When it comes to finding the best treadmill, even the savviest of shoppers can feel more than a little confused. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a piece of running equipment that elicits such a strong and varied array of opinions. Loved by some, maligned by many, the treadmill, or “dreadmill” depending on which camp you fall into, is a big investment. With so many options on the market, narrowing down the myriad choices to best fit your needs and budget can be difficult.
The team at iRunFar is no stranger to treadmill runs. Be it during long snowy winters, dark early mornings and evenings, poor air quality days, or times while babies sleep, we have spent many miles running in place when outside wasn’t an option. Unlike many of our buyer’s guides, directly testing dozens of treadmills to determine winning picks wasn’t a feasible option for this guide. Instead, we polled our team and are sharing the iRunFar crews’s favorite treadmills. We have been logging miles on these machines for years and can share what we love and don’t after hours of practical use.
iRunFar’s Choices for the Best Treadmills:
The iRunFar Team’s Choices for the Best Treadmills
- High incline and decline levels
- Big entertainment screen
- iFit guided workouts an extra monthly fee
The NordicTrack Commercial X32i is an incline treadmill with an impressive uphill range. With an incline grade that maxes out at 40%, this machine is a favorite among the mountain goats in the group. Anyone training for hilly mountain trail races will appreciate the ability to simulate long, steep climbs when outside weather conditions make it difficult or unsafe to get out in the mountains.
At $4,500, this treadmill is by no means an inexpensive machine, but it gets excellent reviews from our team members, particularly where the hill climbing is concerned. In addition to the industry-topping incline, it also features a fairly standard 6% decline to simulate downhill running. A gripe shared by some of our users is that the maximum speed going downhill is 6 miles per hour – limiting that ability to open up and cruise that more simulates an outdoor downhill for many. Driving the treadmill’s incline and decline and top speed of 12 miles per hour is a 4.25 CHP DurX™ Commercial Plus Motor paired with a 22 x 65 inches Commercial Tread Belt.
The entertainment technology available on these treadmills is impressive. A 32-inch screen paired with NordicTrack’s iFIT subscription allows you to virtually hike and run in hundreds of beautiful destinations around the globe.
While some user reviews on various forums have noted some negative issues with NordicTrack’s customer service, we have not had any issues or concerns. Still, this is something to bear in mind when choosing the best treadmill for your needs. If you want to take full advantage of the iFIT guided workouts, it will cost an extra $15 per month, which is an additional expense on an already substantial purchase.
You can learn much more in an in-depth NordicTrack Commercial X32i review by iRunFar’s Editor-in-Chief, Meghan Hicks. In addition, you can also check out our NordicTrack Commercial X22i review. This treadmill features the same impressive incline with a smaller screen and slightly smaller motor and deck size.
Motor Size: 4.25 horsepower | Deck Size: 22 x 65 inches | Overall Size: 76.5 x 40 x 73 inches | Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Maximum Speed: 12 miles per hour | Incline: -6 to 40% | Warranty: 1 year (labor), 2 years (parts), 10 years (frame)Shop the NordicTrack Commercial X32i
- Extensive class options
- Good speed range
- A monthly subscription to Peloton adds to the cost
- No decline mode
The Peloton Tread is a great treadmill offering from a company best known for its stationary bikes. It features a 59-inch textured running belt, has a speed range of 0 to 12.5 miles per hour, and provides up to 12.5% incline. One user who bought this for home use found she liked the belt on it just as much as those on the higher-end machines she had previously used in fitness centers.
One of the big selling points for many Peloton users is their classes. Peloton offers thousands of options that are accessible on their equipment and through the Peloton app for a monthly fee. Users can follow along with running and walking workouts on the treadmill’s 24-inch touchscreen. This is great for those who need the structure or distraction of an interval workout or instructor-led program to get through an indoor run. There is an auto-incline mode that will automatically adjust the incline when doing a specific workout, or you can adjust the speed and incline with knobs or a shortcut button on the touchscreen display. Strava users will love that you can sync your Peloton account directly to Strava and automatically share your treadmill run when finished.
The treadmill lacks a decline mode, so there is no way to simulate downhill running on this machine. While the maximum speed should be plenty fast for most mere mortals, the highest incline of 12.5% may be lacking for someone doing a lot of treadmill running to prepare for a steep, hilly event. The treadmill itself isn’t cheap, and it can certainly be used without an app subscription, but to take full advantage of Peloton’s offerings, you will be paying an extra $44 per month for the class membership.
Motor Size: 3.0 horsepower | Deck Size: 20 x 59 | Overall Size: 66 x 33 x 62 inches | Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Maximum Speed: 12.5 miles per hour | Incline: 0 to 12.5% | Warranty: 1 year (touchscreen and original components), 3 years (motor and walking belt), 5 years (tread frame)Shop the Peloton Tread
- Folding deck
- Stable at high speeds
- No class integration
- Potential for slippery deck when wet
The Sole Fitness F80 treadmill is a solid and reliable mid-range treadmill with a folding deck, which is an excellent feature for those who don’t have a lot of space to house a large treadmill.
