Trab TR2 Backcountry Skiing Binding – Ready for Prime Time

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TR2 ski binding by Trab requires a dedicated boot with special fittings.

TR2 ski binding by Trab requires a dedicated boot with special fittings.

Scarpa has partnered with Trab to enable their TR2 binding system. By now the TR2 has become somewhat legend, as Trab was displaying versions of the binding at trade shows more than four years ago, courting rumors and innuendo (and not a few jokes about vapor bindings). Apparently, retailing of the TR2 stalled out because the system required a dedicated boot as well as technical refinements. What is more, it could not have been easy for Trab, essentially a ski company, to enter the world of designing and producing ski bindings. That phase is over. A TR2 binding and boot system will be available this winter.

While TR2 appears to be a “tech” binding, make no mistake: This is not a tech compatible boot or binding. Though the boot fittings appear to be somewhat “tech” (especially the toe) they are specific to TR2. In other words, you can’t snap a regular tech binding compatible boot into a TR2 and ski downhill — you have to use a boot with TR2 fittings. (Note, thankfully you can snap a tech boot TOE into the binding and it’ll work in touring mode — in my view an essential safety factor if we end up having mixed groups of skiers using both tech and TR2 systems.)

Spirit TR2 has dedicated fittings for Trab binding, is essentially a Maestrale.

Spirit RS TR2 boot has dedicated fittings for Trab binding, is essentially a Maestrale with Scarpa's new self-lubricating ultra-reliable lean lock (the eternal battle for a better lean lock?).

Scarpa will produce “Spirit RS TR2″ and “Spirit TR2 model boots to go with the TR2 binding. Spirit is a basic 3 buckle touring boot, RS is a beefier 4-buckle configuration that probably does a better job of utilizing the solid power transmission and likely excellent elasticity and retention of the TR2 binding. The 3 buckle boot model will be available this winter along with the binding. Both boots will be retailed in 2014/15.

Perhaps the biggest part of seeing TR2 come to retail is that it’s the first binding/boot system to challenge the tech system since the Silvretta SL debacle of 1994. In my view, the tech binding industry may have blown it, as they had a golden opportunity over those 20 years to innovate and perhaps even official standardize a “tech 2.0″ system that was backward compatible to itself. Instead, other than a few leaps of faith it’s been the same-old-same-old. Well, perhaps TR2 is the 2.0? Time will tell. It appears to be a solid system, perhaps with a few quirks. I especially like the heel jaw configuration. It’s wide, super stable. Check out more photos:

Heel of boot is held down by two steel prongs that pivot down when you click in similar to an alpine binding.

Heel of boot is held down by two steel prongs that pivot down when you click in similar to an alpine binding. What you get here is the wider hold-down I've been hinting over the years would make the tech system quite a bit more stable, especially with softer boots that twist when most of the binding holding action is at the toe.

Holding down the rear lever opens the binding heel unit.

Holding down the rear lever opens the binding heel unit.

The heel fitting is entirely different from normal tech bindings, but for some reason the Scarpa TR2 compatible boot includes the tech binding heel unit pocket, with a filler.

The heel fitting is entirely different from normal tech bindings, but for some reason the Scarpa TR2 compatible boot includes the tech binding heel unit pocket, with a filler. That lean lock is the new Scarpa self-lubricating external enclosed super-duper lean lock that'll be on all appropriate boots for 2014/15 season.

Another view of the heel unit in alpine mode. It has decent up-down elasticity. I'm mystified as to why it can't just be a plastic over-center pivot unit like nearly any alpine binding.

Another view of the heel unit in alpine mode. It has good up-down elasticity. I'm mystified as to why it can't just be a plastic over-center pivot unit like nearly any alpine binding.

Boot in the TR2.

Boot in the TR2.

Another view from rear.

Another view from rear.

Binding has two heel lift heights, low and higher.

Binding has two heel lift heights, low and higher.

Higher.

Higher lift position. The taller rear bar is the binding opening and closing lever. Yes fans, you can easily switch between all modes without exiting from the toe of the binding.

TR2 toe unit holds the boot in similar fashion to a tech binding, by inserting two pins from the sides. There the similarity ends.

TR2 toe unit holds the boot in similar fashion to a tech binding by inserting two pins from the sides. There the similarity ends. A possible annoyance is that you enter the binding by pressing down and holding the front lever, similar to another binding released a few years ago that was roundly disliked for this exact type of entry system. Fortunately the TR2 toe is very easy to hold open in comparison, but still, I just can't see doing this in an awkward situation.

Pressing down this lever opens the toe wings so you can enter or exit the binding. There is no cocking action, instead you have to continuously hold down the lever, which could be annoying.

Pressing down this lever opens the toe wings so you can enter or exit the binding. There is no cocking action, instead you have to continuously hold down the lever, which could be annoying. The lever does have a lock mode, and the binding toe has safety release in touring mode.

