I always thought chaps and chainsaw pants were the same thing; I was wrong. Chaps and chainsaw pants are very different, and each has its pros and cons. In this article, I'll help you decide which is better.
For the professional or the gardener who values comfort over price, chainsaw pants are best. However, if you are on a budget or barely use a chainsaw, chaps are best.
I'll start by going over some questions to consider. These questions will help you decide which if chaps or pants are better for you. I'll then go into detail, the pros and cons of both.
If you're still not convinced you need to wear chainsaw protection, check out this article: Are Chainsaw Chaps Necessary? Why the Answer Is Yes
What's Better Chainsaw Chaps or Pants?
There is a lot to consider when choosing between chaps or pants. I will outline the pros and cons, but first, you need to ask yourself some questions. Knowing what you need out of your safety gear will help you make the right decision.
Regarding protection, chaps and pants work the same way. To understand how chainsaw protection works, check out this article I wrote: How Do Chainsaw Chaps Work? A Quick Breakdown
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Let's take a look at those questions:
- How often do I use a chainsaw?
- How long will I be wearing the pants or chaps when I use them?
- What kind of work will I be doing?
- How important is comfort?
- How important is convenience?
Keep these questions in mind when reading the rest of this article. The Pros and Cons will touch on these questions. The answers to these questions will help you decide what's best for you.
The Pros and Cons of Chainsaw Chaps
You wear chainsaw chaps like you would an apron. There will be clips all along the legs and one at the belt. So, the front of your legs will be covered while the rear of you won't.
Some of the better chaps will wrap around your calves with a zip. Then it's only your hamstrings and up that will be uncovered.
Now, let's dive into the pros and cons of chaps.
The Pros of Chainsaw Chaps
Let's start with the good.
On average, chaps are much cheaper than pants. The main reason for the price difference is the material. Chaps don't require too much material, as they fit over the top of your legs.
So, if money is a factor, opt for chaps.
Sharing With Other People
You wear chaps over your regular pants, so it's easy to share them around. You can buy one pair between friends or colleagues, and save money.
Cooler in Hot Weather
Tree work can be hot, especially when it's warm out. Wearing chaps during the hotter months can keep you cool.
Chaps have an open back, with lets your legs breathe. Some chainsaw pants have vents, but no vent can beat an open back.
Chaps Last Longer Than Pants
Depending on how often you use them, chainsaw pants last around a year. Pants have a limited number of washes before they start to break down. After a certain amount of time, the protective material in chaps will slide down the leg. The pants will get to a stage where all the protective material is bunched up at the bottom, leaving your thigh exposed. When this happens, you need to get rid of them.
Chaps last longer because you don't need to wash them as often. When you do wash them, you don't use a washing machine. To wash chaps, you need to soak and scrub them.
Easy to Maintain
I've touched on this point, but chaps are easier to maintain. They don't need washing too often, and you don't wear them as long.
To maintain your chaps, you need to:
- Give them a scrub every now and then
- Store them somewhere dry and out of the sun
- Monitor them for nicks and cuts
The Cons of Chainsaw Chaps
Now the not so good.
Chaps Don't Fit as Well as Pants
Chaps clip over your legs, so they don't have a snug fit like pants. Chaps will still protect you, but you won't be as comfortable. Also, you may not move too well.
Harder to Move Around In
You'll find it much harder to move when wearing chaps. Your task will determine if this is a problem or not.
Chaps will make it harder to:
- Climb trees
- Chip branches
- Bend over
- Moving around in general
Chaps are ideal if you are cutting in one spot. The second you need to move around, you will find chaps restrictive.
Time-Consuming to Take On and Off
As an apprentice, I had to wear chaps. The main reason for wearing chaps was because I wasn't cutting too often. So, every time I needed to cut, I had to put on the chaps. I found it annoying.
To put on chaps you need to clip the belt around your waist. Then you will need to clip each buckle down your pant legs. Each leg has 3-5 clips.
Compare the above scenario to a pair of pants. You slide the pants on.
This point and the point above are the main reasons professionals choose pants. If you are cutting all day, it's much easier to put on a pair of pants and leave them on. You'll also be much comfier wearing pants all day.
Clips and Buckles Can Get In the Way
It's easy for the clips and buckles to get snagged in branches when working. This snagging can range from annoying to downright unsafe.
When climbing a tree, getting snagged in a branch can be pretty annoying. However, getting caught on a limb that's going through a chipper can be devastating.
Be mindful of your surroundings when wearing chaps.
The Pros and Cons of Chainsaw Pants
Chainsaw pants are as described: a pair of pants you wear like you would regular pants. They are easy to wear and more comfortable overall. But, I'll explain more in this section.
The Pros of Chainsaw Pants
Again, let's start with the positives.
Better Fit for Comfort
Chainsaw pants fit much better than chaps do. A better fit means more comfort, which is good on those long days. A good pair of chainsaw pants are slightly heavier than regular pants, so they don't feel too different.
Quality is key. I have worn chainsaw pants that feel so heavy and bulky. These pants were ok in winter but a nightmare in summer.
Easier to Move
You'll find it much easier to move in pants. As mentioned, a good pair of chainsaw pants will almost feel like normal pants. So, you'll have no trouble cutting, chipping, or climbing.
Less of a Snagging Hazard
Chainsaw pants don't have any loose clips or buckles that can snag on branches. Meaning there's one less thing to worry about on the worksite.
You'll notice a difference when climbing a tree. Your job will be much easier if you don't have to unhook yourself every few minutes.
It's much easier to throw on a pair of pants than it is to clip on your chaps. Convenience is a big deciding factor for me. With pants, I can protect myself without having to think about it.
I treat my pants as if they were any other part of my uniform; it's what I wear to work every day. On the other hand, chaps feel like regular PPE, more of an accessory.
Using a chainsaw isn't a fashion parade. But, you have to admit, pants look much better than chaps!
The Cons of Chainsaw Pants
Now, the negatives.
Chainsaw pants are much pricier than chaps. Sometimes this price difference can be $100 - $200 more, which is a lot. So, when buying, you will need to consider the following:
- Do you use a chainsaw enough to justify buying pants?
- What price do you put on comfort and convenience?
Have a good think and research your options before buying. But remember, you do need to protect yourself. Please don't try cutting without protection.
Hotter in Summer
Chainsaw pants get hot in summer. Some pants will offer breathable vents, which is good, but it doesn't compare to backless chaps.
Harder to Maintain
You should wash your chainsaw pants at least once a week. If you're working hard and sweating in them all day, you may need to wash them more.
Washing isn't too bad as pants can go in with your regular washing. But, all those washes take it's a toll on your pants, reducing the lifespan.
Looking for a Pair?
If you like the sound of chainsaw pants and are looking for a pair, look no further. I wrote an article on the best pair of chainsaw pants. You can check out that article by clicking this link. Once you have a pair, learn how to wash them properly in this article.
The Final Verdict
If you are a professional, chainsaw pants are much better than chaps. If you are tight on money, you can always buy a pair of chaps and work your way towards pants. If working around trees a lot, you will get so much value out of pants.
For the backyard gardener, chaps will suit your needs perfectly. However, if you prefer to be comfortable and money isn't an issue, go for pants.