The treadmill features a 3.5-horsepower motor with a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour. The maximum incline is 15%, which is plenty to sneak in some elevation when the outdoors isn’t accessible. Our user found the 22- by 60-inch deck to be smooth and stable, with no bouncing or instability when running fast. This treadmill features a 10-inch touchscreen monitor. It’s not as big and glitzy as some other machines but large enough to use easily. You can mirror your phone or tablet to the screen to easily watch a show or movie of your choice. There is also a wireless charging pad to keep your phone battery going while streaming. The lifetime warranty on the treadmill frame and motor gives some additional peace of mind when considering your purchase.
This treadmill is simple to use with an intuitive, functional screen but lacks the subscription integration of some of the other treadmills in this guide. Our user found a risk of the deck becoming slippery if you are a heavy sweater or moisture otherwise gets onto the belt, so use caution there.
Motor Size: 3.5 horsepower | Deck Size: 22 x 60 inches | Overall Size: 82.5 x 38 x 66 inches | Weight Capacity: 350 pounds | Maximum Speed: 12 miles per hour | Incline: 0 to 15% | Warranty: 1 year (labor), 3 years (parts), lifetime (frame and motor)Shop the Sole Fitness F80
- More affordable
- Good incline range
- Folding deck
- No decline option
The Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill is another highly recommended treadmill that received high marks from an iRunFar team member. It is a mid-range offering with a folding deck with a 20- by 60-inch deck with three different cushioning zones to optimize the running experience. It is powered by a rapid sync motor that changes the treadmill speed smoothly and quickly. The maximum speed of 12 miles per hour and maximum incline of 15% are on par with many similarly priced treadmills on the market. There is no decline option for downhill running.
Bluetooth connectivity allows you to share your data with your health and fitness apps or connect your streaming video sources to the speakers to watch a movie or television series. There are several program options to choose from, including a 5k run and a hill climb. Our user praised its high quality for a relatively affordable price and found it comparable to some commercial treadmills. Its small footprint and folding deck make it an excellent choice for smaller spaces.
Motor Size: Not listed | Deck Size: 20 x 60 inches | Overall Size: 76 x 35 x 66 inches | Weight Capacity: 325 pounds | Maximum Speed: 12 miles per hour | Incline: 0 to 15% | Warranty: 1 year (labor), 3 years (parts), lifetime (frame and motor)Shop the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill
How to Choose Between the Best Treadmills
There are many things to consider when choosing the best treadmill for your budget, space, and needs. Each factor will weigh differently for everyone. While some people will want the NordicTrack Commercial X32i with all the bells and whistles, the more affordable Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill will be plenty for most.
Cost and Your Budget
Treadmills come in a vast array of price points. As with any product, you often get what you pay for. The most expensive treadmills, like the NordicTrack Commercial X32i, come with various bells and whistles, including the ability to incline and decline. Pricier treadmills are also likely to last longer, so while spending a bit more on a treadmill might be an initial lift, it will likely pay off in the long run as you won’t have to replace it or pay for repairs.
That said, treadmills are the priciest of running gear, so be sure to spend within your means and budget. There are treadmills for less than $1,000 that will get the job done. You can also find treadmills on sale.
Another essential thing to consider is your intended use of the treadmill. Will it be your primary means of training or a backup for when the weather is nasty? Do you plan on doing speed or interval workouts on it? If so, you might consider a treadmill that goes up to 12 miles per hour and has a 15% gradient. If you just plan on using it to take easy runs and walks, you can probably get by with a treadmill that doesn’t have higher speeds and gradients. The Sole Fitness F80 is an excellent middle-of-the-line option for a treadmill at a relatively affordable price.
Treadmill motors are measured in horsepower (HP), and most range from 1.5 to 5.0 HP. Generally speaking, the faster you plan on running on the treadmill, and the frequency you use will determine the required motor power. For example, if you plan on walking or jogging a few times a week on your treadmill, you can probably get by with a treadmill in the 1.5 to 2.0 HP range. But if you plan on running on the treadmill frequently or doing interval and speed workouts, you’ll want something in the 3.5 or more HP range. And if you plan on doing something between walking and speed workouts, look for something in the middle. Most treadmills fall in that middle range. The highest-powered treadmill on our list is the NordicTrack Commercial X32i at 4.25 horsepower, and the lowest is the Peloton Tread at 3.0 horsepower.
Running Surface Size
There are a few things to consider when deciding on the running surface size of your treadmill. First, like motor power and intended use, you’ll want to determine how you’ll use the treadmill. If you only plan on walking and jogging, you can get away with a shorter length. But you’ll want a longer one if you plan on doing speed and interval workouts. Typically, the length of running surfaces on treadmills runs between 45 and 60 inches.
