Why Ski Trab Made a Big Binding

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 28, 2014      
Ski Trab co-owner Adriano Trabucchi holding forth on their now-ready-for-prime-time TR2 ski binding.

Ski Trab co-owner Adriano Trabucchi holding forth on their now-ready-for-prime-time TR2 ski binding.

I was perplexed. Several years ago, the first time I saw a ski binding in development at Trab in Italy, it was big. Then they come up with their TR2 klunker–still big. This from a company that produces some of the best minimalist skis on the planet, as well as a corporate culture that one has to assume requires everyone to sport their lycra skimo “skin” race suits at sales meetings.

For the record, Trab TR2 ski binding.

For the record, Trab TR2 ski binding.

We of course mentioned this contradiction in our previous Trab TR2 blog post — and my perplxity did not go unnoticed by the boys of Bormio. First thing Adriano mentioned when I entered the Trab booth yesterday at ISPO Munich: “Lou, let me explain why we made a heavier binding.”

According to Adriano, for a normal tech binding to work correctly your ski boot needs a good amount of torsional (twisting) rigidity in the lower shoe (scaffo) due to it being held from such motion nearly entirely by the binding toe unit. Thus, the design philosophy for lightweight gear has thus far been 1.) super light tech binding 2.) fairly light ski 3.) medium weight boot that has some rigidity. But today’s lightweight boots have skewed the paradigm.

These days, said Adriano, due to boots getting so light you see skiers coming down the hill with exaggerated angulation and edging. Unless they’re an agile expert skier, they may struggle.

I’d agree. More and more often I’m seeing skiers on tech binding systems compensating for boots that twist and lean like an old leather telemark boot on a 3-pin nordic binding (which, incidentally, was probably why telemarkers of yore presented incredibly exaggerated angulation).

Thus, the paradigm has changed for skiers desiring faster and stronger “freeride touring” performance. Solution? Boot design engineers need to continue their quest to build twist-resistant but lightweight shoes (recent offerings with carbon or metal reinforcements are examples). But according to Trab, the simple and effective answer is a binding that holds the boot with a wider pattern at the heel, with no twisting or wobble (and incidentally, none of the rotation that normal tech binding heels have to allow for elasticity.

Trab TR2 has super firm heel hold-down due to wider width of jaws as well as no need for binding rotation left-right.

Trab TR2 has super firm heel hold-down due to wider width of jaws as well as no need for binding heel rotation left-right.

As many of you know, a few years ago we began our call for “tech 2.0” that had exactly the above feature; a wider more solid heel hold. We’re not sure if TR2 is the 2.0 of the tech system, since it breaks the faux “tech” “pintech” standard and requires proprietary heel and toe fittings on boots presently only supplied by Scarpa. Nonetheless, if a lightweight gear company such as Trab is thinking along these lines, the ski touring binding industry could become WAY more interesting — as if it’s not interesting enough already!

One other thing, and this could be BIG. Adriano told me they worked hard on making a binding that could be TUV certified to the existing DIN/ISO standards for ski touring bindings. Problem was, this required energy absorption in the toe (elasticity) that is difficult to achieve without extra machinery and weight to compensate for the limitations of using “tech” similar binding fittings in the boot toe. Thus, Adriano said, they’re _not_ going for TUV certification but rather did their own 2 years of intense field testing for safety and performance, and they’re super confident the TR2 fit the bill.

There you go. None other than Ski Trab (in partnership with Scarpa) comes up with the first viable challenge to the tech system. Not only that, but they blow off TUV and the archaic DIN/ISO ski touring binding standards. Leadership? Yes. Noticed by every binding engineer in the ski touring industry? You bet. Italian skimo anarchists? Probably.

More WildSnow blog posts about Ski Trab, including our visit a few years ago.

