What Are Chainsaw Chaps?
Chainsaws chaps refer to trousers made of special fabrics that are designed to protect chainsaw operators from being cut by a running chainsaw. They are a part of the personal protective equipment that is recommended for all occasional and professional chainsaw users.
Usually, they are made of a tough and slippery material on the outside and layers of loose fibers of other fabrics on the inside. They are generally designed to prevent or minimize injuries that may occur if the lower limbs of a chainsaw operator are accidentally exposed to a running chainsaw.
How Chainsaw Chaps Work
There are no chainsaw chaps that are cut proof. However, depending on the type of the fabric used, chainsaw chaps may either slow down the chainsaw speed or tangle the teeth of the chainsaw and even stop it running. In
In the ase of an accident, the chainsaw may cut through the outermost layer but it will be immediately drawn and wrapped around by the inner filler materials which are usually polyester, Kevlar or nylon.
This usually protects the chainsaw user by stopping the chainsaw from running or giving him or her time to switch off the machine in those critical seconds before the chainsaw comes in contact with the skin.
Importance of Using Chainsaw Chaps
Although the chainsaw is one of the most useful and versatile tools, it also happens to be one of the most dangerous machines than can cause serious injuries and even deaths.
A majority of the thousands of chainsaw injuries reported each year in the United States alone involved the lower limbs as they are more exposed to the chainsaw in the case of accidents.
In case of an accident, the chainsaw chaps bear the first impact of the chainsaw teeth. Even though there is a chance that the teeth may still come in contact with the legs of the user, they will not cause deep cuts as they might otherwise have.
Any chainsaw operator who does not wear chaps puts himself at a high risk. This is because it is very easy to stumble or lose control of the chainsaw and if this happens, the chainsaw user can lose a limb in a matter of seconds.
If the accident happens in a remote area, the victim is likely to lose his life because of loss of blood.
Types of Chainsaw Protective Trousers
There are basically two regular types of protective chainsaw trousers; Type A and Type C.
Chaps are categorized as Type A trousers which can offer protection only to the front of the legs. They are usually worn on top of regular work trousers although they can also be worn as work trousers on their own.
However, there are other types of old style chaps which include apron style chaps and wraparound chaps. They also work in the same way as Type A chaps but are not very user-friendly.
These types of chaps are best suited for homeowners who use chainsaws occasionally and any chainsaw user who is working on the ground.
Type C chainsaw trousers refer to overalls or special trousers that give all-round protection to the legs. They are always worn as conventional work trousers as they do not need to be tied with belts or to be worn over other clothes.
Type C are designed for professional chainsaw users like foresters and arborists who climb trees and often have to operate the chainsaws in difficult or uncomfortable positions. They offer maximum chainsaw protection unlike chaps which only protect the front.
Things To Consider When Buying Chainsaw Chaps
The purchase of chainsaw chaps must not be treated casually. Chainsaws are responsible for over 36.000 injuries, annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Over 12.000 are leg injuries and can easily be prevented by quality chaps. Picking out a chainsaw chap is, therefore, a critical affair. A wrong choice could see you added to the statistics above.
So, how do you pick out a chainsaw chap? Below are some factors to consider before making a purchase.
1. Type of Chainsaw You Use
Chainsaw chaps are chainsaw specific. Consider the type of chainsaw you intend to use the chainsaw chaps with (electric, cordless, or gas). Most chaps are not built to withstand blows from electric chainsaws.
You should, therefore, be extra careful when buying chainsaw chaps for an electric chainsaw.
The few chainsaw chaps that work with electric chainsaw cost more than regular chaps. To save money, never buy such kinds of chaps unless you plan to use an electric chainsaw. Why pay more for a feature you do not need?
2. Material Making The Chaps
Chainsaw chaps are made of different materials. The most common are Ballistic, Polyester, Kevlar, and Denier. Different materials will cost differently and offer varying degrees of protection.
Maintenance of different materials is also different. Some materials should only be hand washed while others can be machine washed.
Choose a material that you can comfortably maintain.
