9 Best Shoes for Rowing (Your Footwear Guide)

Man wearing the best shoes for rowing

Rowing is a great exercise that provides a full-body workout. But if you’re not wearing the right shoes, you could risk your health and performance.

In this article, I’ll discuss the 9 best shoes for rowing and why it’s important to wear them. I’ll also provide a few training tips on how to choose the right pair of shoes for your needs.

So read on to learn more and improve your rowing stroke!

Top 9 Picks for the Best Shoes for Rowing

Below are the best shoes to increase your boat speed and rowing machine efficiency!

1. Reebok Crossfit Nano 9

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If you’re looking for a shoe that will help you perform at your best while rowing, the Reebok Crossfit Nano 9 is an ideal option. They are lightweight and low-top, providing ankle mobility, as well as cushioning and support to keep you stable.

The rubber sole ensures that you’ll have traction and grip no matter what activity you’re doing, while the comfort and performance of these shoes will ensure that you’re always putting your best performance forward.

Pros

  • Low-mid level ankle height for ankle mobility
  • Rubber bottoms to maintain a solid base on the rowing machine
  • Woven textile design for stiffness and security
  • Comfortable with the support cage and cushion

Cons

  • May be too wide for some users
  • Not padded enough to use as a multipurpose running shoe

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Materials: Rubber, Fabric
  • Made for men, but work for women
  • Free 30-day returns or replacements
  • Security type: Laces
  • Sizes: 6.5-14

2. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Cores

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The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Core Ox is an excellent sneaker for rowing.

It has a low-top and flat sole which gives you ankle mobility and pedal grip. And the toe cap protects your toes from getting smashed.

It’s also lightweight so it won’t slow you down.

Pros

  • Flat, thin soles for better footing
  • Protective toe cap
  • Narrow width for a secure, stiff fit
  • Affordable shoe for an indoor rower

Cons

  • Inadequate breathability when sweating
  • The narrow fit may not be comfortable for users with wide feet
  • Not slip resistant

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Unisex
  • Sizes: 3-13 in men and 5-15 in women
  • 30-day Free returns or exchange
  • Security type: Laces
  • Materials: Rubber, Ortholite, Canvas

3. Vifuur Quick-dry Barefoot Shoes

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The Vifuur Quick-dry Shoes are the perfect multipurpose shoes for indoor and outdoor workouts.

The shoes are made from a smooth material that prevents chafing, and they are also flexible and breathable.

With an extremely comfortable design, they are excellent for rowing. They quickly dry after getting wet, making them ideal for a sweaty workout in any weather.

Pros

  • Flat sole for a better foot position
  • Multipurpose, low-top, durable shoe
  • Breathable and flexible
  • Anti-slip rubber soles

Cons

  • The fabric wears out quickly
  • The inner sole isn’t attached so it may move around

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Unisex
  • Security type: Pull-on
  • Materials: Fabric, Rubber
  • Warranty: 30-day return/exchange
  • Sizes: 3-12 in men and 4-13.5 in women

4. Whitin Wide Toe Barefoot Shoe for Men

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If you’re looking for a wide-fitting rowing shoe with an ultra-grippy rubber sole, the Whitin Wide Toe Shoes are a great option!

The 5 mm foot cushion makes them incredibly comfortable, and the barefoot design keeps your feet feeling connected to the ground.

Plus, the removable lining is a nice touch.

Pros

  • Flat sole for no heel-to-toe drop for better posture and foot placement while rowing
  • Rubber sole for grip
  • Low top design
  • Wide toe fit with removable lining

Cons

  • Wide toe design narrower than expected
  • May wear out quickly for avid users

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Sizes: 7-15
  • Security type: Laces
  • For men
  • Materials: Rubber, Vegan-friendly material
  • Warranty: Free returns

5. Vans Core Classics

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If you’re looking for a solid set of rowing shoes, I recommend checking out the Vans Core Classics.

They have a really flat sole with zero toe drop, which is ideal for rowing since it helps keep your foot in a more neutral position. They’re also super durable and have a really secure fit, so you don’t have to worry about them falling off or anything.

Plus, the padding is the ideal thickness and comfortable enough, so your feet will thank you.

