Ski Review – Trab Duo Free Rando

Post by blogger | January 24, 2007      

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
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).

Trab backcountry skis, tips.
Trab Free Rando tip, left with skin fix.

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!

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6 Responses to “Ski Review – Trab Duo Free Rando”

  1. Clark January 24th, 2007 12:25 pm

    What’s really cool is it looks like you’re wearing two skis per foot. Does that psych out competition at a rando race?

  2. Lou January 24th, 2007 12:50 pm

    Nothing I do in a rando race could even come close to psyching out the competition (grin).

  3. Clark January 24th, 2007 4:24 pm

    The electric/lime green Dynafit Zero’s on the Trabs might temporarily and/or permanently scar corneas?

    OK I’ll admit it, perhaps I’m just trying to figure out what I could use to psych em out when the inevitable time comes. I’ve been desperately trying to avoid the whole rando race scene but this new COSMIC series is downright gutwrenching. Not sure how I’ll be able to avoid the Loveland stop (season passholder) with my Bent Gate bros offering up gear options and all. An out of state business trip?

  4. Jonathan Shefftz January 25th, 2007 2:54 pm

    “If the full system is used, removing skins requires rotating a tab on the tip attachment. I experimented with this and while cleverly engineered, it would doubtless be difficult to do in cold temperatures with heavy gloves. (In other words, the WildSnow Rat Tail still rules, but hey, I’m biased).”
    – I don’t understand how you reached this conclusion? That is, skin removal does *not* require rotating the tab on the tip attachment. I can send you a video if this somehow seems impossible: removing the tip of the skin is very easy once the skin is peeled back from the tail. (Getting the skin back on without rotating the tip attachment could be a bit tricky for some, depending partly on how flat the rivets are, but it’s still possible too.)

  5. Mark February 1st, 2007 7:42 pm

    If you latch the tail clamp by pointing it towards the rear of the ski it is very easy to remove, even with gloves on (just slip a finger through the tail slot and pull up).

  6. Lou March 23rd, 2007 5:16 pm

    Jonathan, I was thinking in terms of removing skin tip first and then did some confused writing — not enough sleep or something (grin). You are indeed correct that the tail latch allows removal from the tail and I should have made that clear. I’ll correct the post since I don’t want my erroneous info floating around. And apologies for not being more complete and accurate in writing about the skins.

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