Leather Chaps - How to Get the Best Fit
Chaps have long been a staple item for protective wear. Before motorcycle use, cattlemen employed chaps, to protect against thorny underbrush, or chaparral. They also served to keep the legs warm in colder temperatures and protected against the constant rubbing against the sides of the horse.
These leather garments were originally used in Spain. Later they were used in Mexico and South America by Spanish immigrants. The first style was known as Armas, and were simply pieces of leather tied to the saddle that could be wrapped around the leg when needed and tucked under the leg when not needed. Not much in fit required.
Later, these developed into full leg coverings that tied around the leg with straps, or buckled on. They were loose and flapped a bit, gaining the name Batwings, which allowed ease of movement and were frequently decorated with conchos and fringe.
Texans developed the first full leg "seatless pants" style know as Shotguns because of their resemblance to a double barrel shotgun. These fit snuggly, were more difficult to wear over a man's pants, and were especially hard to get over one's boots and spurs. Some were designed with lacings that went up the side and allowed for more adjustment.
With the invention of the zipper, things got a little easier. These are prevalent in the modern Shotguns worn today by motorcyclists. Today's chaps may also include lacing and expandable thigh panels, which allow for a more custom and comfortable fit.
Chaps today can be found in a wide range of sizes. Waist sizes start at around 26 inches to as large as 58 inches. Thigh circumferences start at around 19 inches up to around 33 inches. Usually, you will use a combination of your waist size and the circumference of your thigh, to determine the best fit.
Most chaps have adjustable waists that can use a waist extender if needed, to combine the best waist to thigh ratio. Chaps length is an industry standard of 34 inches long at the inseam (inner leg) with and overall length of about 40 inches.
Use this Chaps Sizing Guide to get the best, most comfortable fit.
Remember, Chaps fit over the pants and you will need to allow appropriate room.
Measure the thigh 3"-4" below the crotch, around the leg while sitting, for maximum comfort. Round to the nearest whole inch and go to the next size up. Measure the waist (which is adjustable on the chaps) at or below the belt.
Once you have your chaps, you can adjust the length by cutting to size with a sharp utility knife or sharp scissors. Measure the desired length in sitting position if you like them long, as they pull up when you bend your knees. Mark them on the inside where it won't show before cutting. If you would rather have them cut professionally, you can take then to a leather shop and have it done for a few dollars usually.