You may not have heard of Ski Trab - this family business don't quite have the marketing resources of bigger brands like K2, but the advantage of the smaller scale is that these skis aren't mass- produced in China. Ski Trab skis are designed, tested, developed and crafted in the Italian ski resort of Bormio where Signor Trabucci ﬁrst made a wooden pair of skis back in 1946.
Ski Trab's stated aim is to make skis that are lightweight without compromising performance. It sounded just what I, and most other ski mountaineers are looking for. I decided to test a pair and see how they performed.
I had a good look through the Ski Trab ski mountaineering range and came across the Polvere, which means 'powder' in Italian. This ski has a softer ﬂex and is lighter than the Ripido (meaning 'steep'), their new mountaineering ski designed for the steeps. The Polvere is also narrower and has a softer ﬂex than their Volare (meaning 'ﬂy'), which is designed for power and speed.
Research found the Polvere is based on Trab's award-winning classic mountaineering ski the Duo Freerando, but is slightly wider, measuring 123/88/109 compared to 112/79/96 and slightly heavier, 1310g per ski as opposed to 1220g in size 164. Both characteristics suggested the Polvere would perform slightly better than the Duo on the descents, while only adding the weight of a King-sized Twix. Plus - now I'd looked up the weight of a King-sized Twix and found it was only 85g, I happily added a few more to my ski rucksack. Win win.
All things considered, the Polvere seemed ideal for a lighter weight, not particularly aggressive skier to use as every day ski touring skis across a wide variety of terrain. I ordered the Polvere ﬁtted with lightweight Dynaﬁt ski touring bindings.
When the skis arrived, of course I stood them on the ground and did that 'press the middle with your palm a few times and nod thoughtfully' thing that you do when checking out skis - it's like the ski version of wine tasting. They felt solid and reasonably stiff yet lively so my hopes for good descents increased. The fact that I could easily pick them both up with one hand made me especially excited to try them on the uphills.
How do they make performance skis so light?
Inside the ski is a honeycomb of a synthetic ﬁbre called Aramid, which is apparently used in space and military manufacture because it is very strong but also very lightweight. The honeycomb is encased in a 4-way cross weave of carbon ﬁbre to increase lateral stiffness while keeping weight really low. Further lightweight torsional stiffness is provided by carbon ﬁbre and ﬁbre glass reinforcements. I don't really understand it either, but the long and short of it is: Ski Trab have come a long way since that ﬁrst pair of wooden skis.
So, how did they perform?
What people are looking for in ski mountaineering skis usually depends on how much time they will spend skinning uphill versus how much time they'll be skiing downhill. Those who do a lot of skinning will probably prioritise lightness over ski performance. Those who usually use the lifts to reduce the amount of up, and/or those prepared to push a heavier ski up in order to get a better ski down, will probably prioritise ski performance over lightness.
I've found the Polveres offered the ideal compromise for me - I do a lot of skinning, but also wanted a ski that would handle most types of snow on the descent reasonably well. I'm more interested in getting out and exploring reasonably fast than having the best ever descent.
I've used the Polveres in every kind of terrain this season, and they cope with everything well. Not perfectly, but well. They are enjoyable to ski in powder, but obviously something wider would ﬂoat better. For a fatter version check out the Volare.
On piste they carve well, particularly in longer turns, and are quite quick edge to edge as they are reasonably stiff. Although not speciﬁcally designed to ski on steep terrain like the Ripido, for a lighter weight less aggressive skier, the Polvere's steel edges grip well.
The Polvere don't throw you around too much in the crud for such light skis - I would say they offer a good amount of stability and vibration dampening for their weight. Obviously a heavier/stiffer ski would smash through that kind of terrain much better, but they strike a good compromise. They are hard work in heavy snow, but not as hard work as something lighter and thinner would be.
You can buy Ski Trab skins which clip into notches in the top and tail of these skis (see photo on right). This means the skins ﬁt perfectly and you don't have to spend any time cutting them to size. The design is good - they stay on well. A downside is you can't use these skins on other skis. Also I did manage to pull one front skin tip off. However, I did yard the skin quite a bit off this front point when ﬁtting the skins as I just don't know my own strength sometimes. It went back on quite easily and, with a bit more care, it's not come off again.
The skins are 100% mohair. They feel good quality and I've had no problems with them gripping snow - I've never slid backwards on them, whatever the conditions. The glue that holds them to the ski is also very grippy. In fact, the ﬁrst time I used them I got pumped trying to pull them apart, which was a bit embarrassing when trying to look like a hardened ski mountaineer. However, the glue softened with a little use, and they're now much more user friendly.
Ideal ski mountaineering skis for those who want to do a lot of skinning up and exploring without being knackered, but also enjoy pretty good descents in a variety of conditions.
Polvere Lengths (in pink) and Specifications Detailed Below:
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