Get ready for the colder rowing season

A couple of weeks ago the temperature on the water in the early morning hours (7 AM- 8 AM) went down to 2 degrees Celsius. The Fall just started, I know and Winter  lays many, many months ahead. It is still a fact though, that nothing (or almost nothing) is more disturbing for rowing than getting too cold.

To get prepared for the cold(er) season, I found a post from Ben Rodford. It might give you one or two new thoughts to get better prepared for the upcoming colder season.

And for those of us who see rowing as a Summer sport, it may give you the right information, to keep on rowing. At least for another two until three months. The temperature itself doesn`t have to be the reason not to row. So get ready for the colder rowing season!

Winter Rowing Keep Warm & Carry On Rowing

Originally posted by Ben Rodford

All rowers know that winter training means lots of steady-state mileage in rain, wind, fog and snow. Many stretches of water freeze solid, but for those who are ‘lucky’ enough to be able to get on the water, the winter weather always presents the challenge of staying warm during training.

Start Warm to Stay Warm

One of the biggest mistakes made by winter rowers is starting a session cold. It’s hard to motivate yourself to do a proper warm-up when there’s ice on the water and the sun isn’t up yet, but starting warm is the best way of ensuring you stay warm during your session.

Perform your usual warm-up, be it cycle, ergo or something else, but be prepared to start slower and lengthen your warm-up to get fully ready. Boating quickly is key so temperature is not lost, so getting equipment and crew ready before warm-up is a good plan. Consider a change of kit between warm-up and session so you’re not getting on the water in kit damp from sweat. And review your opinion about wearing winter rowing gloves – these can help.

The second water session of the morning always feels colder than the first, mostly because rowers don’t finish their break early enough to properly warm-up again. Don’t neglect your second session warm-up. Sitting in a warm crew room is not a substitute.

Once in the boat it’s important to get moving and avoid lengthy periods of inactivity. Consider warming up with the whole crew instead of starting in pairs, fours or sixes. If you do have rowers sitting the boat, cycle through the changes more quickly. Plan your outings and brief your crews so that their is less time sitting still on the water discussing what’s happening next or getting boats in position.

Warming up for rowing – How to get it right Part 1

The second mistake is under-fuelling. Many rowers fail to eat enough before an early morning session and most don’t realise that they need to eat more when temperatures drop to provide the body with energy to heat itself as well as trai

See my article on Nutrition for more information on how to pre-fuel your training.

Buy his book “Be Your Own Support Team” in our store 

What to Wear? – Winter Kit (& Some Secrets Tips)

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — Sir Rannulph Fiennes

Wearing enough of the right kit is key in the winter. Layering allows you to adjust how much you wear during the outing to regulate your body temperature. Remember that headwinds are cold and tailwinds are warmer, so dress for the headwind.

Body & Legs

Lycra baselayers allow movement while providing warmth. Most manufacturers have ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ materials, so stick to the ‘winter’ range in the colder months; these tend to be thicker material. Look for brushed ‘fleecey’ leggings. Double-up on leggings and long sleeved tops when it’s really cold.Have a look in our shop in two weeks. We will show you the best a great selection of rowing gear. Also  some great rowing-specific kit.


Socks are often overlooked, but most people will find that if their feet stay warm their body stays warm. Double-up on wooly socks (invest in a larger pair of ‘winter’ shoes if necessary) or try our waterproof Socks to stop you getting damp cold feet.


A hat is essential in cold weather. A wooly beanie will keep your head warm. Look at cycling clothing for windproof options.

My tip is to combine a cap and headband. The cap keeps rain/snow off your face while the headband keeps the wind off your ears.Here are our Beanie bestseller. Waterproof off course. It will keep your head warm too.


Cold hands are a real problem for some rowers.  Pogies (despite the image of being for ‘softies’) are brilliant! They keep the cold, wind and rain from your hands and still allow you to grip the handle as normal. You can also gloat about your hands being “too hot” while others are trying to shake the numbness from their fingers. I usually find that starting an outing with Pogies means my hands stay warm as my body heats up and I can take them off after my on-water warm-up.

Rock the Boat’s Pogies (made in Cornwall) share these features but are also colour coded (red & green) to match your oar. Our favorites of course are the Rowtex Elite Winter gloves for those who like to row with all their fingers individually covered.

Winter Accessories

Hydration is still important during winter sessions but water bottles tend to get cold in the boat. Taking in lots of chilled fluid will lower your temperature. Insulated bottles, such as the Polar Bottle, mean you can take warm drinks on your outing (Ribena is a winter favourite). In summer you can fill one with an iced sports drink as a second bottle, to keep your extra fluid chilled for the second half of your outing.

When it’s really cold it would be great to have a hot water bottle in the boat with you… so why not do it? Mini hot water bottles are perfect for tucking into your lycra to keep your lower back warm (and help avoid injury). Just make sure it’s not in direct contact with your skin and you’ll enjoy the benefit throughout your session. Once you are warm enough pass it down to your cox and you’ll soon be their favourite rower.

Leaving the club?

Check the weather when leaving the training sessions. For sure it will still be cold. A good option to put on your Hoody,  your warm men’s  outdoor jacket or your ladies raincoat

Cross Training

When the water is frozen and it’s just too cold to go out, cross-training will break up the monotony of long ergo sessions. Consider which activities are safe to do on snow and ice. Cross-Training for Rowers

Leave a comment to share your favourite piece of kit or secret tip to staying warm on the water…


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