Facts, same as we placed on previous blog post:

– 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


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18 Responses to “Why Ski Trab Made a Big Binding”

  1. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2014 4:41 am

    Did anyone notice the logical discrepancy in how Trab/Scarpa is going about this? The binding is to make wimpy boots ski better, but neither boot from Scarpa appears to be minimal. The Trab guys are sincere about making good ski touring gear, so I’m sure what we’ll see is lighter boots from Scarpa and perhaps others that are compatible with the TR2. Lou

  2. Matus January 28th, 2014 5:54 am

    Lou, thanks for this post. Good to get info directly from the source.

    The question is if Scarpa/Trab did any massive research of what is really needed by the crowd or if they just try to make a new market using “brutal force” (money to marketing) method.

    Just to make sure, does TR2 have real flat walk mode? If no, it is s deal breaker.

  3. tyler January 28th, 2014 7:18 am

    Yes Lou, I do see the discrepancy. My thoughts were:

    Is Trab working with someone on their own boot? Scarpa’s new boot (F1 Evo), which looks great, doesnt fit the binding but competes with the TLT6 category.

    So we have all these companies with 2 of 3 required ski components (ski, boot, binding) and some with 3 of 3. Perhaps they are all rushing for the full line?

  4. Andy January 28th, 2014 9:26 am

    People always get so worked up about a flat touring mode, and I really don’t see why. Given a lightweight modern boot such as the as-yet nonexistent one Lou alludes to in his comment, a small heel riser isn’t a big deal. Anybody who tours in a TLT, DyNA, or Alien knows this. I don’t have trouble covering miles of flat with the small riser on a race binding and any of those boots. Also, it looks like there is definitely a flat touring mode on these bindings. You’ll want it with those boots.

    I’m all for more options in the binding market.

  5. Tom Gos January 28th, 2014 10:40 am

    I believe what they are saying about binding/boot flex, but I hope that there intent isn’t to create a binding that relies on or allows floppy boots. In my experience a flexy floppy boot is going to ski poorly even if through bolted to the ski.

    I do applaud their attempt to improve upon Tech 1.0. My fear is that Trab just won’t have the distribution and industry clout to have their standard become widely adopted.

  6. rangerjake January 28th, 2014 11:31 am

    lou, didn’t see this in the other thread, but do the TR2 compatible boots function in framed AT bindings, or are they ONLY good in the TR2?

  7. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2014 12:29 pm

    They appear to be DIN ISO, but others would not necessarily be so..

  8. altis January 28th, 2014 12:53 pm

    If you’re gonna change a standard then it had better be good and it had better be compatible. Although it looks like the boots conform to ISO9523 (classic touring interface) it seems they don’t have the Pintech heel.

    I can’t tell from here whether it’s good but, IMV, it doesn’t look promising: both toe and heel units have to be held down to gain entry; only two climbing positions and neither is flat; looks complicated and very expensive.

    Personally, I’d have preferred a second set of dimples in the heel. That way you could include the old pin holes too. Now that the world is developing releasing toes then perhaps a simple pincer on a slider would then surfice for the heel.

  9. Toby January 28th, 2014 3:11 pm

    More options are always good. I can very well understand those technical arguments of Trab, technically this bindings system makes sense.

    But, they should have gone big and heavy in real words: biggest and stiffest Scarpa boots instead of that”3-buckle Rush”, biggest possible RV value, and widest brakes. It is Freeride what is selling right now. Hard charging movie fans are looking for lighter options for Dukes &Co., solutions for tech binding’s ‘lack of elasticity’, they are looking for wide brakes and hi RV values, they are looking for they freeride dreams to become true.

    Personally I’m not for it, but I think this is what is going on right now. Either you go super light, or you go heavy duty. Refer to Beast, which is pricey and technically overkill, but I’m sure it sells. It will probably, when not already, set some bench marks in aspects of complexity, RV values and price.

    Check: New gen tech bindings: Vipec, Beast and TR2. When Vipec and TR2 are the first tech bindings with pure toe release combined with anti-rotational heel.

