Does the OG massage gun brand still offer the best features, specs, and value?
As the very first handheld percussive massage gun, the Theragun was a true innovation in the recovery space.
However, Theragun’s line of massage guns has not changed much in recent years, with the brand investing instead in marketing and partnerships with celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo and Adam Levine.
In the meantime, competitors like the Hydragun have caught up and are even outpacing the Theragun in key areas.
Before you buy a Theragun, here are four things to consider:
User experience - Will you use it, and enjoy using it?
Performance - Will it work better than other brands?
Durability - Will it last?
Value - Is it worth it?
Will you even use it?
Every time I turn my Theragun G4 Pro on, I end up turning it off again.
That’s because it sounds like this:
I have chronic neck and shoulder pain, but I don’t want something that noisy next to my head.
Theragun advertises that its G4 (fourth generation) guns are much quieter than earlier models. This is true: the older Theraguns operated at over 100 decibels — literally as loud as a drill or chainsaw!
However, it’s also misleading, because the new models are still ridiculously loud. The strongest model, the G4 Pro, clocks in at 65-75dB, and even the weakest model, the Theragun Prime, isn’t much better, at 60-70dB. Both are over a hundred times louder than the Hydragun, which comes in at a mere 30-50dB. (The decibel scale is logarithmic, so a 10-point increase on the scale means ten times the noise level, and a 20-point increase is a hundred times louder.)
The Hydragun is the quietest massage gun on the market today. It achieves this thanks to its high-torque brushless digital SmoothDrive™ motor, which is designed to minimize noise, heat, and friction. This high energy efficiency allows the motor to be both very powerful and very quiet.
Another contributing factor is the Hydragun’s strong, lightweight aerospace-grade aluminium body, which provides superior noise- and vibration-dampening compared to plastic.
So you can relax and enjoy your massage without getting a headache from the noise, or disturbing your housemates or fellow gym-goers.
Other important “will I actually use it” factors include:
You’ll use a massage gun less if it’s constantly running out of power.
The Theragun line has shockingly poor battery life across the board — the G3 lasts only 1 hour, the Prime and Elite models last 2 hours, and even the $899 G4 Pro has only at most 2.5 hours per battery (though they do provide a second battery pack that you can swap in when the first battery dies).
The Hydragun has up to 6 hours of battery life built in, with some reviewers reporting as much as 7-8 hours. 🔋
As with all electronics, such as laptops, the battery life of a massage gun will gradually decrease over time. So we recommend opting for a longer battery life to start with wherever possible.
The Theragun has a distinctive D-shaped handle so you can grip it in several places. The $899 Theragun Pro model also has a rotating arm, which allows the gun to be positioned at four different angles. However, both features add weight and bulk.
Most massage guns have a classic L-shaped form factor. I find this simpler design to be comfortable and flexible, and, on the Hydragun at least, it provides enough extension for me to reach my whole body, including the upper, lower, and mid-back.
One thing to look out for in L-shaped massage guns is a handle that’s set at 99°, rather than 90°. This reduces wrist dorsiflexion (how far back your wrist needs to bend while holding it) and prevents wrist strain during use. It also provides more extension, allowing you to more easily reach your mid-back.
The Theragun Pro and Elite models have a five-button pad with one power button and four speed buttons. The Prime has a three-button interface with one power and two speed buttons. All models can be synced via Bluetooth to a phone app that allows you to set custom speeds and guides you through various massage routines and wellness programs.
The Hydragun has a simple and intuitive single-button user interface. One long push of the button turns the device on or off. With each shorter push, you cycle between the six different speed settings. That’s it!
Personally, I prefer the Hydragun’s minimalistic interface, and have never felt the need for customized speeds. I’ve also never found the urge to go to the trouble of downloading Theragun’s app, as I tend to use massage guns for their core functionality. However, I can see why others might enjoy having a variety of massage routines to follow.
