Ski Trab is a brand that most North Americans are likely not that familiar with but the brand has a huge presence and long history in Europe. They were founded in 1946 in Bormio Italy where the company is still based to this day. Ski Trab designs and manufactures apparel, packs, poles, helmets, bindings, skins and of course skis. As I was eager to learn more about their products, Ski Trab was nice enough to set me up with a pair of their new 2022/23 Neve 181 Skis mounted with Titan Vario 2 Bindings and a pair of pre-cut Brand 100% Mohair Skins. Together, these combine to make a truly lightweight ski touring setup and one that’s specifically designed for big vertical days. Aptly named, the Neve Skis (which is Italian for snow) have a mostly white top sheet that does not allude to the technical nature of the construction of the ski contained within. Let’s dive in and take a deeper look at what makes the Ski Trab Neve Skis tick.
As part of this review, Backcountry Skiing Canada is happy to have Lori Anne Donald also adding in her thoughts. She is a member of the Canadian National Ski Mountaineering Team and competes in Canada and Internationally in various disciplines of Ski Mountaineering Racing and spends most of her time training on the Ski Trab Gara World Cup 60 WMN skis and Ski Trab Gara Titan WC + ST binding.
The Neve Skis are new for the 2022/23 season and incorporate everything Ski Trab has learned in their 75 years of making skis in the Italian Dolomites. The Neve Skis have a subtle rocker/camber/rocker profile ideal for skiing in deeper snow and technical ski touring. Their constructions use what Ski Trab calls their '14 layer' construction. This uses 14 different layers wrapped around an ultralight double wood core which optimizes the skis flex pattern, stability, torsional stiffness and durability. This torsion box construction forms around the ski’s core with a quadriaxial carbon-glass fibre cap which provides a softer response. The materials used include fibreglass, basalt fibre, biaxial carbon, glass fabric, carbon tubes, Nome honeycomb, and wood—which all contribute to the ski's lower density in the centre and higher density at the sides. The fibreglass included in the layup provides extra flexibility to absorb vibrations and make the skis damper.
At 93mm underfoot the Neve Skis are Ski Trab’s powder skis and have a progressive early rise in the tips to help the skis float in deep snow and a much subtler rise in the tails to facilitate kick turns on the skin track and finish turns effectively on firmer snow. Underfoot you'll find a good amount of camber to help the skis rebound and pop out of turns as well as bite into firmer snow.
The skis also have an oversized sidecut for better edge grip and precision with three radiuses—22.5m in the front, 24.5m underfoot and 26.5m in the tail forming the overall 24.5 turn Radius.
The Neve Skis have a band of elastomers inserted lengthways between the edges and in the tips and tails it covers the internal structure of the skis completely. This creates a cushioning effect that allows the skis to be more stable and actively dampen vibrations.
The centre of the Neve Skis have a softer flex allowing the radius to work more effectively during the loading phase of the ski's arc, in addition to this, the ski's composite materials are heavier in both the tips and tails providing more structure and torsional rigidity to keep the skis on edge carving over their entire effective edge.
The ultimate companion to the Ski Trab Neve Skis is their Titan Vario 2 Bindings with ‘stoppers’ or ‘brakes’ as we call them. The Titan Vario 2’s titanium toe piece features independent jaws which work free of each other, unlike a traditional pin system where the jaws move symmetrically. This holds the ski boot more effectively and safely as there is a reduced risk of an accidental pre-release. The heel unit has two riser positions of 8.8°, and 10.6° with an easy transition from the first riser to the downhill mode by simply flipping the riser out of the way. The other riser level is achieved by rotating the Titan Vario 2 Bindings 180° and resting the boot atop the binding. Turn the heel piece 90° and you get a neutral position of 5.8° as the boot rests on the brake lock. The total weight per pair of the Titan Vario 2 Bindings is only 618g or 1.36lb with brakes.
Price: $699$ CAN / $539US
Weight: 618g / 1.36lb (per pair with brakes)
Release Value: 5-7, 7-9, 9-11
Materials: Ergal, Titanium, Steel, Technopolymer
Brakes: 65, 78, 85, 94mm
Risers: 5.8°, 8.8°, 10.6°
Ski Trab’s Brand 100% Mohair Skins use an innovative “Attivo” or “active” attachment which includes a hook with a pull tab that goes around the ski tip and a tab at the tail which inserts into a notch at the end of the ski. This design allows you to rip the skins from tail to tip or from tip to tail providing you with the versatility of both options. Their 100% Mohair fabric makes the Ski Trab Brand Skins glide exceptionally well while also providing the grip you need. Since they come pre-cut, they are ready to use out of the box with no finicky cutting required.
