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Buying Rowing Shoes: A Guide

Why do I need to buy my own rowing shoes?​

 

"Rowing is one of the few sports where we have normalized sharing footwear that is not regularly disinfected, with as many people as possible."  - Pretty much every rowing shell rep, ever

For as long as DC Strokes has existed, the club orthodoxy was to buy shoes that lived with the boats until the shoes or the boats were worn out. This led to a number of problems:

  • Single pairs of shoes that had to fit as many people as possible This left a lot of people at the extreme ends of foot sizing out in the cold. Engagement at the catch when you either have too much space in the shoe or are crammed in is distracting at best, painful at worst.

  • Time-consuming shoe swaps Getting a station the right size shoes involved having multiple footplates and swapping them out with inaccessible nuts and bolts, taking precious time away from launching or getting out of practice.

  • Shoe sanitation How many people do you think use a boat in a day? How many times do you think clubs (ourselves included) spent time disinfecting shoes while they were installed? More news at 11.

  • Expensive club shoe purchases Like shoes you use to walk/run/cycle, the fit of shoes is rather personal. What the club buys is a single brand to take advantage of shipping and economies of scale. Also, see the first point about sizing at the extremes (e.g., women's size 8 and men's size 15). Thus, everyone is unhappy with what the club buys AND it adds to inefficient use of club funds.

The Takeaway: Starting July 2023, DC Strokes is transitioning intermediate sweep (limited to eights), advanced sculling, and independent sculling members to personally-owned shoes and the Bat Logic clip-in shoe system.

Wait, what's Bat Logic?

Without getting too into it, it's a clip-in system for racing shells that allows rowers to quickly swap shoes. It'll help with making sure you get the right fit in whatever lineup you end up practicing or racing. It consists of a cleat that is installed in the boat and a shoe plate that is attached to your rowing shoes, similar to cycling shoe systems. Shoes just click-in and click-out!

Does this mean I have to purchase the shoe plate part with my shoes? 

Yes, they will be attached to your shoes. Strokes will buy these components in bulk and charge back to consolidate shipping costs. 

Recommended shoes

You have a lot of options, but the shoes and brands recommended below have been vetted for durability, performance, and compatibility with Bat Logic cleats.

 

The club nor the board of directors receives compensation from any of the companies or products mentioned below. These are just the recommendations of the operations director who obsessively bought or dealt with these shoes.

Bont BR3 (Australia)

Bont BR3 is the best bang for the buck, easy to use with a single velcro and tongue-less upper design. Water repellent inner foams dry fast and keep the shoe less grody. If you have wide feet, size up a couple (European) sizes.

Bont size chart (runs small about 1/2 size)

Buy the Bont BR3 (via Bont Rowing)

H2Row Custom (USA)

h2row custom.png

H2Row is a steady standby in many shells and is slightly more inexpensive compared to either Bont or Against. The toe box is generally more spacious. You specifically need to order the Custom model, as that one is designed to work with the Bat Logic clip-in system.

Sizes follow American street shoe sizing (true to size

Call H2Row to order (not available in online store)

Bont BR2 (Australia)

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Here's the deal: you can buy fancier, more technologically advanced rowing shoes, but they won't make you faster or a better rower. The BR2 is lighter and just ever so slightly a more customized fit, but it also rings in at 75% more expensive than its BR3 sibling. We won't stop you from buying stuff, but remember that rowing is about the horses, not the chariot accessories. (They do come in 4 loud colors though.)

Bont size chart (runs small about 1/2 size)

Buy the Bont BR2 (via Bont Rowing)

Against U3 (Italy)

Against makes a really durable long-lasting shoe in the U3. This shoe may not have as many flashy features as Bont's BR-series, but they're pretty bomb-proof.  If you have wide feet, size up a couple (European) sizes. Another great value.

Against size chart (true to size)

Buy the Against U3 (via Wintech Racing)

Active Tools Adjustable (UK)

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You've probably seen this shoe in a few of our shells. The magic of these shoes is that they adjust their size in a range between US men's 7-10 or US men's 10-15, depending on the model. Unless your feet change length or you share your shoes with someone else, this isn't really the selling point. However, the upper and lower velcro can be replaced, giving this modular shoe a very long lifespan.

Buy the Active Tools Adjustable Size Rowing Shoe (via Active-tools.com)

Against U2 (Italy)

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Same thing as the Bont BR2: they won't make you faster or a better rower. The Against U2 has uprated materials similar to the Bont BR series in slightly different areas and has 3 straps to customize the fit along the forefoot. It's only 33% more expensive than its U3 sibling, but the Against shoes are more expensive than Bont across the board. Plus side, you get an aqua/sky blue colorway option. 

Against size chart (true to size)

Buy the Against U2 (via Wintech Racing)

Questions?

For further questions about this initiative, contact the operations director at operations@dcstrokes.org

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