Trab Freedom Backcountry Ski – Quiver Arrow


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
    I don’t know what they are putting in the water in Bormio, but whatever, Ski Trab should keep using their secret chemical to mix their Kool-Aid. Ski Trab makes skis of unparalleled craftsmanship, excellent weight, high quality materials and polished finish. But mainly they ski downhill incredibly well.

    Trab Freedom backcountry ski - 2013-14

    Trab Freedom backcountry ski - 2013-14

    I recently spent a couple of days on the Freedom, a new ski for next season. Freedom has traditional camber with dimensions of 125/90/112. Somewhat old school, but still a current sweet-spot for ski mountaineering planks.

    My first day involved a quick skin for a few runs in spring corn. My second day consisted of a few laps of touring on the backside of Aspen Mountain with my beautiful wife followed by some runs down the fabled slopes of Ajax. Conditions were 3-4″ of new snow fallen on everything from baby-butt smooth to hard and variable underneath. The conditions changed throughout the day as the clouds parted and the sun and warm temps had their way with the snow.

    The Freedom are fun, agile, playful, lively and responsive: just the way I like all of my Italian objects of desire. I mean skis. They also track well and are quite smooth for such a lively ski. Turn initiation was effortless as the sweet spot was apparent from the first turn. They favored short to medium radius turns in the fall line but weren’t afraid to let the horses out of the stable when it came time to let them run free. All of this held true when the snow was consistent be it soft corn or hard underneath with new snow on top.

    That said, when the going gets tough (read variable), the tough love wider and rockered. If Maserati can make a sedan then it’s time for Ski Trab to embrace the reality of early rise and rocker technology. As soon as the conditions started to go south (choppy, heavier snow and/or rougher underneath) the limitations of the Freedom became apparent. Variable conditions demanded a speed limit and caution I have abandoned ever since modern ski design took hold. Freeride mountaineering and the Freedom are of two different worlds.

    I do see a place for the Freedom for someone looking for a top quality, high performance traditional camber ski. It’s combination of light weight, edge hold, agility and responsiveness make it a candidate for technical terrain where the nature of the slope inherently keeps the speed down to sane, or for someone just looking for a nice smooth ride be it on piste or off. Now if we could just have an arranged (or perhaps shotgun?) marriage between DPS and Ski Trab with the happy couple settling in Bormio for a long and blissful life together.

    Weight of our tester 178s is 1438 grams, 50.8 ounces. On our weight charts the Freedom comes in with a weight/length score of 8, below our average of 9, due to the ski being of medium width (wider skis are always heavier per unit length.) While Trab has a reputation for lightweight skis, the new carbon offerings from other brands are skewing our weight/surface scores to an average of 78, with Freedom coming in at an above average 80. That’s still low enough to be a good touring ski. Freedom is solid on the down, so keep that in mind before getting too obsessed on saving a few grams.

    It’s worth noting Trab’s story about the weight and construction of the Freedom. Essentially, they built a “price-point” ski that still performs like their more expensive models, but is said to sacrifice a a tiny bit of weight savings for simpler construction — thus keeping the MSRP down around $500.00! While we don’t focus much on price in WildSnow reviews, that’s interesting considering their skis usually come pretty dear. Also, since they did test out quite nicely, we have on our hands an excellent price vs performance option. And that being said, our weight chart shows Freedom is virtually the same surface/weight as other Trab models we evaluated (e.g., Volare and Ripido), so that cuts through the PR spin but by same token shows you that the Freedom could be a super value. Here at Wildsnow we could easily say this might be one of the best skis you can get for the money, especially if you find them on sale some day.

Comments

14 Responses to “Trab Freedom Backcountry Ski – Quiver Arrow”

  1. John May 16th, 2013 10:16 am

    Bob,
    How do they compare to the Volare? They appear to be similar to the Movement Logic X which I have skied for 4 seasons. Have you skied the Logic X?
    I will be recieving 2014 185 cm Movement Shifts 137-98-125 1550gm next week, and can hopefully get a few days on them before the snow is gone.

  2. Rob May 16th, 2013 10:26 am
  3. Bob Perlmutter May 16th, 2013 2:44 pm

    Forget the Freedom, I’ll take the “63″ Sedan. I have a pair of Volare so that comparison was in the fore front of my mind. The Freedom is more agile, quick and lively than the Volare. It has a shorter turn radius. On the other hand, the Volare by virtue of greater width works better in soft and variable snow. My first thought was wouldn’t it be nice if they could make a wider version of the Freedom and still retain the shorter turn radius to achieve the best of both worlds. The other thing I like about the Freedom is it does not have that crazy Volare skin attachment system. Not only is that system cumbersome but the tip hardware tends to be a snow catch in soft snow which causes the tip to build up with snow and get pulled under. Where is that arranged marriage when we need it?

