You love running or walking but you hate cold and rainy weather. Or scorching summer heat. Well, a treadmill allows you to run whenever you want. If you’re short on space, a folding version can solve this problem. Our first choice for the best folding treadmill is the Lifespan TR2000e.
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Choosing the best folding treadmill to meet your requirements can be a tiresome task. That’s why we’re here to provide key insight and help you make a choice using our reviews of the 5 best folding treadmills which are:
- Lifespan TR2000e – Best Overall
- Ancheer 3.25 Folding Treadmill – Best Value Option
- ProForm 2000
- Horizon T101
- NordicTrack T 6.5 S
Even more compact treadmills may be more suited like the manual treadmills we have discussed although they aren’t particularly good for the more serious runner or even walker.
LifeSpan TR2000e Treadmill – Best Overall
LifeSpan TR2000e is an altogether reliable feature-rich treadmill that provides strength, consistency, and versatility. While the 2.5 CHP motor is not the strongest one out there, it performs great.
Speed ranges from .5 to 11 mph.
Built-in Bluetooth connectivity means you can plug directly into your smart device, for which there is a holder.
You can interface with any of the many apps available or just listen to music (through built-in speakers) or watch a favorite movie on your smart device.
This model has 21 built-in programs to choose from, 2 of which you can customize plus 2 different heart rate programs, and 17 preset programs – 5 for weight control, 5 healthy living and 7 sports training.
The good looking 6″ console displays the normal metrics such as distance, calories burned, number of steps and heart rate via contact sensors.
It particularly impressed me with the proprietary cushioning system using compression shock absorbers.
The Lifespan folding treadmill is especially good if returning from injury or worried about suspect joints, knees especially.
It folds and unfolds electrically. All you have to do is push a button. And, on lowering, if anything is sensed below the unit, it will automatically stop and save your kitty, for example, from getting crushed.
High-quality wheels move in all directions so you can easily relocate.
Lifetime warranty on motor and frame speaks volumes about the manufacturer’s confidence in this product.
- Dimensions: 71” x 33” x 56” – Folded 50″ x 33″ x 56″
- Running area size: 20” x 56”
- Weight capacity: 300 lb
- 15 levels of incline.
- Smooth speed and incline adjustment.
- Electric folding system.
- Good back-lit screen.
- 2-ply high-quality belt.
- Excellent cushioning.
- The manual could be better.
We thought we would include the following folding treadmill from the same stable as our number 1 choice.
The running surface might not feel large enough for some on the TR2000e featured above. For a big area, 22″ x 60″, a larger motor, 4.00 HP and generally bigger, faster and better everything we had to mention the Lifespan TR5500i.
With the ability still to fold, although it’s a manual operation, the TR5500i Lifespan treadmill is a better choice for some.
I’m not a great advocate of decline settings on a treadmill but I can see the attraction for ending a heavy session with a little downhill homeward finish. Amongst other flash features, this model includes 2 decline settings.
It has over 50 programs, races, fitness tests, and customizable ones on a console dashboard with multiple view options. The maximum speed is a whopping 13.5 mph.
Try getting to the maximum speed for a flourish and ponder on the fact that, that is the approximate speed at which elite marathon runners run for the whole 26.2 miles – amazing.
Have you ever stepped onto a treadmill in a gym and the belt was still going – I have – embarrassing. The belt on this treadmill machine pauses after 20 seconds after you’ve stepped off.
Ancheer 3.25 Folding Treadmill – Best Value Option
If you’re running on a tight budget this model might be the best choice for you. On paper, Ancheer 3.25 treadmill looks good.
However, it has stellar user ratings. It means that the makers deliver on their promises.
A 3.25 HP motor is powerful and relatively quiet. A multi-layer belt provides nice cushioning. It also has a noise reduction layer to make the belt virtually noiseless.
The running area is large enough for running, although you don’t have much room for mistakes. A running speed of 0.5 – 9 mph will cover most runner’s and walker’s needs apart from sprints.
Overall, if you don’t mind a slightly small deck and 9mph maximum speed, you’ll be thrilled with this machine. It’s smooth, strong, and we think it’ll be durable. It’s also a reasonable price.
Dimensions: 60.4” x 27.6” x 48.8” – Folded 35″ × 27.6 “× 54.7”
Running area size: 47.2” x 17”
Weight capacity: 300 lb
- Soft-drop system to avoid floor damage.
- Up to 15% incline.
- Excellent user ratings.
- A little bit short and narrow for running.
While there’s always room for improvement, ProForm 2000 has a lot going for it. It’s a powerful and durable treadmill. It offers an unmatched versatility when it comes to home folding treadmills.
