Efforts to improve safety when using chainsaws can be traced, directly or indirectly, back to Ethel M. Hugg of Johnstown, New York. Her son, a lumberjack, died in a tragic accident while trimming trees. She began writing to federal and state authorities, urging them to create safety standards to prevent such accidents in the future. In response, in 1968 authorities began writing standards and regulations for protective legwear when using chainsaws.
If you’re reading this article, it means safety is important to you too. Chainsaws are great tools and we love them as much as you do, but they can also be dangerous. PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, is required when using them.
But which safety equipment should you buy? Where should you get it? How can you know it’ll do what it is supposed to?
That’s where we come in with these reviews. We’ve already done the research and tallied up the results. They’re provided for your benefit, to use when you’re deciding what PPE to purchase to protect yourself, your employees, or both.
|Husqvarna 587160704 Technical|
|Stihl 0000 886 3202||1 lb||4.7/5|
|Forester CHAP437-O Apron|
(Best for the Money)
|Husqvarna 531309565||3 lbs||4.3/5|
|Oregon 563979 Protective||3 lbs||4.0/5|
These chaps are as quick and easy to put on and take off as a pair of Carhartt overalls. There are four straps per leg, three around the calf and one higher up on the back of the thigh. They’re so comfortable that after a few minutes, you forget you have them on. They allow a full range of motion.
They are made from high-quality, professional grade material, and they dry quickly overnight.
They seldom get hung up in the underbrush due to the way the straps and fasteners are arranged. They’ll protect your legs from briars, thorns, and nettles as well as from running chainsaws. They meet all the pertinent ANSI, ASTM, and OSHA regulations. On a test dummy, they stopped a running chainsaw with just a few strands, and the chainsaw did not cut all the way through them.
They are somewhat heavy and can be very hot to wear, especially during the summer, but this isn’t a defect in the product; it’s simply the result of wearing protective chaps over your pants.
These chaps are the best. They’ll protect your legs and save you a trip to the ER.
These chaps are actually chaps in that they sport an open-back design for working in hot weather. The straps hold them firmly in place, so they don’t flap around and they’re never baggy. The straps can be adjusted to fit you. They’re extremely rugged, yet still very comfortable to wear.
They’re comfortable, easy to take off and put on, and allow you a full range of motion when wearing them. You can work without feeling any restrictions on you at all.
They’re made from multiple layers of high-quality Entex cut-retardant material that meets the ANSI, ASTM, and OSHA regulations. They do exactly what they’re supposed to do: protect your legs from being torn open – or off – by accidental contact with a running chainsaw.
There is only one problem with these chaps, but it’s a major one. Because of their open-back design, they don’t provide any protection to the backs of your legs, either from thorns and briars or from a chainsaw. This is a significant difference between them and the top pick on the list. For this reason, they have to stay in second place as the runner-up.
These open-back chaps meet ASTM and OSHA regulations. They’re relatively comfortable to wear, although they’re much hotter than they should be, given their open-back design. They’re available in a variety of sizes and colors. Putting them on and taking them off is simple once the straps are properly adjusted to your fit. Once they’re properly fitted, you’ll have a full range of motion while wearing them.
The pictures from the manufacturer show the crotch area being covered, but when you open the box you’ll find the coverage stops six to eight inches below the waist, leaving the crotch area completely unprotected.
These chaps slide around to the sides, leaving the inner thighs exposed. No matter how you adjust them, they keep doing this. The waist clasp is also poorly designed. Any amount of bending or stooping causes it to loosen, letting the chaps drop. It simply won’t stay tight, and you have to keep pulling them back up regardless of what you do. Chaps that won’t stay put won’t be in place to protect you.
These aren’t a match for the top two, but for the price, they’ll do the job of protecting the front of your legs.
These open-back chaps meet the ANSI, ASTM, and OSHA regulations. They allow a full range of motion, they’re hand-washable, and they dry quickly. They’ll stop a chainsaw – most of the time – and they’re available in blue, black, and gray.
These aren’t easy to put on and take off. The cheap plastic clasps are very thin and have a bad tendency to break, which renders the chaps useless. Some of them broke within ten minutes of putting them on. They’re also much heavier than necessary considering the open-back design. Additionally, the open-back design leaves the backs of your legs unprotected.
You have a full range of motion when wearing these chaps, but they frequently slip, sag, pinch, and bind, no matter how they’re adjusted. Their “hospital gown” one-size-fits-none routine means they don’t fit anyone six feet tall or over. They’re too short, and despite their open-back design, they’re still too hot for comfort.
These chaps have too many problems to be placed any higher than fourth on this list, and occasionally they’ll let a chainsaw get through them due to poor quality control.
