Top Questions About Chainsaw Chaps and Pants Answered

The use of chainsaw chaps or pants is important. Really important. Continuing cases of chainsaw injuries show that there is a real need to educate chainsaw operators on not only wearing chainsaw protection but also selecting the best chainsaw protective product for their situation, how to maintain chainsaw protective garments and other critical questions.

In this post, we review the most common questions asked about chainsaw protection and provide the answers that you need.

DefenderPRO chainsaw chaps
The DefenderPRO tough chainsaw chaps

#1 Are there particular jobs you can do in chainsaw pants that you shouldn’t perform in chainsaw chaps?

Yes, there are some jobs that should not be done in chaps; namely working aloft and operating a chipper, both because of the snagging hazard.  However, this question is really part of the wider debate of pants versus chaps, for which there is no right answer.  It entirely depends on the user’s needs, the environment where the operator is working, the policies of the employer and the industry regulations in place governing that work.

There are advantages and disadvantages for both:

Chainsaw Pants advantages:

  • No snagging hazard during chipping or climbing operations.  Garment is put on at the start of the day and any jobs can be performed during the day.
  • Garments are purchased individually so they fit correctly
  • Compliance is controlled as the employee comes to work safely dressed for the job
  • Garments remain functional as they are regularly washed and maintained
  • Uniform, professional look for a crew when all dressed the same
  • Less layering of clothing meaning it is cooler and gives better movement. (This advantage does depend on the brand of pants/chaps being compared.)

Chainsaw Pants disadvantages:

  • Require workers to clean and maintain their clothing which they may not be inclined to do.
  • Purchase cost is higher per person and each employee will need more than one pair
  • Cannot be taken off in hot weather if not performing chainsaw jobs

Chainsaw Chaps advantages:

  • Compliance can be easily checked in a drive-by inspection
  • Purchase cost is lower per person
  • Not being a personal garment, they can be used by different persons
  • Can be removed in hot weather if not performing chainsaw work
  • Open at the back which gives very good ventilation – this advantage is limited with calf wrap chaps

Chainsaw Chaps disadvantages:

  • Cannot perform certain jobs e.g. climbing, because of snagging hazard
  • Are not an individualised garment so may not be a proper fit
  • Downtime due to chaps being taken on and off sometimes multiple times during a day
  • No way of ensuring workers are wearing their protection when needed and are abiding by safety rules unless under constant supervision
  • Tendency to not be cleaned and maintained leading to premature wearing out.  Dirty garments contribute to poor overall look for company
  • Hotter in warm weather and less freedom of movement due to layering of clothing.  (This does depend on brand of chaps)

To sum up, the choice of whether to wear chaps or pants comes down to the employer or even the employee themselves.  Questions like who pays for the gear, the lifetime cost, employee productivity, the safety culture of the company, the type and nature of the work being done and the professional image that the company wants to display, are all factors that need to be considered.

Some types of operations e.g. landscaping work, where any chainsaw work during the day is very occasional, the choice is obviously chaps, as they are universal fitting and whoever is operating the saw can wear the protection.  Whereas the saw operator who is using a chainsaw most of the day will require protection constantly and therefore pants are the better choice.

#2. Are cut-resistant pants meant for climbers only?

Pants are definitely not meant for climbers only. They are a very good option for groundcrew who could be doing a variety of work, including cutting, chipping and general tree work.  Wearing pants means that they always have their chainsaw protection with them, they can maximise productivity and be professionally presented.

#3 How do modern chainsaw pants address the issue of heat when being worn in hot environs?

The common perception is that chaps are cooler than pants because they are open at the back.  There have been however, a number of advances in pants design in recent years that are changing that perception.

  • Lighter, cooler chainsaw protective fabrics

New chainsaw fabrics using highly cut-resistant fibers achieve excellent performance levels with less weight and bulk of material.

  • New technical outer fabrics

New technical fabrics are highly breathable. They actually wick moisture away. Fibers like COOLMAX and “Nilit Breeze” actively help to dissipate body heat.  They also offer 4-way stretch. By using stretch fabrics for the outer material, the wearer has far more freedom of movement.  Therefore he/she generates less body heat just in moving around and performing the work

  • Reduce weight

Technical fabrics offer very high tear strengths in relation to weight.  Lighter fabrics can then be used without sacrificing durability. The lighter fabrics, along with new pants design approaches mean that the wearer has less weight to carry around.

