I’ve noticed that I get a lot of questions about chainsaws and tree cutting equipment in person, but a lot of questions about chainsaw safety gear via this website.
I wonder sometimes if guys who use chainsaws feel like they have to measure up to the stereotypical “man’s man” – insert manly grunting and chest thumping here – and for that reason are reluctant to ask my opinion about safety gear when in person.
Regardless, I have published a few safety-related articles here on the site already. My gloves post is probably one of the most popular. And this kit is my go-to suggestion for Father’s Day or Christmas gifts for dad.
But you’re here to talk about shin guards, so let’s shift the conversation there.
Ya’ll already know I’m a grumpy old man. I still get around pretty well, but on hot summer days if I’m out messing around with friends or family, sometimes I’m reluctant to wear shorts. That’s because my shins look like an old chewed up dog bone. I guess I look my age for the most part, but my shins look like they belong to a 90-year old!
My shins have taken a beating over the years. Kicked, scratched, scraped, bruised, and yes (unfortunately) cut by a chain saw. They have all kinds of scar tissue, and they have gotten to the point where even the slightest little bump will break the skin, make a bloody mess, and create yet another scar.
While chaps are basically a requirement for anyone who is going to use a chainsaw, for the last few years I have taken it one step further and I now wear shin guards over my chaps.
No, I’m not trying to look like a safety wimp. No, I don’t want you to make fun of me or give me a hard time. It’s actually just the opposite. I put the gear on that I know I need, that I know is helpful, based on many (many) years of experience, and I go get the job done, period. Anybody that takes issue with that, well it’s the land of the free and that’s their right. But my results speak for themselves.
A good pair of chaps are very effective at reducing abrasions to your shins, and probably more importantly provide significant cut protection to your femoral artery and other very risky spots. But after banging my shin through the chaps, or getting rolled up on by some 500 lb round, or whacked by a peavey that didn’t stay where it was supposed to, I went looking for a hard-shell guard to go over the chaps.
I’ll cut to the chase. I have tried pretty much every shin guard there is out there. I’ve only found two that I like, and neither is prefect. But here are my picks.
Everest Chainsaw Shin and Knee Guard
[click here for Everest pricing]
I have a love/hate relationship with these Everest guards.
I love that they are lightweight. They have a rigid plastic (the orange part that you see on the front) that works really great for protecting against scrapes, gouges, bruises, and pretty much any shin abuse. I mean, basically, I give these things an A+ at protecting my shins.
When I am wearing these things, my shins are bulletproof!
What do I hate? Well, the straps are sort of thin. So by the time I cinch them up, especially over the top of a pair of jeans and chaps, they don’t seem sturdy enough. And that leads me to the buckles. The buckles, if you put too much tension in the straps, will pop loose. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens often enough for me to cuss them every now and then.
Other than that, these things are awesome. I’ve been through several pair. They aren’t very expensive, and well worth the money.
I know we are supposed to be talking about shin guards here, but I have also used these snake gaiters with pretty good results.
I do no like them as much as the Everest guards. One gripe is they fully wrap around your leg, which makes sense from a snakebite protection frame of mind. But that makes them hot and restrictive, more so than they need to be. I’m looking to protect my shins, not my calves.
Also, these do have a hard plastic polypropylene sheet, but it’s inside layers of fabric. It does work, but it doesn’t have the same tendency to make things bounce off as having the hard plastic layer on the outside of the guard.
An these Qogir gaiters are a little more expensive than the Everest guards. I guess that’s my only complaints, and it’s not much.
Any chainsaw can cause injuries. But the bigger the saw, the more powerful is, the larger and sharper the chain is, risks go up.
The more cutting I do, the more injuries I see. Part of that is just people being careless. Part of it is just people getting tired. Spending all day wrangling trees, limbs, brush, and a heavy saw can wear you out. The more fatigue sets in, the more likely you are to get careless, sloppy, forgetful, and BAM! an accident happens.
To each his own, but I am a big believer in buying the right safety gear. I work hard for a living, and I don’t have time to lay around in a hospital bed or on a couch somewhere with my leg propped up oozing puss. I’m not trying to be gross here, just blunt. I need to stay healthy and productive so I can pay the bills.
