An Expert Guide to Armada Skis

Published on 06/06/2023 · 11 min readThough fairly new to the ski industry, Armada makes skis that appeal to a wide range of skiers. Learn more about their ski options in the guide below1
Luke Hinz, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Luke Hinz

Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan

tl;dr If you’ve ever started searching for new skis online and thought, “whoa: where do I even begin?”, know this: you are not alone. One of the best places to start is simply knowing the different brands out there and what they represent. In this article, we’ll be breaking down Armada skis and seeing what makes them tick.

My name’s Luke. I grew up alpine racing in the Midwest, then moved west and cut my teeth competing in big mountain freeride competitions and exploring the best resorts that the Rockies, Tetons, Sierras, and the Wasatch have to offer. Most recently, I’ve taken my ski skills into the backcountry and ski mountaineering, and I’ve now skied from the summit of the Grand Teton, Mount Rainier, and Mount Denali—the highest peak in North America. Frankly, it's been exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Simply put, skiing takes me to some of the most beautiful places in the world, and I absolutely love helping others find the gear that works for them to do the same in their life. Sliding down snow is a special experience and it starts by finding the right skis for you. Below, let’s dive into the different types of skis Armada offers to help you narrow down what will work best for your individual needs.

Who Is Armada Skis?

Compared to other well known ski brands, such as Volkl, K2, Salomon, or Rossignol, Armada is fairly new to the ski industry. Back in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, skiing experienced a revolution in the form of freeskiing, which focused on tricks and park skiing. Arguably, this new style of skiing was influenced by the growing popularity of snowboarding, which embraced a more care-free, rebellious approach to sliding on snow. Consequently, some pioneering skiers harnessed that same zeal and brought it to two planks.

Armada came together in 2002 as the brainchild of a group of pro skiers—namely, JP Auclair, Tanner Hall, JF Cusson, Julien Regnier, and Boyd Easley. The brand then became the very first rider-owned, rider-operated ski manufacturer. Initially based in California, Armada eventually moved their headquarters to Park City, Utah, where they continued to build skis infused with a passion for freestyle. To this day, Armada is on the forefront of freestyle and freeride-oriented skiing, all while expanding their repertoire to a larger audience of skiers.

What to Consider When Buying Armada Skis

Armada is well known for freestyle oriented and park skis. Photo by Tyler Tornberg

1. What Type of Terrain Do You Like to Ski?

Though Armada has been known primarily as a freestyle ski company throughout its existence, producing mainly park skis and freeride-oriented skis, the company has broadened its reach in recent years to offer skis for riders of all skill levels and desire. Still, Armada’s roots lie in freestyle skiing, and their skis tend to lean toward a more playful style than some other established brands.

2. What Is Your Skill Level?

As stated above, Armada now makes skis that appeal to a large range of skiers: from kids and junior skiers, to beginners looking for their first pair of skis, to experts looking to rip down slopes at mach speeds, and even to backcountry skiers and mountaineers.

3. What Size Skis Do You Need?

Proper ski length depends on many factors: skill level, weight, and skier height all come into play when choosing the correct ski length. But in general, more novice skiers benefit from a shorter, narrower ski that is easier to turn, whereas more experienced skiers are more comfortable on a longer ski that provides more stability at higher speeds. And as Armada is a large producer of park skis, park skis tend to run a bit longer in length in order to provide more stability on landings from jumps.

4. How Much Should Armada Skis Cost?

Armada has always tried to appeal to skiers on any budget. For the most part, Armada’s entry level skis cost will run anywhere from $300–500, whereas mid-tier skis will be priced between $500–700. Some of their more specialized and advanced skiers will run over $700.

What Are the Different Types of Armada Skis?

Armada builds skis to stand up to the abuse of rails, jumps, and table tops. Photo by Thomas Thompson

Armada’s days of cranking out park-only skis are long gone. These days, Armada produces many kinds of skis that appeal to all types of riders…

1. All-Mountain Freestyle

Armada was born in the park. The introduction of twin-tip skis changed skiing forever, and Armada has paid the bills by focusing on twin-tip, playful freestyle skis that can bust a move in the park as well as slay the rest of the mountain. These skis are aimed at the inventive and creative skiers who spin Cork Sevens without shame or skiers hitting rails not only in the park, but in the streets as well.

