Chaps and Chinks

Posted by John Brand on

Chaps, short for chaparajos, were originally worn by cowboys as protective garments.  Chaps are now used for both decorative and practical reasons. 

Chaps originated in the countries of Spain and Mexico. Riders wore them while working cattle, as they formed a protective shield over the rider’s legs and the horse's chest. While serving those purposes quite well, they were bulky and hard to work with; which is when today’s chaps were developed.

There are several types of chaps.  Originally, the most common type of chaps were batwings. These consisted of an outer layer of leather, typically they had three clasps to fasten them on the leg. Clasps were located on the top of the leg, behind the knee and one around the mid-calf area. Old time cowboys are typically pictured in batwing chaps.  While batwing chaps protected a cowboy’s legs from brambles and brush, they fell short in keeping a cowboy’s legs warm.

Shotgun chaps came along in the mid-twentieth century. These chaps are more fitted to each individual than the batwing chap.  Shotgun chaps are made from leather, usually with a zipper to zip up and enclose each leg. Shotguns chaps will help keep the rider warm in cold weather, as well as provide protection from thorns and brush.

Chinks, short for chinkaderos, came along in the latter part of the twentieth century.  They have become very popular. Chinks are quite practical for the working cowboy and for many recreational riders. Chinks are typically similar in style to shotguns and are cut off around the knee to mid-calf level, and typically have fringe around the outer edge. Chinks are more comfortable in warm weather, while serving both a practical purpose and a decorative purpose.

Another practical purpose of the leather chap is that they stick to a leather saddle or a bareback horse better than fabric pants do, and may help the rider stay in a saddle!

Buckaroo Leather has many styles of chinks and chaps to suit all cowboys and cowgirls needs, even for the little buckaroos!  They can be customized in many ways. Head on over to to view our options!

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