Trab Volare Ski — WildSnow Arrow of the Week

Post by blogger | October 27, 2011      

Shop for Ski Trab products.

We’ve got all sorts of exciting stuff in the works for this winter. One project is to run an extended quiver of skis out of WildSnow HQ. We’ll cover the backcountry skis with short “first looks” as well as extended reviews after our full roster of testers are on them enough for informed opinion.

Trab Volare skis, 2011/12

Trab Volare skis, 2011/12. Looks like a terrific power-to-weight ratio. Click to enlarge.

This week’s quiver quick look: Trab Volare is the famed Italian ski company’s effort to quiet the howls of freeride backcountry skiers as they scream for width, width, more width. Yeah, a sweet spot exists in width, somewhere between weight for the uphill and performance on the down. That spot is a moving target, but the nice, easy to remember number of 100 seems to work well as a waist measurement zone, with decent but not radically enhanced sidecut. In the case of my 171 cm sticks, that yields dimensions of 129/99/116, 24.2m radius.

Trab is known for making skis that perform — with less mass. Indeed, at 52.1 ounces (1478g) per ski for my 171s, we’re talking helium here. Check out our weight chart and compare. For a ski this wide, even considering saved weight due to the 171 length, these guys should be uphill power mongers.

About my length pick. These are not rockered planks. Thus, they’ll ski at shorter more traditional “Euro” lengths if you’ve got the chops to handle that sort of rig (not sure I do, as I’m fully rocker addicted, but we’ll see). Overall, it’ll be interesting to note what I end up grabbing more off the workshop wall when I’m earning my turns. Will it be the shorter superlights? The planks in middle ground of weight and rocker? Or the long, rockered, average weight big guns?

Trab Volare skin tip.

Trab Volare skin tip. You swap the plastic doodads by backing out a truss head screw with a metric hex driver. Not sure why this system is better than simply using the rescue hole or a tip loop, but Trab is known for innovation skin tip and tail fixation, so I'm keeping an open mind. Arrow indicates how the skin looks from underneath when using the Trab tip fix. Click to enlarge.

Trab is selling a proprietary skin for the Volare, with a tip fix that slips under the hooked shaped plastic tip protector. I’ll review those eventually. For now, I’m modding a pair of Gecko to fit, as the new Gecko review is priority.

Overall, a fine looking plank for us turn earners.

Shop for Ski Trab products.


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48 Responses to “Trab Volare Ski — WildSnow Arrow of the Week”

  1. Pierce Oz October 27th, 2011 10:01 am

    Hey Lou, I’m tickled to see the nice mix of lightweight backcountry powder skis coming out these days, not to mention lightweight freetouring boots to drive them. I appreciate all the reviews!

    Any chance you are going to do a review of the 11/12 Voile Vector BC? I loved the review of the normal Vector by Anton, but am very curious about the fish-scaled “skinless touing” bases on the BC model. Are they really a “game-changer” as Backcountry Mag is touting? Are we all going to be climbing sans skins in the near future?

  2. Lou October 27th, 2011 10:08 am

    I’ve tried fish scale bases a million times. Calling them a game changer is a joke. Or, if the joke is on me I’ll eat crow. Mainly, what game? Rolling hills touring is not ski mountaineering, though it’s fun.

    At any rate, we’ll perhaps give those a go.

    More likely game changers are things like Clip Skins or Gecko skins.

  3. Dimitri October 27th, 2011 11:43 am

    inspirational ski, i would have certainly order a pair if they had a rocker design..

  4. Brian October 27th, 2011 12:29 pm

    Just once this year I’d love to hear about Lou getting on something stupid huge, like 120+ in the waist!

  5. aviator October 27th, 2011 12:50 pm

    haven’t tried the Vector but it sounds like the same ol scales to me

    scales in general are overrated.
    they kill your glide or they are too subtle to do anything at all
    even for nordic tracks they are for children, beginners and lazy wax haters.
    ok I admit for warm days in nordic tracks they are good for everyone

    tiny micro kicker skins are underrated

    grip wax for flatter parts is extremely underrated, especially on bigger skis with zero camber!