Pros

  • Thin, light padding for a secure foothold
  • Flat soled for zero heel-to-toe-drop
  • Light, comfortable, and secure fitting

Cons

  • Sole may begin to fall off after long-term use (1-2 years)
  • Not the best breathability for intense workouts
  • Hard to clean

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Sizes: 3.5-13 in men and 5-14.5 in women
  • Unisex
  • Material: Canvas
  • Warranty: Free returns
  • Security type: Laces

6. Vibram KSO Evo Cross Trainers

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The Vibram KSO Evo Cross Trainers are perfect for someone who wants a low-top shaft with a fast tightening pull cord and thin padding.

These shoes are also designed for someone who wants a barefoot feel with no heel drop. They are lightweight and breathable, making them perfect for any activity.

The Trek Sole provides improved traction, making them ideal for rowing shoes and other fitness activities.

Pros

  • Thin padding for a strong base on the rowing machine
  • Pull cord for quick lacing
  • Trek Sole traction enhancement
  • Zero drop shoe with an anatomical design
  • Machine washer safe with cold water (air dry)
  • Breathable and snug fit for the toes and foot

Cons

  • Toe slots may be too tight for some
  • Some users reported sweat build-up in the toe area

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Sizes: 5.5-17
  • For men
  • Security type: Fast lacing cord
  • Material: Polyester Mesh
  • Warranty: 6-week satisfaction guarantee

7. Oranginer Minimalist Cross Trainers

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These shoes are perfect for anyone who wants a minimalist shoe with a strong grip for their rowing machine workouts.

The zero-drop heel ensures that you feel the ground beneath you, and the flat soles mean that there is no extra movement or slipping when you’re in the middle of your workout.

The lightweight breathable material makes them perfect for wearing any time, whether you’re working out or just going about your day.

Pros

  • Wide toe box for balance
  • Thin, Flat-soled shoe design for rowing efficiency
  • Breathable, multipurpose materials
  • Slip-resistant grip

Cons

  • Thins soles may be easily punctured
  • The toe cap design is unattractive

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Sizes: 6.5-13
  • Materials: Rubber, Mesh
  • Warranty: 12-months
  • Security type: Quick pull laces
  • For men

8. Mishansha Barefoot Quick Dry Water Shoes

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The Mishansha Barefoot Quick Dry Water Shoes are perfect for indoor and outdoor rowing!

They have non-slip rubber to keep you stable, water drainage holes to keep your feet dry, and they’re flexible enough to move with you.

Not to mention their flat design ensures you stay planted on the rower.

Pros

  • 7 holes to reduce water build-up so you can focus on moving the boat forward
  • Made with thin and light materials
  • Drawstring for making fast adjustments
  • Foldable for easy storage
  • Grippy rubber bottoms for traction

Cons

  • Not the most comfortable for wide feet
  • Some users reported inadequate grip

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Unisex
  • Sizes: 4.5-15 for women, 3-13.5 for men
  • Warranty: Free returns on select sizes and colors
  • Security type: Drawstring
  • Materials: Lycra, Spandex, Rubber

9. Whitin Trail Runner Minimalist Shoe for Women

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If you’re a woman looking for a minimalist shoe that will let you row in comfort, the Whitin Trail Runner is a great option.

It has a zero-drop flat sole, which means your heel and toes are at the same height, and it’s made from animal-free products.

Plus, the removable insole makes it easy to adjust the fit to your needs.

The wide toe box allows your toes to spread out naturally, while the flat rubber soles provide plenty of cushioning and grip.

Pros

  • Zero heel-to-toe drop for maximum transferring power while rowing
  • Wider than average toe box for foot security
  • Low height for ankle mobility
  • Vegan friendly

Cons

  • The insole may slide around if you leave it in
  • Some users did not like the style or coloring
  • Not comfortable for long-distance walking or running

Rowing Shoes Specs

  • Sizes: 5.5-11
  • For women
  • Warranty: Free returns on some sizes and styles
  • Materials: Natural and recycled
  • Security type: Hook and loop

Types of Shoes for Outdoor and Indoor Rowing

Below are some of the different shoes that are well suited for rowing.

Barefoot Rowing Shoe

Barefoot rowing shoes are designed to be worn without socks and provide a firm grip.

They are typically made of tough and durable material, such as leather, to protect the feet from rubbing against the boat or rowing machine.

They simulate rowing barefooted for biomechanical efficiency while providing a layer of protection between your foot and rowing surface.

