Expert Review: 2023 Armada ARV 116 JJ Skis [with Video]
Ski Experts Brandon Wrstburg and Hayden Wright tested the 2023 Armada ARV 116 JJ skis on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Ski Experts Brandon Westburg and Hayden Wright got their hands on the 2023 Armada ARV 116 JJ this spring and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every rider is different; if you have any questions about the 2023 Armada ARV 116 JJ or need recommendations on which ski would be best for you, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Armada claim about this ski?
[Brandon] Armada claims this is the best resort powder ski on the market, and I had no problem understanding that through about three inches of powder today.
[Hayden] Armada states that the ARV 116 JJ is the ultimate resort pow ski, and we're at a resort today. We did have a little bit of pow; I can attest to that. Being 116 millimeters and under a foot, it is a bigger ski and definitely in the pow category. I think why they are advertising it as the ultimate resort pow ski because it's got an 18-meter turn radius. So, it's still pretty quick edge to edge for being a wider ski. But if you're going on that trip and it's not going to be nuking the entire time, but there's a chance for the storm to roll through, the ARV 116 JJ is definitely a ski to consider.
What's your overall impression of the ski?
[Brandon]: So, it was really fun to ski the Armada 116 JJ today. I've never been on this ski before, so I didn't really know what to expect initially for my first couple of runs. This is one of the most poppy and playful skis at the 116 width. It is surprisingly lightweight. I would've loved to ski some drifts or some deeper powder in this because of the rocker profile. But it still had plenty of edge grip and was fun in three inches. So I can't imagine how fun this is in a foot plus, or maybe even a foot and a half of snow. I would've loved to take it out in some deeper snow.
[Hayden] I got to ride the JJs many years ago. The ski has come a long way. Armada has some of the top riders in the world dialing in these skis and every year they're getting closer and closer to becoming a perfect ski. It's a super fun ski. When you jump on a 116-millimeter-wide ski with a shovel as big as this, you might think, "Okay, I need to be in Alaska or Japan right now" or "This ski's too much." That's false when it comes to the ARV 116 JJ. This ski actually skied great in just a few inches of pow. It was super fun. It's very playful. The flex pattern is stiff where you need it and soft where you want it. My favorite thing about the Armada ARV 116 JJ is it is a pretty wide-pow ski. I tend to prefer to ski a bit of a wider ski. And the 116 ARV JJ did not feel like this massive pow ski.
Armada has been around for many years now. They are one of the pioneers in the free ski community. Not only do they make very, very advanced skis, but they also pair them with just super rad top sheets. So this one we got looks like some sort of big old buck.
How is it with carving?
[Brandon] This year, Armada chose to beef up the edge on the 116 JJ; they made it a little bit bigger and wider. Although the Armada 116 has a pretty lightweight wood core, I did really appreciate the extra edge; it was pretty quick edge-to-edge. I did have a great time carving on the groomers. With a 116 underfoot ski, you wouldn't expect that in groomers and tighter terrain.
[Hayden] So I probably say this in most of my reviews, but my personal favorite ski shape is a rocker camber rocker. This one is the poster child for rocker camber rocker. She is loaded in the tip and in the tail. And then we have massive amounts of camber just to keep you locked and gripped on variable snow. It held edge great. Not the quickest ski edge to edge, but that's okay. It's not expected. It's 116. As far as fat pow skis go, it actually is on the quicker side of getting edge to edge. Minimal chatter for you big mountain jammers. We had a ton of fun lacing some arcs down the groomers and a little bit of tree runs. It's not really a tree ski, I would say. It's more big mountain, all-mountain for the ARV 116 JJ.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop?
[Brandon] This is truly a great choice for a freestyle skier looking to get jibby inside and outside the park with plenty of pop. It is one of the most playful skis out there in the powder market. The Armada 116 JJ is designed for jumps and having fun around the mountain, inside and outside of the park.
What about riding switch?
[Brandon] I did get to ski the Armada 116 JJ switch quite a bit. That is definitely what it's designed for. Again, Armada is shooting for this playful park and powder ski, and you can ski it from anywhere in between. As a freestyle skier, I loved this ski and could ski it switch with confidence everywhere on the mountain, even through some fresh snow and some chop.