  6. Lou October 27th, 2011 12:53 pm

    Brian, you buy the heli time and I’ll ride anything (grin).

    Seriously, I’ll ride a few big sticks this winter, but hauling them up the hill is just not floating my boat, as I have plenty of fun and can ski just fine and have double grin fun on lighter/narrower stuff.


  7. Lou October 27th, 2011 12:56 pm

    The haunting of the ski theories and myths that won’t go away:

    – Fish scales make you free
    – NTN bindings are a revolution
    – Tech bindings are too small
    – My pants are too tight

    Anything else?

  8. aviator October 27th, 2011 1:10 pm

    -RV 10 is not enough, we all need RV 12… at least….

  9. Woody Dixon October 27th, 2011 1:13 pm

    More theory:

    -You need rocker to ski powder
    -You need rocker to ski anything (at least that’s the impression I got from the latest Ski magazine gear guide)

  10. Canwilf October 27th, 2011 1:13 pm

    I would love to hear about the new Gecko skins. ‘No glue’ sounds like a brilliant idea.

  11. Brent October 27th, 2011 1:34 pm

    x2 on the no-glue skins info, very interesting. Thanks for the peak at the nice Trabs, they make good stuff and I like that they are sticking to their traditional strong points instead of adding rocker to everything. I’ve been enjoying my stelvio XLs for a few years now, 90mm, light, full camber, no rocker, and they ski all conditions well.

  12. Dimitri October 27th, 2011 1:35 pm

    Woody, need, no. but my preferential ski these days, yes 🙂
    for me a rocker-ed ski is just easier in soft turned up snow. the basic design just makes sense. I feel more confident in my stance in steeper conditions as well, more forgiving maybe?

  13. Scott October 27th, 2011 1:43 pm

    Who “needs” anything other than an old, strait 200cm board? Rocker is definitely an improvement in all mountain ski design. An all-mountain ski this wide without at least a touch of it seems strange in 2011.

  14. Lou October 27th, 2011 2:35 pm

    According to any magazine, and sometimes even, you NEED anything new (grin).

    On the other hand, I constantly try to discourage the early adoption that drives some of the bogus gear releases we see nearly every season. If fewer people bought first-season stuff, the ski gear companies wouldn’t be such mad dogs about releasing products that are not adequately tested, especially in the binding department.

    Every year I get more and more tired of the syndrome of junk being released that breaks. Our policy is still to usually simply ignore products with possible problems. But I do get proactive sometimes, and the trend is to go more that direction as the years roll by and WildSnow becomes more and more established.

    Our biggest problem with this sort of thing is that going negative on a review has to be backed up by cold hard experience. Sometimes that experience is easy to come by. But the majority of the time, problems are vague, intermittent, and difficult to clarify. Thus, our middle ground of simply ignoring products that seem iffy. Usually by doing a “first look” but not doing much more coverage after that.

  15. Dimitri October 27th, 2011 2:54 pm

    Lou, Pro active is defiantly better as far as your readers go, there is no such thing as too much information (as far as things go on

    come to think of it, am i going to regret “pulling the trigger” on the PLUM Guide? how are those things holding up?

  16. Jonathan Shefftz October 27th, 2011 3:19 pm

    “NTN bindings are a revolution”
    — This is hardly a myth as long as you keep in mind that many political revolutions are absolutely disastrous for most everyone involved.

  17. Scott October 27th, 2011 4:15 pm

    The real tele revolution seems to be that it is clearly waning from the backcountry. Not sure that was caused by NTN.

