10 Essential Items Every Rower Should Have in Their Kit Bag

Whether you’re a novice rower or an experienced oarsman, having the right gear can significantly enhance your performance and overall experience on the water. It’s not just about the boat or the oars; it’s also about the essential items you carry in your kit bag. These items might seem trivial, but they play a crucial role in ensuring you’re prepared for any situation that might arise during your rowing sessions. From the indispensable Rigger Jigger to the humble old rag, here are the 10 essential items every rower should have in their kit bag.


The Rowers Kit Bag Essentials

1. Rigger Jigger

Every on-water rower, no matter who you are should absolutely 100% have a Rigger Jigger in their kit at any time. Most especially on the water! Whether you keep it on a lanyard around your neck, or in a little zipped-up waterproof bag you should always have this on you.

For the uninitiated, a Rigger Jigger is a tool that has two sides. One side at 10mm and the other side at 13mm. These are perfectly designed to undo every single nut on a European boat. You never know when you’re going to have to make an adjustment mid-session. If there’s only one essential item you have in your kit bag make sure it’s this one

2. Cheap Electrical Tape

Electrical Tape? Why? I have personally used Electrical Tape to get myself through many on and off-water sessions. It’s no secret that rowers get blisters, and bad ones at that. Simply putting a plaster on isn’t going to cut it. It’ll come off the moment you take your first 10 strokes.

Simply make sure that you don’t use too much and not too tight otherwise you’ll cut off blood flow and nobody wants that. Also, try to avoid putting the sticky side directly onto your blisters, that’s never nice. Why cheap? It’s just not as sticky as the expensive stuff. The less sticky, the less likely you are to pull off or damage injured skin.

3. Spare Underwear

I can’t tell you the number of times that having something as simple as a spare set of underwear has helped me massively on the day of a training session or the day of a competition. Whether you capsize and your underwear gets wet, or you splash some water into the boat and your socks get wet, you don’t want to be walking around all day in wet underwear. It takes up little room in your kit bag and can save any rower from discomfort.

4. Old Rags

There’s not much to be said about this one. Whether you’re going to use an old t-shirt or an old stained tea towel, it’s important that you keep one of these handy to clean up any messes like slide marks or the odd bit of dirty water from whatever body of water you’re rowing on. Plus if your boathouse has a gym and you need to clean a piece of equipment, you’ve got something handy to clean it up.

5. TCP (or other antiseptic liquid for wounds)

It’s always handy to have some wound antiseptic liquid handy to treat any open wounds or cuts. The last thing you want to happen is to fall into a dirty river and somehow have it get infected. Any boathouse will have a first aid kit handy, but sometimes when you’re at a competition you’ll need to get something cleaned up quickly.

TCP is great, I always had a small travel bottle in my kit bag at all times with a pack of cotton wool balls for application. One thing I would recommend though is to keep it in a separate zip-loc bag so your whole kit bag doesn’t smell like TCP (it’s a really strong smell)

6. A bottle or can of Diet Coke

Now this one admittedly is a bit of an urban myth. Every time someone fell in the water at my boathouse they were always given a can of Diet Coke to have to try and ward off any stomach bugs or something worse like Weil’s Disease. Now admittedly like I said this is just an urban myth.

While it is not medically proven to work it is thought that some of the ingredients in Diet Coke can actually kill off some of the bacteria and prevent infection. I cannot stress enough however that if you think that you have contracted a disease or infection from falling in the water that you visit a doctor immediately to get yourself checked out.

7. All-in-one

Many rowers swear by one specific bit of rowing kit. The all-in-one! This piece of sports wear is sometimes the only thing you’ll need to wear in a training session or competition. Made from Lycra, this is usually worn over underwear and sometimes a t-shirt to make sure that your oars don’t catch on any loose fabric while you’re on the water.

The last thing you want to do is capsize because your oar got caught on a baggy t-shirt. The next two items go hand in hand with your all-in-one and any rower should have them in their kit bag.

8. Lycra leggings

Feeling a bit cold, or want to avoid getting slide marks on your calves? Introducing Lycra leggings! These are perfect for super early morning sessions or winter sessions. We all know how temperamental the weather can be at any given time so having these in your bag all the time can be super handy to give you that extra bit of warmth in the boat or in a cold gym (I’m looking at you ‘my old boathouse’).

9. Lycra long-sleeved top

Much the same as why you’d want to wear leggings, Lycra long-sleeved tops are a fantastic way of giving you an extra layer to keep you warm. Any rower will tell you the importance of staying warm on the water.

Often, the intensity of your rowing session will generate enough heat to keep you comfortably warm. However, during periods of downtime – be it waiting for your coach’s instructions or lining up before the start of a race – maintaining your body temperature is crucial. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have at least one warmth-retaining item on hand at all times.

10. Waterproof Mac

At a competition and it’s pouring down with rain? Don’t want to get your kit wet before a competition? Get yourself a mac. Most of the time you can buy a compact one that can fit into a pocket of your kit bag. They aren’t the most stylish thing in the world, but you will stay dry if you wear one. Plus, if you’re ever caught out in the rain without an umbrella walking home from your boathouse you’ll be able to stay dry!


Having the right gear in your kit bag is as crucial as your commitment to the sport. The items may seem minute, but their significance is undeniable. From the Rigger Jigger’s irreplaceability to the rag’s versatility, each piece plays a pivotal role in your journey on the water.

Whether you’re just beginning or an experienced rower, these essentials ensure you’re prepared for any situation. So, delve into this list, equip your kit bag, and row towards a more efficient, enjoyable, and successful experience.

Why is a Rigger Jigger considered an essential item for rowers?

The Rigger Jigger is a small wrench that’s used for adjusting the rigging on rowing boats. Making quick and precise adjustments to your boat can greatly impact your rowing performance, making this tool a must-have for any rower.

What’s the purpose of carrying spare underwear and old rags in a rowing kit bag?

Rowing is an intense physical activity that often leaves you sweaty and in need of a fresh change of clothes. Hence, carrying a spare pair of underwear is a good practice. Old rags, on the other hand, are incredibly versatile. They can be used for cleaning and drying equipment or even as padding to prevent blisters.

Why do rowers wear Lycra leggings and tops?

Lycra is a popular material among rowers due to its flexibility and moisture-wicking properties. Wearing Lycra leggings and tops can help keep you comfortable during long rowing sessions by allowing freedom of movement and keeping your skin dry.

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