  10. ptor January 28th, 2014 3:44 pm

    I’m still waiting for the titanium Emerys 😉

  11. Ed January 28th, 2014 5:34 pm

    I am somewhat puzzled that the industry seems to be headed in a race forward for better gear (good) and “features” (TBD) and may be forgetting interchangeability and inventory management for the retailers. If I was a retailer I’d just howl if we are headed in the direction of boots that only work with one brand of binding! Think of the inventory headaches, esp for smaller shops. A plethora of choices is not necessarily a blessing esp in something with a safety function.
    Simple, robust and parts available for used gear purchasers.
    My 2 cents . . .

  12. David B January 28th, 2014 6:24 pm

    Agree Ed, it’s a race based on ego and the hope that they will invent the next big thing. There are now too many options with minimal interchangability.
    They are trying to lock consumers into a vertical solution. This doesn’t work because people have differing needs, range of use and physical attributes that restrict this type of one size fits all philosophy.

    Whilst it’s great to see good minds working on effective solutions, what I see happening is an over complication of the tech binding segment. Stop, take a breath and look at the alpine binding market.

    My 2 cents worth. I believe there is a better heel option required.

  13. Louie Dawson January 28th, 2014 8:50 pm

    The current tech system is great, but there’s tons of room for improvement, particularly in downhill performance and releasability. What if we could have a light tech binding that skied and released better than an alpine binding? The TR2 system could be that system, or it could totally bomb, or it could just just one step toward that. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I’m pretty excited for some continued development on the front as backcountry skiing continues to grow in popularity.

    I’ve heard rumors of world cup downhill racers experimenting with tech-like bindings because the metal-on-metal connection is so solid and predictable, compared to the traditional plastic-on-plastic of alpine bindings. This could get interesting.

  14. Jack January 29th, 2014 12:42 am

    Great article, Lou! I’m all for inventors/designer competition, innovation and consumer choice. The TR2 is an infusion of energy with potential for migration to a new norm in alpine touring. I’d love to see the “next big thing” emerge. I say, cheers for diversity! Diversity of bindings, boots, skis, style, and thought.

  15. Greg January 29th, 2014 7:54 am

    Something that just came to mind – if you’re looking to better/wider heel engagement, how about pairing a tech toe with an din standard alpine heel? Throw in a forward pressure spring, and do the fancy engineering to fit heel lifts and brakes for touring in there, and I imagine you could get a pretty beefy binding out of it.

  16. M January 30th, 2014 9:41 am

    nah, I’d better prefer heel pins, only wider and ~1mm stronger.

  17. Edward January 31st, 2014 7:55 am

    I was at SIA yesterday and got to chat with Atomic. They (claim) are bringing to market two DIN certified Tech binds, two true AT boots, and at least two real AT skis. Seems that the top brass is getting pissed at employees wearing Scarpa and Dynafit, etc for their lunch time skinning runs. Rep claims that there is skin track on side of headquarters and groomed nordic course on the other.

  18. Lou Dawson January 31st, 2014 8:48 am

    Who is they? A booth stud, or owner of the company?

    TUV is indeed doing some certification testing on certain tech binding brands, I heard it will happen in February. This will to either “certify” to those company’s own brand’s standards, or to attempt to certify to the DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard. A binding can be “TUV” certified to any standard.

    Main thing to remember with all this is if a company receives TUV tested certification to the DIN/ISO binding standard, applied to a tech binding, that has nearly NO relevance to real-world performance or safety of the tech binding, it’s just a bunch of frequently old-fashioned standards that still result in orthopedic surgeons having plenty of work, as well as tech binding engineers jumping through hoops making stuff that sometimes has little to no influence on how their bindings ski in real life for 99% of users.

    That’s why Ski Trab has decided to ignore the whole TUV DIN/ISO junkshow. Kudos to them.

    BUT, one other thing. Some of these “certified” rumor bindings might actually be an alpine binding with some kind of adapter system, like the Cask system. In that case, they’d already have a TUV ISO/DIN binding so yes, it would be a “DIN” tech binding.

    Thing is, it’ll be pretty funny if those guys doing their fitness walks change over to heavier, more complex binding systems just to keep their boss happy. I doubt it (grin).


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