When I heard about Husqvarna’s safety kit, I jumped on the chance to buy one, try it out, and provide a review for you guys. They market this towards “landowners”. After asking around, I came to the conclusion they just mean it’s not really meant for professionals who do this for a living, day in and day out, all day long.
What is it, and what’s included?
Husqvarna part number 531300904 is their Chainsaw Protective Apparel kit. It includes the following items:
I will step through each component of the kit and review with you what I think…
Let me start off by saying I don’t care if it makes me look like a grumpy old man, I prefer to wear suspenders when I’m using a chainsaw.
Why are suspenders safety apparel, you ask?
About the time you get geared up and you’re sawing like a madman, you will be hot and sweaty, and your pants will start to fall off.
Who wants to drop the saw, take their gloves off, and hitch up their pants?? Nobody, that’s who. And especially when you have to do that every five minutes, it’s hard to get anything done.
Doing that one-handed, trying to keep a chainsaw balanced on a limb while you keep your pants from falling down and exposing the south forty with your other hand – that’s just not safe.
Yes, you can wear a belt. But when I get sweaty, the belt tends to absorb perspiration and stretch, which is just a recipe for droopy pants. Suspenders are the perfect solution to that. There is a reason you see so many pro chainsaw users wearing suspenders. There is a reason Husqvarna includes suspenders in this kit. Because they work, period.
These are great suspenders. The clips don’t give up or slip off. They are fully adjustable, and once adjusted they won’t slip or slide. They are plenty wide and solid feeling. If you carry as much crap in your pants pockets as I do, your pants can get heavy, and you don’t want a little pair of shoestring suspenders struggling to handle the stress.
These suspenders are made for men, who are doing a man’s job, and need a man’s equipment. If I had three thumbs I would give them three thumbs up, that’s how much I endorse them!
ProForest Woodsman Hi Viz Helmet
If I had to guess, I would say Husqvarna has the market cornered on chainsaw helmets.
If you aren’t a professional lumberjack, you may think you can get away with not wearing a helmet. And you may be right. But it’s not just protecting your noggin that is this helmet’s main claim to fame.
There are three other hidden little gems associated with this helmet, and I’m going to give you the scoop right here on ChainsawsToday.
Integrated into the helmet are ear muffs for hearing protection. There are some battery and corded chainsaws out there that are quiet enough that they don’t require hearing protection. The Greenworks 20312 comes to mind. But unless you have made the jump to battery, it’s an absolute necessity that you wear muffs.
These are 25 dB muffs, so they do a good job of keeping the noisiest of big, powerful saws down to a manageable level.
The second feature is the full-face visor. We’ll get to the glasses here in a minute, I’m talking about the large mesh visor on the front of the helmet. This thing is awesome. Regardless of whether you are wearing safety glasses (and you should be), invariably you stand a chance of kicking something up into your eyes. I couldn’t tell you how often this has happened to me. Debris tends to bounce up under the edge of safety glasses, or fall down between my eyebrows and the top edge of the glasses.
Well this visor stops it from happening!
Also, branches tend to whip around when you are working hard, and it usually doesn’t feel good when they slap you in the face. I’ve even had safety glasses knocked off my face, and I’ve seen a guy get busted in the nose before.
Now obviously this visor isn’t meant to stop a punch or block a brick. The mesh material is actually a bit flimsy, by design. But if and when it gets damaged, it is easily replaced, and Husqvarna sells replacement shields. And it’s ingenious when compared to a clear plexiglass shield, since we all know that would get scratched up before long and be difficult to see out of.
What the visor does well is keep sawdust from flying up under your glasses, or bouncing into your mouth and down your neck/collar. If you were wondering, the visor can be flipped up out of the way when you are inbetween cuts.
Hold on, I’m not done yet.
The third feature is the the little shield you see above the visor on the front of the helmet. This is a sun and rain shield. And it’s awesome.
