Strafe Cham 2 Jacket
Size Tested: Large
Front Zipper Length: 84.8 cm
- 3L Polartec® NeoShell® fabric
- 115 gsm, 50D woven nylon face and flat tricot back
- Updated ergonomic, helmet-compatible, three-point-adjustable fixed hood with moldable visor for optimal visibility
- Updated pattern for better articulation and freedom of movement with articulated arms
- Brushed inside collar and chin guard
- Durable, watertight YKK® Vislon® Aquaguard® zipper
- Large, 18” zippered underarm vents
- Removable powder skirt
- Large, pack-friendly chest pockets
- Zippered arm pocket
- Interior Mesh Pocket
- Interior zippered chest pocket with cord routing port
Reviewer: 6’, 175 lbs
Days Tested: 10
Test Locations: Teton Pass, Togwotee Pass, & Grand Targhee, WY
While we’ve reviewed some of Strafe’s resort-oriented outerwear, we hadn’t spent any time in their more touring-focused kit, the Cham jacket or pants. But Strafe’s founders, John and Pete Gaston, both have impressive backcountry resumes, and since they decided to update Cham line, we thought it was time to finally take a look.
The Gastons say that the Cham 2 series is Strafe’s take on light and fast ski-touring outerwear that doesn’t sacrifice comfort.
The size Large Cham 2 Jacket is the largest-fitting touring jacket I’ve worn. It’s longer and a little baggier than the Trew Wander, or the Sweet Protection Supernaut. This is not to say that the Cham 2 jacket isn’t true to size, it just feels more generously cut. It’s long but not excessively baggy, and the shoulders and arms don’t feel too baggy either, even when I’m only wearing a base layer underneath.
The Cham2 is basically the epitome of what I would call a “Freeride Fit.” It’s not quite as long and baggy as a dedicated inbounds jacket, but there is no hint of European sleekness about it. For me, that’s perfect. For backcountry jaunts that involve booters or mini-golf lines, I like a little extra material—it helps conceal my flailing limbs, and this more generous cut doesn’t look out of place pulling double duty inbounds, either.
The Cham 2 Jacket uses Polartec’s NeoShell fabric. For a brief intro to NeoShell and a direct comparison to Gore Pro, check out Sam Shaheen’s excellent article.
In my experience, the only material I’ve worn that is comparable performance-wise to NeoShell is Dermizax NX. While Dermizax claims to be 20k waterproof, NeoShell has a stated 10k rating. Out in the elements, I’ve found that both are generally more than adequate, and the most noticeable factor actually becomes the quality of the outer DWR. I haven’t had water penetrate either my NeoShell or Dermizax jackets, but I’ve found that the face fabric can wet out on either, particularly in higher pressure areas (e.g., around backpack straps).
As Sam explains, NeoShell is an air-permeable material, and I’ve found the Cham 2 to breathe very well. I’m happy touring in it in temperatures up to the high 30’s, and at least subjectively, have found that it breathes very similarly to Dermizax.
While Strafe bills the Cham 2 as a light and fast shell, it still has a pretty complete and functional feature set:
We’ll update this shortly with some photos, but the Cham 2’s two main chest pockets are well placed and cavernous. I can easily fit both of my climbing skins in one of them (even 192 cm long skins cut for a 116mm-waisted skis), and the zippers are situated so that they are still accessible with a pack on. The left chest pocket features an inner mesh phone pocket, with a port to the inside of the jacket. I really appreciate this, since it lets me run headphones inside my jacket but I can still access my phone from the outside without having to unzip the jacket. The only downside of the placement of these pockets is that it’s hard to stick your hands in them, but when I’m backcountry skiing, I’m not repeatedly trying to get in and out of this pocket anyway.
The exterior shoulder pocket works well for a pass if you ski at a resort that uses RFID ticket scanners. I usually just keep a tube of chapstick there.
The interior mesh pocket easily fits a pair of gloves and a buff, or a pair of goggles.
The zippered interior chest pocket easily fits a phone and wallet, and the headphone port from the outer pocket continues through this pocket and into the interior of the jacket.
NEXT: Vents, Hood, Etc.