Review: Harwich Soft Leather Half Chaps

Well folks, my Ariat half chaps finally bit the dust. They stretched and sank wayyyyyy too much, and it finally got to a point where I couldn’t get a spur on. Granted, they lasted five years, so good job Ariat! But unfortunately this led me on a hunt for a new pair, and since I didn’t love the overall bulkiness of the Ariat ones, I decided to check out a few other brands.

And then I saw this email in my inbox and said f*** it, why not:

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 7.44.04 PM.png

I immediately grabbed my measuring tape (doesn’t every horseback rider have one?) and started measuring my calves.

A quick note on measuring: you measure height from the floor straight to the bottom of your knee cap, and you measure width from the widest part of your calf with the tape SNUG against your skin, as if you were wearing a pair of tight half chaps. This really is key: if you don’t want loose half chaps/tall boots so you’re not swimming around in them, you need to make sure the measuring tape is tight against you (not like omg-it’s-going-to-leave-a-mark, more like ah-yes-I-have-leather-plastered-to-my-skin-like-a-rockstar tight).

After reading a few reviews saying they ran small, I ordered a regular height, medium width (which is what my measurements said I was in the size chart) and a regular height, large width. These also come in tall and various other widths if that’s your cup of tea.

When they arrived, oh my gosh, these were SO SOFT and sticky! The type of leather is basically a Parlanti dupe, so if you’re not looking to fork over a few hundred bucks for a pair of half chaps from them, this is an excellent alternative at around $80.

Because the leather type was so similar, I knew that these would need some breaking it to stretch, so whichever size I tried on was going to have to be tight. I tried on the mediums first, and it took about 4 minutes to get them on, and they were very tight. Left alone, there was maybe a 3/4″ gap between the two zippers when getting them on. That’s okay! I could get them on, and they would stetch. The larges fit perfectly, which means really they were too big, so I returned those.

Here was my break-in strategy:

Day 1: Wore the mediums around the house with just shorts on to get them warmed up. Pants were not an option yet.

Day 2: Wore them for a lesson with my thinest pair of tights. They were snug, and I could feel the blood throbbing in my legs, but it was also hot out, so maybe it wasn’t the half chaps? (It was definitely the half chaps)

Day 3: Wore them for another lesson with thicker tights, and they went on without me having to pull them tight. My legs weren’t throbbing halfway through the lesson, which means they fit and are officially broken in!

Can’t complain about the break-in time! In short:

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 7.58.31 PM.png

Pros:

  • break-in time is short
  • leather is buttery soft and has good sticky grip
  • sizing is accurate
  • the back of the half chap starts higher than the front, leaving plenty of room for spur placement
  • fits tight and elegantly around the ankle
  • inexpensive
  • overall tight, sleek, elegant, and practical

Cons:

  • couldn’t find them in stores, wish I could have tried them on before having to order two sizes, just a bit of a pain
  • the regular height is a bit on the short side, but not a lot. The talls would have definitely been too high
  • I’ve seen a few reviews that say these don’t last. I can’t comment on that yet, but their comments seem to reflect specifically on the stitching. My thoughts: It’s about $5 to repair stitching on half chaps in my area at a shoe/luggage/saddle repair shop. Not a problem so long as the leather holds up.

 

Cheers y’all

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