Expert Review: Armada Trace 98

This review is my own honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in March 2020. I was not paid by the manufacturer to write this review.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Bibbo
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About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in March 2020. I was not paid by the manufacturer to write this review.

My take

The Armada Trace 98 skis are great for the intermediate-expert backcountry skier that (unfortunately) isn’t skiing knee-deep pow every day!

About me

  • Height: 5’1’’
  • Weight: 105 lbs
  • Boots: Scarpa Gea
  • Boot Size: 23.5
  • Bindings: Dynafit ST Rotation
  • Experience: 21 years skiing, 2 years in the backcountry
Hannah Bibbo standing with the skis.
Photo courtesy of Hannah Bibbo

About this gear

  • Model: 2020 Armada Trace 98 Skis
  • Size: 156 cm

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: March 2020
  • Days tested: 15+
  • Where I’ve used it: Montana, Colorado, and Nevada
  • Terrain: Average backcountry days, incredible knee-deep pow backcountry days, spring skiing Terminal Cancer in Nevada, and resort skiing on less-than-average days. I’ve used them through the trees, on moguls, in powder, on groomers, and mostly steep terrain.

How it performs

What I was looking for

I was looking for a full backcountry setup! I have Icelantic Maidens, and I had Salomon Guardian 13 bindings on them to be able to ski in bounds and in the backcountry on the same setup when I was figuring out if I liked backcountry skiing. Then, I was looking for a full, lighter set up all around.

Why I chose this gear

These skis were the lightest option out of the skis I was comparing, and as a small human, that heavily weighed into my decision. Some of the skis I compared them to were the Icelantic Maiden Lite 101s or the Icelantic Mystic 97s. I already had the Icelantic Maidens (which I love, just looking to try something else) and I also considered some park skis that were lighter, but I was ultimately looking for more of a backcountry option.

What I love about it

  • Turns: This ski is very responsive when it comes to turns! It’s light enough so it’s quite maneuverable, which is helpful in trees, bumps, powder, and groomers.
  • Powder: I’ve taken this ski through knee-deep powder and it definitely holds its own. It floats through the powder, but if I was only skiing powder, I would go with the Trace 108s.
  • Trees: With how light and responsive these skis are, they’re super easy to ski through the trees.
  • Moguls: I’m not primarily a mogul skier and these aren’t my resort skis, but when I do have them in the resort, they’re responsive and maneuverable enough for moguls.
  • Backcountry: I got these originally for the backcountry and I haven’t been disappointed yet. They’re very light, float through the powder, and are versatile enough for the days without tons of fresh snow in the backcountry.
  • Durability: In the past year, I haven’t had any issues when it comes to durability! I’ve definitely skied over some rocks unfortunately but a quick wax and maybe some light ptex takes care of the bases. Keeping the ptex industry alive out here.
  • Weight: Weight was one of the top reasons I got these skis! They were the lightest option I was looking at, and I can definitely feel the difference when I’m skinning up the mountain.
  • Stability: For as light as they are, there isn’t underfoot chatter, and they’re quite poppy which is helpful in the backcountry.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Speed: I wouldn’t necessarily call these “hard chargers.” I can keep up with the pack, for sure, but leading the pack is not their primary function.
  • Edge hold: Similar to speed, edge hold is not their primary function. I’m comfortable on groomers and ice, but they do better in powder and softer snow.
  • Groomers: I’ve used these in the resort before, but my Icelantics definitely hold up better on groomers. When I’m on a groomer, I want to go fast and have a high edge hold, and these don’t excel at either.

Favorite moment with this gear

These skis have taken me on quite a few very long tours, but one of the most memorable ones these skis took me on was up in Terminal Cancer in Nevada. We boot packed up the face, so I had my skis on my back, and they were light enough that I didn’t feel like I was being weighed down! And on the way down, they were responsive and light enough for the necessary jump turns.

Value for the money vs. other options

When comparing it to other very light options, I’d say it’s definitely worth the money. There are cheaper skis for sure, but when it comes to weight, which is not something I personally was willing to sacrifice, they’re worth it.

Final verdict

Overall, I would recommend these to any intermediate to expert backcountry skier that’s looking for a light, responsive setup.

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Written By
I started skiing before I could walk, or shortly there after. I grew up skiing on the east coast, mainly at Killington. I went to college in Denver, and a main reason was to be closer to the mountains. My first job was in a local ski shop, where I learned the ins and outs of the gear, what to look f...

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