Next, you’ll want to consider the width. This comes down to personal preference and body type. Treadmill widths typically range between 16 and 22 inches. You’ll want a wider width if you have a wider body type. Or, if you have a small body type but don’t like being close to the handles or sides of the treadmill, you’ll also want to choose a wider one. People who like being close to the handles will want to opt for a narrower width. The tread with the largest running surface area on our list is the NordicTrack Commercial X32i at 22 by 65 inches, while the Peloton Tread is the smallest at 20 by 59 inches.
Lastly, consider your space. You’ll want a treadmill that fits your space, so measure before you purchase. If your home has limited space, consider getting a treadmill with a folding deck, like the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill.
Incline and Decline
Most treadmills have a maximum incline of about 12%. Some will go up to 15% or higher, while others will be more suited to flatter running. Most treadmills do not have a decline mode, but if you want to practice running downhills, consider the NordicTrack Commercial X32i, which has the highest decline of -6%. It also has a greatest incline with a 40% gradient.
Most treadmills have a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour, or about five-minute mile pace. For most runners, this will do. But those wanting a bit more speed will want to opt for a treadmill with a higher maximum speed, like the Peloton Tread that reaches 12.5 miles per hour. Again, this comes down to your intended use. Do you plan on doing speed workouts or just walking and jogging? Treadmills with a lower maximum speed will cost less.
The typical weight capacity for most treadmills is between 200 and 300 pounds. However, some will go up to 500 pounds. All the treadmills on our list have weight capacities between 300 and 350 pounds. The Sole Fitness F80 has the highest weight capacity on our list at 350 pounds.
There’s no way around it; treadmills can be noisy, but you can do a few things to help reduce that noise. First, consider putting a mat underneath the treadmill, especially if you have downstairs neighbors or bedrooms. This will help dampen the pounding from your feet. Secondly, if you notice your treadmill getting louder over time, you can do some mechanical checks, like making sure the belts are not too tight or loose and are lubricated and checking the bearings for wear and tear. Choosing a high-quality treadmill like the NordicTrack Commercial X32i will minimize the breakdown of components and increase noise over time.
Display and Features
Treadmills these days are not your parents’ treadmills. They’re tricked out with massive screens, connections to your favorite apps, and offer live or pre-recorded running and walking classes. The Peloton Tread is probably best known for its display, features, and classes, but other treadmills have similar features. The NordicTrack Commercial X32i, for example, has a 32-inch HD monitor and thousands of programmed classes to follow. But all these features come at a price. If you want access to classes but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, a way around it is to go with the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill, which is compatible with the Peloton app, so you can still take Peloton classes without the price tag of a fully integrated system.
Almost all treadmills these days will have a safety pull clip or panic button, and some have both. We don’t recommend purchasing a treadmill without one or both of these options. Even our most affordable option, the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill, comes with this safety feature.
Space and Storage
Space and storage are among the most important things to consider when purchasing a treadmill. In addition to ensuring there is enough space for the length and width of your treadmill, consider the height of your ceilings. You’ll generally want to add around 15 or so inches to your height to make sure your ceiling is high enough to handle your treadmill and you without bonking your head. You’ll want a room with at least an eight-foot ceiling for most treadmills, but the higher, the better. If you’re limited on space, you’ll want to choose a treadmill with a folding deck. The Horizon Fitness 7.0 ATTreadmill and the Sole Fitness F80 have folding decks that take up less space when not in use.
Customer Support and Warranty
Always check the customer support and warranty options before purchasing your treadmill. Generally, you’ll get a year’s warranty for labor, three years for parts, and between five years and a lifetime warranty for the actual frame and motor. The Sole Fitness F80 and the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill come with a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, allowing you more peace of mind when investing in it.
Why You Should Trust Us
iRunFar’s buyer’s guides rely on our pool of experienced testers to put various gear through its paces to determine the best gear recommendations for our readers. While we didn’t have the logistics or resources to gather and test dozens of treadmills to create a winners list, we did rely on the same expertise of our team to come up with recommendations for choosing the best treadmill on the market. We polled our team to determine which treadmills they are using and to get detailed feedback on their likes, dislikes, and user experience over the past several years. We compiled this, along with general treadmill research and our team’s buying experiences, into the treadmill buyer’s guide you read today.
Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often keep using our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes, that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. When we update any buyer’s guide, most products will likely remain the same. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll use for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Treadmills
What are the best treadmills, and what are the best treadmill brands?
The four options for the best treadmill we’ve listed above are the favorites of the iRunFar and ones we believe are among the best on the market, but some nuances to each might make one better than the other for you. If a large range of pitch steepness is what you’re looking for, we recommend the NordicTrack Commercial X32i, which has an incline range of -6% to 40%. If you’re looking for a slightly faster speed or interactive training and classes, we recommend the Peloton Tread. And if you’re looking for a more affordable option without as many bells and whistles, go with the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill.