Yes, it sucks if you have to work in a downpour or in the sweltering sun. It’s not like some magic guarding is going to stand behind you and hold an umbrella. You would be surprised at how much of a difference this little swoop of a shield makes.
Now it’s not very big, granted. Sometimes I had to angle my head a bit in order to have it properly shield my eyes from a rising or setting sun. But the fact that it’s there is really handy, and having used it I wouldn’t buy one without the feature.
Getting back to my original statement, it’s perfect that these three features are integrated into the helmet. Instead of having to store and put on all of these different elements, they are all strapped together and ready to go. That means you don’t have to chase them all over the cab of your truck, or try to find them in the bottom of your toolbox.
Xtreme Duty Work Gloves
If you’ve seen my chainsaw gloves review, you already know that I’m picky about my gloves.
Husqvarna’s Xtreme Duty gloves weren’t included in my review for one simple reason: they market them as work gloves vs chainsaw gloves. Now that doesn’t mean they can’t be used in chainsaw applications, and obviously Husqvarna has chosen to include them in this kit.
They are double-reinforced in some (high wear) areas, and they have an elastic wrist to keep them snug and in place.
These are good gloves – they fit well and they seem to wear well. I think they would’ve placed mid-pack in my previous review. I like them, and I think they make sense as a part of this kit, but I think I like the Husqvarna Chainsaw gloves slightly better.
Husqvarna’s apron chaps are designed with a series of straps and buckles to wrap securely around your waist and legs. The material is described as polyester with a PVC coating, and was developed to try and shield you from a spinning chain if accidental contact is made.
These things get really great reviews online. Some people have even posted photos of how the chaps ripped (in a sacrificial way) to save the operator from a chainsaw. People seem to be fiercely loyal to this brand and these specific chaps.
I really like them. They are a little pricier than some other chaps that are on the market, but this doesn’t seem like a good place to skimp on a few pennies. The only real drawback here is they can be hot. If you’re using them in particularly hot weather, they are just going to make you that much more miserable. But probably any pair of chaps is going to do that.
I will also point out that although they have their limitations, wearing some “armor-plated” chaps like these really lends me a sense of security. I guess it’s like a football player putting his pads on. Of course you can still get hurt, but getting outfitted up puts me in a serious frame of mind where I’m ready to get some work done while avoiding injury.
Some would say these are redundant if you’re wearing the helmet with the visor. But I’ve already covered that argument above.
You need to wear safety glasses when you’re operating a saw, and these fit the bill. They don’t blink neon lights, or tie your shoes, or sing piano bar tunes. They aren’t exciting, in other words. But they get the job done.
It’s nice that Husqvarna throws in the branded lanyard for the kit. I have a tendency to set things down when I’m refueling or taking a break, and it can be hard to find if you’re in the middle of the forest with lots of undergrowth. The lanyard keeps them around your neck where you can find them.
Convenience is king, and Husqvarna wins the prize with this “all-in-one” protective apparel kit. The glasses and the gloves are fine, but it’s the helmet and the chaps that seal the deal.
You should buy this kit, no questions asked. If you want to piecemeal the elements together, that’s fine, but I don’t know why you’d go through the trouble. Even if you already have chaps, or a helmet, or any of these pieces, I’m willing to bet your stuff is either worn out or soon will be. To me, it’s easy and it makes sense to order one box and get everything you need!
Too many casual chainsaw users make the mistake of thinking safety gear isn’t important. I wanted to make a post about the 10 best chainsaw gloves on the market in 2018 specifically to draw attention to this topic.
At a minimum, I would recommend the following safety items
steel toed boots
If you’re just going to the backyard to trim a small, annoying branch off a tree, and it’s only a few minutes worth of very safe work, you can probably disregard some of that equipment. But
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
Before we get to the actual product options, let’s talk about what I look for in a good pair of gloves…
Factors to Consider
I polled a few of the folks I know, and it sounds to me like people have been choosing gloves based primarily on 1) style, 2) availability.
This surprised me. Most of the guys I know who use a chainsaw, either casually or even for a living, tend to be what I would consider to be “macho men”. Not a group that I would think is overly concerned about how a pair of gloves look.
