The Hide Halterneck is a craftable middle-tier chest armor piece in RUST and is available to all players as a default blueprint. The current iteration can be traced back to the implementation of Leather as a component as early as August 2015.
The most commonly associated item set when used in comparison for the hide armor set is burlap, requiring roughly the same amount of Cloth as hide requires leather. In the case of the chest slot, it actually takes more cloth to craft the Burlap Shirt as it would leather to craft the hide halterneck or Hide Vest. In the apples, to oranges, defensive statistical comparison, hide halternecks, and burlap shirts are identical in every way.
Leather can be considerably harder to obtain than cloth. However, those killing animals for Low Grade Fuel will quickly find themselves with excess to spare.
While in an ideal world there are plenty of resources for all, but on a small map during a fresh wipe day, you make gear from what is available. Cloth, in the beginning, can be a rare resource, and being able to fashion gear from leather instead might just leave you with enough materials to craft things like sleeping bags.