row2k Features
Trailer Tricks
Rowing Hack: Blade Bags
January 12, 2023
John FX Flynn

The Univ of Louisville uses this trick to travel -- and their blade design makes it worth it!

Tired of your blades getting all dinged up every time you dump them in the bed of the shell trainer to take a road trip? There's a hack for that: Blade Bags.

Whether you've just spent some significant winter hours painting your blades, have a really complicated design that doesn't look great scratched, or just like to keep as much of your expensive rowing equipment in pristine shape as possible, these blade-sized "oar mittens" will protect and cushion the business end of your rowing sticks all the way to the regatta, and back again.

This idea has been around long enough that the nice folks who can make you your boat covers and rigger bags will happily sell you a version, but all you really need to hack these up yourself is a roll of fleece fabric, or maybe even some old fleece blankets that you can cut to the right shape.

There is some sewing involved, but if you need to fit out a full team's worth of blades, self-sewn blade bags won't bust your budget.

You can use more waterproof fabric on the outside, as in this version:

But...more sewing. The cushion-effect of the fleece is what you are really after and you don't really need to keep the blades from getting wet, after all. The fleece will dry quickly enough if it rains, and you can always toss them in the wash.

The best design we've seen has a third piece of fleece inside, so that when you use it for two oars, they are cushioned from each other...and doubling up each Blade Bag cuts your hacking in half.

Since the oars will be strapped down in the trailer, all you really need it the bag itself, but you can make it a more "Pro hack" by adding a drawstring or some velcro to seal the bag a bit tighter after you get the blades covered.

Draw-strings not strictly needed, but a Pro touch.
Draw-strings not strictly needed, but a Pro touch.

So, whether you paint your blades, have gotten all fancy with with decals using the Blade Sticker Hack, or just want to get as many years as possible out of each oar without chipped edges, add Blade Bags to your pack-the-trailer routine.

Do you have hack that you swear by when you hit the road? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us, and we will feature your idea in a future column.

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