Ski Trab skis are carefully built in a small modern factory in Bormio, Italy. Models are available for nearly all forms of skiing, with emphasis on randonnee racing, alpine touring and backcountry skiing. We’ve been using a pair of their Free Rando model (171 cm), which is designed for turn oriented touring.
|Trab Free Rando backcountry ski.|
Free Rando is a mid-fat (112/79/96), which is my favorite dimension class for backcountry skiing that involves much earned vertical, as such skis can be built a bit lighter than fatties, pick up less snow on top while breaking trail, and sometimes have an overall more nimble feel than bigger skis. That said, big fat skis are fun and are a huge help in many types of difficult snow, so a narrower ski better be well designed or the compromise may not be worth it.
After spending time with the Free Rando, my take is that Trab definitely found a sweet spot in the mix of width, construction and sidecut. The skis feel smooth and carvy on most hardpack. They did chatter a bit when I tested them on steep white-ice, but with most skis you can tune that out by tweaking the edge bevel and moderating your technique. I skied quite a few runs in chopped powder at the resort — not my favorite type of skiing, but a good test of how well a ski does at saving your back and knees from abuse. I’d say the Free Randos were average in this regard. I’ve recently been on other skis that worked me harder, while others felt more powerful and smoother (with all due respect, the latter were wider and sometimes longer).
Following corrected by Lou, March 07: Of interest are the Free Rando’s split tail and notched tip. These are used for a proprietary skin attachment system, and I’m guessing the split tail is supposed to have some effect on hardpack performance. As stated above, they ski nicely on hardpack so if the split tail helps with that, so be it. As for the skin attachment system, it is highly engineered with complex plastic plugs at each end of the skin that mate with the ski notches. I played around with this quite a bit but didn’t have the time to carefully cut my skins to exact length so the tail attachment would function. Instead, I ended up using the tip fix that fits in the tip notch and rigged up my usual Rat Tail for the rear.
Update: I rigged up the special skins a while later, see post here.
In terms of weight the Free Rando is on the lean side for a mid-fat: 1336 gr, 47.2 oz for 171 cm. That’s not record breaking in terms of weight. But making a mid-fat any lighter than that usually compromises either performance or strength, and is unnecessary if a ski is intended to make the downhill fun and smooth, as modern bindings and boots are now so light they make up for the occasional ounce or two in your planks.
Overall I like the Trab Free Rando. They feel nimble on my feet, look good, and ski smooth. Nice for backcountry skiing!