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.
QOGIR Snake Gaiters
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.
Now trust me, I have tried a bunch of other products for shin protection, and these two are the only ones I’ve liked enough to recommend.
If you guys have some different suggestions for products you’ve tried, leave a comment or email me! I’m eager to check them out.