  4. Lou Dawson May 16th, 2013 3:56 pm

    Bob, am loading the shotgun. Of course, Trabuki already probably has some “Italian” connections so we’d better ask him first!

  5. David B May 16th, 2013 4:01 pm

    Interesting Bob, I have a pair of Trab Stelvio Freeride XL’s which I love BUT I spend half my time in Aust/NZ and the other half in Japan.

    It sounds like the Freedoms suffer the same soft snow performance issues as the Stelvios. As stated I do love them but I started thinking a couple of years ago, I wish Trab would throw in some rocker etc. That is what set me on course of discovery ending in a beautiful DPS relationship.

    IMO you can’t beat pure carbon fibre construction and Trab make a beautifully crafted ski BUT.

    I really thought their next iteration would contain modern ski dynamics BUT not to be.

    Disclosure, I am now the Aust/NZ rep for DPS, thanks in no small way to Trab and Wildsnow. Thanks Lou

  6. Bill May 16th, 2013 5:12 pm

    Bob

    I cannot picture how the Volare tip is catching snow?
    I use the polvere with the same attachment as on a freerando.
    ( shock cord and stop as the rando racers do),
    I have never seen any issue with it.

  7. Tetonrick May 16th, 2013 11:17 pm

    Good review and the charts are great. But what is a good example of a ski mountaineering ski that does have some rocker and or early rise for variable snow ease but capable of skiing hard snow on alpine routes?

  8. Bob Perlmutter May 16th, 2013 11:59 pm

    Bill, the problem is not when skinning but when skiing soft snow. In the case of the Volare it is the plastic piece that is part of the skin attachment system. It is screwed into and projects a bit off the tip of the ski leaving a small space between the plastic piece and the actual tip of the ski. The plastic piece is a veritable cow catcher and combined with the small space acts as a scoop which holds any snow that is less than perfect Utah low density powder. I’m tempted to unscrew the plastic piece and go with a traditional tip loop skin. In fact, you just talked me into it.

  9. Bob Perlmutter May 17th, 2013 12:05 am

    Tetonrick, the wise guy answer to your question would be a quiver. I’m going to leave that one alone at the risk of sounding like an advertisement if I were to answer. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on that one and will no doubt pipe in at some point.

  10. Daniel May 17th, 2013 2:05 am

    tetontrick,

    for me that ski is my 181 k2 backlash, which is still quite a bit patterned after the mt baker but with rocker. great all around touring and sidecountry ski for the highly variable conditions in the alps. its follower, the sideshow, seems to be more forward mounted and shorter turn radius, matter of taste i guess.

    for me, the 250g or so per ski weight penalty of the metal layers in teh backlash are well worth it. i also had the wayback, which would be the non metal option, but found that to be a bit flimsy in comparison.

  11. Lou Dawson May 17th, 2013 4:44 am

    K2 Wayback, same concept, has rocker, but not as light in comparison to other skis as it used to be.

  12. Bill May 17th, 2013 8:43 am

    I was never warm to the plastic clips on the Polvere and Volare.
    Have not had any issue with them in use, but seems clunky.
    I cut a notch in my wife,s Tour rando Xl,s for the the tip loop.
    Bob you may have convinced me to do the same for my skis.
    By the way, my wife loves her 150 tour rando Xl,s. At 100 lbs, it was hard find a ski for her. Once she hopped on these she told me they ski as good as her 92mm waisted k2 paybacks with way less weight.
    I know trab salesmen are talking about early rise on the Trab Maestro and Magico. I am interested to see. As a slow skier I do not want to see Trab loose the excellent touring and response to subtle input. Most the skiing I do involves slow techinical sections that you just cannot let go on and the Trabs really shine on this.I just like to stay away from the doctor.
    I could not figure out why crampon sales rocketed this year until a guy told me it was the fat rockered skis are so unstable skinning.
    He told me splitboarders do not like rocker do to the poor stability in skinning.

  13. David B May 19th, 2013 6:56 pm

    Tetonrick,

    Unlike Bob, I might sound like an advertisement but the DPS Wailer99 Pure3 is a great option.

    DPS have added a third titanial stringer and perimeter weighting to their 13/14 range and this has greatly improved their hard snow performance and their crud busting performance.

    Check them out.

  14. Christian May 23rd, 2013 2:19 am

    Movement x-bond could be an alternative with rocker, but probably suffer some of the same. I have gone from bond to g3 saint – and the change was as expected: heavier on the way up, but more stable when going down, and more power to power through crud. What is best, really depends on personal preference and tour length.

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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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