  • Construction features

Details like vents, with or without zips to close them off, or airflow eyelets can be built into the garments to help with cooling.

Chaps are worn over the top of other garment layers, while pants are the only garment required. Less layers means less weight and bulk with better freedom of movement which translates to the wearer feeling cooler and being less fatigued.

Zero chainsaw chaps
The Zero light and cool chainsaw chaps

#4 Do you think chainsaw chaps or pants are more comfortable?

Modern chainsaw pants are definitely more comfortable than chainsaw chaps.  There are no straps which rub, or that will get snagged on branches or machinery and no bulky heavy flaps of material that get in the way and restrict movement.

Modern pants will be lighter overall than chaps worn over the top of standard jeans or work pants.  The old idea that hot means safer is no longer true. Innovation in chainsaw fabric, the use of technical fabrics and new construction techniques means that lighter and cooler can actually be safer.

#5 How would you convince your customers that chainsaw pants are worth the extra cost over chainsaw chaps?

The two main reasons that we see people choose pants over chaps are the following.

  • Safety

Making chainsaw pants part of the uniform means that you no longer have to worry about employees using chainsaws without protection. This is the biggest reason for most people and companies making the switch to pants. Investing in chainsaw pants makes a big statement about the importance of safety.

Chaps have a higher risk profile. Wearing them without all the straps properly fitted and attached can result in the chap rotating causing injury. There is also a risk of chaps being worn while chipping. Finally, there is the risk of a worker taking the chance on a cut because it is too far to go back to the truck for the chaps.

  • A broader view of cost

The difference between buying a good pair of work pants and chaps is not that much less than chainsaw pants. There are also chainsaw pants designed for ground workers that are lower cost. If you average the cost difference over a year, is the cost increase meaningful? Especially if you consider the productivity losses resulting from having to take the chaps on and off.

For example, let’s assume a worker can achieve even 12 mins extra productive work per day just by not having to take chaps on and off, by being able to work better because he/she is not fatigued as much and by working quicker because he/she can move around easier.  This equates to 1 hour per week or 52 hours per year.  If we use 1 year as a typical lifetime of a garment and $50/hr as a charge-out rate for that worker, then pants could deliver savings of over $2,600 per year. The extra cost of 2 pairs of good quality pants have well and truly paid for themselves.

Ownership is another factor. Pants are an individual’s responsibility with accountability. Chaps are a shared responsibility and often are treated poorly. The result is a shorter life with a higher annual cost with more replacements needed.

Zero chainsaw pants
The Zero cool and lightweight chainsaw pants – Stef White in Queenstown, New Zealand

#6 Are chainsaw pants effective when using battery-powered chainsaws?

This question applies equally to both chaps or pants.  Testing we have done shows that our Clogger “Arrestex HP” chainsaw protective fabric works effectively with electric saws.  This fabric is used in both our chaps and pants.  It utilises cut-resistant fibres that stop a chainsaw by ‘braking’ and is not reliant solely on jamming up the sprocket area.  One of the concerns with electric saws is that they don’t have the same drive sprocket mechanism as gas-powered saws, therefore chainsaw protective fabric won’t work.  Arrestex HP, with its dual function performance, overcomes this difficulty.

Just as there is a huge range of gas-powered saws of widely varying power levels, running different chain sizes on different bar sizes, there is also a growing range of electric saws with different voltages and consequently torque levels.  No one is going to test garments using every available option which is why a national standard has been adopted by various countries using one very specific test method.  The current standard for North America, ASTM F1897, or that for Europe, EN381, have been in place for many years and products that comply to these standards have prevented many injuries.

It is important to note that any product that meets a standard does not purport to guarantee prevention of injury but rather to reduce the risk of injury.  Even if in an accident there was a cut-through, the injury received would have been far, far worse had the user not been wearing chainsaw protection, so the garment has done what it was designed to do. 

Our message is to not stop wearing pants or chaps just because you are using an electric saw.

#7 Do chainsaw pants wear out faster in normal tree work than normal work pants?

In general, fabrics utilised on chainsaw protective pants are selected for their toughness, knowing that the situations they are used in are very hard on clothing.  Fabrics used are typically constructed from high strength synthetic yarns with excellent tear-resistance and abrasion-resistance properties.  Pants designs will often include high abrasion resistant panels in wear areas.  So, chainsaw-resistant clothing is designed to be fit-for-purpose and to last in the environment it is used in.

