Expert Review: Armada Tracer 98 Skis
This review is my honest opinion of the Armada Tracer 98, which I bought with my own money in December of 2020.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the Armada Tracer 98, which I bought with my own money in December of 2020.
The Armada Tracer 98 is a nimble, maneuverable, and lightweight ski great for a moderately aggressive intermediate or expert skier looking to ski various types of terrain.
About the gear I own
- Model: 2020 Armada Tracer 98
- Gender: Unisex
- Size: Available in 164cm, 172cm, 180cm, and 188cm
- Turning Radius: 18m (in 180cm)
- Height: 5’6”
- Weight: 120 lb.
- Experience: 20 years of skiing
- When I bought these: December 2020
- Days used: 75 days
- Size: 164cm
- Where I’ve used it: Resorts in Colorado, California, Wyoming, and Montana
- Terrain: Powder, hardpack, moguls, and trees
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was looking for a maneuverable and playful ski to use primarily in Colorado to complement a wider more powder-specific ski. I wanted something that I could take in the tight trees, moguls, and groomers. I had a pair of Salomon Shift bindings on these, so they also served as my backcountry touring skis.
Why I chose this gear
I chose the Armada Tracers for their quickness and playful feel. The 98mm underfoot is a great versatile width that can get a rider through almost any day except for a super deep powder day. I was looking for an all-mountain ski with a smaller turning radius. In the 164, these have a 17m turning radius; however, they feel quicker than that due to their rocker/camber/rocker profile. These skis are pretty easy to pivot underfoot if I am looking to make some smaller turns.
What I love about them
- Maneuverability and Responsiveness: With a generous tip and tail rocker, this ski can pivot and turn very quickly and easily, making it great for navigating technical lines. I can really wiggle through almost any tight and technical line with ease.
- Flex Pattern: The camber profile in this ski gives it a nice pop when one hooks up the ski. This makes it perform relatively well on groomers for a softer, wood-core ski. This ski has a lot of energy and a responsive feel.
- Lightweight: This ski is somewhere in between a resort ski and a touring ski. It was built to handle almost any type of skiing and constructed using ultra-lightweight and durable materials, making it a great option for touring.
- Versatility: The Armada Tracer 98 can handle almost any terrain I encounter throughout the day. It is narrow enough underfoot that edge initiation on a groomer is no problem. This being said, the rocker and softer tips/tails make them forgiving and easy to pivot in bumps or trees. These would be a great option for someone who spends their time skiing on the East and West Coast.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Stability: This is certainly not the best hard-charging and stable ski out there. I have noticed a bit of chatter and instability when skiing these at higher speeds. I would stray away from these if one is looking for a real charging ski. These are better for smaller folks who may not want to ski super aggressively and fast all the time.
- Ice: I have had some issues getting this ski to hold a good edge on ice. Their wood core makes them a bit too soft for aggressive carving in icy conditions. These would likely not be the best choice for someone who spends most of their time on a true hard pack or ice. If one is looking for a ski of this width that performs better on ice, I recommend something with some metal, such as the Head Core 99 or the Line Blade Optic 96. The Armada Tracer 98 is more of an off-piste ski with a carving ability, but this is not its number one strength.
- Float: These skis can be a bit narrow for deep powder days. Their width just doesn't give them quite enough float for days with fresh snow. If a rider is looking for something a bit wider, they should check out their big brother, the Armada Tracer 108. These have similar construction and profile but just a wider version.
Favorite moment with this gear
I spent a spring weekend skiing moguls at Taos in New Mexico. These skis were perfect for ripping down the slush bumps. Most of my friends had wider and stiffer skis and were struggling to maneuver through the moguls. I skied them with ease on my Tracers.
Value for the money vs. other options
These skis are just over $800 brand new. These are constructed with fiberglass, which is not only lightweight but also known for its durability. These skis have held up very well for me, and I think they are worth the price. They are comparable price-wise to some of their competitors, such as the K2 Mindbender 99, the Dynastar M-Free 99, or the Salomon QST 98. These skis have also been around for several years, with very few changes in construction from year to year. So there are definitely some older models that may be available for a discounted price.
The Armada Tracer 98s are a great choice for a high-end intermediate or a smaller/lighter expert who does not prioritize speed and hard-charging. These are playful, versatile, and a great one-ski quiver for someone who finds themselves in many types of terrain, but they are a bit flimsy and soft for a larger person or someone who really loads up the ski.