If you want to do cardio at home, have the idea of buying a treadmill, but don’t have the extra floor space, we recommend getting a compact treadmill.
Compact treadmills are smaller than commercial models. They’re built with lightweight frames and usually have transportation wheels for portability. Some models can fold, taking minimum footprint when not in use.
However, smaller size and lighter weight may come with sacrifices such as a smaller running surface or lower weight capacity.
Our aim in this guide was to pick the best compact treadmills you can get without sacrificing quality. We review each treadmill, including its pros and cons and unique features.
With the year 2020 almost behind and 2021 right around the corner, there’s no better time to start working out at home, especially since lack of available space is no longer an excuse.
- Top 5 Compact Treadmills
- NordicTrack T Series Treadmill
- Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill
- XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill
- Goplus Under Desk Treadmill
- Sunny Manual Treadmill
- How to Pick the Right Small Treadmill for You
- Advantages of Small Treadmills
- Full Sized vs. Compact Treadmills
TOP 5 COMPACT TREADMILLS
These treadmills earned our editor’s choice because even though these treadmills are small, they perform just as good as bigger treadmills with very little sacrifices.
- Max. Weight Capacity of 300 lbs
- Strongest Motor
- Widest Running Surface
- Features of More Expensive Models at Lower Cost
- Folds to Half the Floor Footprint
- Great Cushioning
- Highly Durable
- High Top Running Speed
- Great for Multitasking
- Easy to Put Under Bed
- Touchscreen and Remote Control
- Extremely Light
- Great for Walking
NordicTrack T Series Treadmill
The T 6.5 S is a smooth, quiet treadmill from NordicTrack. Its 2.6 CHP DurX motor has 10 different speeds, maxing out at 10 miles per hour (16 kph). The incline goes as high as 10 degrees, which is the steepest adjustable incline on our list.
This is one of the most popular compact treadmills around. Standing the test of time in terms of reliability gives us peace of mind. Though this comes at a price, literally. The NordicTrack T 6.5 S is the priciest compact treadmill on our list, about 50% more expensive than the runner up.
The frame, motor, belt, and other mechanical parts are made from quality materials built to last. The frame is guaranteed for 10 years and the mechanics for two years. It seems that NoridTrack is confident about the quality of the machine, and rightfully so.
We don’t have many complaints about the NoridTrack, besides maybe, the 5-inch display, which doesn’t seem as premium as the rest of the machine.
This treadmill comes with rotating orange pads under the belt, which act as adjustable cushioning. You can turn them one way to stiffen the surface or the other way to give it a bit more bounce. We love the cushion feature that NordicTrack offers in this model.
What about space?
You’ll be happy to know that the T 6.5 S is a folding treadmill, but not only that, but it also folds so nicely. What do we mean by that? Well, it has a hydraulic assist. In order to fold it, you only have to guide it up lightly. It only feels like you are lifting 5 pounds of weight or so. The rest is done by its smooth hydraulic mechanism.
Unfolded, it measures 73 by 36 inches on the ground and 54 inches tall. It folds up to a 36-by-34-inch floor footprint that’s 67 inches tall. Though it’s the biggest compact treadmill on our list, it is still relatively smal compared to most conventional treadmills.
If you like a lot of leg and elbow room, this NordicTrack has a spacious running surface of 55 by 20 inches. At 190 pounds, it weighs more than the other models on our list, but this also gives it the highest weight capacity of 300 pounds.
Other extras include EKG pulse sensors, transportation wheels, speakers, and a headphone jack.
The NordicTrack treadmill includes a free one-year membership to their iFIT app. The app hooks you up with their professional trainers who can then control your treadmill’s incline and speed via Bluetooth. This can give you an extra element of engagement and motivation to finish your workout.
Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill
Sunny’s SF-T4400 is a small, foldable treadmill with adjustable speed and incline. There are three manual incline levels, the highest being just under five degrees.
The motor on the SF-T4400 is listed at 2.2 peak HP and can go up to 9 miles per hour (14.5 kph). Sunny doesn’t list the continuous horse power (CHP), only the peak horsepower (HP). If you intend to use it for very long runs, the manual recommends turning off the treadmill for 10 minutes every 2 hours of continuous use.
