Can You Use An RC Boat In A Lake? (Guide + Best Models)

RC boats are all the craze right now! These boats can be used recreationally, in racing competitions, and you can even use them for fishing. However, different water bodies might not be safe for all RC boats, and it’s important to know where you can drive your boat. So, if you’re unsure about taking your RC boat to a lake, we’ve got you covered.

You can use your RC boat on a lake. In fact, freshwater lakes and ponds are the best places to drive your RC boats because of the still water. Before taking your RC boat to the lake, it’s essential to do your research on the depth of the lake and any restrictions that might be in place to ensure that you can drive your boat safely. 

Can You Use An RC Boat In A Lake?
Title and photo of RC boats in a lake

If you’re a beginner, finding the best place to take your RC boat can be challenging. Read on as we tell you why using your boat in freshwater lakes may be the best idea, and also learn about the best RC boats to use in lakes for you!

Using Your RC Boat in a Lake

RC boats require enough area to travel and demonstrate the boat driver’s abilities while still staying in proximity to the antenna. Lakes and ponds provide a large enough body of water where you can effectively present your driving skills while also staying close enough to pick up the radio control signals.

Water in the lakes is smooth and still and will allow you to navigate effortlessly without worrying about the speed and flow of the water. Driving your RC boat on a lake can be a great experience, especially if you’re learning, as you have a large area to practice your skills. In comparison, using your boat in a river or ocean might be too difficult due to the rough waves and constant harsh movement of the water,

If you’re into racing RC boats, you might enjoy going down to a local lake as it can make an excellent racing ground and allow you to reach greater speeds as compared to a small pond. Racing in a lake will also give you more manoeuvrability and control over your RC boat so you can race effortlessly. 

Why You Should Drive Your Boat in Freshwater

Freshwater lakes are the safest place to drive your RC boat as the water itself isn’t damaging to the boat. Freshwater is easiest on the boat’s mechanics and doesn’t cause any corrosion or harm. Generally, driving in freshwater will ensure that the exterior of the boat doesn’t suffer any damage and stays in shape. 

Saltwater is highly corrosive and can cause damage to your cooling coil and electronics. Moreover, salt water can cause rust, destroy the paint and exterior of your boat, and even cause operational issues, especially if it gets inside the boat.

Are you wondering if you could run your RC boat on salt water? Check out my article: Can RC Boats Run In Salt Water?

Steer Clear of Debris

Your RC boat, like larger boats, has a propeller and rudder that can become entangled in debris or become trapped in marshy areas. Jumping into the water to retrieve your boat isn’t always possible. Therefore it’s necessary to drive your boat in the water without any large rocks, sand, or debris that can potentially damage your boat.

Related article: RC Boat Flips Over: Here’s What To Do

When picking a lake, try and pick an area without too much plant growth in the water, as it can hinder your boat’s movements. Knowing the water depths and where the sandbars are can also be beneficial to you. If you have any doubts, ask local boaters who are better familiar with the area. You should avoid unfamiliar waters if you cannot get adequate information on the ecosystem, depth, and restrictions.

Consider the Nature

Natural water areas such as lakes often have an established ecosystem and are home to many animals. It is essential to consider the impact of your boating on the wildlife of that area and practice boating safely.

Disturbances in the natural environment, such as noise or even water movement, may cause unwanted stress and agitation for the animals. Moreover, any pollution in the form of loose parts, leaking gas, or even whole boats that sink may have a negative impact on the ecosystem. 

You should be aware of the weather in the location as it not only guides the wildlife routines but also affects the water itself. Knowing the average temperatures for different seasons can allow you to pick the best time to boat, especially in areas where lakes might freeze over in the winters.

Be Mindful of the Locals

People living near the lake or body of water might have opinions on the type of activities that should be allowed in that area. There are different rules and restrictions based on the local population in various regions. 

In many areas, louder RC boats such as nitro or gas-powered boats aren’t welcome, primarily due to the noise they create. In places with established wildlife, locals might get protective of the animals and discourage activities such as RC boating.

It’s essential to be mindful of the locals in the areas where you are driving your RC boat to ensure that you have a fun time without ruining anyone else.

Tips for Running Your RC Boat in a Lake

Here are a few tips to improve your experience while running your RC boat on a lake.

