Chainsaw chaps are a critical piece of equipment for the professional logger or just the weekend handyman working around the yard or farm. For jobs that rely on power tools, chainsaw injuries are one of the most common and often deadliest of all work mishaps. There are tens of thousands of chainsaw injuries reported each year. Thankfully, chainsaw chaps and other protective safety gear has prevented many of these accidents from resulting in the death of the operator. There are many types of safety chaps on the market today, but not all are created equal. It is important to pay attention to style, certification, and materials before choosing a set of leg protectors.

The American Society for Testing and Materials has established guidelines for the performance of chainsaw chaps. In general, since 2008 chainsaw leg protective clothing must offer cut resistance up to 2750 fpm (feet per minute). Many different manufacturers achieve this rating in a variety of styles and by using a variety of materials. It is very important to make sure that any safety chaps chosen meet the ASTM International standard. Of course, chainsaw chaps should be just one level of protection along with a safety vest, safety chainsaw helmet and safety boots.

Kevlar Safety Chaps

The most common variety of chainsaw leg protection is made from Kevlar. This Dupont developed material is commonly known for being incredibly strong yet also lightweight. It is used for sporting applications like Kevlar canoes and kayaks, but the public knows it best for bulletproof vests and other body armor. This flexible fabric is five times stronger than steel on a per weight basis making it ideal as a protective material.

Kevlar chainsaw chaps offer more protection than other chaps made from cotton, polyester or even ballistic nylon. Kevlar chaps will not stop a full throttle chainsaw, but they will allow for more reaction time. It is these extra seconds or even split seconds of time that allow the user to prevent a much more serious (or even deadly) injury. There are many models of Kelvar safety chaps that operate effectively up to 3300 fpm speeds. Strong and lightweight, many of these chaps weigh under three pounds and are comfortable to wear and work in. Most Kevlar chaps also repel oil, grease and water, come in a variety of sizes and usually several safety colors including orange and green. They can be purchased in full wrap styles which protect the back of the legs or a more open style. Kevlar pants are also available.

Kevlar is one of the most popular and easily found types of safety chap. They are made by many of the same companies that produce carbide chains and chainsaws. Husqvarna Chaps and Labonville Full Wrap Safety Chaps are two popular models that can be purchased online.

Other Safety Chaps

There are full wrap chaps that also offer protection available in materials like leather, cotton, nylon, polyester and Prolar. Many of these can deliver affordable protection, but often not as effectively as Kevlar. Prolar is a material developed by Elvex and is an excellent protector. This woven material is quickly pulled into the chain and jams it against the bar and sprocket allowing for better reaction time and injury prevention.

Do the research and decide for yourself, but do not overlook the necessity of chainsaw chaps or chainsaw pants. A kickback can lead to a permanent disability or even death. Make sure that whatever chap is chosen meets either OSHA, the U.S. Forest Service or ASTM International standards for cut resistance. No set of chaps will guarantee an injury free work environment, but a quality set of protective leg gear may save your life.