There are 50 built-in programs to choose from. If that’s not enough for you, iFit connection provides limitless options.
iFit is an interactive, personalized health and fitness coaching program. So, you can “run” anywhere, from the streets of New York to California beaches.
With the speed range of 0-12 mph, you’ll be able to run very fast and burn lots of calories.
A maximum of up to 15% incline will make you work even harder.
You’ll never get bored running on this treadmill.
- Dimensions: 84” x 25” x 38” – Folded 60″ x 20″
- Running area size: 22” x 60”
- Weight capacity: 300 lb
- Up to a 15% incline and unusually a 3% decline will make you feel like really running uphill and downhill.
- Powerful 3.5 Continuous Duty Horsepower (CHP) motor.
- iFit connectivity. It’s optional – you have to purchase the membership separately.
- Generous deck size (22” x 60”).
- Wide variety of preset workout programs.
- EKG grip pulse detector with a wireless chest strap.
- Folds vertically and is still pretty big.
- Heavy to maneuver.
- On the expensive side.
T202 is Horizon’s entry model, but it’s their most awarded treadmill. A 2.75 continuous duty horsepower motor is surprisingly quiet, yet powerful enough.
A maximum speed of 12 mph which is plenty for me anyway, it should be quick enough for most people.
Horizon has differentiated the running surface into 3 distinct zones to offer maximum cushioning. That makes the treadmill great for anyone finding the outdoors surface a bit uncomfortable after a few miles of pounding.
A hydraulic folding system is convenient and you’ll have no problems folding and storing it. It also comes with a cooling fan, tablet and bottle holder.
With Bluetooth connectivity, a rapid USB charger and several basic programs, this model has everything you need to start your indoors running journey.
We believe the T202 to be a durable and reliable treadmill. While it may not suite elite runners, it’s a fantastic machine for walking, jogging, and steady running.
- Dimensions: 75” x 34” x 58” – Folded 46″ x 34″ x 61″
- Running area size: 20” x 60”
- Weight capacity: 325 lb
- Shock absorbing 3-zone cushioning system provides more comfort.
- It is very quiet.
- Frame and motor lifetime warranty.
- Easy set-up.
- Difficult to make level.
- No very mobile.
NordicTrack treadmills will never disappoint you. While they have more expensive models, NordicTrack T 6.5 Si is the best buy, unless you’re an elite runner or looking for a commercial treadmill.
It comes with one-year iFit family membership. You can draw your own route on Google Maps and run through hills and valleys around the world. A 10-inch HD touchscreen display will allow you to enjoy the scenery, while the incline will change to mimic the landscape!
NordicTrack and iFit have worked together since 2016 to fully integrate the software with the treadmills to provide a seamless and quality experience.
You may need a stronger and larger machine for sprint running, but when it comes to walking, and running at moderate speeds, this model performs great.
With a 2.6HP motor, up to 10 mph speed, and 0-10% incline, you’ll get more than you asked for.
- Dimensions: 67” x 36” x 73” – Folded 36″ x 36″
- Running area size: 20” x 50”
- Weight capacity: 300 lb
- iFit connectivity with a one-year membership.
- Adjustable cushioning allows you to choose between more rigid and cushioned settings.
- Great value for money.
- Easy folding.
- Not everybody wants the iFit forced upon them. Push the iFit button for 30 seconds to skip the “automatic” iFit registration process and start using the treadmill straight away.
- Taller people may find the deck a little bit short.
How to Choose The Best Folding Treadmill
Buying the first treadmill can turn into a nightmare. The price range is huge and there’s an abundance of options.
We chose our winner, but it’s not necessarily the best choice for everyone depending on ability and what you’re after and, as always, price. We like to factor in price, that is, the best value without spending a fortune.
You should carefully assess your needs and preferences to find the type of treadmill that suits you most.
Let’s start with essential questions and features.
Expert tip: Look for newer models. The industry has progressed immensely in the last couple of years.
Walking, Jogging, and Running on a Treadmill
Why do you need a treadmill? Is it for running or walking?
- Average walking speed: 3 mph
- Jogging: 4-6 mph
- Running: 7+ mph
This should help you to evaluate the top speed of the treadmill.
For intervals and sprint runs you’ll need a treadmill with a top speed of over 9 mph.
It is the heart of your machine. Generally speaking, the stronger, the better. Still, you don’t need an extremely powerful motor for walking or light jogging.
You should also pay attention to horsepower. Continuous duty horsepower gives you a relatively accurate picture of the motor’s strength.
Almost any motor will do for walking. If jogging is your thing, you should look for 2.0 CHP or higher. Runners will need at least 2.5 CHP motors to run for years to come.