Safety release at the toe is accomplished by the toe wings opening to the side in similar fashion to another new player just released.

Safety release at the toe is accomplished by the toe wings opening to the side in similar fashion to another new player just released.

Toe with one wing open as it would appear after a safety release.

Toe with one wing open as it would appear after a safety release.

Another view of the rig.

Another view of the rig.

Factoids:
– Weight, 580 grams including what appears to be the standard >< 88mm ski brake.
– Max release value: This season model goes from RV 5 to 11. Next season a 7/13 model will be available.
– Not tech system compatible, is its own proprietary system that requires dedicated boots.
– Available boot will be 3-buckle Scarpa Spirit TR2, about 475.00 euros.
– Next season a stiffer boot will be on tap, 4-buckle Scarpa Spirit RS TR2, about 535.00 euros.
– Boot length adjustment range: 23 mm.
– Brake widths available this season: 88, 104, with 115 next season.
– MSRP about 449.00 euros

Comments

18 Responses to “Trab TR2 Backcountry Skiing Binding – Ready for Prime Time”

  1. Greg Louie January 21st, 2014 9:09 am

    Unless they have a plan/template for retrofitting existing tech heels (and it looks like it would require a master dremel operator) they will have their hands full selling these . . .

  2. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2014 9:28 am

    Greg, again, a regular tech fitting toe will not function correctly in a TR2 for downhill skiing, so it’s not just the heel. Both toe and heel have to have the dedicated TR2 fittings. The toe looks sort of like tech fittings, but they’re shaped differently. I should probably publish a photo…

    Lou

  3. etto January 21st, 2014 9:47 am

    The concept looks great, but I think they’ll have a heard time selling an entire proprietary platform. Not only a new binding, but you need a new boot. This one particular boot, because nothing else fits.

    Wonder if they tried using standard tech toe inserts and make the heel in a way that you could retrofit normal tech boots, and use the new TR2 specific boots boots in normal tech bindings. That would’ve made the transition so much easier. I think the way Dynafit did it with the Beast 16 addition to the boot heel was very well considered. Don’t break backwards compatibility.

    (yes, yes I know, there’s no official tech standard :-)

  4. Paul January 21st, 2014 9:55 am

    I have some doubts about this being a successful story…

  5. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2014 10:12 am

    Etto, logic says that someone at Trab did try to use a tech compatible boot, only with their own different binding system. For some reason it didn’t work, I suspect mostly because the tech “standard” toe fittings did not have enough retention as they are designed to release quite easily by the toe pins sliding/riding up out of the cup. This system is pure genius, but is not only difficult to replicate but it’s not conducive to cobbling up a totally new binding system. Fritschi did it with Vipec, but the jury is still out on that as well since it required an adjustable toe width thats not exactly user friendly. Main thing here in my view is that anyone shopping should make extrodinary effort to demo all this stuff on snow, including Ion and of course the latest Dynafit stuff. It’s a war, that’s for sure! Fritz Barthel must be laughing his head off. Lou

  6. Dave Field January 21st, 2014 10:38 am

    So what market or perceived need (tech shortcoming) is this binding trying to address? Its not obvious to me what the advantages might be outside the toe release and perhaps firmer heel hold down. What kind of toe release is available during touring, is it similar to the Vipec?

  7. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2014 10:46 am

    Uncannily similar to Vipec, but doesn’t appear to have as much toe elasticity. Not sure what segment it’s targeted for. Obviously more the freeride side. I like Trab and they make good skis, but somehow I don’t see them in their lycra onesies and race boots sporting this binding (grin). They ski pretty well on their tiny race bindings, to tell you the truth. Perhaps there is a rebellious freeride faction in their Bormio offices who out maneuvered Adriano and his brother on new product development (grin). Lou

  8. Lenka K. January 21st, 2014 10:58 am

    I’d say the last thing anyone in the backcountry world needs is a NEW insert “standard” incompatible with other tech systems (all the Dynafit competitors figured this one out years ago …).

    Remember the early days of Dynafit (up to 2000ish, I’d say)? One of the arguments against it was that you needed a boot with the tech fitting, of which there were just a couple of models (meaning 2: Dynafit and 1xScarpa). Now there’s plenty to choose from for different types of feet and along comes Trab/Scarpa and turns the clock almost 20 years back? I’m not sure this will catch on and won’t go the way of Naxo …

    Lenka K.

  9. Smokey January 21st, 2014 11:39 am

    One word: ugly.

  10. Mike January 21st, 2014 11:39 am

    I have watched the video on the Ski Trab website and have a couple questions I was hoping you could clear up.

    First I would like to confirm that there is no heel flat on ski tour mode. This trend in bindings is frustrating since I spend the most time skinning without heel risers.

