This time of year I field a lot of questions about snake chaps and snake gaiters. Poisonous snakes are nasty creatures and, knock on wood, I hope I never encounter one in the field. We used to live in Texas and I hunted south Texas quail many times. I always wore snake protection, and always had half an eye out for rattlers.
But even if I don’t encounter one, I will always be prepared in the event that I do. While snake protection can be expensive and/or uncomfortable to wear, it’s great insurance and a lot cheaper than the medical bills from a snake bite (assuming you survive to get medical treatment).
As far as snake protection goes, there are 2 basic styles: snake chaps and snake gaiters. There are also some snake pants on the market, but I no longer carry them on Uplanders.com – I found the quality lacking so decided to not carry them.
Historically, there was only one option for snake chaps – a Cordura-type outer material with polycarbonate (hard plastic) panels sewn into the legs of the chaps. This type of snake chap has been on the market for many years now and there are a few different manufacturers that make this same type of snake chap.
A few years ago, a new company entered the snake chap market with a product called Turtleskin SnakeArmor snake chaps. Turtleskin invented a proprietary material that is extremely puncture resistant. Apparently this material was developed for some sort of air bag/cushioning system for NASA spacecraft, but they soon found other applications for it – including snake chaps. Pros and cons of the Turtleskin Snake Chaps are:
Turtleskin Snake Chaps Pros:
• Extremely light weight (only 1.45 lbs for the pair of Total Protection chaps)
• Breathable – much cooler than the traditional style snake chap, especially in warmer southern states
• Flexible – they aren’t bulky or binding, leading to increased comfort as well
• 3 color options: tan, sage or camo (a ‘briar’ camo pattern – not like your typical Mossy Oak-type pattern)
• Made in the USA
Turtleskin Snake Chaps Cons:
• Price is higher. There are two styles – total protection chaps and knee-below protection chaps. Turtleskin forces retailers (like myself) to show their MSRP price of $230 on the total protection chaps and $147 on the knee-protection chaps. However, if you order with me by phone (800-701-2761), I can give you a pretty good discount.
• I have had a couple of these returned for repair because the cuff material can fray with heavy-use. That said, Turtleskin has repaired these chaps in every instance at no additional cost to the customer. Turtleskin has good dealer support and they stand by their product.
• The facing material that covers the snake-proof layer is a regular fabric and can rip/tear or can be cut by sharp objects (like a stiff briar barb). The snake material doesn’t get penetrated, but the outer fabric has been cut in a couple cases I know of. Again, Turtleskin has repaired these couple chaps that have had this problem.
I have also included a video here from Turtleskin that shows their SnakeArmor in action against a rattlesnake. Pretty impressive stuff!
I mentioned previously that the snake chaps that have the Cordura-type outer material and hard plastic panels sewn in – what I call traditional snake chaps. For this type of chap, the brand that I like best – the one that I carry and sell on Uplanders.com – is called Snake Chapz (manufactured in Oklahoma by Crackshot Corp.). Here are some of the pros and cons of the Snake Chapz:
Snake Chapz Pros:
• Very heavy-duty and durable – 1000 denier nylon (Cordura-type material)
• Fairly light-weight (2.9 lbs for a pair of Snake Chapz)
• Low cost (only $79.95 on my site Uplanders.com)
• Available in 6 different sizes and 7 different colors
• 100% guaranteed snake proof (backed by $1 million insurance)
• Made in the USA
Snake Chapz Cons:
• Due to the nature of the material and construction, they can be bulky and binding to wear (not terribly comfortable)
• These snake chaps don’t breathe well and they get very warm, humid environments
JT’s Two Cents:
Of the two types of snake chaps, I sell a lot more of the Turtleskin snake chaps – and within Turtleskin, I sell a lot more of the “full-protection” snake chaps than I do the “below-the-knee protection” chaps. While the Turtleskin snake chaps are more expensive, the comfort is unbeatable. Most people I talk to that are buying snake chaps are active – either hunting or hiking or working on the ranch, etc. Many times, comfort becomes a priority over cost when the level of activity is factored in. And most of the snake chaps I sell are in the southern and western states, which get pretty warm during snake season, so breathability and coolness become pretty important as well.