How is stability on landings?
[Brandon] We did get to jump this thing today and do some 360s. And although a lightweight wood core, you would expect a little bit of chatter or maybe instability on landings or uneven snow, but it was the total opposite of that. I thought it did a great job at providing a stable feel for the ski while maintaining its surfy feel. And I had a great time catching air with it today. I caught some smaller airs off of side hits and some bigger airs as well. I dialed up the speed once I was comfortable on it and had nothing but stable landings. A ton of fun and a lot of rocker in the tip as well.
How was it on powder?
[Brandon] Looking at the build of the ski, it is rocker, camber, rocker, with a significant amount of rocker upfront. The 3D Smear Tech in the front of this ski gives it more rocker to the front. So it's going to flow on those deepest of powder days and the biggest of power lines. This is a ski designed with that big mountain in powder feel, able to accomplish anything you can throw at it. But it's really amazing that at 116 that you can still ride this thing in the park and do spins.
How is it in the trees?
[Brandon] We also got to take this into some tighter trees, and it was super quick. There's almost no metal in this ski at all. It was fun and nimble in the trees and any sort of tighter terrain.
What kind of locations and terrain would it perform well on?
[Brandon] The Armada JJ 116 is a very versatile ski. It doesn't feel like it's 116 underfoot. Through skiing some groomers, switch, and catching air, it was almost hard to believe that this was 116 underfoot. The 116 was really fun to turn edge to edge on groomers, any unstable snow, or any chopped-up snow as well. As far as what locations I think this ski would excel in, I think you can take it anywhere from Alaska to Japan, the deepest power lines to the West and East coast. This is a fairly popular ski on the East Coast for most big mountains in deeper powder purposes. I think this ski does play a purpose in the terrain park as well. Really designed for those freestyle skiers who are looking to get jibby and have fun in the terrain park. I have seen these skied on rails, jumps, and terrain parks. And it seems like whoever's riding them has a big smile on their face.
Where are you taking the ARV on its biggest day out there?
[Hayden] Scenario situation. It is a deep, deep day. Where am I taking the Armada ARV 116JJ? I'm not doing this interview. I'm out ripping laps with the boys. Friends on a pow day, baby. But no, seriously, if there are any bowls at your resorts, you're going sled skiing or anything, it's a deep day. It's steep. You're going to consider this. It has Smear Tech in both the tip and the tail. And essentially, consider the hole of a boat is where they got the idea from. And it's an edgeless shape that, in powder, will help it even more than the early rise in the tip. It just keeps you up top. Doesn't matter if you're landing front seat, back seat, switch, or forward. This is your big mountain park pow jammer. And when I say park, I mean you're up building a jump with the boys. This is a ski to consider. You are not going to find the bottom of the pow.
Who would you recommend this ski to?
[Brandon] It would be great for that freestyle skier looking for a playful pow ski that's also capable in the park as well.
[Hayden] With bases like this, I recommend this ski for skiers who like to go upside down. You know who you are out there.
Who should avoid this ski, and are there better options for them out there?
[Brandon] I would not recommend the Armada 116 JJ to beginner skiers or someone looking for their first powder ski. This is a lightweight ski. There are definitely better options out there. Dial down the waist width and the rocker pattern to get a great feel for powder skiing. But if you're looking to introduce yourself to powder and get a better feel for how powder rides and how you can ride it successfully, I would definitely recommend another ski that isn't quite as wide and doesn't have as much rocker. Intermediate, advanced, expert, and professional skiers will love the Armada JJ 116 nonetheless. Armada wants you to use it anywhere from the powder to the park. If you're extremely tall or a bit on the heavier side, I would not recommend the 116 for you, as it's mostly just wood in the core. So you might want something that has a little bit of metal in the core and is more supportive of your height and weight, specifically.
If you need help finding the right skis for you, please reach out to Brandon, Hayden or another Ski Expert here on Curated. We'll help you get set up with the perfect pair of skis for you that you'll love for seasons to come.