It’s no surprise that horse riders can often get a little confused about the huge number of products available. With so much on the market, it can be a difficult task to know exactly what is vital and what is simply nice to have. When it comes to horse riding itself, safety should always be your main concern. After that, it’s all about keeping yourself clean and, of course, looking great! You’ll no doubt be familiar with the function of helmets, jackets and shirts, but have you ever seen a pair of chaps or gaiters and thought what is the difference? They look the same to me! You’d be right in saying they look the same; after all, both garments are used to protect the legs and ankles from damage and dirt – but there are minor differences between gaiters and chaps.
The key difference between these two items is the positioning of the zip. On a pair of gaiters, the zip is always positioned at the back of the garment. On the other hand, chaps or half-chaps have a zip which is always at the side. Another difference is what these two garments are actually used for. As you probably know, a pair of chaps are usually made from waterproof and hard-wearing materials to keep the riders legs clean and protected. They usually extend up the leg and stop before they get near the crotch area; this is so that the rider can still feel the saddle below them whilst they ride. Half-chaps are similar except that they generally only reach as far as the knees. Which you choose is completely down to personal preference and the type of riding you do. For example, if you’re going to spend a lot of time riding in wet mud, a pair of full chaps may be advised.
Gaiters are similar to chaps but not exactly the same. They are usually used on more formal occasions such as events, rather than everyday riding. A pair of gaiters can be worn with any pair of riding boots to give the impression of a much longer boot. This can be useful if a rider is competing but doesn’t own a set of full length riding boots. Gaiters are still made of high quality materials, but in general won’t last as long as a pair of chaps if they’re used every single day.
So, the real answer is that the zip position is the key difference between gaiters and chaps, as well as when they are used. Of course you can wear whatever you’d like when you ride, so feel free to express yourself.