  • Ensure that your batteries are charged adequately so that they do not discharge in the middle of the lake, especially if you don’t want to swim out to rescue your stranded boat
  • Always test your boat’s transmitter before you take it onto the lake. This will ensure that everything is working fine, and you won’t lose control while boating
  • Don’t drive your electric boat around swimmers as it can be dangerous for the swimmers and your boat
  • If you’re using an electric RC boat with a new motor, ensure it’s waterproof

How Fast Should You Drive Your RC Boat in a Lake?

Most RC boats travel between 20 and 30 miles per hour. The speed of an RC boat largely depends on its size, what fuel it uses, and the type of engine it contains.

If you’re on a lake, the still water and large distance may tempt you to drive your RC boat at its top speed. However, many experts recommend driving at a speed of around 15 mph- not so slow that you can’t have fun but not so fast as to put you or your boat in danger.

Driving at around 15 mph allows you to run for a longer period of time. Operating at a moderate speed burns fuel or battery at a lower rate and will ultimately lead you to spend more time in the water and less time recharging or refueling. Driving at lower speeds can save you money on fuel if you’re driving a gas or nitro-powered RC boat.

Driving at moderate speeds gives you more control over your movements and can allow you to navigate better. You can avoid any potential hazards and keep your boat free of damage. Moreover, the engine suffers less wear and tear at this speed, and you can save yourself from constant maintenance.

If you are into how fast RC boats can go. Read my article on how fast gas RC boats go

Also, check out my post if you want to know how to make your RC Boat go faster

6 Best RC Boats to Take To The Lake

Buying an RC boat suited to your needs can be a challenge, especially if you’re a beginner. To help you with your search we’ve compiled a list of the best RC boats to take with you to the lake.

1. Force1 Velocity RC Boat

Price: $69.99

The Force1 Velocity RC boat is an excellent choice for amateur and professional boaters. This high-speed boat gives you up to 20 mph and has a double-hatch design that makes it highly water-resistant. 

The Force1 has a state-of-the-art controller with an LCD screen that provides control over all aspects of the boat. However, the controller might be too complicated for some children. This radio-controlled boat also contains a capsize recovery button that can right the boat with just one press, so you don’t have to spend time switch pressing the throttle.

High-SpeedLess children-friendly
High water resistanceCan’t be used in saltwater
Capsize recovery system10-minute run time
Table with the pros and cons of the Force 1 Velocity RC boat

You can get the Force1 Velocity RC boat here on Amazon


Price: $48.89

This RC boat might be a good pick for you if you’re into competitive racing. Although small, this RC boat packs a punch with its 15+ mph top speeds and top-notch features.

The boat contains a 180-degree flip mechanism, a 4-channel control system, and self-righting capabilities. The controller features an LCD display that allows for greater operation and control.

To top it all, the boat also features an extra protective feature where the boat can only be turned on if water is added to its internal cooling coils.

Easy to operateCant be used in saltwater
Self-rightingLonger charge time
Table with the pros and cons of the SZJJX RC boat

You can buy the SZJJX RC Boat here on Amazon

3. SHARKOOL Rc Self Righting Racing Boat

Price: $42.99

Priced just below the Force1, the SHARKOOL Radio-controlled is an excellent choice for beginners and avid boaters alike. This 13-inch long boat offers multiple attractive features. It reaches top speeds of 25+mph, a distance of 150 meters, and even contains a 180-degree capsize recovery function making it a great option. 

The boat boasts a double hatch design that makes it highly waterproof and has an internal cooling system to prevent the engines and batteries from overheating. The boat has an easy-to-use controller and offers a lot of manoeuvrability to its users.

High-SpeedCan’t be used in saltwater
Highly waterproof
capsize recovery function
Table with the pros and cons of the SHARKOOL RC boat

You can get the SHARKOOL RC Self Righting Racing Boat here on Amazon.

4. The AA Wave

Price: $61.91

The AA Wave boat is another great option if you’re looking to buy an RC boat on a budget. The boat features top speeds of around 15 mph, a 120-meter signal range, and an anti-capsize hull that’s been designed to prevent flipping. 

StabilityLower battery life
Capsize recovery
Table with the pros and cons of the AA Wave RC boat

You can get the AA Wave here on Amazon

5. INLAIER H126 Mini RC Racing Boat

Price: $39.70

This mini RC boat is one of the best budget buys and is an ideal choice for beginners who are learning the ins and outs of RC boating. The boat has a top speed of 6 mph and can be used for a distance of 50 meters. The boat also features an anti-tilt hull to prevent capsizing.