    Secondly I cannot figure out how the brake functions with this system. Does the heel piece hold down the brake when in tour mode? Does it have a lock out similar to Onyx or Vipec? I am not sure how the heel unit differentiates between changing modes and a vertical release in regards to the brake function.

    Finally with a forward release how does the toe release? It took me awhile to think through this issue with the Vipec and the bumps on the toe piece to accommodate different boots. With these new bindings having the lateral release built into the toe the idea of releasing only the heel is a bit unnerving.

    It is exciting to see the new bindings this year address issues with the existing system. So far I think Vipec looks the most promising. It will be interesting to watch it unfold.

  11. Jack January 21st, 2014 12:10 pm

    Hmmm.. Tech 2.0 is the radio/transmitter problem, or the H2 car/H2 filling station problem….
    What if the boot world had a standard interface into which a toe system and a heel system could be bolted and thread-locked in? This would allow a whole competitive binding race, in which any given boot could adapt to any of the toe/heel fastenings. It seems to me that this would encourage experimentation.

  12. Jack January 23rd, 2014 8:54 am

    Ok, I’m trying again, as I believe this is a legitimate idea.

    If boot manufacturers designed boots what accepted bolt-in heel and toe interfaces, this could encourage a lot of design innovation in bindings. A single
    pair of boots could by dynafit, tech 2.x, perhaps DIN std alpine by swapping fittings.

    This would mitigate the new binding / few boots problem that Scarpa is facing and, in effect, create an “open class” set of AT boots.

    To quote a high-tech adage, “The great thing about standards is, there are so many to chose from”.

  13. rangerjake January 23rd, 2014 12:51 pm

    I gotta say that although the limited compatibility is somewhat problematic in launching a new binding in a increasingly competitive and saturated field there are some very nice advances on the classic Dynafit template.

    Aside from the Beast, this is the only binding to allow for both forward and downward pressure on the heel to allow for better feel through the back half of the ski, one of the true weak points on most tech bindings. I think this design from a visual perspective is much more refined looking than the Beast and comes with a easier price point.

    Truth be told, by pairing with Scarpa and their Maestrale last, they have chosen the one fit that seems to work for the widest variety of feet currently on the market from what I have seen (as a retailer of Dynafit, Scarpa, BD, Garmont/Scott, Tecnica, K2, Atomic, and La Sportiva ski boots.

    I look forward to spending some more time checking these out at SIA.

  14. Brian January 23rd, 2014 11:03 pm

    Is there anything preventing the boots with replaceable DIN/Tech soles from creating a Trab sole? Certainly replaceable aole blocks aren’t lightweight, but this binding doesn’t seem aimed at that crowd.

  15. Lou Dawson January 24th, 2014 2:27 am

    Brian, they’d just have to work it out with Trab — as well as feeling like there was enough possible sales to justify a whole new set of molds for a whole size run of boot sole blocks. Super expensive. Of course, perhaps they could somehow use existing molds. Even so, still expensive, a bunch more SKUs to warehouse, account for, distribute, etc. Lou

  16. John February 25th, 2014 9:32 pm

    Holy Cow! A binding that will eliminate the gross and unacceptable amount of play from a dynafit heel piece!! I am on board with this idea. Have you ever looked at the ~ 10* of play that comes from the dynafit heel before you even start driving the ski. All of your power comes from the front of the boot and is then transfered along the rigid sole, we are waisting so much energy doing this. Without the toe locked in the binding attachment system is worthless for energy transfer, this looks secure. I am excited to see something that will bring power transfer and safety closer to alpine bindings while still allowing me to tour properly without a frame binding.

    I agree the idea of launching a system binding is a little bit daunting having to buy new boots just to use the binding. But hey this is a market that for better or worse people are always buying new gear to use. And if the boot really is the Maestrale RS with the tr2 fitting it is going to be hard to beet that, look around on your next tour everyone has that boot!

    I would say that Ski Trab has built some amazing very technical skis too so maybe they have taken this design aspect and applied it to a more freeski style, less lyrca hopefully.

    I’m excited to try these

  17. Lou Dawson February 25th, 2014 10:01 pm

    At least they are ignoring TUV! That’s progress.

  18. etto March 10th, 2014 2:40 pm

    Just spoke to a couple of Italian guys in Chamonix that were skiing these bindings (I think they in some way had a connection with Trab, but I’m not sure). The TR2 looks and feels really solid!

    Also, one of them had a pair of La Sportiva Spectre that La Sportiva had retrofitted with the TR 2 heel fitting. The toe fittings were standard tech. He said La Sportiva was only doing this for boots up to mondo 26.5, but that they were considering doing it for larger boots next year, and also that they might offer an out of the box TR 2 compatible boot next season.

    Thought you guys might like to know :)

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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