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In the last decade or so the market for home exercise equipment has really exploded, along with the increased interest in personal health and fitness and home workout programmes. Although rowing machines haven’t really ever been as popular as treadmills and cross trainers, they certainly have their place and their popularity has been growing.

The First Degree Pacific Challenge AR is an upper-end machine with an upper-end price tag. It’s not the most expensive machine on the market, but it’s up there. The manufacturer’s aim with this is to offer a high quality experience with a unique twist – trying to create some of the serenity that real rowing on the river has. But is it worth its price tag? 

Key Features Of The First Degree Pacific Challenge AR
  • RRP: $1,199.00
  • Type of Resistance: Water
  • Size: 77.8 x 20.9 x 20.1 inches
  • Maximum Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Foldable? Yes
First Degree Pacific Challenge AR: The Pros

Adjustable Resistance: Some rowing machines only offer fixed resistance levels numbered from 1 to 5 or 10, but others have a greater degree of graduation from minimum to maximum resistance. These effectively offer an infinite range resistance levels that can be customized to suit you exactly.

The First Degree Pacific Challenge offers the fully graduated kind of resistance. With this you’ll be able to reach your optimal performance levels, finding the perfect balance between challenge and comfort.

Durable: This is an expensive piece of equipment, and you’d expect it to last you a while. Some exercise equipment, even when it’s expensive, doesn’t last for long, wasting time and money. This rowing machine has been designed and built to last though.

The chassis is very well made, built out of strong materials and joined together with high grade welds and bolts. You can really put your back into rowing on this machine and won’t damage it in doing so.

Sturdy: Due to the excellent build quality, this is a very sturdy machine. Wobble is one of those things that can really disrupt a training programme – distracting you so that you lose focus when you should be pushing through for your best results. Loose parts can also eventually lead to breakage. However, when using this machine motion remains smooth and wobble-free so that even if you really go all out you can maintain your concentration without feeling the machine wobbling.

Comfortable Seat: An essential feature of any good rowing machine is a comfortable seat. Since so much pressure and friction is placed on your buttocks during a rowing session, it can quickly become an uncomfortable experience. However, the seat on the First Degree Pacific Challenge is large and well padded. This helps to ensure that your workout remains as comfortable as possible.

Weight Limit: Although this doesn’t have the biggest weight limit of any rower on the market, it’s headed in the right direction. This machine can handle a full 50 pounds more than the average rowing machine, supporting users of up to 300 pounds. That means that even heavier people can use this machine without problems.

Compact: For a full size rowing machine this is a compact unit. It measures approximately 6.5 x 4 feet total footprint. This is small compared to the Concept2 Model D or E which measures around 9 x 4 feet total footprint. For those who don’t have too much space, that makes this a better option, and it’s also easier to store. It’s designed to stow in an upright position, minimizing the amount of floor-space that it occupies.

Quiet: One of the most impressive features of this machine in use is just how quiet it is. It can be used in a living room without interfering with the television or radio, meaning that you don’t disturb the household every time you want to exercise. Plus, the machine also creates soothing water sounds to mimic the experience of rowing on the water.

First Degree Pacific Challenge AR: The Cons

Price: Although this machine isn’t that expensive for a fairly high-end device, for those who don’t have a lot of money it might be too much. Coming in at around the $750 mark, it’s a serious investment.

Size: Although this is a compact rower for its type, it’s not that small compared to some of the cheaper alternatives. Many of those fold away and all of them have a much smaller footprint. So if you’re limited as to the amount of space that’s available in your home you’ll need to look for something else.

Is The First Degree Pacific Challenge AR Worth Buying?

This is a great machine that’s guaranteed to satisfy even pretty serious rowers. The only reasons that you might want to give it a miss are if it’s simply too expensive or if it’s too large. Otherwise, unless you want to splash out on the top-of-the-line Concept2 rowers, this is a brilliant machine that can be heartily recommended.

Our rowers are designed by professional rowers to a commercial grade that lasts a lifetime, and they are optimized for recreational rowing enthusiasts. Whether you are very fit or new to fitness, you will find our rowers deliver one of the best low impact, fun, total body workouts with a touch of that real on-water sensory experience. Oh, and yes, we offer our patented Adjustable Fluid Resistance too.

Capture the sensory and physically demanding aspects that make outdoor rowing one of the most fun and effective workouts ever, now totally realized in the comforts of home. Experience an outstanding cardio, endurance training regime in one incredibly easy to use piece of equipment. When all you hear is the sound of water – like waves on a beach – and see the water swirling as you workout, your total experience is in harmony. No whirring noises, no cables, no dead zones, no maintenance – just the joy of a great workout.

a) Adjustable fluid resistance: adjusting from MIN to MAX delivers a broad range suitable for any fitness level, at the turn of a dial.
b) Height adjustable footplates and straps to ensure optimal foot placement and comfortable rowing position.
c) Improved pulley system greatly increases the range of resistance with no dead spots, whilst retaining constant tension and recoil action.
d) Applies fluid resistance technology: water – nature’s perfect resistance.
e) Ergonomic handle: designed to prevent strain on arms, wrists and hands.
f) Built-in transit wheels. Light and easy to move around.
g) Super comfortable seat running on precision bearings and rollers.
h) Highest quality anodized aluminum seat rail for smoothness, appearance, strength and durability.
i) Simple assembly and virtually maintenance free.
j) Computer displays: time, distance, 500m split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts, interval training and optional heart rate reception.
k) Durable belt drive: smooth, clean, quiet (no whirring noises) and built to last.
l) Solid construction makes this perfect for home gym applications.
m) Tank shells are tough polycarbonate with a triple-bladed stainless steel impeller.
n) Stores upright in just 21” x 20”.
o) Length: 77.8”, width: 20.9”, height: 20.1”
p) Maximum user weight: 300 lbs.
q) Home use Warranty: Frame 5 years, tank and seals 3 years, mechanical components 2 years, All wearing parts 1 year.