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Chaps, Chinks or Armitas - and why?

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  • Chaps, Chinks or Armitas - and why?

    I was wondering what everyone wears and why? I'm looking to buy a new pair and was hoping for some suggestions on what you feel is the best choice and why. Also, who do you think makes the nicest chaps/chinks/armitas?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Full chaps, semi custom from Smart Pak. I ride in them year round, and when we are in Texas it gets HOT, but I don't feel that the chaps make it much worse. Beats leg rubs.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


    • #3
      What do you want them for? Grip? Protection from heavy brush? Looks?

      I hate chaps and only wear them when show rules tell me I have to. I know other people like the extra 'grip' they provide. That has never been an issue for me in a western saddle. TBH aside from english riders I have never, ever seen anyone in chaps outside of the show ring.

      If I'm doing overgrown trails, I have a pair of chinks. I much prefer the comfort and freedom of movement in the chinks. They only go on for known heavy brush areas though, no point in wearing them in an arena or ambling down a well-maintained bridle trail.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the replies Angelico and gatedincali. I have full chaps that I wear mainly for protection from brush, bugs and stuff that gets on you when you're handling livestock (snot, manure, blood). It's time for a new pair now though.

        I've heard that armitas are more comfortable than full chaps or even chinks - something to do with the way they fit and fasten at the waist??


        • #5
          I have full chaps that I wear when I show, and chinks for trail riding. I ordered the chinks from OutWest Saddlery in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. They are beautiful, and exactly what I wanted. They were great to work with, too. I picked the color, the conchos, tooling, etc. My legs are really long from the hip to knee, so off the rack chinks didn't come down far enough on me.

          I'm really interested in trying the Ranch Horse classes, so I'll wear my chinks for those, too.


          • Original Poster

            saddleup - I just took a look at OutWest Saddlery's website. Wow, they make beautiful chinks. Nice to know that they're good to work with too. Thanks so much for the great information.

            Does anyone wear armitas? Can anyone tell me what they like or don't like about them?


            • #7
              A quick look-up found this site, which covers most of what I had heard on the armitas. They don't unfasten easily, often are laced to fit, at least the originals were and many used by working folks. Nothing to break, fit like leather pants. Though they may look like chinks, the leather is cut in another shape to fit the legs, as mentioned on this site. They also were made and used in drier locations, so how they were designed would be different than places with wet or cold.


              I guess heat would be a factor in my choice of chaps, chinks, when you are doing real work with livestock in the brush. Gets real hot with full coverage chaps in hot locations. Might be something you want to try, using chinks, to find out if they can do the job for you, wherever you are located. You do have less folded at the knees, than chaps have. But you lose some of that leg protection, with less leather on your lower legs.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the link and info goodhors! I was thinking my next pair of working leggings might be armitas since they're supposed to be comfortable to wear if you get on and off your horse a lot. I found some information on armitas on an online article in Western Horseman. The article is about a couple with a clothing and tack business who make a cross between chinks and armitas called charmitas;

                All cowboys are familiar with shotgun chaps. They offer great leg protection, but they can make mounting a horse difficult, and in hot weather they’re about as much fun to wear as plastic wrap. Chinks offer almost as much protection as shotguns, but they, too, are often made out of heavy leather, reducing their comfort. Armitas, which is Spanish for “little armor,” were the Californio vaqueros’ solution.

                Made out of lightweight leather, usually deer or elk hide, armitas were more comfortable and less constricting than chaps or chinks. Their drawback was that they were made without any buckles, because the vaqueros had little access to hardware. Instead, they were stitched to fit, and the horseman had to step in or out and hope his size didn’t fluctuate too much.

                To combat these problems, Dave came up with the idea of “charmitas,” combining the looks, flexibility and comfort of armitas with the safety, ease and durability of chinks. They’re made out of lighter leather than that used for chinks or chaps, but the legs fasten with straps and buckles, just like chinks, and the belt can be made either with a buckle or with the traditional wrap-and-tie strap.