We’re rating this treadmill as the best budget compact treadmill for its combination of specs and price. It’s much cheaper than similar machines with basically the same top speed, incline, horsepower, and folding mechanism. It really is a great treadmill for its price. If you don’t believe us, you can check the thousands of positive reviews it has on Amazon. And do keep in mind that it costs about half the price of some other treadmills with slightly higher ratings.
The LCD screen is big and bright, great for seniors. The pulse sensors are reasonably accurate. You also get handrail controls, wheels, a device shelf, and a cute little bottle holder.
If you like to work while you run, a little hack, and you could use this treadmill as a standing desk by laying a piece of plywood across the straight handlebars.
This treadmill measures 62 inches long, 25 inches wide and 50 inches tall. The running deck folds upward, cutting the machine’s floor footprint in half. The folding mechanism is completely automatic.
The nylon running belt is 49 inches long and 15.5 inches wide and feels quite natural as if you are running on a sidewalk.
This treadmill weighs just over 100 pounds and has a weight capacity of 220 pounds. The frame comes with three years’ warranty, and the other moving parts are guaranteed for 180 days.
XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill
Like the NordicTrack, Xterra’s TR150 has a top speed of 10 miles per hour (16 kph), albeit at a much more budget-friendly price than the NordicTrack. This treadmill’s motor has a CHP (continuous horsepower) of 2.25 compared to the NordicTrack’s 2.6 CHP.
The three manual incline settings only go up to a maximum of two degrees. That’s a very small incline, but at least it’s better than not having any incline option.
The folding mechanism of the TR150 is manual. You pull a locking pin and push the running deck up to collapse the machine to about half its original floor footprint. The folded deck is dubiously secured by a small metal rod that can slip easily, so we suggest not moving the machine while it’s in its folded position.
Unfolded, the Xterra measures 63 inches long, 29 inches wide and 51 inches tall. Folded, it squeezes into a 28-by-28-inch floor footprint. The spacious running surface is 16 by 50 inches with a 5-inch step up. The machine weighs 97 pounds with a user capacity of 250 pounds.
Xterra keeps this treadmill’s price low by foregoing most of the usual extra features. However, it still comes with a 5-inch LCD display, pulse sensors, and transportation wheels.
The TR150 has a lifetime warranty on its frame, which is the most confident backing on our list. It also guarantees the motor for one year and other moving parts for 90 days. This treadmill’s durability is surprising, especially considering its compactness and low price.
Goplus Under Desk Treadmill
Goplus’ Under Desk treadmill is made for walking only. It has a maximum speed of 4 mph (6.5 kph) and a 1 HP motor. The unique thing about this Goplus is that it’s just a thin, flat surface that looks kind of like a giant iPad. There are no handles and no folding mechanism.
The Goplus is as compact as a treadmill can get. When you’re not using it you can easily place it under your bed.
The LCD is a touchscreen with a large interface designed to be used by your feet. Since there is no handrails and panel in front of you, it comes with a remote control which allows you to change speed.
This setup is great if you have minimal space, and the Goplus is incredibly easy to store flat under your desk or upright behind a door. If you aren’t confident in your balance, you may need to walk in reach of your standing desk or a wall so you can steady yourself. The slow walking pace and very low height off the floor will give you confidence after just about a couple of minutes of walking on the treadmill. You’ ’ll forget about the handles.
The Goplus’ underbelly is padded with footpads and rubber columns that are supposed to keep the noise and vibration down. We found that while it’s definitely not bouncy, it may feel a little bit squeaky at the fastest walking speed.
This trainer takes up a tiny total floor space of 51 by 23 inches. It’s six inches high and weighs about 56 pounds with a maximum user weight of 220 pounds. The walking area measures 41 by 17 inches. The belt seems to heat up after about half an hour to an hour of walking at full speed, this is normal, but you may want to give it a couple of minutes of a rest every hour or so.
The manufacturer offers free repairs and spare parts for one year after purchase.
Sunny Manual Treadmill
Here’s another Sunny treadmill that makes it to our top five compact treadmills, the other being the SF-T4400 model.