On the other hand, ordinary work pants are designed for general use and not for rigorous tree work.  Fabrics used are often heavy cottons which do not have the tear strength or abrasion resistance of polyester, nylon and other manufactured yarns.  Ordinary work pants are unlikely to be made from stretch fabrics which, given the amount of movement that a tree worker needs, causes strain on the seams, the knees and other areas which have to ‘give’ to accommodate all this movement.

We think it is reasonable to conclude that chainsaw pants will last longer than non-cut-resistant pants.

Arcmax FR chainsaw pants
The Arcmax arc rated, fire resistant chainsaw pants

#8 Do I really have to discard my garment if it is cut by a chainsaw?

The chainsaw protective fabric in pants works exactly the same as chaps, so any saw cut renders the garment ineffective and it must be discarded.  There is no way of repairing the inner fabric once it is cut.

When a chainsaw hits the protective pad, fibers get pulled out of the weave from the top to the bottom and from side to side in the area where the cut occurred.  These fibers are dragged into the sprocket area, jamming the saw, all in a fraction of a second!  Those fibers can definitely not be stuffed back inside and the outer cover stitched up.

While it may seem wasteful to throw away what is an expensive garment when it has been cut by a chainsaw, the ability of that garment to stop a second accident should it occur, is very low.  It is no longer compliant to the standard and must not be worn.

#9 I use a big saw and want the highest rated chainsaw protection available

There is a lot of confusion about chainsaw protection. Do 8 layers outperform a 6 layers? Are products that comply with the European standard Class 1 rated higher than ASTM F1897 certified products? Here are some answers.

Layers are important but more important is the composition and/or the thickness of the layers. The performance of the chainsaw protection depends on the material used. A six layer fabric with a high percentage of cut resistant fibers like Arrestex HP would likely outperform an 8 layer fabric made from standard fibers.

As to European vs North American chainspeed ratings, you can not directly convert metres per second to feet per minute to compare products certified to the standards due to the different test methods used. However, Class 1 European products tested to 20 m/s, or products tested using the same method like those in New Zealand and Australia, are likely to test significantly higher than the minimum 2750 ft/min chainsaw threshold required in the US or the 3,000 ft/min Canadian requirements.

So, if you are using a big saw and want the highest possible protection then select a garment with the highest chainspeed rating within the applicable standard.  Protective fabrics made using cut-resistant fibers, although more expensive will normally provide better protection.

One caveat.

With chaps, remember that the attachment system is also important. There is no point in having a ‘bullet-proof’ chainsaw protective pad if it is not held in place adequately!  The more straps holding it in place on your leg the safer it will be.  Our experience over many years has proved that having 5 straps makes the attachment system more effective especially with Apron chaps.

Summary

Choosing to wear chainsaw chaps or chainsaw trousers depends on your unique circumstances and needs, there are no right answers.

Be aware of the environment you are working in, the policies of the employer and the industry regulations in place governing that work

The types of hazard you will encounter and the freedom of movement you expect might point you in one direction or another, but at the end it is up to you.

There is no ‘best’ in chainsaw protection, but there is a best choice for you and for your work environment.

Clogger to Restart Manufacturing and Full Distribution

New Zealand will be moving from Level 4 lock down to Level 3 at 11:59 PM Monday April 27.

We will be restarting manufacturing and moving to full distribution operations on Tuesday April 28 subject to health guidelines.

We are currently planning the production schedule. Please let us know if you have urgent needs.

Our team is available via email and phone if you have any questions.

Stay safe.

Zenitec Classified as Essential Service

Zenitec restarted limited manufacturing and shipping for essential services while taking precautions as required by New Zealand’s Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions.

We previously shut down on site operations and enabled remote working for our employees.

The number of people needed for our manufacturing and supply operations will be kept to a minimum. Our aim is to create a work environment that is as safe as possible for the people whose jobs require being on site.

Our manufacturing and distribution team is following our PPE, Hygiene and Safe Distance Policy in line with the current Ministry of Health guidelines.

These steps include:

• Maintaining a safe distance of greater than 2 metres between team members

• Following good hygiene practices of hand washing and sanitising

• Ensuring that team members who are unwell stay away from the workplace

For more see https://covid19.govt.nz/.

Introducing the Clogger Colouring Book

New Zealand is in lockdown for two weeks more weeks and the Clogger team knows how hard it is to keep kids entertained and we know that it’s even harder for all the older outdoorsy forced to stay at home.

