Cowboys primarily wear chaps to protect their legs from scratches and abrasions caused by contact with thorny plants and cacti. Cowboys typically wear western-style chaps, which come in the form of half-length and full-length pants. Regardless of style, cowboys wear chaps made of leather, which is heavy and durable enough to provide a layer of protection for legs and withstand the effects of the outdoor elements.
Chaps covering half of the leg, also called chinks, cover the top half of the leg and extend down to the knee. Riders living in warmer climates or those who need to perform other activities requiring greater freedom of movement, such as repairing fences and frequently mounting and dismounting, generally use chink chaps. Chink chaps feature a leather design, complete with a fringe covering on the exterior. They fit snugly around the thighs, and fasten around the waist with a belt. Chink chaps are made with waterproof materials to keep riders dry in rain and fog.
Classic full leg chaps provide more protection than chink chaps, and they extend from the waist down to the ankle. These chaps give riders more leg grip and cover the whole leg, which makes them ideal for riding in areas with heavy brush and in colder temperatures. Along with chaps, cowboys wear hats, bandannas and boots for comfort and protection.