Rowing & Clothing - What to Wear

Cold Weather & Other Guidelines

1)  DO NOT WEAR LOOSE CLOTHING. LOOSE FITTING, BAGGY SHIRTS CAN CATCH THE OAR HANDLES. LOOSE FITTING BAGGY SHORTS AND PANTS WILL GET CAUGHT IN THE TRACKS. 

Caught clothing can cause injuries to the rower, may damage the boats or ergometers (rowing machines), and will ruin the clothes. Every sport has its uniforms that developed to suit the sport. Baggy clothes will get caught in the seats of boats and ergs. You can not row safely or well in baggies. Avoid hoodies. They will get wet, heavy, and cold. The front pocket of a hoodie will catch on the sculls and make it very hard to row. 


2)  Wear several layers of clothing. You will want to strip down a layer or two as you warm up. Novice crews will spend a lot of time learning, not rowing, and will feel cold, but then will warm up when rowing. 


3)  Wear a wind proof water-resistant outer layer, a nylon wind jacket and pants. Waterproof cloth will not breathe enough and you will end up drenched in sweat. The possible exception is Gore-Tex clothing made for running or cycling. But it is very expensive, and easily damaged. 


4)  Polypropylene, ( thermax, lycra, coolmax, and fleece) is an excellent choice of fabric for cold weather rowing. It is light, warm, will wick sweat, and is warm when wet. Polypro long underwear is an excellent first layer in cold weather. Wool is expensive, but also works well.


5)  Coxswains will get cold in the boats because they are not working hard enough to warm up. Coxswains MUST dress in layers so they can stretch run and do calisthenics with the rest of the crew, and then stay warm in the boat. Coxswains should have gloves and a hat in cool weather.


6)  DO NOT WEAR COTTON. Cotton will soak up water and leave you cold. If you flip, cotton will soak up a lot of water and weigh you down. Once out of the water, the wet cotton will freeze you. Good sources of inexpensive polypro clothing fit for rowing are available from those made for biking and cross-country skiing. Local sporting goods shops carry “Under Armor” and similar brands of polypro very warm gear. They tend to be expensive. Local bike, ski shops, and hiking/outdoors shops will often be less expensive than sporting goods shops.  Look for sales & bargain bins.