Benefits:

  • Freestyle skis tend to be softer in flex than other all-mountain skis
  • Lighter construction makes it easy to spin and flip with
  • Twin-tip designs makes for easy switch riding

Keep in Mind:

  • Freestyle skis tend to be much softer in flex
  • More unstable when hitting higher speeds
  • May prove to be too soft for larger skiers and more aggressive skiers who prefer speed over finesse

Ski Examples:

2. All-Mountain Freeride

Armada’s freeride skis are built to tackle the rest of the mountain outside of the park—whether that’s ripping down a groomer, floating through deep powder, or taking on the steepest face on the mountain.

Benefits:

  • Much more stable and damp ride at higher speeds than freestyle skis
  • Better suited for carving on ice and groomers
  • Confident skis built for aggressive riders who want something that can hold up to any type of snow conditions

Keep in Mind:

  • Tend to be heavier and stiffer, which can be detrimental to a newer skier
  • Not well suited for a skier who wants a light and playful ski

Ski Examples

3. Freeride Touring

The ski industry has leapt headfirst into manufacturing backcountry and touring-specific skis, and Armada has jumped on the bandwagon as well. Armada’s touring-focused skis focus on a lightweight construction for easier uphill capabilities without sacrificing much downhill performance.

Benefits:

  • Much lighter constructions than their all-mountain counterparts, yet still provide a stable downhill ride
  • Lighter on the legs, allowing for longer days in the backcountry without wearing you out

Keep in Mind:

  • There is always compromise when reducing the weight of a ski
  • Lack some of the stability and confidence of a dedicated all-mountain ski

Ski Examples

4. Innovation Lab

The Innovation Lab is unique to Armada, wherein they craft unique and exciting new ski designs that may not quite be ready for the masses yet. These skis are crafted with heavy input from the brand’s extensive Athlete Team, pushing the boundaries of ski design.

Benefits:

  • Boast some of the newest ski technology on the market
  • Appeal mainly to advanced to expert skiers looking for the most cutting-edge tech in their skis and who want to push their limits

Keep in Mind:

  • New technology does not always translate to good technology
  • Many of these skis are prototypes, and there is a very good chance that they do not translate to the more recreational skier’s skills

Ski Examples

5. Junior Series

These skis are for the little ones in your life. Armada’s Junior Series appeals to all the youth skiers out there: from little groms making their first turns, to more experienced youth skiers looking to hit their first park session, all the way to veteran rippers who aren’t quite ready for an adult ski.

Benefits:

  • Composed of both freestyle, freeride, and beginner skis aimed at inspiring confidence in skiers of all ages
  • Both approachable and fun—exactly what skiing should be

Keep in Mind:

  • These skis are designed for youth skiers
  • They will be overpowered by adult skiers

Ski Examples

Features to Look For in Armada Skis

When looking at Armada Skis, there are several key features and technologies to consider. As an expert skier, I'd recommend focusing on the following aspects specific to Armada:

  1. AR75 and AR100 Sidewall: Different sidewall constructions for different types of skis. The AR75 sidewall enhances edge grip and durability while reducing weight, making Armada skis more nimble and responsive, as seen in the ARV and ARW models. The AR100 has traditional sidewall along the entire length of the ski, maximizing torsional rigidity for optimal carving—as seen in the Declivity and Reliance models.
  2. EST Freestyle Rocker or EST Freeride Rocker: Armada's EST rocker profiles are designed to optimize performance in specific skiing styles. Freestyle Rocker insures rocker in both the tip and tail of the ski for a surfy and playful feel underfoot, while Freeride Rocker offers tip rocker, camber underfoot, and a flat tail to ensure maximum carving capability and a confident ride.
  3. Smear Tech: A unique 3D-beveled base in the tip creates a more surfy and smeary feel in the ski, allowing for unparalleled float in powder and deep snow. This is most pronounced in the ARV and ARW models.
  4. Comp Series Bases: These high-quality sintered bases offer increased speed and durability compared to standard bases. Comp Series bases absorb more wax and provide better glide, ensuring that your Armada skis perform at their peak in a variety of snow conditions.
  5. Articulated Titanal Banding: A Titanal Metal layer adds stability and dampness to Armada’s Freeride skis, but laser-cut grooves in the metal allow for easy turn initiation and creates an energetic ride. This technology is utilized in the Declivity and Reliance models.

