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What to wear

Rowing is a dynamic sport and what you wear while training needs to both protect you from the prevailing weather conditions and allow you free unhindered movement.

When Starting out.....

When first starting out in the sport you do not need to buy a lot of expensive sports kit. For your initial learn to row course avoid heavy cotton, loose or baggy clothing that runs the risk of catching on equipment. Chances are your course will take place over the summer months so shorts/leggings, t shirt / tech top (breathable fabric), cap and trainers will suffice. 

Rowing is for me....what do I need?

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. Rowing is often a constant process of adding and stripping layers, especially in winter. The rowing community are known to be a colourful bunch so feel free to indulge!


You lose a third of your heat through your head so in the colder months you need to keep it warm with a woolly or fleece hat. In warmer conditions, a baseball cap protects your head and face from the sun.

All-in-one ('Onesie')


An all-in-one is a lycra suit generally used for racing, 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.  Generic 'onesies' cost around £50, club specific custom onesies can fetch north of £70. At first just buy one for racing and use other kit to train in.

Tracksuit trousers


During the head season (winter) tracksuit trousers keep your legs warm, particularly when you’re off the water, rigging boats or trailering at a regattas.

Leggings and shorts


Any type of leggings are good for rowing because they won’t catch on the boat. Long leggings (sometimes fleece lined) are great in cold weather whereas close fitting shorts work well in the summer months. Avoid garments that have a heavy or raised stitching (rugby shorts) as they have a tendency to 'rub' during outings resulting in blisters in embarrassing areas!!

T-shirt / Tech-top


Non cotton breathable 'tech top' 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! Often you will see rowers using this combination with an all in one.

Body warmer or Gillet


Body warmers or gillets are a popular option for cold weather as they keep your trunk warm whilst not impeding your arms.

Splash Tops


In wet weather it’s a great idea to wear a waterproof breathable top layer. When you are starting out a normal waterproof close fitting training top (hockey, rugby) will suffice but a splash top is designed specifically for rowing. 



Gloves are not ideal for rowing as they do not allow you to 'feel' and hold the blade handle correctly as well as hindering the development of hard skin.  However “Pogies” are specifically designed to keep hands warm when rowing.



It is not advisable to row in bare feet, apart from potential hygiene issues of using communal boat shoes it is just not comfortable to row without socks. Invest a multipack of sports sock, you will get through a lot of them. 

Indoor Training

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

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.



You’ll be securing your feet in the foot stretcher so trainers are a must.








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