What To Wear Punting

November 11th, 2018

What to wear punting

‘What to wear punting?’ is one of the most frequently asked punting-related questions on the internet, so we thought we’d create a brief guide.

Ultimately, the short answer is you can wear whatever clothes you’d normally wear, appropriate for the season.

A civilised Cambridge punt tour is nothing like going down the log flume at a theme park, so unless it’s raining, you won’t get wet. There’s certainly no need to pack special waterproofs.


Punting is extremely safe so you’re not required to wear a life jacket, although we can provide them for children or non-swimmers if you would like one.  

During the summer, the UV rays reflect on the water, giving you double the glare from the sun, so protect your eyes with a good quality pair of sunglasses, and you’ll need to double up on the suntan lotion too! 

Read our guide on what to wear punting

Naturally, the summer is the most popular time of year on the river, but we do operate almost all year round. In fact, autumn or winter can be the most enjoyable times to experience a tour, as the river is much quieter.

If it’s one of those unpredictable times of year, your best option is to wear layers, and if it’s chilly then hats and gloves can really make the difference, particularly for children.  


Out of season tours are a great way to enjoy the colleges and wildlife in all their glorious changing colours with the added benefit of less traffic on the river, but don’t let the weather put you off.

The River Cam is particularly sheltered, tranquil and calm which is why our tours are so relaxing and it’s fairly rare that tours are postponed due to the weather.

A little rain won’t affect the comfort or enjoyment of your tour because we provide umbrellas and blankets. Our boats have soft cushioned seats and if there’s a chill in the air, the blankets make it really cosy. During the colder months we advise you to wrap up warm. Bringing hot drinks and a picnic will make your tour even more fun. Delicious hot takeaway drinks are available from local cafes on the quayside if you forget to bring a flask from home.   


Whatever the season we advise everyone to wear rubber soled shoes with good grip. If your tour is part of a hen party or group night out, you might want to consider bringing spare shoes for the punting portion of your evening to avoid any embarrassing slips whilst boarding the boat (particularly if you’ve already popped open the bubbly!).

During our hen party tours we usually offer the bride-to-be a lesson on pushing the punt. Maid-of-honours might want to make sure that appropriate shoes are provided for the bride, so she doesn’t miss out on this fun experience.

Rest assured if you do turn up in flip flops or six-inch heels, our lovely staff are always on-hand to help everyone in and out of the boats.

Boater shoes worn by a punter

You’ll notice many of the Scholars chauffeurs wear traditional boating shoes, which are ideal for punting because of they have non-slip rubber soles, are light-weight and breathable, and made of leather, so they don’t smell if they do get wet.


If you’re lucky enough to book a May Ball Fireworks punting tour (they sell out fast!) then you might want to get into the May Week spirit and wear a fancy ball gown or tux! Or you might just want to wear jeans, it’s completely up to you and always varies from boat to boat.

All our chauffeurs will be in their finest tuxedos to enjoy what has always been the biggest and most prestigious event of the Cambridge calendar.

The one time of year when ‘Town’ meets ‘Gown’, although unless you’re a student at one of the colleges you won’t get to attend the actual ball. However, those of us lucky enough to get on a punt will have front row seats for the most spectacular, world-famous firework displays, which are only accessible to the general public by river!

Wear warm clothes for May Week fireworks.

Despite its name, ‘May Week’ is held in June so we’re usually fairly lucky with the weather.

We do advise you to wear layers as this event is very popular and festivities carry on late into the evening. The river will be so chocker with punts, you won’t even be able to see water between the boats once the fireworks get underway.

We make sure to set off nice and early to secure a great spot for you to enjoy the event. Between the sun going down to when the fireworks begin, it can get fairly chilly. We will provide cosy blankets and umbrellas in case it rains, but we advise you to bring a warm coat and some warm footwear.

And, of course, cracking open the bubbly or Pimm’s always helps to warm the cockles!


  • If it’s raining, bring waterproofs
  • Wear layers if the weather is unpredictable
  • Wear suntan lotion and sunglasses in the summer
  • Ask us for a life jacket if you’d like one, but they’re not compulsory
  • Wear rubber soled shoes with good grip
  • Bring a warm coat for evening tours (we provide cosy blankets and brollies)

Click here to book your Cambridge punting tour with Scholars.