How to Choose the Right Armada Skis for You

In order to better illustrate what model may be best for your preferences, let’s take a look at three example skiers, and what exactly they need out of their Armada skis.

Skier #1: A Daily Driver

Needs:

  • Torsional rigidity to maintain stability at all speeds
  • Strong edge grip to ensure maximum carving efficiency
  • Versatility for engaging any king of terrain encountered across the whole mountain

Features to look for:

  • Articulated titanal banding maintains stability throughout the length of the ski
  • AR100 sidewall ensures the best transfer of power to the edges
  • Freeride rocker profile ensures the ski carves as if it was on railroad tracks

Skis to consider:

The Declivity 102 Ti (left) and the Reliance 92 Ti (right)

  • Declivity 102 Ti: the Declivity offers an incredible carving experience and is one of the stiffest skis in Armada’s collection. A 102mm waist gives it plenty of float in deep powder, but the Articulated Titanal Banding provides a stable ride for ripping groomers and busting through crud.
  • Reliance 92 Ti: The Reliance sports the exact same construction of the Declivity, but comes in different graphics and different lengths to better accommodate lady rippers.

Skier #2: A Newschooler

Needs:

  • Playful and light ski ski that makes it easier to throw spins and tricks
  • Versatility that allows the skis to perform both in the park and all over the mountain
  • Twin-tip design allows for skiing and landing tricks in the switch position

Features to look for:

  • AR Freestyle Rocker
  • Smear Tech gives the ski a more surfy and floaty quality, whether you are going forward or backwards
  • AR75 Sidewall reduces the overall weight in the tip and tail of the ski without sacrificing durability

Skis to consider:

The ARV 96 (left) and the Edollo (right)

  • ARV 96: The ARV 96 is the workhorse of Armada’s Freestyle Line. A twin tip design combined with a mid-fat 96 mm waist results in a playful all-mountain ski that can rip both in the park and beyond.
  • Edollo: Henrik Harlaut’s Signature ski from Armada is built for nose presses, styling rails, and stomping tabletop landings. This is a park-dedicated ski with some all-mountain flair.

Skier #3: A Powderhound

Needs:

  • Maximum float means your skis won’t sink on the days the matter most—the deepest of deep days
  • Forgiving flex allows the ski to move effortlessly through soft snow
  • Rockered tip and tail ensures the skis float like a boat in deep snow

Features to look for:

  • AR Freestyle Rocker means the whole ski floats as one unit
  • Smear Tech allows the skis to turn on a dime no matter where you might find yourself
  • AR75 Sidewall keeps the tips and tails light for highly-needed agility when skiing powder

Skis to consider:

The WhiteWalker 116 (left) and the ARW 116 VJJ UL (right)

  • WhiteWalker 116: Sammy Carlson’s weapon of choice for surfing deep powder and charging big lines sports a rockered tip and tail and a 116mm waist for ultimate float. This ski is for making the whole mountain your playground.
  • ARW 116 VJJ UL: A powder ski wrapped up in a lightweight package with 3D beveled tips and Freestyle Rocker makes the VJJ the most well-rounded women’s powder tool.

Left With Questions? Chat With a Real Expert

Though their roots lie in freestyle skiing, Armada has broadened its appeal to a much larger range of skiers in the past decade. From pro-halfpipe skiers like Henrik Harlaut to all-mountain rippers such as Tof Henry, Armada builds some of the most trusted skis in the industry. And if you’d like help picking out the right Armada ski for your specific needs, don’t hesitate to contact a Curated Skiing Expert, like me. Our knowledge and friendly team are well-versed in finding the perfect ski for one’s individual preferences.

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Written by:
Luke Hinz, Ski Expert
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Luke Hinz
Ski Expert
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