Sport Sneakers

Sport sneakers, such as Chuck Taylors or Vans are a popular option for indoor rowing.

This is due to their flat sole design and thin padding to provide stability, without sacrificing comfort. Not to mention their affordable price tag.

A major downside of these shoes is the lack of good airflow, which could lead to blisters, sweat build-up, and possibly a major stench.

They are not ideal for outdoor rowers.

Minimalist Cross Trainers

Minimalist Cross Trainer shoes are a specific type of shoe that is designed to be as lightweight and minimalistic as possible.

They are perfect for people who want a versatile shoe that they can wear for a variety of activities, such as running, CrossFit, hiking, and rowing.

Water Shoes

Water shoes are good for outdoor and indoor rowing machine use. This is because they provide protection against the abrasive surface of the boat and the resistance of water or sweat, while still being thin and flat to maintain a better posture.

They also help to keep your feet secure without cutting off your foot circulation. Additionally, water shoes can improve your performance by providing better traction and stability.

A significant downside to water shoes is that they aren’t very multipurpose. The materials are typically too thin to walk or run in without them wearing down and you puncture your foot.

Why You Should Wear Shoes for Rowing

There are a few reasons you should wear rowing shoes outdoors and indoors.

First, shoes protect your feet from the potentially harmful surfaces you may be rowing on. Outdoor surfaces can be rough and uneven, while indoor surfaces can be slippery.

Shoes will help keep you safe and prevent you from slipping and injuring yourself.

Second, shoes provide traction and stability when rowing. When your feet are secure, you are less likely to lose your balance or fall over.

This is especially important when rowing outdoors, where the surface may be more uneven or slippery.

Finally, shoes can help improve your performance when rowing. Shoes that are designed for rowing will provide you with added stability and traction, allowing you to row with more power and precision.

What To Look For in Rowing Shoes

Here are some details you should look for when buying rowing shoes:

  • Sole thickness: Unlike normal padded Nike running shoes, you want to look for rowing shoes with a flat, thin sole without too much cushioning or heel elevation.
    • This will ensure that the main contact points of your feet are firmly pressed against the rowing machine for greater rowing power efficiency.
    • Too thick of inserts or soles will make it harder to establish a solid anchor point with your feet and reduce force output.
  • Lightweight: You need to use lightweight shoes so you can move easier and faster.
    • Heavy shoes will only slow you down and cause clunky foot transitions.
  • Breathability: A Breathable shoe is important for rowing machines because they help your feet stay cool, prevent blisters, and reduce sweat.
  • Low-top: Height is important when it comes to rowing shoes. You want shoes with a low rise on your ankle to maximize your mobility and prevent injuries.
    • If the height of the shoe goes too high it will restrict movement and over time could weaken your ankle muscles.

How To Choose the Right Pair of Rowing Shoes for You

There are a few things you need to consider when choosing the right rowing shoes for you:

  • Shoe size: Make sure the shoes fit well – they should be snug without being too tight. You don’t want them to be loose and floppy, as this will affect your performance.
  • Material: Rowing shoes come in a variety of different materials, so you need to choose one that is best suited to your needs.
    • If you’re rowing outdoors in a wet environment, you’ll need a waterproof material, such as rubber or neoprene.
    • If you row in a dry environment, leather or mesh will be fine.
  • Extra features: Some extra features you might look for include extra cushioning if you have weaker feet (less cushion is better in general), improved durability for multipurpose use, and a quick lace function.
  • Price: Rowing shoes can be expensive, but it’s important to buy a pair that is high durability and will last longer than a few weeks. It’s worth spending a bit more on a good pair of shoes, as they will improve your performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

Final Thoughts on the Best Rowing Shoe for You

Rowing is a great full-body workout, but it’s important to have the right shoes for the job.

In this article, I’ve listed 9 of the best rowing shoes, based on my own in-depth research and feedback from avid rowers.

So whether you’re just starting out or looking for an upgrade, be sure to read the entire article for some helpful advice.

Which of these shoes are you most excited to start rowing in? Let me know in the comments below!

If you’re looking for some rowing gloves to go with your shoe check out my list of the 15 best rowing gloves to keep your hands safe.

Eric Decremer
Eric Decremer

Eric is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and competes in the USPA Powerlifting Association. Feel free to contact him anytime at edecremer@wildnswole.com!

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