Strafe Cham2 Pants
Size Tested: Large
- 3L Polartec NeoShell fabric
- 115 gsm, 50D woven nylon face and flat tricot back
- Updated pattern for better articulation and freedom of movement.
- 17” hamstring vents
- Extra tall Cordura cuff guards
- Durable, watertight YKK Vislon Aquaguard zippers
- Velcro adjustable elastic waistband
- 2 zippered hand pockets
- Internal beacon pouch in the right hand pocket
Reviewer: 6’,0” 175 lbs
Days Tested: 10
Test Locations: Teton Pass, Togwotee Pass, & Grand Targhee, WY
We’ve already weighed in on Strafe’s updated Cham2 Jacket, and I’ve been getting time in Strafe’s matching NeoShell Cham2 Pants as well.
The Cham2 series is Strafe’s take on light and fast ski-touring outerwear that doesn’t sacrifice comfort. We’ll have reviews up soon of their more mountaineering-oriented Recon line, which features a more technical fit and feature set.
Like the Cham2 Jacket, the Cham2 pants feature Strafe’s “Active Fit.” It’s more generous than most other touring pants I’ve used, but not overly baggy.
I have a 33” waist and 34” inseam, so most pants that are long enough for me are too wide at the waist to wear without a belt. The Cham2 definitely has a bigger fit, and length-wise it’s spot on for what I would call a “Freeride Fit” — the pants are baggy enough to conceal any unwanted erratic leg movement, without making me look like a 90’s park rat that escaped to the backcountry.
The waist adjustment on the Cham2 is one of the best I’ve seen. Out of the box the waist was way too big, but a quick adjustment of the velcro tabs, and the pants have stayed up just fine without a belt — making these the first size Large ski pants I’ve been able to wear without a belt. Strafe’s combination of velcro and elastic hits the mark.
The Cham2 pants are both wider and longer than the size Large Trew Roam Bibs I was touring in before, and the Cham2 doesn’t look as out of place when pulling double-duty inbounds.
The Cham2 Pant is constructed out of Polartec NeoShell, just like the jacket. For an explanation of NeoShell, check out Sam Shaheen’s excellent Outerwear 201 piece. And for a comparison of NeoShell to Dermizax NX, check out my Cham2 Jacket review.
I won’t rehash those details here, but suffice it to say that we are still big fans of NeoShell around here, and so far, I’ve had no complaints with the Cham2. They haven’t wet out or soaked through (even on one very rainy spring tour) and they breathe well.
The Cham2 pants are a little stripped down compared to some other options on the market. They only have two zippered hand pockets, and the right hand pocket is dominated by an inner beacon pocket.
These pockets are big; you could easily fit smaller skins in them if you were so inclined. While they do drop far down the thigh, I didn’t notice my phone banging around in them while skiing.
The inner beacon pocket is my favorite I’ve used so far. It’s simply a stretchy mesh pocket sewn into the inside of the right hand pocket, with a lanyard loop beside it. It sits high in the pocket, which keeps the beacon from banging around on the way up. It holds my BCA Tracker 3 securely, and should work well with most other beacons on the market.
Compared to the beacon pocket on the Trew Roam, and MTN Equipment Spectre pants I’ve been using this season, the Cham2 does a better job keeping the beacon in a secure but easy-to-access location, while also keeping it unobtrusive while touring.
The only thing I missed was some sort of stuff pocket on the lower thigh, I really appreciate having a place to put my gloves and hat while touring without a jacket on.
Strafe call’s the Cham2’s vents “hamstring vents,” instead of “thigh vents.” That’s actually an important distinction. The Cham2’s vents are located further back on the leg, closer to the seat of the pants, than any other touring pants I’ve worn. They’re big enough that opening them dumps some serious heat, and since they are located farther back, you’re less likely to flash a pasty mid-winter thigh on the skintrack.
The Cham2’s cuffs feature a tall Cordura patch that, so far, has done a very good job resisting damage from erant ski edges. The outer cuff features a drawstring so that you can cinch it down if necessary, and the inner cuffs have an elastic band that fits snugly around all the boots I’ve tried it with (e.g., Fischer TransAlp and Travers; Roxa X-Face; Salomon MTN Explore). The cuffs are roomy enough that I can open and close the buckles of the Fischer Travers without needing to pull them up.
There’s a button system that basically folds the calves of the pants diagonally to shorten the cuffs when you’re not wearing ski boots. Here, again, Strafe’s attention to detail stands out. The button system is easy to use, hitches up the cuffs, and makes them less baggy, which helps keep them out of the way without needing to roll them up at all.
Based purely on fit, I classified the Cham2 pants as more of a freeride touring pant—it wouldn’t be my first choice for long days with technical climbs, or any mission with extended time in crampons. So while I reserved my ski mountaineering days for Strafe’s Recon kit, I did put the Cham2 through the wringer both in and out of bounds in the Tetons this spring.
They breathe well enough that I had no complaints on the way up; NeoShell combined with generous vents meant everything stayed nice and airy.
While NeoShell isn’t the most waterproof material out there, I didn’t run into any issues, even on a few wetter days, and one very soggy posthole after I dropped into the wrong drainage.
I also wore the Cham2 for several inbounds days, and while I didn’t notice the breathability so much there, the generous cut and the durable cuffs served me well.
Strafe’s Cham2 pants are a great compliment to the Cham2 jacket. While they’re not the best choice for more technical climbs, or mountaineering-oriented skiing, they perform very well as a day-to-day touring pant that can pull double duty inbounds. Their generous cut, well thought out features, and excellent beacon pocket make them a top choice for freeride-oriented touring.