Does it really work better than other brands?
Not all massage guns are made equal. The cheaper Amazon models tend to be weak and shallow, and often develop performance issues after a few months.
Compared to them, there’s no question that the Theragun provides much stronger, more effective massages. In fact, the $899 Theragun Pro is probably the strongest massage gun on the market today. The $649 Theragun Elite and $499 Theragun Prime are one and two steps down from that respectively, and are comparable to massage guns from other premium brands (such as the $399 Hydragun) which also invest in top-of-the-line specs, components, and construction.
It’s hard to determine this exactly until you’ve tried a massage gun for yourself, but based on our customer and reviewer data, we believe that the Hydragun will be more than strong enough for most people.
The Hydragun is used and recommended by Olympic and Paralympic gold medalists; World Champions and world record holders in multiple sports; boxers, powerlifters and bodybuilders; NFL, AFL, and pro rugby players; endurance athletes like marathoners and triathletes; and physiotherapists and chiropractors who use it professionally in their clinics.
Pictured above: Hydragun users Matthew Denny (Olympian discus thrower); Matt Bevilaqua (Iron Man Champion, 5x Paddleboard World Champion and World Record Holder); Mark Robinson (bodybuilding World Champion).
HYDRAGUN customer service records also show that, out of thousands upon thousands of customers, there have been only three who did not find the Hydragun strong enough for all their needs. (They simply returned the Hydragun and were given a full refund.)
So, even if you are heavily built or training at the elite level, it is still most likely the case that the Hydragun will be strong enough for you.
However, if you have already tried other high-quality massage guns such as the Hydragun and found them to be insufficient for your needs, then it may be worth it to invest in the $899 Theragun Pro, and to accept trade-offs such as the heavier weight, very high noise levels, and low battery life.
On the other hand, if you are concerned that a massage gun might be too strong for you, or if this is your first purchase and you are not sure what you need, we suggest choosing a massage gun with a wide range of settings.
The Hydragun comes with six speed settings, ranging from 1,300 to 3,200 RPM. This provides massages ranging from comfortable on 1, to very intense on 6.
The Theragun also provides multiple (five) speed settings, though within a much narrower range (three times less at 1,750 to 2,400 RPM for all models).
Will it last?
One of the best reasons to invest in a higher-priced product is durability.
Surprisingly, despite its higher price points, the Theragun line doesn’t appear to have standout durability. In fact, several HYDRAGUN customers are former Theragun owners who switched over because their Theraguns broke down after a few months’ use.
Some told us that Theragun offered to replace their units, but that this process took so long that they couldn’t wait.
As a smaller brand, HYDRAGUN can’t afford to let even one or two customers walk away unhappy. In the very unlikely event that you have a problem with your product, our dedicated and responsive customer service team will not leave you hanging.
You should also be aware of the fine print in Theragun’s warranty information. The Pro has a 2-year warranty, and the Elite and Prime have 1-year warranties, but all Theragun attachment heads are only covered for 30 days. And some batteries are covered for only 90 days.
The Hydragun has a straightforward 1.5-year warranty which is automatically applied (no registration needed), and which covers all parts of the device.
The Hydragun also has a premium aerospace-grade aluminium body which helps to extend the life of the device in many ways:
It’s lightweight but extremely tough;
Provides excellent heat-dissipation to protect the motor from overheating;
Easy to wipe clean and can be fully sanitized with standard alcohol wipes (which is handy in the age of Covid).
It also has a cushy, slip-proof, also-sanitizable nanosilicone grip around the handle, which, unlike certain plastics, will not degrade with prolonged exposure to sweat.
In contrast, the Theragun is constructed of composite plastic. Composite plastic is also lightweight and tough, but has low conductivity (greater risk of overheating) and low solvent resistance (may degrade with exposure to some common disinfectants over time).
Is it worth it?
See the table below to compare the Hydragun against the Theragun lineup.