Running Area Dimensions
If the running area is too short or narrow it can be awkward and unsafe. So, why aren’t they all the same size? It’s for the same reason you want a folding treadmill – to save some space. You don’t need a long deck for walking. But, for running you need at least 50” in length and 20” in width and ideally 60” by 22”.
This is a no-brainer, but it can be overlooked easily. It’s a good idea to add at least 20, 30 pounds to your weight. Your treadmill will be thankful and it will last much longer.
Things to Consider
Once you decide which basic features meet your needs and goals, you can move on to analyze more features. Some of them can notably improve your experience and exercise regime. Others may offer more technical specifications like treadmills with tv, internet, the works.
Stability used to be a crucial quality of treadmills. The design of folding treadmills makes it harder to achieve stability. However, modern folding treadmills from reputable manufacturers are usually solid and stable. Still, you need to pay attention, because an unstable treadmill will make it impossible to run at high-speed levels.
Walking and particularly running uphill comes with many benefits. Uphill running activates more muscles than a flat run. It adds intensity and improves strength.
All better treadmill models come with motorized inclines. Incline levels vary from model to model, while some models even offer a decline option.
Track cushioning absorbs the impact of running. It helps prevent injuries. Some treadmills have adjustable cushioning so you can customize it. Others feature variable cushioning with a firmer push-off zone and softer impact zone.
Treadmill Workout Programs
All decent treadmills have at least several in-built workout programs. These programs allow you to set specific goals. Whether it’s a weight loss, or the number of calories, or interval training, you can structure your workouts to your liking.
Advanced models also offer interactive programs such as iFit with almost limitless options. It makes your workouts more interesting which is great when you run on a moving belt.
I don’t like to discuss pricing, but it usually affects our decisions. However, I believe that you shouldn’t try to save some money when buying a treadmill.
It’s pretty much simple with treadmills – you get what you pay for. The most affordable models just can’t deliver all-round quality. And if you get a flimsy, wobbly, or too short treadmill, it will only collect dust.
Treadmills don’t just mimic outdoor walks or runs. They offer some advantages even if you’re an old-school, outdoor runner. I always recommend mixing indoor and outdoor walks/runs to get the best out of your workouts. Before I cut to the chase let’s see the differences and similarities between running inside or outside.
Treadmills vs Outside Running
Even though it feels different, biomechanical patterns are the same when you run outside or on your treadmill.
Running on the treadmill is slightly easier than running outside. There’s no air resistance and the moving belt helps a little bit. But, it’s insignificant unless you run faster than 9mph. And cardiovascular demands are pretty much the same.
Outdoor running activates more muscles. Think of uneven surfaces, change of direction, curved path, or dodging people. Treadmills can’t emulate these conditions except for the incline.
On the other hand, running on the treadmill is kinder to your joints. It reduces the impact and consequently minimizes the risk of injuries.
A treadmill maybe can’t mimic running in the park and breathing fresh air on a sunny day. But when it comes to fitness there are no major differences.
Treadmill Running or Walking Incredibly Convenient
Convenience is the number one reason to get a treadmill. Outdoor runs can be beautiful and rewarding in many ways. Yet, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. With a home treadmill, you can run whenever you want. No worries about rain, icy, muddy, or slippery roads, or running in the dark alone.
It’s also easier to find the time and motivate yourself when your running route is at your home. Not to mention that you can listen to music, watch movies, or even read a book. Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far with the book. Your water bottle or sports drink will be at your disposal without belts, waist packs, or backpacks.
For older adults, a treadmill offers a form of exercise that is ideal and for currently overweight people, treadmills can be an essential tool in shedding pounds and getting fit again. Just make sure you check the maximum poundage supported.
You Control Everything
Apart from the weather, you’re in control when running outside. But a treadmill takes it to another level. You have precise control of pace, incline, and recovery. You can customize your workouts to maximize the benefits. You will never face surprises such as dusty wind gusts, busy traffic, or stepping into a puddle.
Treadmill Reduces Injury Risk
Lower impact and controlled conditions reduce your chances of injury. Of course, overtraining can lead to injuries no matter where you run.
A treadmill is also great for coming back from injuries. It allows you to slowly recover your fitness without too much pressure and strain.
Hopefully, we’ve done enough to help you choose a treadmill that suits you best.
Our top pick is currently the Lifespan TR2000e. It stands out from the rest for its all-round qualities, easy push-button folding, great action and sensible price.
The Lifespan TR2000e or its upgrade companion model the TR5500i will either match or outshine the competition although lacks the electronics on folding.
From quality build, and excellent cushioning to all the features and extras, these models deliver. All you have to do is – run.
More treadmill offerings can be found here.