If you are on a very tight budget, you can’t find any cheaper treadmill that gives bang for the buck as this Sunny treadmill does.
The SF-T1407M is a completely manual walking treadmill. It has a magnetic mechanism that is powered by your strides. The only electronics are in the tiny digital monitor that keeps track of your stats.
The mechanism is based around dual flywheels at the front of the machine. When you push each foot against the running surface, it transfers power to the flywheels, which help you keep up fluid momentum. The maximum speed is technically as fast as you make it, but it’s not a treadmill for sprinters.
You can control the momentum easier depending on where you stand on the running surface. For example, if you stand near the front of the machine, you can up to a slow run. Because this transfer momentum to the flywheels more quickly. If you stand near the back, you can stay at a nice, leisurely walking pace.
This manual treadmill comes with a fixed incline of about 10 degrees, this is necessary for running since there is no motor and the treadbelt moves through the force of gravity. Still, if you want to just walk, you can put a block of wood under the back of the running deck to level it out, so the treadmill is almost flat.
The handles and running surface are coated with anti-slip material, which can help keep you grounded if you have balance issues. The handles are 35 inches above the deck, which you can use to check this machine’s fit if you’re on the tall side.
The SF-T1407M is 50 inches tall and 49 by 23 inches on the ground. It folds up surprisingly flat to a floor footprint of 20 by 23 inches and no extra height.
The walking surface measures 42 by 13 inches, which is the smallest total running area on our list. At just under 47 pounds, it’s also the lightest machine on our list. The maximum user weight is 220 pounds, not bad for a treadmill so light. Sunny warrants the machine for three years.
The Sunny will also appeal to seniors looking for a small, inexpensive treadmill that is great for walking.
How to Pick the Right Small Treadmill for You
Large commercial models used to be the gold standard for treadmills. These days, though, compact treadmills have taken giant steps forward in durability, mechanics, and the extra features they offer. You no longer need an expensive, hulking machine to get a good running workout at home.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your compact treadmill.
SIZE & PORTABILITY
Compact treadmills take up less space, but they still take up space. It’s important to know the dimensions ahead of time so you can make sure you have room for the machine you want. Measure your available floor space, and add a few inches to the sides if you like to flail your arms when you run.
Ask yourself where you’d set it up and where you’d store it when you’re not using it. If those are two different places, you’ll need a machine that’s easy to move around. Check the treadmill’s overall weight, and see if it has convenient transportation options like wheels or a carrying handle. The Sunny Manual treadmill on our list has both.
If you have a low ceiling, add your height to the treadmill’s step-up height plus a few inches to check your head clearance.
You can’t always expect a small and inexpensive treadmill to have the same maximum user capacity that bigger and more expensive treadmills have. Smaller treadmills tend to have lower weight capacity, so make sure your weight is compatible.
FOLDED SIZE VS. UNFOLDED SIZE
A lot of folding treadmills fold by raising the running deck vertically. This lets them take up less floor space but more height. If you buy a foldable treadmill, make sure it fits your floor space when unfolded and your ceiling space when folded.
On our list, the NordicTrack and Sunny Folding models have automatic folding mechanisms. These can help you store your machine even if you aren’t able to do a lot of heavy lifting.
If you need to move your treadmill around, it will be much easier with wheels. Try to choose a model that has transportation wheels at least on one end, so you can roll it like a wheelbarrow.
RUNNING SURFACE AND TREAD BELT
Your stride length depends on your height and leg length and determines how big a running surface you’ll need. The compact treadmills we reviewed here have running decks between about 40 and 55 inches long and between 13 and 20 inches wide.
If you’re taller than 5 feet 5 inches, you should try to get a running surface at least 50 inches long. However, if you are only going to use the treadmill for walking, you can go for a shorter deck that is about 40” long.
The width is somewhat less important. It’s easier to train yourself to run with your elbows tucked than to take shorter strides. If you’re on the wide side, 20 inches should give you plenty of room.
If you suffer from back or joint pain, pay attention to the belt’s cushioning. Compact treadmills usually have less padding, but some pricier models, like our pick, the NordicTrack T 6.5 S, come with adjustable pads. They can rotate to make you feel like you’re either running on a cloud or running barefoot.