Note that HYDRAGUN also has a risk-free offer, with free shipping and completely free returns; whereas orders made on the Theragun website will incur return shipping fees.
(Click the image below👇 to enlarge)
There are definitely still good reasons to buy a Theragun, but it is no longer the uncontested market leader on all or even most massage gun features and specifications. Nor will it deliver the best experience for everyone. The list below sums up situations where a Theragun may and may not be the right purchase for you:
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HYDRAGUN is a direct-to-consumer brand on a mission to make world-class massage guns available at a fair price. Here’s what others are saying about the Hydragun:
"Wildly impressed with the performance and lack of noise."
"Superb percussive therapy and ease of use, thanks to the ergonomic 99-degree handle... It also looks damn nice."
"A versatile tool to speed up warm-ups or to provide targeted treatment to tight and sore muscles."
"Compared to other muscle guns it is definitely one of the best, if not the best. It will definitely cater to almost everyone."
"I love this recovery tool I have been using on my 1 on 1 PT clients and myself. They love it and one of my clients wats to purchase one."
Most popular object in the house!
"I bought this to manage chronic back pain as recommended by my chiropractor. Its reduced my use of analgesics, I also use it before and after runs. My boyfriend who is a serious athlete know uses it after swims and my kid uses it during stay at home long zoom meetings. Its the best purchase ever!!"
Quiet good worker
"Very quiet and the feel of the “gun” is solid and handy. Loving how quiet it is and the long battery life. Prefer this over theragun."
Awesome product - silent, effective and life changing
"I bought the Hydragun after hearing about it from a friend who was singing praises about it. And he was not wrong. After tennis or running, despite a lot of stretching I my gluten and calves would be sore and ache. Now a quick Hydragunning really has made a big difference. Everyone in the family now uses it - while watching our favourite sitcoms, someone is using it on their feet or shoulders or calves. Good solid built, and silent."
"This is one of the best investmentsof a product that I have made in a long time. I am working remotely from Home because of COVID and my glutes and lower back are feeling it because unlike working at a normal office , I tend to sit longer and forget to get up and move. Less distance to move when working in a condo too. I live in Alaska and in winter, my walkways and streets are icy so I don’t get out to walk or run. I researched the other top 2 Products and after reading many reviews from both professional and common folk, Hydragun won me over, Also the best value for what you receive. Since I line in Alaska, I am also used to extra long delivery times. Even Amazon prime rarely can deliver in 3 days so when I heard this was being shipped from Singapore well, you know what my thoughts were and then my surprise when it arrived within a week. Performance....it is definitely quiet. One of the reasons why I chose it. Another reason was a comparison I read about the materials used. The rubbery grip is great. It feels secure in your hand and makes up for the fact that it is not a “multi position handle”. I am not a professional sports person so the 6 speeds are plenty for me and give plenty of “punch”. It fully charged within a couple of hours and I used it immediately. It was one of those AHA moments, like “so this is what all the hype is about”!!!!! It is not a cure all but I hope with time it will loosen up those heavy duty knots in my lower back and glutes, It surely relieves them long enough to go about my daily routine."
My new 2nd best friend...
"Well... my wife is still No. 1 on the list but I am so impressed with the Hydragun.
I ordered the Hydragun to aid my recovery from DOMS when I returned to playing badminton again after a ten year layoff. Prior to ordering I had terrible muscle soreness from one week to the next after playing, especially on my calves and achilles tendons. Now, using the various Hydragun attachments I’m pretty good for another game after a couple of days (1 days rest after playing). I use the Hydragun when I get home from the club, have a hot shower and do a bit of stretching and the difference I feel the next day is amazing (I could hardly walk the next day previously). Also, it’s so quiet... this was one of the reasons I bought it in the first place. I can sit next to my No. 1 best friend and massage away quietly while watching TV. It doesn’t impact on the viewing one little bit and it feels just great on my sore muscles after exercising."
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