The Best Kit To Wear For Rowing

What does it take to excel in rowing? Is it just about the power of your strokes or the rhythm of your rowing? Or could something as simple as what you wear make a significant difference? The answer, intriguingly, lies in a combination of all these factors.

In the world of rowing, having the right kit isn’t just a matter of style; it’s an essential part of performance and comfort. But with a myriad of options available, how do you identify the best gear that will make you not just look like a pro, but also row like one?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the critical elements of the ideal rowing kit, from the most breathable fabrics to the most ergonomic designs. We’ll provide real-world examples, enumerate the must-haves, and offer practical advice on choosing the right gear for your specific needs.

Whether you’re a novice rower just starting your journey or a seasoned competitor looking to optimize your performance, this article aims to be your go-to resource. So, are you ready to discover how the right kit can enhance your rowing experience? Let’s dive into this informative and approachable exploration together.


The first place to start has to be kit to keep you warm. Even when the sun is beaming, the cold water spitting into your face can quickly impact your rowing. You will definitely benefit from purchasing some quality base layers that will keep your muscles warm in the hot summer, and in the cold winter. More than anything, you want to be dry. So waterproof layers also need to be top of your lists.

Comfort is a factor to think about when buying kit, you want clothes to comfortable but not too baggy. The last thing you want is for your clothes to get caught on an oar.

On the water
HatYour head is the primary area where heat escapes during the colder months. You must work to retain that heat by having a hat at the ready. Once we have moved into the summer months you could also do with having access to a baseball hat. This will keep the sun out of your eyes and save you from potential sun burn.
All-in-oneAll-in-one lycra suits are usually just used for racing as they can be a bit of a mission to get in and out of. However, It could become part of your regular kit. The lycra is an excellent wicking fabric which means that it will enable you to move smoothly through each stroke and help you maintain a good temperature during your exercise. During the summer months you may choose to just wear the all-in-one suit for your row. When it hits winter you may want to add on an extra layer.
Tracksuit trousersA good quality tracksuit is a must for any rower’s kit. Whether the kit is worn as an extra layer to keep you warm, or just used for comfortable clothes before or after a race, they are an essential. The last thing you want is to be freezing cold when you are getting your rigging ready.
Leggings and shortsLeggings and shorts are the next piece of essential kit. You could use any type of leggings for rowing, as long as they don’t catch on the boat. You may want to invest in some long leggings for the winter rowing and some shorter leggings for the summer months. An extra benefit of leggings is that they tend to dry quickly when they get wet.
T-shirtIt sounds like a silly thing to mention, but we want to be comprehensive. T-shirts are perfect for all weathers. They can be worn on their own and help you to keep cool when a workout is getting hot and heavy. On the other hand they can be worn as a base layer when the weather requires extra clothes to be worn. I have found that when it is cold it is better to have lots of thin layers rather than one thick one. This way you can take layers off if it gets too hot.
Body warmerGillets or body warmers, depending on your age, are a brilliant tool for athletes. Gillets allow you to keep your core mass warm while also allowing your arms to stay call and be free from extra layers. Sometimes the extra layers can get in the way of your strokes so a gillet can help you to stay warm, but still have freedom of movement.
Splash TopA splash top is a waterproof top that you can put over your clothes. This will help you stay dry in wet weather and also stop the spray from the water impacting your strokes. These tops are designed specifically for rowing so allow you the freedom to still row freely.
Technical topThe technical top is very similar to a tight T-Shirt. Its aim is to keep you warm and dry. The technical tops are made of breathable materials. You will often see rowers using technical tops with their all-in-ones.
GlovesNormal gloves are not made for rowing as they do not give you the feel of the blade in your hands. On the other hand, “Pogies” are made to keep your hands warm when rowing! They are a must when the weather is cold. Do not underestimate how the cold can impact your rowing times.
SocksSocks are a good idea for when rowing. Usually, you will end up putting your shoes on whilst actually in the boat. I particularly like wearing football socks. These socks are longer so able you to pull them up towards your knees when it is cold. They also can be worn around the ankles if it gets too hot.
photo of men on watercraft
Photo by Patrick Case on

When rowing indoors the basic principles for what kit to wear rowing are fundamentally the same, except that the weather is not as big of a factor.

Indoor rowing
Gym kitNormal gym clothes are appropriate for doing an erg on an Indoor rowing machine. We want the clothes to be loosely fitting for comfort, but not so loose that they get in the way of our strokes. As you are indoors it can get quite warm so it will be best to wear clothes that have sweat-wicking features. This means that the clothes can help sweat to evaporate away from your skin quicker.
TrainersWhen completing an indoor workout you will be securing yourself and your feet into the foot stretchers on the rowing machine. To safely attach yourself you will need to be wearing trainers for this. I like to wear my running trainers for this as they are comfortable and let a good amount of air come into the shoe to stop your feet getting too hot.
GlovesGloves for indoors can seem like a stupid idea initially. It really comes down to preference. Yes you may get a bit more sweaty which could impact your strokes, but over a longer session you may find that wearing gloves actually stops you from getting blisters.


And so, we reach the end of our insightful journey into the world of rowing attire. We’ve unraveled the significance of the right kit, highlighting its role not just in enhancing performance, but also in ensuring comfort during those intense rowing sessions.

From understanding the importance of breathable fabrics to recognizing the value of ergonomic designs, we’ve traversed through a range of elements that constitute the ideal rowing kit. We’ve shared real-world examples and provided practical guidance to help you make informed decisions tailored to your unique needs.

Remember, the perfect rowing kit is not a luxury, but an essential component that can redefine your rowing experience. It’s about finding that perfect balance between form and function, style and substance.

As you embark on your future rowing adventures, we hope this guide serves as a reliable companion, empowering you to make choices that boost your performance and enrich your love for the sport. After all, in rowing as in life, it’s the details that often make the biggest difference.

Thank you for joining us on this educational exploration. We look forward to continuing to provide you with informative, practical, and engaging content that enhances your rowing journey. Stay tuned for more insights and advice from our experts. Happy rowing!

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