Are treadmills better for walking, hiking, or running?
Treadmills are good for walking and running, and they can be decent for training for hiking. While you won’t get the different surface types you’d find on an actual trail, you can still reap the same aerobic gains walking on a treadmill as you would on a trail. You also likely won’t find the same steepness found on trails unless you get a treadmill like the NordicTrack Commercial X32i, which goes up to a 40% grade.
What treadmill incline is best for my needs?
That depends on what sort of runs and races you plan on completing. If your planned races and runs include steep uphill sections, using a treadmill like the NordicTrack Commercial X32i with high incline levels can help you develop the muscle memory and required fitness. But if your runs and races do not include significant gradients or you’re using a treadmill as a backup trainer to your typical outdoor runs, there’s probably no need to invest in a treadmill with steeper gradient options.
How much should I budget for a good treadmill?
Treadmills are probably the most expensive piece of running equipment available for purchase, and choosing the best treadmill for your needs is important. That said, being able to run in your home instead of having to pay for a gym membership could soften the financial impact over time. You’ll generally want to budget a few thousand dollars for a good treadmill. As you can see with our picks above, good treadmills will cost at least $1,000 and go up to $4,500 and more. We found that the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill was a great treadmill at a more affordable price than others on our list.
Are the interactive technology features and subscriptions on treadmills, such as Peloton and iFit, worth it?
That depends on you and your motivations for running. Do you need an instructor in front of you to direct you? Do you get motivated by seeing yourself compared with others on a leaderboard? Or are you perfectly happy listening to music or an audiobook on headphones, or do you like just running with your own thoughts in your head? It all comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy direction and structure, investing in the NordicTrack Commercial X32i or the Peloton Tread could be worth investing in. However, it should also be noted that subscriptions to Peloton and iFit include more than just running classes; you gain access to the entire library of live and on-demand classes. For Peloton, that includes cycling, strength training, yoga, meditation, and other guided courses. These subscriptions do come at a not-insignificant monthly cost, though.
Will a treadmill help with trail running training?
Is running on a treadmill exactly like running on a trail? No. But if having access to a treadmill will get you to run more frequently, then there’s no doubt it can help your trail running fitness. A treadmill can also be an efficient way to work out when you don’t have time for an outdoor run. It can also ensure that you can’t use bad outdoor weather as an excuse to skip a workout. Consistency matters in all types of running, and if a treadmill helps you become more consistent in your workouts and training, it can help you with trail running training. The 40% incline of the NordicTrack Commercial X32i can help you simulate climbing steep hills like you’re likely to encounter on the trail.
Are treadmills accurate?
Treadmills measure distance by belt revolutions, meaning the belt is a certain distance, and each time it completes a full rotation, that distance is added. This makes treadmills fairly reliable and accurate in measuring distance. However, as you continue to use your treadmill, the belt can stretch and warp, making the distance increasingly inaccurate. But, generally, you should feel pretty confident in the distance measurement of a treadmill. Whether you buy the NordicTrack Commercial X32i or the Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill, you should be able to trust the distance measurement.
Other features like calories burned, heart rate, and even speed and incline percentage can be much less accurate. There’s not much you can do about getting accurate caloric and heart rate data, but regularly recalibrating your treadmill can help keep the speed and incline percentages accurate.
Is it easier to run on a treadmill than to run outdoors?
Most believe it’s easier on your body to run on a treadmill, even if running faster or longer on a treadmill feels more challenging than outside. The speed of treadmill belts can help with leg turnover, and the softer surface is often easier on the joints than running on outside surfaces, especially asphalt. Running on a treadmill offers a smooth and consistent surface that trail runners don’t encounter all that often. While you won’t have to pay attention to foot placement quite as much on a treadmill as outside, you’ll still have to turn your legs over, and this will build aerobic fitness. The three different cushioning zones of the Horizon Fitness 7.0 ATTreadmill can make running on a treadmill even more comfortable.
Are treadmills bad for my knees?
In most cases, running on a treadmill is generally better for your knees than running outside. The hard surface of asphalt and the varying and unpredictable surfaces found on trails can make running outside harder on your knees than inside on a treadmill. The Horizon Fitness 7.0 ATTreadmill has three different cushioning zones on the deck to absorb best the impact of running. That being said, running on the uneven surfaces of trails strengthens all of the small supporting muscles in the legs better than the repetitive motion of running on a treadmill, and it’s important to keep these small muscles strong if you want to build stamina and strength for trail running.
Call for Comments
- Do you regularly run on a treadmill?
- Do you prefer having a treadmill at home or just visiting a gym?
- What are your favorite treadmill features?