  18. Lou October 27th, 2011 4:47 pm

    Dimitri, as far as I know, Plum did their homework. Lou

  19. Jesse Crocker October 27th, 2011 4:52 pm

    Pierce: I do a lot of skiing of scaled skis, but they are not a game changer. They have been around for a long time, and while they are useful for many situations, if you are skiing steep slopes, or doing a lot of jumping they are not the right tool for the job, especially if they have scales raised above the rest of the base as some skis do. The raised scales seem can make it harder to set an edge. And when landing a jump in spring conditions(or wet powder) i have experienced the scales grabbing, and the skis momentarily decelerating. The other big problem i have with scaled skis is that the scales wear out, and once they are dull there is not much you can do to fix them.
    All that being said, I own several pairs of scaled skis and regularly ski 40 degree slopes on them, and for a long rolling tour i wont use anything else.
    What I still cant figure out is why are scaled skis usually so much cheaper. Is it because the scales make them into a cross country ski and no one would pay $1000 for an XC ski? Maybe that says more about how over priced most downhill skis are than anything about scaled skis.

  20. Mike Bannister October 28th, 2011 12:02 am

    I got to briefly fondle some Trab skis and play with the matching skins at C-SAW this year. My initial impression was that the skins wouldn’t handle getting wet and stretching that well. The skin can be stretched and clamped further back in the tail slot, but I couldn’t get it to keep from sliding back up if i pulled on the skin. IE skin get slack and falls off once it gets wet. Nifty design but the standard strap style BD/G3 seems much more effective.

  21. Steve October 28th, 2011 7:24 am

    Sure, “game changer” is going a bit far, but the new waxless skis are more capable than they get credit for. They can burn up road grades, take skins for steeper/drier, and offer fun and responsive downs. Then there’s Dave Watson with Karhu Guides on K2 etc., which I don’t claim to understand, but there it is.

  22. Lou October 28th, 2011 7:49 am

    To be clear, they can burn up road grades provided the snow is the correct consistency for the scales to work. Otherwise you’re back to skins or wax.

  23. Bill October 28th, 2011 10:08 am

    I spent years on waxless and came up with the conclusion some skinny skins on skis like Trabs are a lot more fun for the gradual grades. They give a more consistent kick on th uphill and for the downhill you can take em off.

  24. Pierce Oz October 31st, 2011 8:50 am

    Thanks for the input, everyone. After reading this and checking around a little more, it sounds like these might be fun for meadow-skipping, and maybe geared more toward east-coast skiing than the type of touring I’m into here in CO. Yeah, game-changer sounds like a vast overstatement. Dynafit bindings, stiff, light AT boots, and the radically changed ski designs of the last 10 years, maybe, but I don’t see much out this season that qualifies.

    Funny though, I was re-reading the Backcountry Mag gear guide last night and must have seen the term “game-changer” used at least 5 times in various ads and print. I wonder what game they’re referring to.

    Any chance of a Dynafit TTitan Ultra-light review coming out soon? I’m drooling over those things!

  25. Lou October 31st, 2011 9:02 am

    Pierce, it’s hilarious how print (and all other, for that matter) media will sometimes latch on to a hip sounding term and over use it. Done it myself, of course. The phrase that really got ridiculous for a while way back when was “telemark mecca.” It’s also interesting and amusing, when you’re a writer, to try and come up with new ways of saying things then seeing your verbiage get taken up by other writers. I wonder who the first ski writer was to use the term “game changer?” He or she must be laughing. Lou

  26. Kidd November 1st, 2011 8:26 am

    The phrase that is causing me problems is ‘freeride backcountry skier’ what exactly is that? Sounds to me like someone came out of business school from back east and thought this was all new.

  27. Lou November 1st, 2011 9:06 am

    Kidd, that or they’re communications majors. Marketing and PR folks love those buzz phrases. Freeride isn’t really that strange, as it describes the fluid style of skiing that actually harkens back to the stuff you see in some of the old European ski movies, before bump skiing and tight little turns in tight pants became the rage. Shoot, perhaps ‘freeride backcountry skier’ is actually descriptive, as it speaks to the skier who earns their turns, but skis in the more fluid, open style. Whatever the case, interesting as always to see our language morph.

