Expert Review: Armada ARW 116 VJJ UL Skis · Women's · 2023

Published on 03/06/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested for 4 days in February of 2023.
Sarah KJ, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Sarah KJ

Besides skiing well, these look good too! All photos courtesy of Sarah KJ

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested for 4 days in February of 2023.

My take

The Armada ARW 116 VJJ UL Skis are an advanced freestyle powder ski that can be taken on groomers on the way to a deep tree run or cliff drop section. Pillow lines are no problem on these skis, and buttering on the tips and tails is some of the most fun I have had this season.

In between lines on a deep day!

About the skis I tested

  • Model: 2023 Armada ARW 116 VJJ
  • Size: 164 cm

About me

  • Height: 5’0”
  • Weight: 135 lbs
  • Experience: 4 years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I tested these: February 2023
  • Days tested: 4
  • Mount position: Recommended
  • Boots: 2023 Salomon Alpha Pro
  • Boot Size: 23.5
  • Bindings: 2023 Tyrolia Attack
  • Where I’ve used it: Idaho, Wyoming
  • Terrain: Trees, pillow lines, cliff and rock drops, groomers

How they perform

Flotation
5/5
Durability
4/5
High Speed Stability
4/5
Turn Ease
4/5
Versatility
4/5
Carving
3/5

What I was looking for

I wanted a versatile ski that wouldn’t fight me on groomers, had ample float in deep snow, and with which I could butter and throw some tricks on. I wanted to be a little more expressive in deeper snow.

Why I chose to test this gear

I decided to test this product for multiple days because I had so much fun on it. What attracted me to it was its flex and softness, coupled with its approachable yet wider waist width. I considered taking out the Blizzard Hustle but decided against it because of its lack of a comparable tail rocker.

Eyeing up a line on the ARW VJJ 116

What I love about them

  • Speed: The waist width makes for a stable surface to stand on while gaining speed, and the rocker in the tip and tail helps to absorb any chunder one may encounter while going fast. One may experience some chatter at super high speed on hard pack, but not nearly as much as compared to the Atomic Bentchetler (110/120).
  • Edge hold: The removed edge from the start to end of the rocker in the tip and tail is extremely helpful in not getting caught up on the edges and helps to initiate and exit turns. However, it’s not my favorite ski to carve on, as it’s not a heavy-duty carving ski.
  • Turns: At low speeds, I could carve groomers, and at high speeds I was in powder, where I leaned back and floated my way out of turns. ‘Smear tech’ technology being integrated into the tip and tail allows for catch-free maneuverability, and I don’t have to worry about catching an edge while rotating and buttering.
  • Powder: This ski is my go-to powder ski. Excellent float and control in deeper stuff; I skied 10 inches of fresh snow on them, and they were maneuverable and agile even while maneuvering through trees.
  • Trees: Very nimble in trees. The softness of the ski allows for some operator error while being forgiving enough to course correct. A shortened effective edge helps to navigate trees.
  • Park: The softness of the ski allows for some freestyle tricks, especially off of knuckles and nose butter 360s, but it is a bit on the wider side for rails and heavier aerial tricks.
  • Backcountry: This would be a killer wide ski for the playful backcountry rider, but it is not the lightest backcountry ski on the market or explicitly a backcountry ski. It is advertised as a lighter freeride ski, so backcountry terrain is definitely an option. Freeriders may want to consider this ski for their backcountry quiver if they are popping off natural features or buttering.
  • Durability: The matte topsheet is sleek and has shown minimal chipping even when ridden hard and stacked in the car on top of other skis. The AR Freestyle Rocker profile was reliable and held up on a long day of skiing. The Caruba core was lightweight and flexy.
  • Weight: This ski was lighter than other full wood-core powder skis, like the Atomic Century 109, while still providing adequate width. The Caruba core was lightweight, and the 1.7 lightweight edge cut down on weight, too.
  • Switch riding: The rocker-positive camber-rocker helped to navigate questionable snow while riding forward or backward. The width is a factor in feeling stable while riding switch, and the profile makes for an approachable feel, though I wouldn’t want to stay switch for too long due to the terrain I normally ride.
  • Stability: A super damp ski that let me pop forwards and back; I buttered tips and tails the easiest I have yet.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Groomers: Groomers were doable, but not what this ski was meant for. I could hold an edge and make carving turns, but I preferred this ski in fresh snow. One would have more fun carving a different ski that was designed for groomers, but the VJJ 116 held up fine while skiing the groomers to get to the off-piste tree runs.
  • Moguls: Not the ideal mogul ski. Wide and a bit big to move around _that_ quickly. While being a maneuverable ski, they are in a different category than a good mogul ski.

VJJ 116 giving me the float I needed

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment on this gear was doing my first pillow line on them. I had full confidence in my gear and went for a double drop in 10 inches of fresh snow. The landing was super stable, and I rode away feeling more stoked than I ever have while on skis.

Value for the money vs. other options

At retail, these skis are more on the expensive side. Are they worth it? YES. For a dedicated skier that wants more self-expression on the mountain, particularly on deeper days, this is the ski for them. For female skiers, there are limited options this soft and this wide. The DPS Pagoda 112, which is more expensive, retails for more but can be limiting to someone with a nasty freeride style. Whereas the less expensive Atomic Bentchetler 110 or 120 still provides the freeride feel but is a totally different ski shape, which could limit style while skiing if ski-to-skier is not compatible. The Armada ARW VJJ 116 really stands alone in its own class and provides a unique waist width.

Final verdict

The Armada ARW VJJ 116 unlocks the areas of the mountain not accessible before due to the terrain or deepness of the snow. These skis allow a playful freeride style on even more terrain and on the deepest of days.

Out of stock
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  • Returnable
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