The treadmill’s continuous horsepower (CHP) tells you not just how strong the motor is but how long it can keep it up. All the top running treadmills in this guide have a CHP above 2.0 with differences in small degrees. There’s also a walking treadmill, the Goplus, with a horsepower of 1, which should be fine as long as you stick to walking.
If you’re on the heavier side or plan to run for long periods, try to get as much CHP as you can afford. The more CHP the motor has, the less you’ll have to push it to full capacity, and the longer it will last.
The two main ways a treadmill makes a racket is the step noise and the motor or flywheel noise. Motorized models are usually a bit quieter than ones with manual flywheels. We are happy to say that none of our top picks is particularly loud. In fact, you shouldn’t be able to hear any of these treadmills from outside of the room they are in.
If you’ll be working out alone at home, noise is probably not that big a deal. However, if you’ll be running in an office with other people, the Goplus is slightly louder than others.
Only fixate on your treadmill’s extras if they’re actually going to motivate you to work out more. Most compact treadmills come with an LCD display and a stat counter. Some even come with fans, speakers, device shelves, and water bottle holders.
The cheaper a treadmill is, the cheaper its extras will be. You may be better off just using your own speakers.
BLUETOOTH AND STATS
Compact treadmills generally keep track of stats like your time, distance, speed, calories burned, and pulse. Most of the stats you’ll get aren’t perfectly accurate, but they’ll give you a broad idea of how it’s going and let you compare yourself to yourself.
Most compact treadmills are budget models and don’t come with Bluetooth. The best compact treadmill with Bluetooth is the NordicTrack, though it will connect with Bluetooth only to its own iFIT app.
Most smaller treadmills use buttons around the screen to control the input. Among the top five compact treadmills, only the Goplus has a touchscreen, and it’s designed to be used with your feet.
A treadmill’s warranty can be a good indicator of the quality of its frame and moving parts. Moving parts have a separate, shorter warranty because they tend to break down quicker.
On this list, the frame warranty period ranges from the Goplus’ single year to the lifetime warranty offered by the Xterra Fitness TR150. The TR150 also has the shortest moving parts warranty of three months, and the NordicTrack has the longest of two years.
Main Advantages of Small Treadmills
The main advantage of a compact treadmill is, of course, its size. If you like the idea of running on a treadmill but don’t live in a mansion, it’s much easier to find the space for a smaller treadmill.
Many compact treadmills have the option to get even smaller by folding up when not in use. With one exception, all the top treadmills reviewed here can fold up to give you even more floor space. The Goplus is the one that doesn’t fold, but it’s already flat and can be easily hidden under a bed or in a closet.
Compact treadmills are much lighter than full-sized models. This makes it easier to carry one up to your floor if you live in an apartment. The small size also makes it more likely that your machine will fit in the elevator or stairwell.
These smaller, lighter treadmills are easier to hide away if guests come over. If you go on a trip, you may even be able to take your treadmill with you if it’s compact enough. The Goplus and Sunny Manual treadmills each weigh only about 50 pounds, and either should fit easily in your car.
If you’re on a budget, you’re lucky because as far as treadmills go, a compact treadmill is usually cheaper too. Full-sized treadmills can cost you thousands of dollars, but compact treadmills tend to be much cheaper. Of all models we reviewed, the cheapest is the Sunny Manual treadmill, which is usually sold for under $200.
If you’re open to learning how to run with better form, a compact treadmill can help. Small treadmills have narrower running decks, which require you to keep your legs aligned properly and your elbows tucked.
Full-Sized vs. Compact Treadmills
A compact treadmill can be the perfect solution if you’re looking to get in some cardio at home or burn a few calories at the office.
If you like to push yourself, the NordicTrack and Xterra models seem to have the strongest motor and the most durable frame. If you’re on a budget, both the Sunny Folding and the Sunny Manual models have a great price without compromising too much quality. If you like the idea of walking while working or want the most portable treadmill that you can move around easily, nothing beats the Goplus under desk treadmill.
Enjoy your exercise!