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.
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.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.