Bull riders use a lot of gear including a protective vest, gloves, rosin, chaps, bull rope, boots, spurs and a cowboy hat. In some situations, riders are required to wear a helmet, although more often than not, the cowboy hat is worn.

Bull riding is a dangerous sport with high risk of injury to participants. Bull riders wear leather chaps to protect their thighs and calves. They wear a protective glove to guard against rope burn, and they apply rosin to the glove to obtain a better rip. The spurs on the cowboy boots help the rider stay balanced. The cowboy hat adds no head protection, so as of 2014 professional bull riders are increasingly starting to wear helmets, even when they are not required by the rules of the competition.

The bull riding vests are worn by the majority of the world's riders. However, according to ESPN, there is some question as to whether further protections need to be added to the vests. As of 2014, there have been no significant updates to the technology or the materials used in the bull riding vests since their inception in 1993. The vest was created to spread out the blow from a bad hit when a bull throws the rider to the ground.