Price: $239CAN / $194US
Lengths: 174, 181, 188cm
Fabric: 100% Mohair
Given the amount of snow we receive here in the interior of BC the thought of touring on a 93mm underfoot ski was worrisome. Typical skis of choice for this region tend to be positioned solidly in the 100+mm range with the sweet spot being around 105mm for most. Anything sub 100mm is typically reserved for those looking to do multi-day ski traverses or compete in skimo races. Both of which are not on my radar, unless of course, the traverse has a series of huts along the way. At just 93mm underfoot, Ski Trab’s new Neve Skis are thin but surprisingly they are the widest skis they offer. Since the company is based in Europe where they tend to get less snow than we do here in BC and the fact that skimo racing is HUGE there, it makes sense that Ski Trab focuses on what we consider to be thinner skis. That being said, I was excited to see how the Neve Skis would perform in bounds and out, in both fresh and groomed snow. Knowing full well that the Neve Skis are a niche ski for those that like to go light and fast—I still wanted to test them in all types of snow and in all types of terrain.
Being obviously light, given their 93mm waist, I was already sure that they would climb with ease even before stepping into the Neve Skis—and I was not disappointed. At just 2,920g or 6.43lb, the Neve Skis are some of the lightest skis we’ve reviewed to date but this makes one wonder how they will perform in less than ideal conditions, deep snow, hardpack and refrozen chunder—So I set out to find out.
With ample early rise in the tips and tails I was delighted to see that the Neve Skis could float in new snow and while their 123mm tips are not huge they did help keep the ski afloat and make up for their smaller waist. My first impression was that they ski much larger than they are, if I didn’t look down I would be remiss to think that I didn’t have much fatter skis underfoot. While modest amounts of fresh snow were no problem for the Neve Skis anything beyond the 15cm and I did wish I had a fatter ski for the descent but given the Neve’s limited surface area underfoot I was impressed none-the-less. These skis would be right at home in Europe as well as the Canadian or US Rockies where snowfalls are thinner but here in the Selkirk Mountains of BC more ski underfoot is always a good thing. On resort groomers the Neve Skis held their own, preferring soft or corn snow to anything too firm. Once the snow tightened up then they were not as responsive and started to waiver but again understandable given their mass. This is also why in broken snow or refrozen chunder they tend to struggle, they just don't have the mass behind them to force their way through or over any formidable obstacles. With a forgivable soft flex, the Neve Skis preferred short and poppy turns as opposed to fast long radius carving turns as they could bite into the snow effectively thanks to their 14-Layer Control construction and generous camber underfoot. While they have a turning radius on the larger end their 123 / 93 / 113mm dimensions could use a little more shape to help crank up the fun factor but with everything I’ve said so far one must remember that these are a lightweight touring ski designed for big vertical days, multi-day traverses and skimo racing. This is a detail that can easily be forgotten while skiing them as they do feel wider underfoot than their 93mm.
Lori Anne says that she "initially tried the Ski Trab Neve Skis in the 174 cm length on a variable snow condition day in the backcountry around Whitewater Ski Resort. In total, I tested them on sheltered pow, firm refrozen snow, breakable crust (eek!), deep pow, groomers, steeps, and spring corn. Overall I enjoyed the ski for climbing and descending. I would pick this ski for specific conditions and pair them with a medium to heavy weighted touring boot." As for the Ski Trab Brand 100% Mohair Skins Lori Anne feels that they are totally worth getting to match with the Ski Trab Neve skis since their precision fit and mohair fibres make skinning a breeze. She found that they gripped well breaking trails in powder and crossing firm snowpack and that the fibres stood up well to a variety of snow, tree branches, and dirt. The skins fit very securely to the ski and she had zero issues with the skins moving, or the tips or tails coming off unexpectedly. Which was a nice change!
When it comes to the Ski Trab’s Titan Vario 2 Lori Anne found them to be a fantastic binding. As she says "Coming from a ski touring race background I am looking for a binding that feels secure, is lightweight, and quick to use. This binding has it all with great performance, multiple colour options, and optional brakes." She found the Titan Vario 2’s were secure and responsive for their weight and size. Stepping in is simple and quick and the first heel riser flips over the pins just like her race setup for a super fast transition. She also found that being able to spin the heel to allow for a fully flat mode also feels so good for long flat sections of the skin track.
The combination of the Neve Skis with the Ski Trab Titan Vario 2 Bindings and Stoppers (or brakes as we call them) made for a really enjoyable touring setup on those days when I wanted to crush some vertical or venture far. Having less weight on your feet saves you precious energy and means more turns overall. If you are looking for a lightweight ski touring set up that skis larger than what its dimensions state then the Ski Trab Neve Skis should be considered. If you want to compare them with other similar dimensioned skis we’ve reviewed then check out the Blizzard Zero G 95 Skis, Faction Agent 2.0X Skis, Movement Session 95 Skis, Rossignol Blackops Alpineer 96 Skis and the Volkl Rise Beyond 96 Skis. If you are interested in a more resort/race-orientated ski then please read our reivew of the Ski Trab Mistico.2 Skis.
Price: $1099 / $899US
Lengths: 174, 181, 188cm
Dimensions: 123 / 93 / 113mm
Weight: 2,920g / 6.43lb (181cm length pair)
Turn Radius: 24.5m
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