There’s a good Rowing Reddit community and this question was posted recently – What clothes to wear in winter?
I need to look into rowing kit for when I go out onto the river. As I’ve just joined I use my gym top and shorts but that just won’t do in the winter when it gets freezing.
Our dock is a slope , so we always have to wear wellies to get into the boat. I’m wondering whether there’s any alternatives since wellies take up a lot of space in a bag and flip flops are too flimsy?
For clothing, I’m thinking of something like a wetsuit. Definitely with a nice warm jacket. I know we need the flexibility but I also don’t want to freeze to death.
The comments give a range of answers – we summarise them below.
Winter Clothing for rowing
Welly boots are used by most clubs on tidal waters and estuaries but they are bulky to store in the boat. Alternatives suggested include flip
flops or active slides with a pair of thermal wool socks to keep your feet warm. The hardier among us stay barefoot – as if you have to wade out your socks get wet, so put your socks on when you’re in the boat.
Rowperfect resource: Shoes to Wear Before Rowing with suggestions for boating from a pontoon in winter.
Should I wear a warm jacket for rowing?
When you are rowing in winter it’s often very cold while you are waiting around getting the boat on the water and fixing up. But as you get active and start rowing continuously, you warm up fast and then you’re too hot. So a jacket is a good choice. My preference is to wear layers and lots of them.
Rowing clothing – the layering principle – have many layers and take them off to suit your needs on that day. Check list for winter rowing: Base layer, leggings, shorts or an all-in-one row suit and a t shirt with a long sleeve shirt.
There’s a balance between clothing that is too tight and too loose which a rowing-designed garment should get about right. Too tight and it restricts your movement. Too loose and it flaps around or gets caught in the slides.
Stay away from clothes made from cotton (it doesn’t wick and you get very cold if it is wet).
In an eight or a quad we often warm up rowing with only half the crew at a time so I take off my jacket while I’m not rowing and store it under my seat hatch cover inside a dry bag (otherwise it’s usually wet when I want to put it on for the second outing).
- The US firm Boathouse make good jackets
- The Rowing Anorak is wind and waterproof yet breathable for when you sweat
- Cold weather compression shirt to go over your base layer
- Compression leggings can go under regular leggings if it is really cold
- JL Rowing designed vests / gilets
- Under Armour for thermal tops.
- Gloves are hit and miss – some people love them and others think they get in the way of feeling the oar handles.
- Neck warmers are good – the tube sort to join the gap between your shirt and your hair or hat.
- Get 2-4 pairs of waterproof socks.
The most important thing is that whatever tights you get, you wear them over your uni, not under it. Unless you’re the Great8 and buy long leg
row suits – in white! That’s style guidance from a man who knows!
Keep your head warm is a good principle as it is very easy to take a hat on or off on the water. One reader suggested a wool hat over a visor “high swag low drag, baby!”
Is a wetsuit suitable?
No, it’s not breathable for a start and quite restrictive for movement. Plus you will wear through the seat panel as they aren’t designed to be sat upon. and they are pretty hard to take one off while in a single scull!