Treadmills are some of the most expensive pieces of equipment in the gym. So not you’re here to find out what gets you the best treadmill for your money. Well, here is my recommendation. This is the one I would buy if I had to buy a treadmill now.
My recommendation is the Horizon T303 (Amazon link). This treadmill has a strong motor which makes for smooth and quiet operation. The deck length is 60” so you can run on it with a full stride without running out of length. The Horizon T303 has a foldable deck as well. Check the current price on Amazon (affiliate link)
A good budget option is the Horizon T101.
I’ll go into a little bit more detail down below on why that is the best choice for the money.
Why I chose the Horizon T303
Sure you can spend 2x, 3x or even 4x as much on a treadmill. This machine is in a sweet spot price wise for me personally however. Cheaper than this and you get something with significant flaws and missing features. More expensive than this and you hit a point of diminishing returns. Sure, they will be better, bigger and have more features but you have to pay way more for them.
This Horizon T303 has some really good features you want in a treadmill;
- 3 HP motor. This is quite strong for a home treadmill. This ensures quiet operation and can handle anything you throw at it.
- Smooth operation. Because of the strong engine the belt motion is consistent and smooth.
- Comfortable. The cushioned deck helps dampen the impact of running and makes it more comfortable as well as safer to use.
- 60” deck length. This means that an average height person, or even a little taller, can easily run on this deck without running out of space.
- Adjustable incline up to 10%. Adjustable in 0.5% increments.
- Bluetooth connectivity. You can stream music to the treadmill.
- Stereo speakers. That Bluetooth stream can be played back to you by built in stereo speakers. This means you don’t have to bother with headphones while running.
- Built in functionality for HIIT training.
- Folding deck. This means it takes up much less space after you’re done with your workout.
- USB charging port. You can charge your devices while on the treadmill.
- 250 lbs. user weight limit. This should be enough for the majority of people.
Of course there are a few drawbacks as well.
- The built in fan is not very useful. It’s just too small to do anything meaningful to cool you down.
- You’ll have to assemble it yourself. While it’s not too difficult, not everyone wants to do this. You can pay extra for expert assembly if you really don’t want to do it yourself. Assemble it in the space where you’re going to use the machine. It’s heavy and not easy to move around after assembly.
- No connectivity for fitness tracking apps.
- Built in speaker aren’t too high quality.
Although the T303 offers great value for money, not everyone can afford to spend that much. What’s the best alternative that costs significantly less?
The horizon T101 offers amazing value for money. It’s significantly cheaper than the T303 while retaining many of the features. Of course there are also a few differences. What are the differences?
- 2.5 instead of 3.0 hp motor.
- 55″ belt length instead of 60″
- 10% max incline instead of 12%
- Fewer Displays
So you can see that the T101 is missing some good features compared to the t303. However, for people that are just looking for a simple treadmill that gets the job done the T101 offers a lot.
The 2.5 hp motor is still plenty for most people, especially if you don’t all out sprint on your treadmill. At normal speeds you can expect the motor to still be pretty quiet.
The 55″ belt length means that everyone can walk and jog on this machine. However, taller people might not be able to run comfortably. Shorter people (below +-5’7) won’t have a problem.
Of course there are some alternatives as well.
The biggest competitors are the NordicTrack 6.5S and 6.5Si.
The NordicTrack 6.5S is a quite a bit cheaper than the Horizon T303 while having similar features. So why didn’t I recommend that one? There are a few reasons why not.
The biggest reason is also why the 6.5Si isn’t recommended. From all the reviews on Amazon it’s clear that the customer service is not very helpful at all. The hold times are very long and the end result is often that the problem isn’t fixed. While the product might be good when working, I can’t recommend a company that doesn’t seem to take their customers seriously especially for such an expensive product.
The second reason is that the belt length is quite short at 55”. This isn’t long enough for people 5’9 and up to run with a full stride comfortably.
Another thing these machines do is try to force you to register for an iFit subscription. While there are ways to get around that registration and still use the treadmill, it’s not a good first impression.
While the NordicTrack 6.5Si looks great with its 10” screen and design, the drawbacks makes me not want to recommend this product.
What to look for in a treadmill for home use
What are some features that you should keep an eye out for in a treadmill? Here are the most important ones;
Must have features;
- At least 2 HP motor. 2.5 if you’re on the heavier side. Treadmills with an engine that doesn’t have enough power will be noisier and possibly wear out faster.
- At least a 55” belt length. Assuming you are an average height person (+-5’9) and want to jog, that’s a good belt length that doesn’t require you to change your stride or be scared of falling off. For full on running/sprinting, it’s better to have a slightly longer deck length. For just walking a slightly shorter deck length is fine. If you’re over 6’ tall, it’s better to add 2” to the deck length.
- Max speed of at least 10 MPH/16km/h. For more trained individuals that like to run fast, look for a top speed of 12MPH or even higher.
- Cushioned belt/deck. This makes running more comfortable. Running is a relatively high impact cardio exercise so anything you can do to make the impact softer, makes it safer.
- Safety stop tether. You want the belt to stop spinning if you fall off to prevent hurting yourself more than you do by just falling.
- Adjustable incline. An adjustable incline gives another dimension to your training.
- Weight limit that can support your weight.
Nice to have;
- Fold away deck. In a home gym this can save that bit of space that you can really use for other exercises. Home gyms are usually not too big so anything you can get out of the way when not using it helps massively.
- Built in programs
- Screen with information about your workout.
- Built in speakers
- Built in connectivity
- Works with fitness tracking apps
As you can see the Horizon T303 ticks all of the necessary boxes and quite a few of the ‘nice to have’ category. You can buy it on Amazon with free shipping (affiliate link)