Perfect for beginnersSlow speed
Quick charging timeCheaper plastic exterior
Longer play time
Table with the pros and cons of the INLAIER H126 RC boat

You can get the INLAIER H126 Mini RC Racing Boat here on Amazon.

6. DEERC H120 RC Boat

Price: $52.99

This RC boat combines speed and versatility for boaters across all playing levels. The boat features top speeds of up to 20 mph and a signal distance of 150 meters. The boat also has a low battery warning so that you aren’t forced to recover your stranded boat from the middle of a lake.

High speedHard to understand manual
Capsize recovery
Table with the pros and cons of the DEERC H120 RC boat

You can get the DEERC H120 RC Boat here on Amazon

Features To Consider for an RC Boat To Use on Lakes

If you’re researching different RC boats to use on lakes, we have listed some defining features that can help you choose the right boat for you!

Check out my RC Boat guide for pools

Top Speed

If you want to race your boat at high speeds, pay attention to the boat’s top speed limits. Anywhere from up to 15 mph to 20 mph is considered fast for an RC boat.

Racing at a higher speed can be an exhilarating experience, however, lower speeds offer more control over the boat.

Anti-Tilt Features

Anti-tilt controls prevent the boat from tipping over or capsizing. These features include 180-degree flips and navigation controls that help keep your boat upright and running. 

Anti-tilt features are important for boating on a lake, especially if you don’t want to swim out to recover your boat if it ends up tilting right in the middle.

Playing Time

RC boats don’t have a lot of playing time, which is why it’s important to ensure that the boat you pick has adequate battery life. 

On a lake, too small a playing time puts you at risk of having your boat stranded in the middle of the lake. We recommend finding a boat with a good charge-time to playing-time ratio and packing an extra battery just in case.


Range can be an important determining factor when finding a perfect RC boat to use on the lake. On average the travel range for RC boats is around 50 meters to 150 meters. 

When buying a boat keep the distance in mind as boats with a shorter range can easily become out of the driver’s control if they go too far.

Water Resistance

As with any water-based activity, water resistance is very important when it comes to picking the right product. If you want to use your RC boat on the lake, it’s important to pick a boat with high water resistance as any water seeping into your boat might damage its transmission or electric parts.

Why You Should Join an RC Boat Club?

If you’re new to RC boating and want to find a great place to start your journey of boating on a lake, joining a boat club might be the right decision for you. Many RC boat clubs are situated on local lakes and provide a safe and regulated environment so that you can explore your hobby. Boat clubs can be a great place to learn more about RC boating while socializing with people having the same interests as you. 

Another advantage of getting involved in your local RC boating clubs is that you’ll always be able to find spare parts and maintenance equipment easily. Although boating clubs can be seen as an additional cost, we believe that it’s worth it as it allows you to form a community with the boaters around you and share your hobby.

RC Boat Competitions

Many RC boat clubs have their own competitions and tournaments that can help you embrace your competitive spirit and improve your boat driving skills. By joining a boat club, you can be up to date about the schedules for any local competitions and participate in them.

RC Boat competitions provide an opportunity for boaters to polish their skills, plan future events, and share tips with other experienced boaters.


Q: What is a nitro RC boat?

A: A nitro-powered radio control boat runs on specially prepared fuel consisting of nitromethane, oil, and methanol. Nitro engine RC boats are generally considered the most powerful RC boats and great for racing.

Q: Can I run my RC boat in rough water?

A: Yes, you can run your Radio Control boat in rough water. However, you have to be careful as the movement of the water may cause the boat to capsize. Bigger boats are easier to use in rough waters as they feel less bumpy and are harder to overturn.

Final Thoughts

Driving your Radio Control (RC) boat on the lake can provide a great experience as the large area will give you ample room to practice your boat driving skills. Just stay aware of the different rules and regulations of the area and drive your boat at a moderate speed so that you can have fun for a greater amount of time. Happy Boating!

Paul Good

This awesome hobby has something for everyone, whether you like to build your RC from scratch and keep modifying till you've got it to just how you want it, to track racing. You might be out with a boat, or perfecting your skills with a plane. Are you taking some cool pics with your drone? I'm sure my site will help you on your journey.

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