10 Best RC Rock Crawlers: 2017 Review and Guide

After careful consideration, we felt like the Redcat Racing Everest had the most to offer in terms of affordability, quality, and ease of use. Not everyone can afford a $300+ crawler, and that’s where the Everest is extremely appealing. 

Picture this. It’s a bright, sunny day. There’s a light breeze ruffling your hair and a field of rocks and dirt clods stretching out in front of you, just begging to be climbed and explored.

You want to drive on that terrain, but it’s going to take more than your average RC truck to handle the uneven surface.

If this sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday (or any day really), then you’re likely one of the many people out there who loves rock crawlers.

What’s that, you say? You don’t have a rock crawler yet or you’re looking to buy the best RC rock crawler possible?

Well! That’s why we’re here.

We  love rock crawlers as much as you do, and we have compiled our list of the absolute best of the best for their price points. All these crawlers are fully upgradeable and ready to run (RTR).

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  1. Best RC rock crawlers reviewed
  2. Electric vs. Nitro/Gas
  3. Build It Yourself vs. Ready to Run (RTR)

1. Best RC rock crawlers reviewed

Redcat Racing Everest-10

best rc rock crawler redcatracingeverest-10This 1/10 scale crawler packs a lot of bang for your buck. It features front and rear multilink suspension. This means that your crawler will flex more, therefore conforming to the angle of the terrain better. This crawler also features a front and back transmission and deadlock RC tires so that it will climb over anything that it can possibly get traction on.

The shocks on this awesome crawler are oil-filled and aluminum capped for increased stability and the whole crawler features ball bearings throughout.

The radio system for this crawler is a 2.4 GHz system. This means that you won’t have to worry about frequency jamming. You and your friends can all run your crawlers at the same time.

Perhaps the best thing about the Everest-10 is that the electronics are waterproof. This means that you can run it through rain, puddles and snow without any problems, even if the water comes up over the bottom of the crawler. This crawler is also durable, able to take a beating and keep right on going.

If you happen to crash it, however, as will inevitably happen when you’re climbing over rocks as tall as your truck, the parts are easy to find. In short, this crawler is as versatile as you.

Traxxas 67044 Telluride Extreme Terrain

traxxas67044_Traxxas are a leader in RC vehicles and this 1/10 scale crawler doesn’t disappoint. With a top speed of 30 MPH, this bad boy is capable of being a race truck as well as crawling over any terrain you should choose to throw at it. Its 2.4 Ghz radio system also means that you can run more than one at a time for more racing fun.

This crawler features a brushed Titan 12-turn motor and independent suspension for more flexibility on rough terrain, making it great for dealing with terrain.

The crawler also has a waterproof electronic speed controller (ESC) and receiver. Drive this through snow, rain and mud and then just wash it off when you’re done. It’ll handle anything. The composite nylon frame also ensures that crashes aren’t likely to do serious damage. If you do break a part, Traxxas is excellent at providing cheap replacement parts.

If you happen to be a beginner to the RC hobby or to crawlers, this one also offers Traxxas’s patented training mode on the transmitter. This means that you can cut the power to the motor by half while keeping the brakes at full power until you know how to drive it.

This truck also features a rechargeable 7-cell NiMH battery, allowing you to get twenty minutes on a single charge, with a charge time of one hour. If you plan on playing for a while, it might be a good idea to buy more than one battery pack.

Exceed RC MaxStone 4WD

exceedmaxstoneThe Maxstone RC Crawler from Exceed is a four-wheel drive that is packing the power. It features a 3-gear center-mounted transmission and a high-precision ESC with reverse function which puts the control in your hands. The high precision receiver features two channels.

The shocks for this monster are extra long for more absorption of impact, and they are nitride-coated. The chassis is light-weight and stiff so that it glides over rocks, branches and anything else you throw at it. That includes rain and snow. The Maxstone also features waterproof electronics so you can drive in any weather, whether rain or shine.

Perhaps the best thing about this crawler is it’s motors. Yes, you heard right. This crawler has two high-torque motors providing all the climbing power. No matter what you throw at it, it’ll just keep right on crawling. As a bonus, the weight of the motors are positioned low, to give you the lowest center of gravity possible so that your crawler can simply hug the rocks.

The only downside is that parts for this model tend to be a bit low-end and the crawler is a little bit top-heavy. However, both replacement parts and upgrades are easily found at your local hobby store or online by contacting the manufacturer.

HPI Racing 1/10th Scale Crawler King Rock Crawler

hpiracingcrawlerThe Crawler King from HPI Racing comes ready to run right out of the box. All you need to provide is batteries for the transmitter. This is a very no-fuss crawler with a 1973 Ford Bronco body for that touch of class. It is 1/10 scale and is waterproof to allow you to drive it in any terrain you would ever want to crawl or slog through.

The truck features locked differentials and three-link suspension.

The shocks for this mountain goat of a crawler are oil-filled so that they can more easily flex to the terrain. The tires feature a sticky compound which, in conjunction with the treads helps you grab onto almost anything and climb right over.

