What to Consider When Sizing a Pair of English Half Chaps?
Sizing Half Chaps is often a bit easier than sizing tall boots. Many brands and styles of half chaps have an elasticized panel that stretches around the calf and allows fit to be more forgiving. There are several key considerations when looking at correctly sizing a new pair of English half chaps:
- Circumference of your calf at the widest part
- Length of your calf, from the floor to the back of your knee
Half chaps will stretch over time, making it important to have them fit snuggly when they are new. If they are too loose, they may slide down and can even resemble leg warmers of the 1980’s by the time you are done with your ride!
The Advantage of Half Chaps
Half chaps are quick to put on, and often more comfortable then tall boots. Typically, they last longer than tall boots, and are more economical to replace. In warmer weather, it is easy to slip them on and off. Once off, with only your paddock boots on while you are working around the stable, your legs stay cooler. For children growing rapidly, or just starting their riding careers, half chaps are a smart choice. They are more affordable than tall boots, and can be used a little longer, given the degree of stretch that they can offer. Because of this stretch, the zipper is not under as much stress and tends to last longer on a pair of half chaps then on a pair of tall boots. Many riders will use paddock boots and half chaps in their daily riding and save their tall boots for horse shows and special clinics or videos.
Types of Half Chaps
Easy Care Half Chaps: Some half chaps, like the Dublin Adult Easy Care Half Chaps are actually machine-washable. These are favored by some for their affordability and ease of care.
Suede Half Chaps: There are half chaps made of suede, like the Shires Adult Suede Half Chaps. Suede is preferred by some riders for its’ flexibility and softness. Genuine suede is simply made from the underside of the skin and has a napped finish. Suede Half Chaps are also more affordably priced.
Full and Top Grain Leather Half Chaps: Full grain leather refers to use of the entire tanned hide, without buffing or sanding to remove any blemishes. Half chaps made of full grain leather, like the TuffRider Full Grain Half Chaps, are coveted for their strength and durability. It is also more breathable. Half chaps made out of top grain leather are made of leather that has been split, producing a more pliable, more polished looking leather.
Soft Leather Half Chaps: Intended to fit as a second skin, there are new lines of pliable, soft leather half chaps on the market. A great option, they are gaining popularity for their superior comfort and fit.
Knee Chaps and Half Chaps that Look Like Tall Boots: Half Chaps that come up higher, have support on the outside of the knee, and typically look like professional tall boots are also very popular. ‘Knee chaps’ can fit a rider that has a more muscular leg that may make finding tall boots difficult, but have the height on the side of the knee to mimic that of a tall boot. High end half chaps look like customized tall boots and are professional, elegant and polished enough to be used in competition.
How to Size Half Chaps
The precision of measurements you will need to take of your calf, in both circumference and length, will be dependent upon the style, design and brand of half chaps you select. For those with an elasticized strip, exact measurement is not as important, as these chaps offer a good degree of stretch. However, you might look for a snap or tightening system at the top, to ensure they stay up and in place. Most manufacturers require the same width (or more accurately, the circumference) and height measurements you would need for sizing tall boots. Measure your leg while sitting down, with your knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Wear your breeches and normal riding sock. Take a measurement with a soft measuring tape around the circumference of the widest part of your calf. Then measure the height, from the ground to the back of your knee. Make sure you know these numbers both in inches and in centimeters, as different manufacturers will require one or the other. With these numbers in mind, check the sizing charts available for the half chaps you are looking to purchase! Remember to go for a snug-fit, as chaps will stretch and drop around the ankle with use.