Some chaps should not be washed! Washing destroys their protective fabrics.
Under comfort, consider the factors below:
The size of these protective clothing should afford you enough room for movement. You should enjoy a broad range of angles.
Remember that harm may not always come from the chainsaw. At times, you may need to run from falling trees. Chaps that hinder your movement would cost you dearly in such scenarios.
The weight should also be manageable. Not too heavy as to hinder movement and, not too light as to compromise quality.
Finally, breathable chaps make hot days bearable. If you plan to work in the summer, consider the breathability of chainsaw chaps.
The comfort of a person handling a dangerous power tool like a chainsaw needs to be a high priority.
Durability is an aspect you have to research on. Seek out chaps or brands associated with strength.
You do not to replace your chainsaw chaps now and then.
If however, the chaps take a blow from your chainsaw, the damage is irreversible. Do not even attempt any repairs.
When looking at aspects of design, consider the pockets and adjustability. Make sure the chaps are adjustable to fit a broad range of sizes. This way, you can share them out with family members (rather than by many chaps).
The pockets, on the other hand, should be strong enough to store accessories like edges. This way you avoid losing them in the undergrowth.
The final, and crucial, aspect to consider is certification. Make sure the safety standards of the chainsaw chaps are accepted in your country.
Below are four certifications to look out for before purchasing chaps.
- UL (Underwriters Laboratories) A global certification company that inspects, tests, and , validates products.
- ASNI (American National Standards Institute) A non-profit, American, institute that tests and certifies the quality of goods.
- ASTM (American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials) A timeworn international organization that certifies the quality and standards of products.
- OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) This certification assures you that the company making the chaps treats its workers fairly.
Frequently Asked Question About Chainsaw Chaps
1. I have seen videos of chainsaw chaps stopping chainsaws. Can they stop chainsaws rotating at full speed?
Whether the chaps stop the rotation of a chainsaw will depend on the chainsaw’s speed and the angle of contact. At a speed of 2,750 ft/min (Feet per minute), a chainsaw will not cut through chaps.
Most chainsaws, however, attain top speeds of upwards of 4000 ft/min (Feet per minute). At such high speeds, all a chap can guarantee is reduced damage to your legs.
It slows down the chainsaw enough for you to react before further damage is done.
Remember that without chaps, a chainsaw at top speed would cut your leg clean off!
2. Can chainsaw chaps be repaired?
No, and Yes, depending on the type of damage. If the chap has suffered from a chainsaw’s out, do not even attempt to repair!
Purchase a new pair and be thankful the damaged ones worked.
If, however, only the outside layer is damaged, repairs can be done. Only make sure the inner layers of fibers are undamaged.
For a cut outer layer, repairs can be done using duct tape. Use it to seal the opening to protect the whole inner layers.
3. What does size refer to in chainsaw chaps? For example, does a size 33 imply a size33 waist?
First of all, chainsaw chaps do not come in standard sizes. The waist is adjustable and fits a range of sizes.
Size in refers to the length of the chaps. If is measured from the belt’s loop to the bottom of the chainsaw chaps.
Finally, on size, note that some models that do not come in the extra large sizes (40-Inch to 42-inch)
4. How often should I wash my chaps?
Kindly check the manufacturer’s instructions. There is no one-fit-for- all answer.
Some chaps should not be washed. Washing compromises their capability to keep you safe.
Other chaps, on the other hand, become stronger with each wash. If your chaps say do not wash, never wash them. A little dirt never hurt anyone.
Still on the topic of laundry, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to the letter. Some chaps can only be hand washed, while, others support machine washing.
5. Can all chainsaw chaps be used with an electric chainsaw?
Electric chainsaw offers a whole different set of problems. They attain higher speeds and momentums than gas and cordless powered chainsaws.
Unless chaps are specifically quoted to support electric chainsaws, assume they do not. Better safe than sorry.
Chaps are also rarely tested with other tools. Never assume they can work with any other tool apart from what is specified.
Read and re-read the manufacturer’s instructions. They are the safest.