La Sportiva Chalten Ski Touring Pant — Review

Post by blogger | December 24, 2014      
La Sportiva Chalten touring pants.

La Sportiva Chalten touring pants.

Looking to avoid hauling 2 pounds of extra fabric up the mountain, and becoming a wind sail victim once you’re there? La Sportiva’s Chalten pant sports a relaxed but still slim European cut (hint, the word “Spandex” is included in sales copy), with five pockets and “EctoShell” fabric that’s incredibly comfortable against bare skin due to a soft hand on the inside, along with a quiet softshell behaving exterior. Make no mistake, this is not a hardshell, but rather an easy breathing comfort piece that rules on the uphilling side of the backcountry snowpack.

While overall I like having plenty of pockets, I’d rather forgo the Chalten’s huge thigh pouches for longer zippered vents — the vents as they are only open 14 centimeters long. Saving grace, these pantaloons do provide the “American” style rear hip wallet pocket. While I see the point of eliminating the rear pocket for style issues as well as practicality (really, why sit on your wallet?), I can’t seem to make the switch to a tiny hip-pocket card and cash pouch like most of my European friends use. In the end, I think it’s best to keep the rear pocket as an option rather than nix it, so praise be to La Sportiva on that one.

The only problematic area of the Chalten pant, as with many other models and brands of ski touring clothing, is the boot-pant interface. In this case an attempt was made to provide an adjustable diameter gaiter using several folds of hook-and-loop. Bummer is probably too strong a word for how this behaves, so let’s just say it’s annoying to have the velcro constantly adhering to itself and anything else remotely furry. As an experiment I removed the velcro and the spats worked much better. Even then I found the gaiter elastic to be too tight for my TLT-6 boots in touring mode. Since the exterior cut around the boot is nice and slim, I ended up cutting the gaiters out for an overall quantum reduction in fiddle f’ing.

Rant: I’m not quite sure why the brain trust of the Italian clothing design industry can’t come up with a way to easily work pants over ski touring boot cuffs. Perhaps they design from the top down. Get it done right on the waist, nice pockets, knees looking good, beautiful color, oh, the cuff area? Time for a prosecco. Yes, the boot-pant interface is one of the great frontiers of clothing design. There, the gauntlet is down.

Cuff gaiter velcro and snaps are intended to make cuff diameter adjustable. Instead they're just a hassle.

Cuff gaiter velcro and snaps are intended to make cuff diameter adjustable. Instead they’re just a hassle unless you have smaller boots and can keep the velcro folded up.

Other features: Suspender attachments, internal waist size using yet more velcro (seems to work ok), no external belt loops, logos/branding is reasonably stated.

Overall, nice pants. I’d give them an A+ for comfort (wonderful fabric) and a B for design due to the gaiter velcro issue.

Some pants are sold with power strap slots.

Some pants are sold with power strap slots. I’ve never gotten these to work well, so I experimented on the Chalten. It’s a nice idea, but the way the strap is mounted on the boot has a lot to do with how well the slots function. More, the velcro on my straps kept getting caught on other velcro. Experimentation is ongoing.

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6 Responses to “La Sportiva Chalten Ski Touring Pant — Review”

  1. Midnight Grizzly December 24th, 2014 10:07 am

    Skinny Jeans!!! Totally Hipster.

  2. Matt Kinney December 24th, 2014 11:39 am

    Glad to hear a rant on cuffs aS those look real bad. Modify away. Velcro in snow is bad, besides the fiddling as you say. I like a baggy bell bottom design with just an interior stretch cuff. Quality, heavy duty stretch cuffs snag well on buckles so they stays put.

    No suspenders or belt?

    I like thigh pockets to stash a snot rag or a light balaclava, but not in the same pocket. 😉

  3. Lou Dawson 2 December 24th, 2014 2:42 pm

    Hi Matt, the belt is internal, velcro, but it works. There are suspender anchors, I installed my own suspenders.

  4. XXX_er December 25th, 2014 12:23 am

    I wonder if the choice of vertical openings of the pockets take up room that could be used to make longer vent opennings? My Arcerxy fury softshells have horizontal pocket opennings and the vents are more like 14″ long, they also have the thigh pouches which I like a lot

    IMO any pant should come with Suspenders

  5. Mark Worley December 25th, 2014 9:49 pm

    Powder cuff/ integrated gaiter is often too much. And I do like to carry my wallet in my rear pocket, but when seated I won’t sit on the wallet. As to suspenders, I have found some that work, and some that slide off my shoulders no matter how tight or loose they are.

  6. swissiphic December 26th, 2014 12:16 am

    Been backcountry skiing for quite a number of seasons in ski pants with the internal gaiter pulled up to the upper calf. never need it for skiing if i don’t crash 😉 and makes boot adjustments easy. use gaiters for bootpacking obviously.

    suspenders, mandatory. simple fixes for ‘sliding off shoulders’:
    1. criss cross the straps or;
    2. ‘normal’ strap orientation with a short velcro band to attach front vertical suspenders at around ribcage level.
    both systems work like a hot damn, short velcro system is more refined.

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