Expert Review: Armada Locator 104 Skis · 2023
This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2022.
The 2023 Armada Locator 104s are an all-mountain, freeride ski that can crush it in all conditions, both on the resort and in the backcountry. It is an intermediate- to expert-level ski. From pow to groomer, these can cruise through it all with ease.
About the skis I own
- Model: 2023 Armada Locator 104
- Size: 186cm
- Height: 6’0’’
- Weight: 185lbs
- Experience: 26 years of skiing and 16 years of ski racing
- When I bought these: October 2022
- Days tested: 15
- Mount position: Factory Recommended
- Boots: 2022 Rossignol AllTrack Elite 130 LV
- Boot Size: 26.5
- Bindings: 2022 Armada Shift 13 MNC
- Where I’ve used it: Washington and Oregon
- Terrain: Backcountry, resort
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was looking for a ski that could bridge a gap between really lightweight construction and excellent downhill performance. I wanted a ski to put a pair of hybrid bindings on and be able to ski tour and ski the resort and have a fun experience at both. I wanted a ski that could float more than carve but could still turn nicely.
Why I chose these skis
I purchased the Armada Locator 104 because these skis are lightweight, playful, and very easy to maneuver on rippers with plenty of pop and reactiveness. These skis want to go fast, but they are also very freeride-oriented, allowing a skier to make the ski do whatever they want. I also looked at the Armada Declivity 102TI, but those were a little too carving-forward, and I wanted something more playful. I also considered the Kastle FX 106 a hard charger, but the Locators were more fun.
What I love about them
- Speed: These skis want to go fast. The Locator series has the Armada Comp Series base, which has sintered UHMW polyethylene with added carbon to make them fast and durable.
- Edge hold: These have a decent edge hold for a freeride ski. They are, by no means, a ski to take out for a carving day. But the Locator 104s have a good rocker, allowing the ski to turn over nicely and hold that edge well.
- Turns: These skis need speed and energy to really get moving. Short, small, and agile turns aren’t really the Locator 104s bread and butter, but they are soft enough to move in tight places. These skis are great at high speeds and big, long turns. They have a 22m turn radius for the long cruising turns on the resort and down the backcountry.
- Groomers: The Locators 104 unexpectedly impressed me. As a softer-profile ski, I did not expect them to perform as well as they did on the groomer condition. They are really stable at speed and made me much more confident with different snow conditions. These can handle any type of groomer really well.
- Powder: Being a freestyle-styled ski, the 104s rip in the powder. They are playful and lightweight and allow the skier to smear and slash pow if they like or straight line and feel confident in both.
- Trees: Being pretty nimble, the Locator 104s can handle the trees well, as they are versatile-enough skis to turn or slash in quick and tight areas quickly.
- Backcountry: Lightweight and fast? For the backcountry? Yes, please. The Locator 104s are a great option for a skier looking for a ski that can handle a good amount of powder conditions, and as one is skiing down, having the ability to turn and have fun with it, too.
- Durability: Holding up so far after about 13 days of riding in pow and groomer and taking them in the backcountry. Ski-to-ski contact is expected, but the skis look good.
- Stability: These skis cruise like I’m skiing through butter. They are very stable and calm and can make one a better skier. They are playful enough that I can smear turns and butter the ski but also ride the tails in the pow and feel comfortable.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: With the added metal, these skis are a little heavier than the average touring ski made for the backcountry. Are they a great ski for a skier looking for a resort ski that can also be used in the sidecountry/backcountry? Yes. But for long, multi-day backcountry trips, these skis might be a little heavy compared to some lightweight, backcountry-specific skis.
- Switch riding: Being pretty directional, these Locator 104s are designed to be a forward-riding ski. Not to say I can’t ride them backward, but there is no tail rocker to make it easy to ride switch.
- Other: Although surprisingly versatile for a freeride powder ski, the shape and design of the Locator 104 is not optimized for a daily driver. This ski should be a ski to add to the rotation when it snows a little and one wants to ski some pow and some groomer.
Favorite moment with this gear
When I was able to ski these for the first time, I was really excited to see how they handled versus their predecessor, the Tracer series. I was so pleasantly surprised at how they handled all the conditions on Mt. Bachelor. From groomer to a little bit of powder, these Locator 104s crushed it. They cruised through the mixed snow, floated in the powder, and ripped on the groomer. They are super noble, agile, and fun skis to rip all over the mountain. Plus, they look really good, too, with the royal blue topsheet and the bright green bases.
Value for the money vs. other options
Skiing is not a cheap date, but when one finds a ski for them, it is often worth the money to invest in a good pair of skis that make them a better skier and a more confident skier. The Armada Locator 104s are a great ski for a powder day slayer or a new backcountry addition for playing in the soft snow and getting some good turns in. Some other options in the 100mm to 106mm family would be the Volkl Blaze 104, or the K2 Mindbender 108, both great skis, but I liked the Armada as it was more lightweight and playful than the other two.
These Armada Locator 104s are every day, every condition backcountry-driven freeride skis. The performance of the Locator 104s on hardpack was by far their standout moment. These are really enjoyable skis and make skiing fun. The Locators give confidence in any condition in a weight that doesn’t make me tired. They are great for some backcountry and great for resort riding. The Locator 104s can do it all.