  28. Gentle Sasquatch November 4th, 2011 6:49 am

    Devils advocate here:

    Speaking of Vector BC as a game changer. Is there any other rockered ski with scaled bases?

    Another question: wouldn’t a rockered ski with kicker skins be about the same thing as the Vector BC? Kicker skins should be much easier to put on and take off.

  29. Jay November 5th, 2011 10:30 pm

    Game changer? Not that stuff.

  30. Gentle Sasquatch November 6th, 2011 4:29 pm

    I have been eyeing the Vector BC for outings to the local hills, after snowstorms, where there is a constant up and down track. Attaching and reattaching skins would be a PITA, therefore I thought a waxless pattern ski would be a great idea especially the rockered rising tip version of Vector BC.

    I am not afraid of putting some kickwax on a ski. For the intended purpose I mentioned above, would adding a kickwax to a rockered ski provide a suitable equivalent to a ski with a waxless base?

  31. Lou November 6th, 2011 4:36 pm

    Not much I can offer to that one, except to say that with a lot of rocker (full) your kick zone might be so small it wouldn’t work for hill climbing.

  32. Gentle Sasquatch November 7th, 2011 8:47 am

    I think my plan will be to buy kicker skins instead and test the setup from there. 🙂

  33. Forest November 7th, 2011 9:56 am

    Sasquatch – I’ve used kicker skins on both plain base skis (traditional camber) and as an augment to patterned base skis. They work great for turning a smooth base into a “waxless” base but have some obvious drawbacks on what you can climb. When added to a waxless ski, mostly toward the tail, behind the pattern, they climb very well.

  34. Gentle Sasquatch November 7th, 2011 11:25 am

    Thanks Forest.

    I just went a little spastic today and pulled a trigger on a pair of Hi5’s with skins + kicker skins.

    Somebody please send snow our way before I spend all my money 😎

  35. Dimi November 7th, 2011 11:29 am

    Sasquatch, did you order from by any chance? I had the 188cm in my cart today only to see them disappear! you have my skis 😉

  36. Ben November 7th, 2011 11:43 am

    I think waxless patterns are more comparable to kick wax than to skins, even kicker skins. Good for moderate up and down, has better glide than kickers, but not going to grip well if conditions are icy or you are trying to climb some steep refrozen track. Of course on a steep track where you would normally use full skins not kickers, waxless isn’t going to make it. Where waxless patterns are nice is where the snow is very changeable and kick waxing would be a royal pain because the wax of the day changes every hundred yards. I think this is more important to those of us with less predictable snow than the Colorado-Utah-Europe-Vermont axis (at least my fantasy is you all have more consistent snow than say California, Arizona, or warmer parts of the northeast).

  37. Lou November 7th, 2011 11:46 am

    Ben, keep the fantasy alive!

  38. Gentle Sasquatch November 7th, 2011 11:53 am

    Dimi – you got to be kidding me. 🙂 lol. I might have your skis 😉

  39. Kerry November 8th, 2011 8:58 pm

    Anyone skied the Volare yet? Am really interested to hear about their performance in crud, breakable crust, if they’re ok for edge hold considering the width.

  40. Bob Perlmutter November 8th, 2011 10:51 pm

    Hi Kerry, I skied the Volare last spring as a tester for the Skiing Mag AT ski test along side many other skis. It was the ski I kept going back to repeatedly because I couldn’t get enough. I intend to do a full review at some point this winter as the conditions last spring were limited to on piste as the off piste was a frozen ocean. That said, the Volare had uncanny torsional stiffness, stability and dampness for such a light ski. More to come when I get a chance to experience the Volare off piste.

