How to Measure for Half Chaps (A Step-by-Step Guide)

I got my first set of half chaps when I was a kid… It was an overly large set that was handed down from another kid at the riding school where I was taking lessons. When wearing these chaps, I felt like I was a “real” rider.

If you’re in need of a little help shopping for your first set of half chaps, this article is going to tell you everything you need to know: what they even are, whether they’re a good choice for you, how to make sure you get the right size, and more.

Table of Contents

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    What Are Half Chaps?

    Half chaps are a set of leather coverings that protect the rider’s lower leg from friction, bumps, and injury while riding. A half chap fits the leg shape of the lower leg, which means they need to be shaped to the rider’s calf and height measurements for a comfortable fit. 

    Each half chap closes with a zipper, with Velcro attachments to secure the top of the chap. A snap fastener secures the bottom of the chap.

    Where and When You Should Wear Half Chaps

    Half chaps are traditionally worn in place of tall boots, and you can wear chaps over breeches, jeans, and other riding pants. When showing, children are allowed to show in half chaps, but adult riders usually need to show in tall boots.

    Half chaps are generally worn for more casual riding by adult riders. When correctly fitted, half chaps are comfortable, flexible, and durable. It is best to wear a half chap over a thinner pant as half chaps are meant to fit snug around the leg.

    Everyday riding is a great opportunity to wear half chaps as they protect your lower legs against friction and pinching by the stirrup leathers. The elastic panel of the half chaps also makes these much more comfortable than a tall boot or paddock boots when riding.

    Fitting Half Chaps Correctly: How to Measure for Half Chaps

    To get the perfect fit, especially when you’re not in a tack shop where you can fit half chaps, you need accurate measurements of your legs. Using the manufacturer’s size charts, you can then determine which of the different chap sizes may fit you.

    Parts of Your Leg to Measure

    To start measuring, you need:

    • a soft cloth tape measure
    • a pen
    • and paper

    Once you have those three things ready, you’ll want to measure the following parts of your lower leg:

    • Calf Width Measurement

    Using the cloth tape measure, start at the back of your calf, placing the end of the tape measure against your leg while holding your foot flat on the floor. Hold the tape measure along the widest part of your calf and wrap the measuring tape around the calf. This is your calf width measurement.

    Do not stretch the tape measure. It’s a good idea to wear the pants you would normally ride in to get the right size half chaps.

    • Length of Leg Measurement

    Next, you will need to take the measurement of your lower leg to determine how high the chap will reach. Chaps that fit under the knee and push into the joint will not be comfortable to ride in.

    With the feet flat on the floor, place the end of the measuring tape at the top of the inside calf, then stretch the tape down the inside leg until you reach the top of the ankle bone. You now have the length of the chaps. 

    Be sure to check if the chaps you want to buy are shaped or have a flat top. If shaped, you may have to follow the manufacturer’s specifications, though most half chaps will fit when the shaping is on the outside of the leg.

    • Remember to Add on Extra

    Each manufacturer will have their own style-specific guide and size chart that you should follow, especially when you need to add extra to your actual measurement. The extra may be to increase the flexibility of the chap or improve the comfort of the fit. Half chaps fit in a comfortable way, but they shouldn’t be so big that they drop slightly when zipped up.

    how to find the right size half chaps

    Using a Sizing Table or Chart to Select the Best Half Chap Size

    With the measurements of the calf width, lower leg length, and maybe even an extra measurement around your ankle bone, you can compare the different sizes on the size chart to find the size half chaps that work for you. 

    There are over 10 sizes available, including extra small to medium tall, medium extra-wide, and extra-large, so you should be able to find a size that works for you! Keep in mind when buying new chaps, each manufacturer will have different sizes. So while you usually might wear a large size, you may need a medium in a different brand.

    How to Check for Proper Fit for Half Chaps

    To check if your half chaps are fitting correctly, you can perform the following check:

    • With the chaps fitted, place both feet on the floor with your knees bent to a ninety-degree angle.
    • Ensure the chaps fit for maximum comfort by being flexible and not applying any extra pressure anywhere on your legs, ankles, or the widest point of the calf area.
    • There should be one finger width between the bend of your knee and the top of the chaps.
    • Insert the width of two fingers into the top of the chaps, ensuring there is enough space to move the fingers around in a loose manner.
    • If the chaps press on your fingers when checking, they are too tight. Your personal preference may mean you’d rather wear a longer half chap to accommodate your leg height or a loser half chap to better cover larger calf muscles.