But I guess this is a bit like the whole “macho car” thing. Some guys prefer to drive a car or truck that looks a certain way. They want something that looks powerful, tough, etc. Same thing with gloves – they don’t want to be seen wearing gloves that look wimpy, or something that would make them seem like amateurs.
And in talking through the availability topic, I’ve realized people who shop in stores tend to buy whatever brand or type of glove the store they are in has available. If they are in Lowe’s or Home Depot, they tend to buy whatever is in stock at that store.
People who shop on the internet of course tend to have a wider selection, so availability becomes less of a concern.
Regardless of what those folks are telling me, I would NOT rank availability or style as the two most critical factors to consider. I’d say it goes like this…
I think chainsaw gloves need some element of abrasion resistance, as well as some element of cut resistance.
Cut resistance probably resonates with everyone. After all, we are talking about using a chainsaw with a chain spinning at thousands of RPM.
I mention abrasion resistance, because inherent in doing any kind of work with a chainsaw will be quite a bit of wood handling. That can be really rough on your hands. A good glove will help reduce scrapes, blisters, splinters, etc.
It’s great to protect our hands, but if you’re like me you hate that you lose so much of the tactile feel you need to do a job well when you wear gloves.
Ideally, a glove makes a good trade-off between maximum protection and dexterity.
Grip is critical. Not only do you have to keep control of the chainsaw, you will also probably be picking up wood and moving logs around. Depending on where you’re working, you may have to use a wheelbarrow or some kind of cart.
None of that is easy to do if you’re wearing a glove that has slick, low-friction surfaces on its finger pads and palm.
This is a fairly broad category.
Like shoes, wearing chainsaw gloves that are improperly-sized can actually be a liability. Too large and you risk losing your grip, or getting them caught in a spinning chain. Too small, and your manual dexterity and comfort are impacted.
Even if the glove is sized right, some gloves are more comfortable than others. I’m picky about where seams are inside the glove. Nothing wears a blister on me faster than a seam riding right on the tip of a finger.
I’ll also mention that I prefer a wrist closure with a strap rather than elastic. It’s not that elastic is terrible. I just feel like I can get the glove more secure with a strap that I can make as tight or loose as I want.
These likely aren’t super-cheap, junky gloves that you can throw away after each use. These cost a few bucks, and we are making an investment in our safety.
So we would prefer a glove that doesn’t fall apart after only a few uses. One pet peeve of mine is stitching – if a glove is made so cheaply that the stitching starts coming loose, and I see threads flapping around, I don’t like it.
Taking a cue from the “performance” section above, we want a glove that can endure some abrasion and some sharp edges. Also, moisture resistance is important, as we can’t be picky when we are in a tough outdoor environment with our saw.
I would rank cost as a factor. I guess everyone’s budget is a little different. I tend to be frugal, but maybe less so when it comes to safety gear.
I would never say “cost is no object”, but at the same time I’d rather have a glove that performs well than one that I can brag about buying on a blue-light special.
The last factor I would consider is style. Some folks would lump the brand of the glove in the same category.
As I mentioned before, I understand that many guys don’t want a glove that makes them look like a wimp or a newbie.
Since this is my lowest priority, I would consider a good style as just a bonus. It’s a factor in my ranking, it’s just not a particularly important one.
Now that I’ve gone over some of the things I considered when ranking gloves, let’s go over some of our options.
I’ll actually present these in a table according to rank farther down, so for now they are in no particular order.
Youngstown General Utility Chainsaw Gloves w/ Kevlar Lining
These are some very high-quality gloves.
The seams and stitching are basically perfect. They have a strap at the wrist for closure, which I like. Every inch of the glove is lined with Kevlar, which is almost overkill (in a good way).
Some folks consider these to be the bigger daddy of Youngstown’s general utility glove, but I would not necessarily consider them to be better.
They certainly look cooler, with the TPR overlays on top of each finger. Also, a reflective coating increases visibility, which is especially helpful if working in low-light conditions and/or with members of a crew.
They are actually four times stronger than leather! And NoCry claims they were certified to the highest EN 388 level 5 cut resistance standard.
