system similar to the ones you’ll see on most stationary bikes. There are 8 different levels to choose from, so you can change the difficulty of your walk/run without having to adjust the incline of the entire treadmill.
Having adjustable resistance means this one can be a lot more challenging and engaging to use on a regular basis. Something as simple as the ProGear is great for the casual user, but someone who uses their manual treadmill on a daily basis will appreciate the extra variety here.
The computer system is a lot better than the one on the ProGear. It tracks things fairly accurately, though it’s by no means perfect. Your best bet is still to use a wearable device such as an Apple Watch, but this one keeps track of all the basics as accurately as casual users will need.
It’s easy to get up and running (or walking). Setup is simple and the instructions are relatively clear.
Like the ProGear, it’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
Despite being in the middle of the pack when it comes to price, this is actually the most reliable machine we’ve found in this category to date!
You can’t adjust the angle of incline. We think the adjustable resistance makes up for that, but if you want to be able to tweak both, the Exerpeutic will be a better option.
It has a much lower weight capacity than the Exerpeutic. If you’re over 200 pounds, you should probably spend more for the Exerpeutic.
The Exerpeutic comes with a 3-year warranty, whereas this is only covered for 1 year.
Problems with shipping and quality control are fairly common, unfortunately. Make sure you’ve got free returns in case you have issues out of the box. Thankfully, this one doesn’t have any significant long-term issues that we’re aware of.
While this is the most reliable manual treadmill we’ve reviewed, it’s still a manual treadmill. That is to say, it’s far from perfect. When the belt alignment goes, it’s pretty annoying to have to fix. We’ve also heard reports from some buyers whose machines got quite noisy over time for no apparent reason.
Our top recommendation for a manual treadmill is this Exerpeutic model. It’s the most versatile, well-equipped model on the market right now. We also think it’s the best choice for heavy people trying to lose weight, since it has the ruggedest build and highest weight capacity. Get this if you want all the adjustments possible, or if you’re above 200 pounds.
You can adjust it more than any other model we’ve reviewed. It has both adjustable resistance and an adjustable angle of incline. That provides plenty of options for users of any fitness level. We also love how much room to grow this leaves the average person!
It’s both comfortable and safe to use. It has generous side rails, very long handles, and a tread that stays in place extremely well.
It gets a lot more challenging than other manual treadmill models. With 8, 10, and 15-degree incline positions, we don’t think anybody’s going to be outgrowing this thing in a hurry!
A very rugged build with a high weight capacity makes it perfect for heavier users trying to lose weight. It’s rated for users up to 325 pounds, which is around 100 pounds more than our other recommendations can handle!
The Exerpeutic has the best computer system of all the models we recommend. It works reliably and provides fairly accurate readings.
Despite the fact that it’s larger and more rugged than the other manual treadmills we recommend, it still folds up compactly for storage!
It’s covered by a 3-year warranty.
For something that costs twice as much as the ProGear, you’d assume this would have a stellar reputation for reliability. Sadly, that’s not the case. We still recommend adding on a third-party warranty policy with the Exerpeutic.
Which of these manual treadmills should you buy?
The ProGear is the obvious choice if you’re on a tight budget. It includes all the basic features you need and keeps costs to a minimum. However, it’s pretty limited in terms of features and adjustments. It also has the lowest maximum weight rating of the models we recommend. If you’re on the heavier side or are going to be a frequent user, we suggest spending more for something with better construction quality and a wider range of adjustments.
The Confidence Fitness is our suggestion to most buyers. It offers a nice midpoint between the no-frills ProGear and the premium Exerpeutic. We think it gives the average user more than enough options to stay interested without costing too much more than the ProGear. Unless you need a higher weight capacity or know you want the extra adjustment features on the Exerpeutic, we don’t think there’s any reason to spend more than this.
The Exerpeutic is by far the most expensive machine here, but it’ll be worth the extra investment for some buyers. Heavier users in particular will appreciate the high maximum weight rating. This one’s ideal for those on a weight-loss journey. It also offers the widest range of adjustments. Get this if you know you’ll use your manual treadmill frequently and want the best of the best in this category.
Decide On Your Budget
Manual treadmills can cost anywhere from $50 to $500. The most expensive model we recommend costs around $300, though prices vary. You should plan to spend at least $125 for something with all the basic features you need and decent reliability. Beyond that, think about how much you can afford to spend, and whether it’s worth investing in a premium model. If you’re on the heavier side, say, and need something with a user weight rating over 300 pounds, you’ll want to plan to spend more for something that’s more rugged. If you want features like adjustable resistance or heart rate monitors, you’ll have to spend a bit more as well. On the other hand, if you’re only going to use your manual treadmill occasionally (such as when it’s too rainy to take your walk outside), you needn’t spend more than $200.
Always Choose Extended Warranties
Like so many kinds of exercise equipment, manual treadmills are far from the most reliable of machines. They’re iffy at best, and even the nicest models have mixed track records for long-term performance. That’s why we recommend choosing extended warranty coverage wherever available.
You can typically add a SquareTrade (or similar) policy onto a manual treadmill when you buy. These policies don’t add much to the overall cost, and they’re a great long-term insurance policy. These machines don’t come with long warranties and you don’t want to be one of those people who ends up with a dud a week after the warranty ends! Tack on a few extra years of coverage at the checkout to make sure you can get a decent working life from your new treadmill.
Aside from having coverage for a longer period of time, the other benefit of add-on warranties is that they usually allow you to deal with the warranty provider rather than the manufacturer. If you’ve ever dealt with customer service representatives from exercise equipment brands, you know how frustrating it can be to have your needs met. By purchasing another policy, you can save yourself the hassle and let the warranty provider deal with all the annoying bits.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, we hope you’ve seen at least one or two manual treadmills that suit your needs. If so, great! You can find out more about any of the models we’ve recommended here by clicking on the links in our reviews. Or, head over to our homepage to find links to all our latest content. We’ve got all your fitness needs covered with comprehensive buying guides to the best exercise equipment on the market.