La Sportiva Cham Down Jacket
Size Tested: Medium
Stated Weight (size M): 660 g
- Down: 100% European white goose down (700-fill-power)
- Down Treatment: Repeloff Nano Super DWR
- Reflective seams
- Internal pocket with headphone access
- Adjustable draw cord waist
- Single hand adjustable hood with visor
- Microfleece chin guard
- 1 chest zip pocket
- 2 inside zip pockets (right side is large for integrated stow bag)
- Fabric: Main: 20D Ripstop; Lining: 30D Tafetta
MSRP: $299 (can now be found for much less)
Reviewer: 5’ 11”, 140 lbs
Test Duration: 5 months
When I was in search of a new puffy earlier this year, La Sportiva’s Cham came highly recommended by some colleagues in the outdoor education world. Curious, I decided to check it out. I was intent on wearing it down to nothing, and after experiencing less-than-impressive durability from my previous puffy, I figured I wouldn’t have to try that hard to accomplish that.
I have the sort of build common among many climbers: taller and thin, with wider shoulders. I stand at 5’11”, and weigh 140lbs. So keep this in mind as I discuss the fit of this jacket. With the Medium Cham, I noticed that the length of the torso was just about perfect, with the tail coming down almost to the tops of my hamstrings, and the front slightly higher across my hips.
The arms were slightly too long (even for my +1 ape index), but the elastic wrists prevented this from becoming an issue when I needed my hands free. And the length of the arms made moving in the jacket unrestricted, though the cuffs got dirty more quickly than the rest of the jacket, if that matters to you.
All in all, I’d say that the fit of the Cham Down Jacket is a climber’s dream.
The one-hand adjustable hood, elastic wrists, and adjustable waistline make sure that the fit stays snug, with few opportunities for cold air to seep in. Movement feels unrestricted, sight is kept unimpeded by a wire brim in the hood, and sensitive areas like the chin and the backs of the hands are protected with nano fleece lining.
Weight and Fill
The fill power of the insulation is always an important consideration when looking at down outerwear. Fill power, which describes how much space (in cubic inches) is taken up by an ounce of down, is a good way of connecting insulating ability and weight (and frequently cost as well).
There are many 800+ fill-power jackets on the market (a few prominent ones are the Rab Infinity Endurance Jacket and the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka), so the Cham, with its 700-fill down, is going to be slightly less insulating than an identical jacket with the same amount (by weight) of higher fill down.
Despite this, I found the Cham to provide the right amount of insulation to make it extremely versatile. Granted, I have always run warm, but I found the Cham’s insulation to be appropriate for most three-season backcountry activities, whether belaying on an alpine ledge in near-freezing temperatures and high winds, or sitting in base camp cooking up a meal during a moderate fall night.
The total weight-to-fill ratio on the Cham Down Jacket (700-fill-power, 660 g) is a tad higher than some of its competitors, like the Marmot Zeus Down Jacket (700-fill-power, 408 g), or even The North Face Nuptse Jacket (700-fill-power, 650 g). Even though neither of these jackets has the wire-brimmed hood of the Cham, the difference between 660 g and 408 g in a puffy is non-trivial, to say the least.
For my uses though, I’ll take the Cham’s hood for an extra 250 g. The idea of not having a hooded puffy seems like using low-riding approach shoes in the wilderness; I could likely get away with it, but I’d feel as if I were neglecting an important safety and comfort concern.
NEXT: Waterproofing Treatment, Durability, Etc.