They are machine washable. They have the consistency or feeling of a heavy-weight cotton, so they are very pliable and help with manual dexterity.
A couple of obvious drawbacks here. They do not provide a very good grip. And also, the weave of the fabric is such that they probably don’t provide as much protection against splinters as something like leather.
I tried these out with my chainsaw, and honestly I don’t think I can recommend them. They are just too slippery. They are fairly inexpensive, so if you want to give them a try, I don’t think you will be out much money.
Elvex Pro Chainsaw Gloves
If you aren’t a lumberjack or don’t cut wood for a living, chances are you’ve never heard of Elvex gloves. I don’t know what this company’s marketing budget is, but it must be small!
I came a cross Elvex as an option when one of my “pro” friends suggested them. And indeed, they do offer what they call a pro glove.
They take a different approach to glove design than some of the other options I have covered. They are a looser, more over-sized fit that other chainsaw gloves, almost reminiscent of something you would see in a welding glove.
I tried to be fair with my ratings. The Husqvarna and the Titan XT gloves were really close, and it might boil down to which you prefer the styling of.
Understanding Glove Ratings and Cut Resistance
I want to spend a few minutes trying to summarize what I’ve learned about glove performance and ratings for cut resistance.
The general idea is to:
provide a standardized way of testing gloves
provide a rating system so glove performance can be compared
Sounds like an awesome idea, right??
But as always, the devil is in the details. As awesome as the idea is, getting into the nuance of test methods and ratings may be more detail than you can suffer through. But let’s try!
As you can imagine, there are many different certifications and governing bodies for safety equipment.
The three most common references I’ve seen for gloves are:
ASTM ANSI Cut Resistance
EN 388 Gloves Giving Protection Against Mechanical Risks
EN 381-7 Requirements for Chainsaw Protective Gloves
Let’s take these one at a time, and explain what you can expect if you see them listed for a particular glove.
ASTM ANSI Cut Resistance
The ANSI/ISEA 105 standard was revised in 2016. In goes into detail about how a glove should be tested, and how it’s performance should be rated relative to cut resistance.
The standardized test uses a TDD machine to apply a variable load to a razor blade, which is dragged across the test sample. A sensor underneath the glove measures conductivity to determine when the razor cuts through the material.
The data from a test sample is then used to look up the performance level in a chart.
So if a glove was tested and was found to withstand 5000 g over one inch of blade travel, per the old ANSI standard it would be rated a 5. Per the new standard, it would be rated an A8.
EN 388 Standard
The EN 388 standard classifies glove performance according to four different factors. It’s easiest to show this as a chart.
Abrasion Resistance (factor)
Blade Cut Resistance (factor)
Tear Resistance (newton)
Puncture Resistance (newton)
Specifically for the cut test, it uses a standardized test called a couptest rather than the TDD test ANSI uses. The couptest is very similar to the TDD test, but it uses a round/rolling blade and considers how many times it can move back and forth.
EN 381-7 Requirements for Chainsaw Gloves
EN 381-7, just by its name, seems to hold the most promise.
It puts the glove in a certain class (Class 0 through 3) based on the speed of the chain it can withstand.
Also, it has two different designs, A and B. Design A specifies a protection zone on only the back of the hand. Design B requires protection on the back of the hand as well as the top of the fingers.
As if that’s not enough, one or both gloves can have either of these types of designs, and any of the Classes!
Sometimes glove manufacturers will list several different standards for their product, taking more of a “shotgun” approach. This is more prevalent in Europe.
Getting gloves tested and certified is expensive. At least in the US and Canada, the information can be hard to come by.
Furthermore, manufacturers may use different standards, or even different revisions of the same standard, making side-by-side comparisons of gloves difficult.
I prowled around the market looking for new gloves, or even improvements to old glove designs. I hit up the hardware stores, some of the dealer shops, and finally did some online shopping.
I bought a new pair or two, but found nothing of value to write up and report here.
I’m very happy with the selections and the rankings from the article I previously published. I stand behind them today, regarding any general market updates. If you have any opinions or think I should check something new out, just contact me!