So we decided to publish our first ever (and probably only) colouring book! For young and old, lovers of bold colours or darker ones, this is your chance to recreate Clogger’s most famous PPE in your favourite colours.

Stay safe everyone!

Note: Make sure to share your art with us on social media!

Zenitec Shut Down Due To COVID-19 Alert Level 4

New Zealand will be shutting down effective 11.59 pm on Wednesday (New Zealand time) as part of the move to the level 4 restrictions to contain COVID-19. Part of these restrictions is that non-essential businesses must close for the next four weeks.

After today, we will not be able to manufacture or ship non-essential products until the level 4 designation is lowered. We will continue to manufacture on an as needed basis for our Nortec medical line and are looking at opportunities to support the healthcare supply chains in any way we can.

If we receive critical orders from customers that the New Zealand government recognize as essential businesses, we will do our best to reopen production in a limited way in total compliance with our COVID-19 response plan to support these customers.

Our team will be available over this time via email or phone if you have any questions.

All the best and stay healthy.

Lincoln Smith
Director
Zenitec – home of Clogger, Harvestwear and Nortec Medical

Update on COVID-19

To the Clogger family,

The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us.

At Clogger, we are safety first, and we do what we do with the belief that we can improve lives by providing better chainsaw protection. Our goal is to make sure that our customers and retail partners can continue to access our chainsaw protective products through this crisis.

We are doing this in the following ways.

Giving Back

We are planning to go ahead with our Pink Zero campaign to support student and recently graduated women arborists.  The new products that we have been working on will still be launched. Upgrades and improvements are still being made. We will get through this crisis and we want to make sure that we continue to build for the future.

Pink Zero Chainsaw Pants

In Our Facility

New Zealand is still relatively isolated from the Convid 19 crisis however we expect that to change.

Currently, we are monitoring everyone’s health and increasing our sanitizing procedures in addition to ending international travel by employees. We will increase precautions based on expert advice.

Our goal is to maintain our production schedule though this may not be possible.

For Our Users and Retail Partners

We know our users depend on Clogger products and some work will continue through the crisis. Currently, we have access to all required materials and our freight channels are still open. We will let you know if that changes.

To help our retail partners and to provide additional support for our end users, we are going to run a series of offers where we give additional Clogger products with purchase. Expect to see this rolled out over the next few weeks.

Looking Ahead

This is a period of historic challenge. We are all indebted to the first responders, doctors, nurses, researchers, public health experts and government workers around the world.

We will do our best to communicate as things develop.

Stay safe.

The Risks and Costs of Hot Chainsaw Pants and Chaps

Arborists are expected to work in environments which experience extremities of weather. In fact, some arborists consider pushing themselves in extreme conditions as proof of their toughness and ability. Wearing hot chainsaw pants and chaps historically has been part of the challenge.

However, during the summer months, the temperatures experienced may present a clear and present danger to the arborist.

Even in the colder seasons, in locations not normally associated with high average temperatures, the effect of heat can be both significant and pronounced.

Continue reading “The Risks and Costs of Hot Chainsaw Pants and Chaps”

The Clogger Guide to Global Chainsaw Protection Standards

There is a lot of confusion about the chainsaw protection standards and how they vary around the world.

Type C, Class 1, chainsaw fabric layers, chainspeed, test methods ….

Understanding the global chainsaw protection standards is becoming increasing important as arborists explore work opportunities in different countries and as arborist retailers start shipping outside their home country.

We thought that it was time to put a comprehensive guide to chainsaw protection standards together.

Continue reading “The Clogger Guide to Global Chainsaw Protection Standards”

25 Years of Innovation in Chainsaw Protection + 500,000 Products Made

It’s Clogger’s birthday!

25 years ago, the first Clogger chainsaw protection product was produced.

And just to top it off, we recently made our 500,000th product – a pair of Zero chainsaw pants!

Starting with simple products made from basic materials, Clogger has evolved into highly technical apparel platform with one of the largest range of chainsaw protection products globally.

We thought that this was an excellent time for a bit of a review of Clogger including key milestones and a little of the Clogger back story. We’ll also give you a hint as to what the future might hold.

Of course, you are welcome to visit us anytime in Invercargill, New Zealand and see Clogger live in action!

Continue reading “25 Years of Innovation in Chainsaw Protection + 500,000 Products Made”