Clothing for Rowing

hdrjrclothingOrders for clothing are accepted only twice a year, during the first few weeks of fall and spring practices. Several items that we carry have to be custom ordered and may take 6-8 weeks for delivery. All items must be paid for at the time the order is placed.

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  • It’s important that athletes dress appropriately for safety, performance, and health, especially during the colder and wetter weather in the Fall, Winter and Spring.
    • Base layer: Form fitting and intended to wick moisture away from the skin. The Boathouse Sports “cold weather top”  is a  great base layer. It is a thin material, and similar to base layer garments worn when skiing. Multiple base layers can be worn for added warmth. On colder days, athletes may want to wear running tights or similar for leg warmth.
    • Insulation layer: A synthetic fleece garment worn on colder days where extra insulation is needed. Thicker than the base layer, but not bulky. Polartec or Polarfleece clothing products fall within this category. Some insulation layer fabrics also have wind protection built in.
    • Wind block: Having a wind block that breathes helps retain warmth while not getting the athlete too hot. Base and insulation layers are generally not designed to block the wind. The team Windstopper jacket is designed for this purpose while also being form fitting so that it does not interfere with the oars, and has ventilation panels on the sides for breathing. Although not waterproof, the Equinox jackets also help repel water. Other wind blocking clothing can be worn, but ensure that it breathes and is relatively form fitting.
    • Visibility: SRA requires all independent scullers to wear high visibility (high vis) clothing when rowing in small boats during daylight hours, as well as when it’s dark out.  It is difficult for other boats to see you and your boat if you are wearing dark clothing.  High Vis clothing is very “in” right now so you can easily find apparel at most athletic stores and online.

    Additional Rowing Clothing Links for Practice Wear:

    • REI: Redmond
    • FootZone: Running attire. Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond
    • Big 5
    • Gart Sports
    • Fred Meyer
    • Brooks outlet in Canyon Park

    Synthetic Fabrics

    Synthetic fabrics such as Polypro, CoolMax 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.

    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.  In general, athletes should dress as though they are going running in the elements, or Nordic skiing.


    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. Sometimes an athlete may mix 2 out of 3 layers, depending on conditions.


    An athlete can lose a lot of their body heat through their head. On cold days, it’s important that they wear an insulating hat to keep them warm.


    Hands can 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.

    If an athlete gets especially cold hands, they can purchase Pogies from one of the rowing sites. They fit over both the oar handle and your hands. Consequently there are separate designs for sculling and sweep. One caution on Pogies is that they can keep your hands too warm and retain moisture, causing an ideal environment for blisters.

    Dry Clothes on Land

    On especially wet days, 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 reduces chances for injury. Running shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles.


    Socks should be synthetic or wool to help ensure that feet stay warm while 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. Really 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, and results in them getting chilled again.

    No Cotton

    Athletes should avoid cotton. Cotton does not keep a person warm when the fabric is wet, and instead can serve to chill an athlete. Cotton should not be used as the base layer, because it does not wick moisture away from the skin.

    No Down

    Down should never be worn on the water.  When down gets wet, it will clump, get very heavy, and has no insulating properties.

    Label your clothing

    Recommend writing your name on the tag of all of your clothing.  This will make it clear who it belongs to, and reduce the chance that you will lose your clothing at the boathouse or regattas.

    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.

    To keep down costs, good usable clothing can be found at second hand stores and outlet malls.  Outlet malls can be found in North Bend, Centralia and Burlington.