For those of you who like to upgrade your crawlers, upgrades and replacement parts are relatively easy to find for the Crawler King.

Speaking of upgrades, you might want to upgrade the stock battery. It offers ten minutes of play time for a two or three hour charge. If you don’t upgrade to a better battery pack, your options are pretty limited. You’ll need to buy a couple of extra battery packs, and make sure you have one charging as another cools and one in the car. Even so, you won’t be able to get as much play time as you would likely want.

Mad Torque Rock Crawler from Exceed

madtorquercIf you like your crawlers a little bigger than 1/10 scale, there is the Mad Torque crawler from Exceed. Much like the Maxstone 1/10 scale crawler, this one features a three-gear center-mount transmission and multilink suspension and axels. This means that you will have excellent grip and torque, no matter what you are climbing over. It also features a solid axle mount to protect the front and rear shaft. This means you are far less likely to break an axle when you happen to hit a rock wrong.

This crawler also features a precision ESC with reverse function. This ESC is paired with a high precision receiver. The transmitter is 2.4Ghz technology which means that you and your friends can all be crawling at the same time.

Your new Mad Torque Rock Crawler also features a stiff, light-weight chassis to scoot over all the rocks and other obstacles you might encounter as well as super-long nitride-coated shocks for increased articulation.

The dual motors on this crawler are positioned so that the weight of the motor is held low down, which means that the crawler has the lowest center of gravity possible and will not tip over when you’re climbing the hills.

If you are out on the trails at night, this crawler has bright LED lights. This means you’ll easily be able to see it in the dark.

The battery is a seven-cell NiMh battery pack. Charging is about one hour and playtime is twenty minutes.

There is only one downside to this truck. Though the ESC is waterproof, the receiver isn’t. Be sure to waterproof it when you get this bad boy home and you will be ready to start crawling.

Danchee Trail Hunter

danchee-trail-hunterIf you want a cheap RC rock crawler that will be reliable and a good intro to the hobby, the Danchee Trail Hunter just may be the one for you. It is geared low to drive easily over rocks and other obstacles including things that are nearly as tall as it is. It also features dual motors to deliver smooth 4×4 power to all four wheels. To help with climbing, the Trail Hunter also features hill braking mode. When engaged, this mode makes the car automatically brake when you let go of the throttle.

The radio system in this crawler is amazing. First of all, it has a range of over 170 feet. This means that you don’t have to follow it in order to control it. Also, the radio is a 2.4Ghz system. You can have up to twenty of these running at one time, and none of them will interfere with the others. Your controller binds to your truck with an audible confirmation. This is excellent for those of you who may have visual impairments or those who want to know for sure that the truck is properly paired.

There a couple of downsides to the Trail Hunter however. Firstly, it is not waterproof or water resistant. This means that you cannot drive it through snow or in rainy conditions. On top of that, in its default configuration, this crawler requires ten AA batteries, six for the vehicle and four for the transmitter. It is strongly suggested that if you want to prevent yourself from wasting a lot of money that you either get the optional battery pack and charger or buy rechargeable batteries.

Hosim 1/12 Scale Electric RC Car

hosim-1_12-scale-electric-rc-carIf you are the kind of person who wants your RC vehicles to be able to race as well as crawling, check out the Hosim Electric RC car. This little car is a two-wheel drive, as opposed to a four-wheel drive, but what it lacks in stability, it makes up for in speed and power. It will get up to thirty-three miles an hour, giving it plenty of power to race. It has a GP 390 brushed motor, the largest in its class. The tires on this crawler are rubber with sponge inserts for extra shock absorption and flex on the terrain.

This crawler features a 2.4Ghz radio system, meaning that there will be no jamming issues between you and your friends.

The control distance for this crawler is about eighty meters, which is frankly quite a lot, though if you want eighty meter control you have to use your crawler on open ground where there is no interference.

Though there are a lot of upsides to this crawler, it is not without its downsides. Firstly, the battery life is ten minutes of play time with an hour charge if you are running full out. Secondly, to turn the car on or remove the battery pack, you have to remove the shell of the car by undoing the four clips that hold it on. This, though an easy process, can be kind of annoying as you have to do it quite often. Also, the clips are easily lost, especially if children are present. The company, however, will be happy to replace lost clips.

 Maisto RC Rock Crawler

maisto-r_c-rock-crawler_The Rock Crawler from Maisto is a toy-grade RC, and one of the cheapest RC rock crawlers on this list. However, for a toy grade RC it is amazing. This little crawler features dual motors for increased power. Low gearing means that your rock crawler will have enough torque to go over obstacles that are almost as tall as it is, which is really impressive for a toy.

The Maisto Rock Crawler  has front and back articulated suspension, meaning that each wheel moves independently. Unlike most toy-grade RC cars, the suspension on this isn’t for looks. It actually works, and you can lift one tire about three inches off the ground before another tire comes up. This little crawler will do things that even cars twice or three times its price point can’t maneuver.

The Maisto rock crawler is also very durable. It will crash, flip, roll and just keep right on going. It is a good upgrade car. If you install just a few upgrades, you can turn this toy into a hobby-grade RC with no problem.

There are a couple downsides to the Maisto Rock Crawler as it stands, however. It does not come with a rechargeable battery pack. It runs on six AA batteries which aren’t included. Also, though you can drive it in a lot of various terrains, it isn’t waterproof. If you are going to drive it in wet conditions, either waterproof it or make sure that the water doesn’t come up to the bottom of the truck. Check out our more in-depth review here.

Vaterra 01003 Slickrock 1/18th Rock Buggy

vaterra-01003-slickrock-1_18th-rock-buggyOur next off-road vehicle comes from the smallest size bracket on this list. Even so, for what it is it packs an amazing amount of climbing ability. The Slickrock is a 1/18th scale buggy. It features full-time four-wheel drive, for increased traction in slippery or wet terrain. It also features a multilink suspension for more flexibility.

To compliment the excellent suspension of this buggy, it also features an oversized steering servo and metal front, middle and rear lockers. The shocks on this crawler are oil-filled plastic. these shocks give the crawler more stability.

Licensed interco super Swamper tires help this little buggy maintain traction on all the slippery surfaces you are likely to have it climb.

The electronics on the Vaterra Slickrock are even waterproof. This means you can run it through mud and snow. The low speed makes it easy to control, even in the nastiest terrain. The 1/18 scale makes it portable, so you can take it with you wherever good crawling is to be had. This tough little crawler will take a beating and keep on running and will be around for years to come, and if some day you want to upgrade it, Vaterra has you covered. They offer both replacement parts and upgrades at really reasonable prices.

SXJJX RC Rock Off-Road Vehicle

sxjjx-rc-rock-off-road-vehicleOur final rock crawler in this list is the SXJJX RC off-road vehicle. This crawler features a 2.4Ghz radio system, meaning that up to three people can play with their cars at the same time.

The car also features a trim adjustment, allowing you to adjust the steering. It is very easy to control this crawler. The independent suspension gives this car more traction and flexibility, allowing it to better hug any terrain.

This car is incredibly durable. It will crash and flip and still keep on moving. If you break something, it is affordable enough to allow you to replace the parts or upgrade it as necessary.

There are sadly a few downsides to this car. Firstly, the electronics are not waterproof. Do not drive this in deep water.

Secondly, the battery time is not the greatest. You get fifteen to twenty minutes per charge, and it takes one and a half to two hours to fully charge the car, after an eight-hour initial charge. This is not a crawler that can be played with stock right out of the box.

However, the battery is upgradable, so we’d suggest either upgrading as soon as you can or buying additional battery packs and chargers to allow for a longer play time.


2. Electric vs. Nitro/Gas

When buying a rock crawler, you have to decide whether you want an electric rock crawler, or a nitro/gas crawler.

An important tip you might want to consider:

If you’re just starting out, I would highly recommend going with an electric crawler since it will be much easier to use.

All you really have to do is charge the batteries, and then you’re good to go.

As you gain more experience, consider trying out gas models. To help you decide, I created a table of pros and cons for each type. For more information, check out this guide.

Electric

Pros:

Very easy to use, making it ideal for beginners
Brushless is much faster than Nitro
Quiet
Can be waterproof

Cons:

Have to recharge and replace batteries
Batteries can be expensive
Repairs can be expensive


Nitro/Gas

Pros:

Is much more fun to drive
Repairs tend to be cheaper than electric cars

Cons:

Can be challenging for beginners
More maintenance is required
Tend to be louder (Although it makes driving way cooler)


3. Build It Yourself vs. Ready to Run (RTR)

Believe it or not, you can build your very own RC rock crawler. There are none included in this list, but if you have more experience dealing with RC rock crawlers, then that might be an option worth considering.

Your’re probably thinking, “But James, which one is better?”

Here’s what you should know:

The benefit to building your own crawler is that if it ever gets damaged, you know exactly how to repair it.

On the other hand, it will be challenging to build, and will take a lot of focus, dedication, and the occasional curse. For some, that extra effort may not be worth it, making Ready to Run (RTR) models much more preferable.

If you are interested in building your own crawler, here is a guide on creating a creating a custom crawler. When you get on the page, make sure to click “View All Steps” so that you can have all of the information on one page instead of going through a time consuming slideshow.

If you plan on building a kit or if you’re going to constantly work on the truck, I would suggest getting a nice set of hex drivers. 1.5 mm, 2 mm and 2.5 mm are pretty much the only hex drivers you will really need.


Whether you are a beginner to the RC crawler scene or someone who has been going off-road for years, this list has something for everyone, no matter your preferred type of terrain.

These RC crawlers are the best of the best in their price points. They come with all the features you’d want in a crawler. Now you have all the information you will need to make buying your next RC crawler a whole lot easier and a lot more fun. Check out our list of tanks or our list of planes if you want some more variety.