  41. Jonathan Shefftz November 9th, 2011 8:56 am

    At least six-and-a-half years ago, maybe even longer, I emailed Lou about my brilliant idea to mount up some Fischer Outtabounds with Dynafit Speed bindings and my rando race bindings.
    He told me that using Dynafits with patterned-base skis was a pretty dumb idea.
    I ignored his advice.
    At least I wasted only short portions of two test outings on this experiment, and I was able to resell the skis for almost what I originally paid.

  42. Lou November 9th, 2011 8:58 am


  43. Jonathan Shefftz November 9th, 2011 9:14 am

    So if I’m understanding those tip instructions correctly, the Skialp tip hardware is for the proprietary skin attachment, the Freeride tip hardware is for using a non-proprietary skin attachment, and the tip hardware can even be foregone entirely if you want to risk damage to the bare tip.
    I still can’t get over the both the impressive width:weight ratio (even lighter in the 164cm size I’ve used for my other Trab skis, plus a bit wider at 100mm) and the lack of any modified tip geometry in a ski this wide.
    I’m not sure what to make of the Backcountry magazine review (which as usual was mainly a failed creative writing exercise of a booze-filled lift-served ski vacation), and unfortunately Off-Piste mag didn’t review them. As for the Skiing Mag impressive performance on groomers, is that a promising or not-so-promising sign of their performance in deep unconsolidated snow?

  44. stephen November 10th, 2011 2:45 am

    I agree with Ben (above) re waxless skis.

    Here in Oz we have plenty of rolling terrain, temperatures are above zero C most days in winter and waxing is a total pain. Nobody grip waxes here any more apart from serious classical XC ski racers as it’s way too much trouble and then you have to carry waxes, klisters [shudder], scrapers, etc.

    I understand that waxless versus waxable is a religious issue, but it *is* also a regional one; if I lived in Oslo or Hokkaido I’d not bother with patterns either.

    Still, I’m not quite sure how much sense the Vector BC makes, although I expect to see some around here next winter.

    The Trabs don’t make a whole lotta sense for us here in Oz (unless we’re travelling OS) but the colour is nice and will match Bianchi’s celeste bikes really nicely. 🙂

  45. Niels April 8th, 2013 11:34 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Thanks for the wealth of information. I have a chance to buy new 185 cm Ski Trab Volares for $307. I’m 176 cm and jump turn down double black runs with confidence. The skis actually measure 181 cm. I’m sure I can handle them but hope they don’t hold me back too much. It sounds like you would lean towards a shorter than normal length with this ski yet I’m considering a longer than normal length. If you had to would you pick a shorter than normal length for yourself for this ski? If so what would your reasons be. Any thought or elaboration on details is much appreciated.
    Thank you, Niels

  46. Lou Dawson April 9th, 2013 6:21 am

    Niels, “normal” is probably not the right word. I like shorter skis for spring ski mountaineering just because they’re lighter and carry on my pack easier. In winter, with more powder skiing, I like something more in the realm of my body height, “short” I would define as cheek height, “body height/length) I define as coming to my forehead. Lou

  47. Niels April 9th, 2013 8:50 am

    I stand corrected Lou, as “normal” is a moving target and definitely not the correct word. How do you think you would feel on Volare’s that were a little taller than you? I know that’s a terrible hypothetical question, I’m just looking for any thoughts or input. You used 171cm Volare’s, do you feel you could have used longer? These skis are only 5 cm taller than me and are such a good deal. I’m just hoping they aren’t too tall.

  48. Ben November 24th, 2014 3:41 pm

    Lou, I own these skis (partly on your review), and love them…but have not been able to locate the proprietary skins here in the U.S. or online. (I’m in Denver.) I mated them to a mix BD skin which is a little heavy for this ski and required some tip and tail attachment creativity (and the attendant annoyance). This year I just want to be able to slap em on/rip em off. Do you, or maybe any Scarpa rep you know, know how I could get my hands on the proprietary Volare skins (171cm) ?


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