Rowing Gloves: Do You Need Them?

Are you pondering the question of rowing gloves? Do you definitely need them, or not so much? Well here’s the thing – if you’re looking for an edge to give yourself superior performance and a better grip on your oars, then wearing some sweet rowing gloves just might be the answer! Read on to find out more about why having a pair of rowing gloves can be beneficial for both recreational rowers and competitive athletes alike.

1. What Are Rowing Gloves and What Do They Do 

Rowing gloves are a type of protective gear used by rowers to prevent blisters and calluses that can be caused by the repetitive gripping and pulling of the rowing oars or handles on a rowing machine. They are designed to provide a better grip, reduce friction, and offer comfort during your rowing workouts.

Constructed from materials such as leather, synthetic fabrics or neoprene, rowing gloves typically have padding or reinforced areas in key places – such as the palms and fingers – where blisters are most likely to form. They often feature breathable fabric to help wick away sweat and keep your hands dry, further reducing the risk of blisters. Some gloves also have adjustable wrist straps for a secure fit.

It’s important to note that not all rowers use gloves. In fact, some prefer the direct contact with the oar or handle, and believe that developing calluses is part of the sport. However, if you find that blisters are a problem, or you simply want to protect your hands, rowing gloves can be a good solution.

In addition to traditional outdoor rowing, these gloves can also be beneficial for indoor rowing on an ergometer (or “erg”), as well as other water sports like kayaking or canoeing.

Rowing gloves are designed to protect your hands from blisters and improve your grip while rowing. Whether you choose to use them may depend on your personal preference, the intensity of your rowing sessions, and how prone your hands are to developing blisters.

2. Benefits of Wearing Rowing Gloves 

Rowing gloves offer several benefits that can enhance your rowing experience, whether you’re rowing on water or using a machine. Here are some key advantages of wearing them:

Prevent Blisters and Calluses

The primary reason many rowers opt for gloves is to prevent the formation of blisters and calluses. The continuous friction from gripping the oar or handle during rowing can lead to these painful skin conditions. Gloves provide a protective layer between your hands and the rowing equipment, reducing friction and the likelihood of blisters and calluses.

Improve Grip

Rowing gloves are designed to improve your grip on the oar or handle. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re rowing in wet conditions or if your hands tend to sweat, as it prevents the oar or handle from slipping out of your grasp. A better grip can improve your stroke efficiency and overall performance.

Enhance Comfort

The padding in rowing gloves provides extra comfort during long rowing sessions. This can help you row for longer periods without discomfort, enhancing the effectiveness of your workout. Some rowing gloves also feature breathable material that helps to keep your hands cool and dry.

Increase Durability

If you’re a regular rower, your hands take a lot of strain. Over time, this can lead to wear and tear on your skin. Rowing gloves can increase the durability of your hands, allowing you to enjoy rowing regularly without damaging your skin.


While specifically designed for rowing, these gloves can also be used for other activities that require a firm grip, such as weightlifting, kayaking, or cycling, adding to their value.

3. Different Types of Rowing Gloves 

Rowing gloves come in various types, each designed to cater to different needs and preferences of rowers. Here are some common types:

Fingerless Rowing Gloves

These are perhaps the most common type of rowing gloves. They cover the palm and part of the fingers while leaving the fingertips exposed. This design allows for a balance between protection and tactile feedback, letting you feel the oar or handle for a more natural grip.

Full-Fingered Rowing Gloves

Unlike the fingerless version, these gloves cover the entire hand, including the fingers. They provide maximum protection and are ideal for rowers who want complete coverage or are rowing in cold weather conditions.

Rowing Grips

These are a minimalist type of glove that only cover the part of the hand that comes into contact with the oar or handle. They are less bulky than full gloves and are a good option if you want protection but prefer the feel of direct contact with the oar or handle.

Material Variations

Rowing gloves can be made from different materials, each offering unique benefits. Leather gloves are durable and offer a great grip but may lack in breathability. Synthetic fabric gloves, often made of neoprene, are flexible, breathable, and dry quickly, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor rowing. Some gloves feature a combination of materials for added benefits.

Special Features

Some rowing gloves come with special features like sweat-wicking material, adjustable wrist straps for a secure fit, padding for extra comfort, or added grip on the palm area.

When choosing rowing gloves, consider your specific needs, the environment in which you’ll be rowing (indoor vs. outdoor, warm vs. cold weather), and personal comfort preferences. Trying on a few different types can also help you find the best fit and feel for your rowing sessions.

4. Tips for Selecting the Right Pair of Rowing Gloves 

Selecting the right pair of rowing gloves involves considering several factors to ensure comfort, effectiveness, and durability. Here are some tips to guide your choice:

Consider the Fit

Your gloves should fit snugly but not restrict your fingers in any way. Gloves that are too tight may limit your movement and cause discomfort, while loose gloves could lead to blisters due to friction or slip during rowing. Measure your hand according to the manufacturer’s instructions to choose the correct size.

Check the Material

Different materials offer varying degrees of grip, comfort, breathability, and durability. Leather gloves, for instance, are highly durable and provide excellent grip but might lack breathability. Synthetic materials like neoprene are flexible and quick-drying, suitable for both indoor and outdoor rowing.

Look for Padding

Padding in the right places can enhance comfort and prevent blisters. Look for gloves with padding or reinforced areas on the palms and parts of the fingers that come into contact with the oar or handle.

Decide Between Full-Fingered and Fingerless

Full-fingered gloves offer more protection and are ideal for colder conditions. Fingerless gloves, on the other hand, allow for better tactile feedback, which some rowers prefer.

Evaluate the Grip

A good pair of rowing gloves should enhance your grip on the oar or handle. Some gloves have textured surfaces or rubberized patterns on the palm and fingers to improve grip.

Consider Special Features

Features such as adjustable wrist straps can provide a more secure fit. Some gloves also have sweat-wicking properties for better moisture management, which can be particularly useful if your hands tend to sweat a lot.

Read Reviews

Check out reviews from other customers to get an idea of the glove’s performance. This can give you insights into its durability, comfort, and how true it is to size.

Remember, the best rowing gloves are the ones that meet your individual needs and preferences. They should enhance your rowing experience, not hinder it.

Ultimately, you may find that rowing gloves are a great addition to your routine. Not only will they keep your hands safe from blisters and calluses, but they can also improve your grip, making it easier to get the most out of each stroke. Plus, if you have ever spilled something into the boat while row, then you know how valuable gloves can be in that regard.

So if you are serious about rowing, then think seriously about adding some rowing gloves to your shopping list! But whatever route you choose for protecting your hands during your outdoor adventures is up to you – so careful consideration should be taken before making any decisions. So if you need more help and inspiration, make sure you explore our other articles here at The Rowing Tutor for more advice on gear and techniques that can help make all of your outdoor activities a success!