Operating a powerful chainsaw while only wearing a pair of jeans and work boots may look cool in commercials. However, in reality, that’s not the way you want to do it. Chainsaws tear through jeans just as easily as they tear through skin and muscle.
Your entire body should be under protective gear when operating dangerous tools. So, what to professional chainsaw operators use for their lower body? – They’re called Type A protective trousers or chaps for short. They don’t cover your whole leg but they protect you in the front and sometimes on the sides, the places where most injuries occur.
6 Chainsaw Chaps for Maximum Safety & Comfort
- 6 Chainsaw Chaps for Maximum Safety & Comfort
- Finding the Right Fit
- How Many Protective Layers Should You Aim For?
- Full Pant Leg Design or Hiker-Friendly?
These chaps are made from high-quality ballistic fiber, perfectly capable of stopping your chainsaw when it makes contact and tries to dig in. They meet ASTM, ANSI, and OSHA safety standards, which should put your mind at ease about whether or not they’re good for the worksite.
In a way, they’re very similar to other Husqvarna chaps. But there’s one thing that sets these chaps apart and that’s the wrap-around design. If you wear these you’ll notice that you’re not just adding a protective layer to the front of your legs.
The sides of your legs are also protected. Now, there should be no situation in which your chainsaw reaches you at an odd angle when it’s in use, but then again, maybe there’s someone else less skilled working a chainsaw in close proximity.
The chaps come in one size but they are fairly adjustable. You can also wash them in the washing machine which makes maintenance a lot easier. The heavy duty materials and quality stitching will also allow you to work long hours which can be a plus. The pockets aren’t too big but this shouldn’t be a major concern when buying protective chaps anyway.
These Forester chainsaw chaps are not as thick as other Type A protective trousers as they only meet ASTM and OSHA standards, but they are fairly cheap by comparison. This begs the question. How much protection does one really need when using a full-throttle chainsaw?
Not too much because these are designed for hand saws. The fabrics aren’t thick enough to stop powered chainsaws from piercing the skin but wearing these protective chaps would be better than nothing at all.
This means that if you’re worried about accidents happening or not being able to fully control your surroundings, the pants may not be your best bet.
The chaps come in three sizes – 35”, 37”, and 40”. The design is simple and features just one external pocket on the left pant leg. The reflective stripes make them ok for outdoor work, and they’re also a bit loose which is not a bad thing if you have to work long hours.
Now for some heavy-duty Husqvarna chaps. This pair uses premium ballistic fiber capable of binding the chainsaw’s motor and eventually stopping the blades before they can reach the skin. They’re designed for rough working conditions and for powerful electric saws.
They’re not the most comfortable chaps to wear, to be honest, but if safety is your main concern, you can learn to live with the tighter fit. The chaps come in a few different sizes and adjustable straps for the waist and back of legs.
The chaps also lack any sort of real wrap-around protection. That being said, it’s not often that you find yourself accidentally sitting on a running chainsaw or backing into one. If you’re careful around the job site or when doing work around the house, the lack of back and odd angle protection shouldn’t be a problem.
If you’re worried about the people working in your proximity then maybe a wrap-around pair of chaps is a safer bet. But be fair, few chaps offer the same level of fabric durability and stopping power. These Husqvarna chaps meet ASTM, OSHA, and ANSI safety standards and they also offer solid crotch protection which should come in handy when sawing from the waist.
These STIHL chaps are high-end but you can purchase them with even more protection. The standard model features six layers of protective fabric while the heavy-duty model features nine layers. Either way, STIHL is going above and beyond to offer protection against the cutting power of electric chainsaws compared to the three to five layers of most other protective chaps.
For all the protection in the front, the chaps are still lacking certain features. The open back design means that there’s no posterior or odd angle protection. You’ll still have to keep an eye on anyone working close to you.
Normally, the open back design should help fight off the heat that accumulates from working long hours. However, because they’re rather tight, there’s not much you can do to feel more comfortable other than loosening up the clasps. Of course, that’s not advisable as the chaps could wiggle and leave you exposed.
The one true downside is the fact that the chaps only come in one size. The official size is 36” waist but the waist strap is designed for 30 to 42” waists. The pair I got my hands were 36” inseam. They are available in other popular lengths.
