Prepare for Rowing - What to Wear to Practice

Best Clothing

The best clothing for rowing is soft, stretchy, breathable, and fairly form fitting. Loose shorts can get caught in the slides under the moving seats, so avoid basketball style shorts or warm-ups. Loose tops can get caught in the oar handles, so avoid bulky jackets or sweatshirts. 

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics such as Polypro, CoolMax, Lycra and similar fabrics are best because they keep the rower relatively warm even when wet, and they dry quickly. Athletes will get wet from perspiration, rain, and splash. The key is that they have synthetic clothing that will keep them warm even when wet.


Layering is important for keeping warm, and maintaining the right temperature. The athlete’s needs will change during a practice depending on exertion and changing conditions. Having the appropriate layers enables them to regulate their insulation and protection.


Athletes wear hats to reduce exposure to the sun and, on cold days, it’s important that they wear an insulating hat to keep them warm.


Hands may get cold while rowing. However, you will not see athletes rowing with gloves. The reason for this is that rowing requires a tactile feel of the handle. Athletes can bring gloves onto the water to wear when they are not actually rowing, or they can put their hands under their armpits to keep them warm.

Dry Clothes on Land

Rowers typically do not get wet during practice, however, on rainy days or in the event that they get wet, athletes should have dry clothes to change into when they get back on land. Athletes are asked to change quickly so that we can continue with team activities.


Athletes must have running shoes for land practices. A good pair of shoes is important to reduce chances for injury.


Socks should be synthetic or wool to help ensure that feet stay warm if they become wet. Athletes should have second pair on land.

Waterproof Clothing

Waterproof clothing is not required for rowing. If you do purchase waterproof clothing, ensure that it is highly breathable. Some waterproof clothing tends not to breathe as well, increasing body heat and sweating, and then holding the perspiration within the clothing. This makes it difficult to regulate temperature, and may encourage athletes to remove clothing, which is counterproductive.

Recommended Rowing Clothing Retailers

There are a variety of rowing clothing manufacturers and retailers on the Internet.  You can also get clothing from other active athletic stores.  Here are some of our favorites: