What to Wear

You don’t need a lot of expensive sports kit when you’re getting started.

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But if you do decide that rowing is for you, then you will benefit from investing in some quality technical layers that will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer, but above all, dry.

Your clothes need to be comfortable so you can move in them but not too baggy – you don’t want them getting caught in the oars or the runners.

On the water
HatYou lose a third of your heat through your head so in the colder months you need to keep it warm with a woolly hat. In warmer conditions a baseball cap can protect you from the sun.
All-in-oneAn all-in-one is a lycra suit generally used for racing, but could become part of your regular training kit as they are made from good wicking fabric and allow you to move easily. In summer this might be all that you wear and in winter it can make a good base layer.
Tracksuit trousersTracksuit trousers are good in the winter to keep your legs warm, particularly when you’re off the water, rigging boats or at a regatta.
Leggings and shortsAny type of leggings are good for rowing because they won’t catch on the boat. Long leggings are great in cold weather whereas close fitting shorts work well in the summer months. The fabric tends to dry quickly when wet.
T-shirtT-shirts are great for all weather – worn on their own in hot weather or built up in layers in colder weather. In the cold it’s better to have lots of thin layers rather than one thick one!
Body warmerBody warmers or gillets are a good option for cold weather as they keep your trunk warm whilst not impeding your arms.
Splash TopIn wet weather it’s a great idea to wear a waterproof top layer. A normal waterproof will suffice but a splash top is designed specifically for rowing.
Technical topA technical top (or tech top) is rather like a tight t-shirt and will keep you warm and dry as they are generally made from breathable fabric. Often you will see rowers using this combination with an all in one.
GlovesGloves are not ideal for rowing in as they do not allow you to feel and hold the blade handle correctly. However “Pogies” are specifically designed to keep hands warm when rowing! Gloves are essential if you’re coxing in cold weather!
SocksIt’s a good idea to wear socks when you’re rowing as chances are you’ll be putting your feet into the shoes in the boat. Football style socks are particularly good as you can pull them up to your knees and keep your legs warm if it’s cold!
On the water:
Hat
You lose a third of your heat through your head so in the colder months you need to keep it warm with a woolly hat. In warmer conditions a baseball cap can protect you from the sun.
On the water:
All-in-one
An all-in-one is a lycra suit generally used for racing, but could become part of your regular training kit as they are made from good wicking fabric and allow you to move easily. In summer this might be all that you wear and in winter it can make a good base layer.
On the water:
Tracksuit trousers
Tracksuit trousers are good in the winter to keep your legs warm, particularly when you’re off the water, rigging boats or at a regatta.
On the water:
Leggings and shorts
Any type of leggings are good for rowing because they won’t catch on the boat. Long leggings are great in cold weather whereas close fitting shorts work well in the summer months. The fabric tends to dry quickly when wet.
On the water:
T-shirt
T-shirts are great for all weather – worn on their own in hot weather or built up in layers in colder weather. In the cold it’s better to have lots of thin layers rather than one thick one!
On the water:
Body warmer
Body warmers or gillets are a good option for cold weather as they keep your trunk warm whilst not impeding your arms.
On the water:
Splash Top
In wet weather it’s a great idea to wear a waterproof top layer. A normal waterproof will suffice but a splash top is designed specifically for rowing.
On the water:
Technical top
A technical top (or tech top) is rather like a tight t-shirt and will keep you warm and dry as they are generally made from breathable fabric. Often you will see rowers using this combination with an all in one.
On the water:
Gloves
Gloves are not ideal for rowing in as they do not allow you to feel and hold the blade handle correctly. However “Pogies” are specifically designed to keep hands warm when rowing! Gloves are essential if you’re coxing in cold weather!
On the water:
Socks
It’s a good idea to wear socks when you’re rowing as chances are you’ll be putting your feet into the shoes in the boat. Football style socks are particularly good as you can pull them up to your knees and keep your legs warm if it’s cold!

The basic principles for what to wear rowing indoors are the same, except that you don’t have to worry about the weather.

Indoor rowing
Gym kitYou will want close fitting clothing that won’t get caught in the handle or the runners. Regular gym kit fits the bill. It’s generally made out of technical fabric that allows you to move, and keeps you dry.
TrainersYou’ll be securing your feet in the foot stretcher so wearing trainers is a good idea.
GlovesYou don’t need to wear gloves but sometimes this can help to prevent blisters, especially if you’re doing long sessions on the rowing machine.
Indoor rowing:
Gym kit
You will want close fitting clothing that won’t get caught in the handle or the runners. Regular gym kit fits the bill. It’s generally made out of technical fabric that allows you to move, and keeps you dry.
Indoor rowing:
Trainers
You’ll be securing your feet in the foot stretcher so wearing trainers is a good idea.
Indoor rowing:
Gloves
You don’t need to wear gloves but sometimes this can help to prevent blisters, especially if you’re doing long sessions on the rowing machine.

More in this section

Glossary

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Water Rowing Technique

Good technique is only good if it moves the boat effectively.

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