This is an interesting design for chainsaw chaps. Usually, this protective gear covers everything from the waist down but these chaps only go slightly over the knees. They come in three sizes – 35”, 37”, and 40”. It’s a rather lightweight model that’s clearly not designed for powerful electric chainsaws.
However, they’re good enough for smaller or less dangerous tasks such as basic wood cutting, trimming, logging, or weed eating (i.e. controlling weed in the backyard). But, as mentioned, the fabric doesn’t have the ability to stop a chainsaw motor dead in its tracks.
They may seem a bit flimsy compared to other chaps I’ve reviewed. But they have one very good thing going for them and that’s comfort. Setting aside that they’re also cheap, the level of adjustability at the waist and the leg is through the roof.
The fact that they don’t cover your entire legs in the front or at the sides means that the chances of overheating are slim to none. These chaps are also better suited when cutting at odd angles or when you need freedom of movement.
While these chaps are shorter and don’t offer protection below the knees, they are loaded with features which might just appeal to skilled chainsaw operators. The waist is adjustable to fit people between 32 and 36 inches in the waist.
The side clasps are also easy to work with and tighten or loosen as you see fit. This makes these Sawbuck chaps very comfortable and less likely to overheat. There’s also plenty of freedom of movement you get for your legs, albeit it comes at the cost of leaving the bottom half of your legs bare.
The fabric is dense enough to prevent some minor injuries but not rugged enough to stop most electrical saws from penetrating the skin. Even so, the chaps still meet a couple of safety standards which makes them suitable for household repair jobs or even some logging sites if you know what you’re doing.
Although designed mostly for flexibility and less for protection, the chaps are durable enough to handle a variety of rough outdoor working conditions and they’re not nearly as expensive as some full-length Type A protective trousers.
Finding the Right Fit
Finding the right fit is harder than it sounds. When you buy any pair of pants, you look at the waist size first. You can’t focus solely on that when looking for chainsaw chaps. Most of them come in one or maybe three sizes but they all have some sort of adjustability around the waist.
The same courtesy is not extended to the length, though some of them come in different inseams. The thigh and hip areas are often baggy while most come with adjustable straps to tighten the lower legs.
How Many Protective Layers Should You Aim For?
This is another question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Heavy-duty chainsaw chaps are made with anywhere from three to nine layers of cut-retardant fabrics. Anything under six offers minimal to medium protection against electric saws.
With thinner chaps, you have to hope that you can react quick enough to move out of the way or let go of the trigger before the chain penetrates your skin. Chaps that have more than six layers of protective materials are made to stop chainsaws almost immediately after impact. The materials are designed to jam electric chainsaw motors and stop the chain.
But you need to consider that not all fabrics are equally good. This is why it’s important to know the cutting power of your saw.
If you know that then you can check for various safety standards and see how they classify certain materials or products versus varying degrees of potential injuries.
Full Pant Leg Design or Hiker-Friendly?
As you’ve noticed, Type A protective trousers or chaps don’t always offer full coverage. Some models only protect the area between the waist and knees while leaving everything else exposed. Those do have their uses as they’re way more comfortable, flexible, and well-ventilated.
However, no matter which option looks more appealing to you or better fits your particular working conditions, consider the following. Not all chaps come with crotch protection.
Assuming that you will eventually make some cuts from the waist, you may want to focus on a pair of chaps that can prevent your privates from getting put out of commission.
Don’t underestimate lower leg protection either. There are plenty of accidents that happen when operators drop their saws as opposed to cutting themselves while holding the saw. Unless you’re working at some odd angle, chances are the blades will make contact with your lower body which includes legs and feet.
If you want to be extra safe then a tight pair of heavy-duty chaps with crotch coverage and wrap-around protection is the way to go. You just can’t expect to work in them for long hours and feel great doing it.
Say No to Workplace Injuries
There’s rarely a product that doesn’t have a bit of a tradeoff. Chaps will either favor full-on protection or leg flexibility. There just aren’t any materials yet that can offer the best of both worlds at any price range. But this doesn’t mean that until they’re invented you shouldn’t stay as safe as possible.
Operating chainsaws is a dangerous business and no matter how skilled you are, there’s always a risk for accidents to happen. It could be someone else’s fault, it could be an earthquake that puts you off balance, it could be a muscle spasm – either way, there’s really no excuse for not getting a pair of chaps good enough to stop chainsaw from tearing through flesh.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.