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What are chaps and how to choose the right ones?

Published: 2021-09-30 14:21:44 Categories: Guides Rss feed , Products Rss feed

When we think of riding equipment and the basic elements of a rider's outfit, one thing that comes to mind is riding chaps. These are not very thick layers of material that fit tightly to the rider's leg to protect him from injury and provide him with more comfort. What exactly are riding chaps, how are they constructed, and what should you look for in order to buy high-quality, durable, and simply the best riding chaps for years to come? We address these questions in this guide and provide you with answers. Enjoy!

What are riding chaps?

Chaps – sometimes also called leggings - are elements of clothing designed for the rider's legs. Depending on the type, they can be a kind of extension of short riding shoes – jodhpur boots. The combination of these two gives the effect of long riding boots, thanks to which it protects the calf in the same way as full, knee-length boots.

Two types of chaps can be found in equestrian stores:

  • professional – worn over a pair of short riding boots, that is jodhpur boots,
  • everyday riding – often worn over sport shoes.

When it comes to the material, manufacturers offer, among others, chaps made of grain leather, suede or nubuck, and also ones made of plastic.


What are riding chaps used for?

The best chaps fit the rider's leg tightly to protect the calf from injury. Jodhpur boots together with chaps protect the ankle, too. The comfort of the ride is equally important. When the leg is correctly shaped with the use of chaps, it is more secure in the saddle, which in turn makes it easier to ride and helps the rider to stay on the horse during intensive exercises, such as jumping. Chaps made of natural grain leather and suede provide the best grip.

Properly made chaps make the leg stable and protect the skin from bruising caused by the saddle or stirrups. This is especially important in summer and spring when it's hot and riders are wearing lightweight, breathable outfits.

Chaps vs riding boots

If chaps with jodhpur boots or sport shoes are supposed to imitate traditional equestrian footwear, why not just buy the latter? The answer lies in... the price. Even though long riding boots - especially those made of real leather - offer the best leg protection and are of excellent quality, you'll have to spend a large sum of money. Not every rider has that much, especially those who are just beginning their adventure with a new hobby. The jodhpur boots together with chaps are an adequate alternative for a start.

Chaps vs leggings

At the beginning of this article we mentioned that chaps and leggings are terms used interchangeably and they correspond to the same piece of riding attire. In popular nomenclature - indeed. However, it's worth knowing that there is a difference between them. While leggings protect the calf, chaps reach much higher - they cover the entire leg, including the knee and thigh. Chaps are a traditional part of the western wear. They are still used today during western riding. Some models are tight, while others looser.


  1. Horze Quinton Leather Chaps
  2. Sergio Grasso Lugano Chaps

Both calf-high (half chaps) and thigh-high chaps (full chaps) are designed to be worn with jodhpur boots. Traditional western chaps are not to be combined with ordinary sport shoes. No wonder - they are only suitable for western riding. Recreational horseback riding is an activity that prefers leggings.

How to choose the best chaps for horseback riding?

How to choose chaps to suit the rider? One criterion is the age of the person. It's worth noting that a child's feet are still growing, so for a young rider it's better to choose soft and flexible (textile, suede or nubuck) chaps. It is a compromise between the basic function (calf protection) and the price. Older riders, on the other hand, may want to purchase grain leather chaps (made from natural or synthetic leather) or thicker suede ones straight away. These are durable models that will last for years. Be careful: make sure the chaps aren't too thin - calf protection, among other things, depends on the thickness. The finishing in the form of reinforcements placed on the inner side - by the calf - is an advantage.

Other aspects of chaps selection are durability (very good for models made of natural leather), aesthetic look (here it is worth appreciating e.g. ecological leather), softness/stiffness. Stiff high chaps look almost like riding boots. Riding and wearing comfort is also guaranteed by neoprene chaps.

Psst! A wise choice is to buy several - at least two - pairs of chaps. Then you can choose the model depending on the season and weather.

How to measure the leg for the chaps?

If you want to buy new chaps together with your riding boots, you should try them on together. However, if you're sticking to your sport shoes to cut down the costs, wear them when trying the chaps on. All footwear is different, and the chaps that go with one pair may not be suitable for another.

Use a tailor's tape to measure your leg in order to choose the right chaps. Put on the boots, as well as the breeches and other elements of the outfit in which you plan to ride. Sit on a chair and bend your leg at a right angle. Don't measure by yourself, as you might make a mistake; ask a friend or the store assistant at an equestrian store. We will be more than happy to help you.


  1. Waldhausen Daily Men's Equine Chaps

To make sure your chaps aren't too tight, but also don't feel too loose, you should take two measurements:

  • calf circumference at its widest point - tight, you don’t want them to be loose. Chaps that are too wide can cause discomfort, curl and deteriorate,
  • calf height - from the bend under the knee to the floor. Models which are too long will cause uncomfortable pressure under the knee and they will put pressure on the artery. Models that are too short can catch on the saddle and will quickly get damaged.

It is worth paying special attention to the measurements. Remember that properly chosen, best riding chaps will provide you with comfort and improve the pleasure of riding. Moreover, as one of the basic elements of horse riding outfit, they will serve you for years.

Chaps producers - our suggestions

Now that you know what chaps are and how to choose the right ones, it is time to take a closer look at specific products. In our equestrian store you’ll find Sergio Grasso, Busse, Horze, HKM, Waldhausen, ELT, Hippica. Beginner horseback riders can order models such as Horze Amara or Waldhausen Daily Mini with excellent value for money. These suggestions come in versions for adults and children. Waldhausen's blend of materials provides comfort due to the high flexibility and the fit to the rider's calf. The synthetic leather chaps from Horze are deceptively similar to the classic ones made of natural leather. They are a very classy accessory for those who put an emphasis on aesthetics.


High quality leather chaps can be found among Hippica’s products in such models as Windsor, Perfect Fit or Elastic. In our store you can match them with boots and thus create a whole outfit for everyday trainings as well as for competitions.

Remember to properly take care of your chaps. Regularly remove dirt from the surface of the chaps with a damp or dry cloth, depending on the material. Store your accessories in a dry place together with the rest of your outfit. May they serve you for the longest time!

If you have any doubts or questions feel free to contact us or visit our shop.

Equishop equestrian store: +48 784 039 784


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