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.
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.
Bob Perlmutter and his wife Sue live in Aspen where Bob manages Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, a snowcat skiing operation. Bob has sought adventure skiing over the past thirty years, in the nearby Elk Mountains as well as numerous locales around the world. Presently, he is reeling it in close to home to embark on his biggest adventure yet, fatherhood.