    Important Notes on Ordering New Half Chaps Online

    When you’re ready to order your first pair of half chaps online, it can be daunting. After all, you can’t fit them before you buy. So it’s really important to measure correctly using the above guide. Keep in mind the material of your half chaps will probably stretch a bit with wear and everyday riding, so don’t size up too much when ordering.

    Other pointers include:

    • Having someone measure your calf width while you sit on a chair can help you measure the correct sizes for your new half chaps.
    • Do not choose the same size half chap as your regular riding boots or paddock boots. Fit half chaps to your leg, not your leg to them.
    • Check on the brand or retailer’s shipping, return, and exchange policies so that if you do need to return or exchange your chaps, you know what to expect.

    Best Half Chaps Guide

    Now that you know how to measure your half chaps, what to consider when ordering them online, and how to check they fit you perfectly, it’s time to find the best chaps out there.

    Best Leather Half Chaps

    best leather half chaps for adults

    The best leather half chaps I’ve worn are the Ovation Ladies Ribbed Suede Half Chap, as they are super comfortable, with ribbed backing for extra stretch and flexibility. The inside leg has a smooth layer of suede, which is fully washable too.


    • The suede leather chaps fit snug across the widest part of the lower leg because of the tailored zipper and ribbing
    • They have a snap fastener at the bottom of the chap to lock the zipper from opening over the area where there is a tendon located on the ankle
    • The inside leg smoothly slides along the sides of the horse’s barrel for close contact feeling
    • Reputable brand
    • Available in adult sizes and children’s sizes


    • Only available in five sizes, from extra small to extra large (no specialty sizes)
    • Ribbing can wear out against the stirrup leather

    Best Synthetic Half Chaps

    best vegan synthetic half chaps for adults

    Synthetic half chaps come in a range of materials, from imitation leather and mesh to neoprene fabrics. The Tough 1 Neoprene Half Chaps are manufactured using quality neoprene for the body of the chap and suede for the reinforced panel on the inside leg.


    • Full-length zipper and snap closure on the ankle tendon
    • Breathable and water wicking
    • Authentic true to fit design
    • Snug fit with the elasticity of the neoprene
    • Retains shape well
    • Durable
    • Fits under knee
    • It can be worn with breeches, jeans, jodhpurs, or riding slacks for everyday riding
    • Available in five sizes, from extra small to extra large


    • The neoprene may feel longer on the leg, possibly pressing into the bend of the knee if not ordered in the correct size
    • Not suitable for show riding where tall boots are required
    • The elastic strap that goes under the boot heel may rip or become worn out quickly if the chaps don’t fit well

    Best Children’s Half Chaps

    Choosing a set of chaps for a child can be extra challenging. For starters, children shoot up like weeds, so finding a chap that will fit correctly while still allowing your child’s growth spurt is a challenge.

    The Tough-1 Childs Half Chaps are ideal for growing teens and preteens. The fabric is durable and highly elastic. When fitted correctly, you won’t be able to keep your child from riding in these every day. 😉


    • Available in four sizes, from size 8-10 and sizes 12-14
    • Four vibrant colors are available, from light brown and chocolate to sky blue and navy
    • Ideally tailored for short legs
    • Includes elasticated ribbed section over calf area
    • Can be tight to fit over wider riding pants
    • Machine washable


    • The zipper is questionable and may easily become stripped

    The Final Chap

    Half chaps are an ideal addition to the horse rider’s attire, and while these are both functional and affordable, they are also a fashion statement that can brighten up your time in the saddle. You may even choose a few vibrant colors and make riding lessons fun.

    Adult sizes are ideal for daily riding when you don’t want to wear out your much more expensive tall boots or paddock boots. Wear your chaps with riding sneakers or with half boots. Say goodbye to leg rubbing and painful blisters. 

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