Unlike coxswains, rowers have the benefit of being able to move and don’t need quite as many layers as we do. Between overheating and limiting their range of motion, they tend to wear only two or three layers (max) compared to our four or five (minimum). There also isn’t that much room in the boat to store excess layers so it’s important that the layers you do you wear are effective at keeping your body at the right temperature, both when you are and aren’t rowing.
Finding gear with material that will keep you warm even when it’s wet is key. The first layer should be a moisture-wicking base layer that’s warm enough to keep your arms and torso from getting too cold but still allows you to move without much restriction. You’ll want to avoid wearing anything cotton as your base layer too since it clings to your body when wet and will just end up making you colder.
The next layer is your insulation layer. This one is a little thicker than the base layer and is there to keep the warmth in when the temps are on the cooler side. The last layer is the wind and water resistant layer that keeps you dry and not totally freezing if you’re out in the rain or snow.
Not pictured but no less important are your cold weather accessories. You can’t wear gloves while you’re rowing but Pogies are a good alternative but I know some rowers who say their hands get really sweaty when they use them (which makes it hard to grip the oar) so they only wear them if it’s below freezing, wet, and/or really windy out. Sock-wise, most of the time you can wear normal socks but as the temperatures drop you might want to upgrade to a warmer pair or even to a pair of waterproof ones. Last but not least, hats – wear one. Hearing and feeling the wind whip through your ears is the worst and they really do go a long way towards keeping you warm when you’re on the water.