Remote Controlled cars are definitely fun, but we all have our own preferences and playing with the common RC toy cars can get boring at times. If you’re someone like me, who prefer outside adventures – rocks, dirt and the sun, Rock Crawlers are a lot more fun and exciting.
These bad boys can handle uneven surfaces and rocky terrain. Shifting from the norm? Simply a beginner? Doesn’t matter. We’re here to help you pick the best RC rock crawler to conquer the outside world.
Here’s a video of a RC rock crawler in action:
What to Consider When Buying RC Rock Crawlers?
Something that you should consider right from the start is that, customizing and playing with RC vehicles is quite a lucrative hobby – it could get quite expensive.
If you plan to enter competitions, you will need to incur costs to make your model competitive. If you’re prepared and plan your upgrades carefully, it will be worth it in the end. Additional considerations to make before buying:
- Do you prefer RTR units or do you like personalization?
- Do you like Electric units or Nitro/Gas powered units?
- What size and scale do you prefer?
We’ve also written down a list and put in some reviews below to help you choose the best RC crawler for you. We’ve chosen RTR (Read-to-Run) crawlers and considered their upgradability, so you can select the best motor, tires, shocks – basically all parts that can be replaced and improved.
Nitro/Gas Powered RC Rock Crawlers
These crawlers might take some learning curve to fully enjoy. They run through fuel which is specially formulated. They are generally a lot faster and have more power compared to battery-powered or an electric RC.
They can also run longer than electric types and they are easily refueled. You might run into some small issues your first time running these but they’re fast and fun once you get the hang of it.
However, in exchange for raw power, their engines are quite noisy and might not appeal to everyone. Remember to consider the area where you would be running your crawler. There’s also a bit of smoke when you run them so make sure you run them outdoors.
- Generally More Fun to Drive
- Cheaper Maintenance
- Faster & More Powerful
- Not Beginner Friendly
- Somewhat High Maintenance
- Noisy Engine (a ‘Pro’ if you ask me)
Electric RC Rock Crawlers
These models tend to be quieter and have less power, but are generally beginner friendly. I wouldn’t say they have less speed compared to nitro/gas ones, since there are quite a lot of fast electric RC crawlers out there.
Additionally, RC kits are now highly customizable and readily available, you can replace different accessories to find our optimum setup.
A main disadvantage of these models is the battery life since they tend to drain out quickly. You might need to bring with you spare batteries for continued exploration, otherwise it’s simply a bummer.
Other than that, these are good all-around models you can run just about anywhere. Good for beginners, no smoke and not a lot of engine noise to annoy people around you.
- Ideal for Beginners
- Some Models are Waterproof
- All Around and Budget Friendly
- Accessories can be expensive
- Batteries can be costly
- Annoying if chargers aren’t included
Build it Yourself vs RTR Units
You should also know that you actually have the option to build and customize your own RC rock crawler or simply buy an RTR (Ready-to-Run) model.
RTR units are, as the name suggests, models that are good to go once you open the box they come with. Place in the batteries, pick a place to run your crawler and you’re good
On the other hand, building and customizing your crawler will take a lot of dedication, focus and time. The sheer effort put into this process is what makes the RTR models somewhat preferable. Although, it really is more fun to construct and customize your own unit, plus you’ll learn more on how your crawler functions.
The payoff once you complete your very own customized unit, is an optimized model suited to your style. This also means you can easily repair or replace any part of your unit once any of them malfunctions.
Best RC Rock Crawler Reviews: Our 5 Top Picks
Exceed RC MaxStone 4WD
A power-packed 1/10th scale, four wheel drive crawler. This beast has extra-long shocks for more impact absorption and they are coated with nitride. Equipped with a lightweight tube chassis, it goes over rocks, dirt, rain and snow seamlessly.
The Exceed Maxstone also features waterproofed electronics so you would have no trouble driving through rainy weather.
Mounted to its center is a 3-gear transmission, and precision ESC with a reverse function giving you ease of control. The precision receiver also has two channels available.
What this crawler boasts though is its motors. It has two high-torque motors which provides maximum climbing power. It will keep on crawling that terrain no matter how tough it is.