                If you spend long days in the saddle, chaps or chinks will serve you well, and Horsewright Clothing and Tack makes beautiful versions of these, also. But if you’re like most cowboys, you spend your share of time mounting and dismounting your horse to do ground work, or get on several horses a day. Charmitas will make your life much more pleasant.
                I also think I read somewhere that armitas were more comfortable on your hips than either chaps or chinks because of the waistband, but I can't find where I read that now.

                And as you pointed out, heat is a concern. I've worn my full chaps in 90+ days, but those are not common where I live. We only get a few of those really hot weeks in the summer. Winter though is brutal.


                • #9
                  I wear chinks; I like the length better than chaps, but I do like chaps as well. Armitas never piqued my interest. My chinks are cheapy ones off of ebay - I needed some QUICKLY to show in and they were available. When I have the cash, I"ll get some fro Lost Buckaroo. They make awesome chinks. They also make armitas!


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks kewpalace! I was thinking of having Lost Buckaroo make a pair of shotguns for me with the armita apron like the ones on their website. But now I think I'll go with armitas. I am not as flexible as I used to be and getting on and off a lot is harder with full chaps anymore.


                    • #11
                      Sounds great!! You'll have to post pix of what you get when you get them ... I know I'd LOVE to see them!


                      • Original Poster

                        I'll definitely post pics when I have them made. Might be a while though, since I have to finish paying for the vacation I'm on first!


                        • #13
                          What is the difference between chinks and chaps? This is all new to me.
                          Ride like you mean it.


                          • #14
                            Chinks are shorter, down over the knees, but not the ankles. Often heavily fringed on the lower edge and side of the leg.

                            Chaps cover the entire leg, hip to boot feet. Styles could be shotgun that fit snuggly with zippers, or batwing type, that fasten around the leg more loosely with straps and snaps, will have a large flap from the knee down.

                            Click on the links in posts above, for good examples of chinks, aramintas, and you will probably find various types of chaps in those sites too. Photos are clear for comparing. Certain activities call for certain styles of chaps, and seldom do the chaps get used in other kinds of horse activities. Batwing chaps are seen on Rodeo cowboys riding rough stock, cutting horse riders, not Buckaroos.


                            • #15
                              Thanks. I just posted a slideshow...one of the riders was wearing chinks.
                              Ride like you mean it.


                              • #16
                                Chinks or armitas allow the wearer to work and walk more comfortably off the horse. If you are branding or doctoring, and will have to kneel, chinks or armitas will be preferred. Off the horse, walking or kneeling,regular full chaps bind at the back of the knee, and can be hard to walk in. So they're more useful if you are riding, and not getting off to do other things.


                                • #17
                                  I gave up showing years ago and only ride for enjoyment now. I love chaps. DH and I ride motorcycles and if it's chilly I think nothing of wearing my motorcycle chaps to ride the ponies in. Use what you have...


                                  • #18
                                    In our region, chaps tend to be working chaps with a pocket or even two.

                                    Chinks didn't used to be common, but the past 30 years we see more and more of those.
                                    In that "Lost Buckaroo" link, those chinks are way too large, they should fit where they bend right at the knee when riding and have a few inches only below, not go half way down the lower leg.
                                    Most with fringes also are only a few inches, not those very long ones.

                                    Any kind of protection works for running thru brush and when being kicked or, well, other too when you are on the North end of a South bound calf you are working with.

                                    Here is one local saddlemaker with some:


                                    Some he made, the plain type most working cattle use and a real fancy one:
                                    Attached Files


                                    • #19
                                      How about waterproof chinks?

                                      I live in the rainy PNW where wet thighs are a PITA. You can rainproof other parts of your body and have an ok time, but cold wet thighs to be covered with horse hair afterwards... and then taking that mess into your truck. Just No.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat


                                      • #20
                                        leather chinks would do it, mvp.
                                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey