Expert Review: Armada Tracer 98 Skis · 2022Published on 12/10/2022 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2021.
All photos courtesy of Austen Law
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2021.
The Armada Tracer 98 skis are an excellent pair of skis that can crush resort-style skiing in all kinds of snow and can be a terrific pair of skis to be taken to the backcountry. These skis cater to the intermediate to the expert level skier, as they can carve the groomer like a dream and float in soft powder snow conditions. It’s an all-mountain ski with an alpine touring focus as well.
About the gear I own
- Model: 2022 Armada Tracer 98
- Size: 180cm
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 175lbs
- Experience: 26 years skiing and 16 years ski racing
- When I bought these: October 2021
- Days tested: 25+
- Mount position: Factory Recommended
- Boots: 2021 Rossignol All Track Elite 130 LV
- Boot Size: 26.5
- Bindings: 2021 Look SPX 12
- Where I’ve used it: Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood, Mt. Baker
- Terrain: Mixed snow, powder, groomer
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was excited to try a new technology from Armada that combined their freeride and new technology for carving and finding the perfection of the two. I was looking for a ski that could handle all PNW skiing conditions, from groomer to powder.
Why I chose this gear
I chose the Armada Tracer 98 because it carved so well for an all-mountain ski and floated like a dream in the soft snow. The skis were light compared to many other all-mountain ski options like K2 Mindbender 99TI and the Salomon QST 98. These skis can shred the resort and crush the backcountry touring for how light they are.
What I love about them
- Speed: The Tracer 98 has a very quick speed to them right out of the plastic. They contain polyurethane with added carbon to create a fast base and added durability.
- Edge hold: The Tracer 98 has an all-mountain rocker, which offers a rocker with a tapered side cut on both tip and tail that provides floatation in soft snow and gives a window of forgiveness in its turn shape. The camber underfoot maintains a great edge hold on hard groomers. These skis have 75% sidewall and 25% cap, which makes the edge hold great underfoot, while that cap construction in the tip and tail provides great smooth turn initiation and edge hold.
- Turns: These skis are so very easy to turn. The ski is already there as soon as I think I want to get forward and initiate that turn movement. The tip and middle of the ski are mid-stiff with a softer tail to easily make big hard turns.
- Groomers: For groomers, the Tracer 98 can cruise and carve like a dream. The great edge underfoot and in the tip allows good edge hold and carvability on the groomers.
- Powder: Although they're 98 underfoot, these skis allow a skier to play in all snow. These float really well in powder and are light, so they can float and slash the powder like I’m skiing in a ski movie. For deep, deep snow, I would grab a bigger ski underfoot. Like the Tracer 108, the 98 floats well in two to six inches of new.
- Trees: I chose the 180cm because they are more “surf-like” being quick and nimble, so in the trees, they are fantastic. Quick responsiveness and nimbleness allow the skis and the skier to move quickly in the trees.
- Backcountry: These skis are extremely ideal for the backcountry. The Tracer 98s are the perfect width for a backcountry ski and are so light. They are the perfect ski for a backcountry setup.
- Durability: The durability of these skis is great. Having skied these for multiple weeks, I can say that these skis can be beaten up and skied hard and still hold up really well. No big dents or gashes from ski-to-ski contact. Good topsheet and good durability of the base.
- Weight: Ultra-light, from the Caruba wood core and braided mesh to dampen the skis.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Switch riding: These skis are built for directional skiing and have a fairly flush tail. It has an early rise, but not enough to ski switch.
- Other: Sometimes the skis can get pushed around in wet snow.
Favorite moment with this gear
When I first took these out to the backcountry, these skis were the ticket. I knew they were the best choice I could have made. They were quick, they turned well, and they could ski downhill and uphill just as well. As I was skinning up on a backcountry tour, they were so light but not so light that I thought I would break them as I skied down. They were phenomenal when I took off the skins and got to skiing downhill. They can turn well and are super playful. I couldn’t stop smiling as I skied down and thought wow, these skis could really do it all. No wonder they won ski of the year in 2021 from Ski Magazine.
Value for the money vs. other options
These Armada Tracer 98 skis are an excellent value for their versatility and purpose as an all-mountain ski. These skis can ski it all and are very playful and dynamic. Some other skis, like the K2 Mindbender 99 TI, might be less expensive but aren’t as playful or more backcountry oriented than the Tracer 98s. Some other more expensive skis could be the Kastle FX 98, which are excellent skis too, but the Armadas do the job just as well.
The Armada Tracer 98 is light enough to tour every day and strong enough to shred the areas in between, especially on the resort's front side. The Armada Tracer 98 skis are one of the best choices going for a do-it-all quiver ski with a backcountry focus.