10 essential items every rower should have in their kit bag

Today, I’ll be going over 10 essential items that every rower should have in their kit bag without fail. It’s important that when you go into a session you should always come prepared. It’s never enough that you have some of these items. Much like your home pantry, you should have these on hand any time you go to a training session or a competition.

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 amount 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.

Check out our article on boat maintenance to see why these are so essential!

Boat Maintenance

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 in 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 sport 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 sleeve 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. Most of the time you’ll be overly warm from how hard you’ve been working, but it’s in the down times when you’re awaiting instruction from your coach or when you’re lining up waiting for a race to start that you’ll want to keep warm and that’s why you should have at least one of these ready at any time .

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!


Whilst this isn’t everything you should keep in your kit bag they are some of the most essential items a rower should keep with them. Other items can be included of course, but these will save you a lot of time, effort, and discomfort. Check out our pantry essentials article to see what food items you should be bringing with you to the average training session or competition.

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