The motors are also positioned low, giving this model a low center of gravity which makes it easy for crawling rocks.
Danchee Trail Hunter
This rock crawler is an affordable and reliable unit, it’s also one of the best rock crawler RC starter units that can get you into this hobby.
You can easily drive over dirt, rocks and obstacles even those in equal height as this unit. Its crawler frame is durable and holds dual motors that give out smooth 4×4 power. There’s also the hill braking function included in the Trail Hunter, basically it automatically brakes the throttle is released.
Some downsides on this unit though. This particular model isn’t water-resistant, so it’s not advisable to drive through rain or snowy conditions.
You may also need to buy extra batteries or rechargeable ones for spares since this model require a lot of batteries – 10 AA batteries to be precise. It needs to six for the unit itself and transmitter needs four, so pack some spare batteries for longer explorations.
What’s amazing though is this model’s radio system. It ranges over 170 feet which means you don’t really have to be near for you to control it.
You can also have multiple units running at one and they won’t conflict with each other. Your controller syncs with your unit through a confirmation which makes you sure that you have your controller and unit paired accordingly.
Traxxas 67044 Telluride Extreme Terrain
Traxxas, being a staple in RC vehicles, has produced one of the best RC rock crawlers in the market.
This monster 1/10 scale crawler has a top speed of 30 mph and can either be a race truck or a crawler which can power through any terrain. The transmitter system also enables you to run multiple units.
This monster unit boasts a brushed Titan 12 motor, an independent suspension and a waterproof ESC. It offers great flexibility on rough terrain and you can drive it through some tough weather.
Its crawler frame is made of composite nylon which eliminates, if not, minimizes damage in case it crashes. In the event of a crash though, Traxxas provides excellent customer service and replacement parts and accessories.
The Traxxas 67044 comes with a NimH battery, a 7-cell rechargeable battery which gets you around twenty minutes of fun time which also needs an hour of charging. We suggest that you get an extra battery pack if you plan on driving for extended periods.
This model also comes with a training mode for beginners, which enables this crawler to cut motor power in half and keep braking capabilities at full power. This helps starters to get around the learning curve and get into the hobby.
The Crawler King
It’s quite a unique crawler in terms of style as it comes with Ford Bronco body style, which makes it somewhat classy. The Crawler King from HPI has little customizability and comes in RTR out of the box.
It’s in the 1/10 scale class and is actually waterproof so you don’t need to worry about running it through different terrain under some watery weather.
It’s equipped with oil-filled shocks making it very flexible on different terrain types. The tires are also unique which help you tread on almost any surface.
One downside is that you might want to replace the stock battery it comes with. You get about ten minutes of play time and you need to charge it up to three hours, bummer.
We recommend upgrading to a better battery since you’ll end up with limited options. We suggest getting some extra batteries and make sure other ones are charging while you play with your car.
Hosim 33+MPH 1/12 Electric Car
This particular vehicle moonlights as a race car but can also run as a crawler, this is perfect for you if you also like racing. It’s a two-wheel drive as opposed to the conventional four-wheel drive models.
It’s fast and powerful lacks some stability. Its max speed is 33 MPh which is quite a lot of racing power. Its GP 390 brushed motor is large but still falls short in performance compared to brushless motors, even still, the Hosim 1/12 Electric Car packs a wallop. Its axial rubber tires equipped with sponge insertions provides good shock absorption and terrain flexibility.
The control distance for this unit is quite a lot – around 80 meters, equipped with a 2.4GHz system, it lessens any chance of jamming issues.
However, for all its good points, there are some downsides with this model. The battery life is only about ten minutes of play time and then you need to charge for an hour. It’s also quite a hassle when powering on the unit or removing the battery, you’ll need to dismantle the clips holding the shell of the car in order for you to do it.
It can be quite annoying when you do it frequently and there’s a tendency to lose the clips. In case of loss though, you can order replacements from manufacturer.
We have recommended these models since we think they are the best RC crawlers within their respective price ranges. They are all equipped with the features you would want in your crawler. You now have some solid information in buying your RC crawler, it’ll be a lot easier for you to pick one that suits your style.
Always remember though that there are still a lot more out there, take your time to research and find the perfect unit for you.