These open-back chaps meet the ASTM regulations. According to the manufacturer, they’re made from eight layers of breathable, warp knit 600 Denier Oxford shell nylon. They’ll stop a chainsaw.
That’s the end of the good news, though. The open-back design won’t protect the backs of your legs. The buckles simply will not hold the straps in place no matter how much you adjust them. The straps constantly slip out of the buckles, come loose, and refuse to hold. This leaves the chaps flapping wildly, significantly reducing your protection.
These chaps also suffer from the one-size-fits-none syndrome. If you’re six feet tall or taller, they’ll be far too short, leaving your lower calves, shins, and ankles exposed. If you’re five-and-a-half feet or shorter, you could wind up tripping over them. Neither scenario is very safe.
These chaps are heavy, hot, and uncomfortable. They don’t protect the backs of your legs, they can’t be adjusted to fit, and the buckles just won’t hold the straps. They deserve their last place position on the list.
Chainsaw chaps can be used over and over again – until a chainsaw hits them. Once they’ve been ripped by a chainsaw – stopping it in the process – give them a decent burial, then buy a new pair.
This is the way they’re intended to be used and disposed of. But just because they’re “disposable” doesn’t mean you can skimp on them. Which do you value more, your money or your legs? Make sure you’re buying chainsaw chaps that meet the right standards and regulations, and that are constructed of material(s) which will actually stop a chainsaw from ripping your leg(s) apart.
Chainsaw chaps are hot. That’s a given. That being the case, here is something to think about.
Chainsaw chaps are made from multiple layers of special nylon fibers designed to catch and stop a fast-moving chainsaw. Naturally, all that extra material is going to be hot. Is there a difference between full-leg chaps or open-back ones in terms of heat and/or protection?
The only accurate answer is: yes and no.
Most chainsaw accidents happen to the front side of the legs. But “most” isn’t “all.” There are people who’ve had a chainsaw slip and cut the backs or sides of their legs, along with all the attendant horrible injuries that occur when flesh meets a chainsaw. This argues for chaps that cover the entire leg.
Most people will complain that those kind of chaps are too hot . They’d rather wear the open-back design, which allows for some air to get in and keep things cooler. That’s a good theory, but is it accurate?
Oddly enough, the answer is no. Every set of chaps in this list had heat problems, whether they were full-leg chaps or open-back ones. The temperature problems were nearly identical with every pair.
Since there will be heat issues no matter what type you get, you should consider if it’s worth it to get a pair of full-leg chaps and have 360º protection on your legs. Don’t sacrifice safety for an imaginary benefit that turns out not to exist after all.
First and foremost, chaps should protect you if an accident happens and a chainsaw hits your leg(s). Everything after that is gravy.
However, chaps should be comfortable, allowing for a full range of motion. You don’t want protective equipment making you trip and break your head, arm, back, etc. That’s a bad deal.
Good chainsaw chaps should also be quick and easy to put on and take off. Once adjusted to your particular fit, it should only be a matter of moments to put them on and get to work. Chaps that are difficult to get into or out of, or that won’t stay adjusted, are a pain in the neck. Pretty soon you’ll dump them and get a better pair.
Most of the chaps on this list will qualify for free shipping if you’re buying them online. There shouldn’t be any weight problems or special considerations to complicate matters.
With anything you wear, though , being able to try it on at the store is a benefit online retailers will never be able to offer. Yes, you can try it on when FedEx or UPS bring it to the door, but if it doesn’t fit or if they’ve substituted one model for another, you’ll have to go through the hassle of returning it and waiting for the new one to arrive.
It might be worth your time and energy to buy chainsaw chaps at a local store, where you can make sure they fit before you pay for them. It’ll certainly save you some aggravation.
If you need chainsaw chaps, you probably also need a helmet with a safety shield for your face. Throw in some steel-toed boots, leather gloves, safety goggles, and sound suppressors to round out your lumberjack equipment, and you’ll be set.
A chainsaw accident can rip your leg(s) to pieces in a split second, making chainsaw chaps one of the most important items of Personal Protective Equipment you’ll ever buy or use. They’ll save you a trip to the hospital if you have them and wear them.
Consequently, there are a lot of companies making and selling chainsaw chaps, which is why we do these reviews, helping you to make the smartest purchase you can on these critically important safety chaps.
The winner of the top spot is the Husqvarna 587160704 Technical chaps. They protect your legs front and back, top to bottom. They’re easy to put on and take off, give you a full range of motion, and will absolutely stop a chainsaw from tearing into you.
The best for the money pick is the Forester CHAP437-O Apron. It doesn’t offer the back-of-the-leg protection of the winner, but within its limitations, it will stop a chainsaw from sending you to the ER.
Hopefully, we’ve given you the information you need and simplified the decision you have to make about which chainsaw chaps are best for you.
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