The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

2016-2017 Armada TSTw

Armada TSTw

Ski: 2016-2017 Armada TSTw, 174 cm

Available Lengths: 156, 165, 174 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 172.7cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 118-131-101-122

Stated Weight per Ski: 1820 g

Sidecut Radius: 14.7 meters

Core Construction: Poplar/Ash + Fiberglass Laminate

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Firearrow F3 105 / Marker Squire (DIN 7)

Mount Location: Factory recommend

Test Locations: Alta Ski Area; Snowbird, Grand Targhee

Days Skied: 11

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 TSTw, which was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17 except for the graphics.]

Having spent a great deal of time on the Armada VJJ, I was curious to see how the the Armada TSTw would measure up with its narrower dimensions and similar sidecut.

I was looking for a narrower all-mountain ski that would rip groomers a bit better than the VJJ, yet still deliver in pow. Since the TSTw features tip rocker, traditional camber underfoot, and no tail rocker, it certainly has the look of a more directional, versatile version of the VJJ.

Flex and Camber Profile

The TSTw features a variable flex pattern throughout the length of the ski. On a scale of 1-10, Armada ranks the tip, waist, and tail as a 6, 7, and 6.5. The VJJ that I skied on for the bulk of last season is rated as 5.5, 6.5, and 6.

While Armada’s ratings are awfully close for the TSTw and the VJJ, when hand flexed, the TSTw feels noticeably stiffer in the tip than the VJJ, and the tail felt significantly stiffer on the TSTw than the VJJ. Armada’s numbers didn’t seem to match what I was feeling.

Furthermore, the flat tail of the TSTw also means that effective edge of the TSTw is quite a bit longer than that of the hugely rockered tails of the VJJ.

Groomed Snow & Hardpack

I’ve really enjoyed the TSTw on groomers. Screaming down Alta’s Main Street off the Collins lift, the skis were lively and responsive, and the non-rockerd tail certainly made it track better than the VJJ. The TST’s narrower waist of 101mm (the VJJ is 115mm) also made for easier turn initiation, and short-radius slalom-style turns were just as much fun as big, GS turns.

The widest point of the ski (about 30 cm down from the tip) is at the main contact point with the snow, meaning the TSTw is a great shape for carving, and it could really bite into hard pack. The stiffness of the tails came into play when arcing the TSTw at high speed. I felt significantly more confident on hardpack and was able to really enjoy carving, as the TSTw was (predictably) easier to get up on edge than the VJJ. I was reminded of my ski racing days, and the TSTw felt like the perfect compromise between a slalom and a GS ski, though significantly lighter in weight.

The skis gave me no trouble on short-radius turns as well; I liked the versatility this ski could demonstrate in varying sizes and shapes while turning.

Powder

The significantly rockered tips on the TSTw provide ample flotation in deep snow. I tried them out in some untracked, slightly sun-affected powder, and was thrilled at how easy they were to drive through the turns. I experienced no diving of the tips and felt completely stable bombing down at high speeds with a few huge, arcing turns.

Lexi Dowdall, Armada TSTw, Blister Gear Review

Lexi Dowdall on the Armada TSTw, Alta Ski Area.

I also tried some slower, short-radius farmer turns in powder up in the Baldy Shoulder Area at Alta, with similar stoke. I was very pleased with the TSTw’s powder performance, but they don’t quite compare to the VJJ, given the VJJ’’s rockered tip and tail profile and its greater width.

The stiffer tails of the TST also lent support, helping to keep the tips afloat or to scrub speed in tight trees.

I felt confident hitting features and small drops on the TSTw when the conditions were soft. The skis were lively and easy to land on, and I enjoyed their jibby, playful feel when taking off and landing. I would probably grab my VJJs or my Volkl Kuros on days when there’s more than 12 inches of fresh, but for a ski marketed by Armada as an all-mountain tool, the TSTw certainly performs well in deeper snow. And on the groomed run back to the lift, the TST is decidedly more fun than either the VJJ or the Kuros.

Bumps and Chop

While thrilled with the performance of the TSTw on groomers and powder, when faced with rougher snow conditions, the skis were not nearly as forgiving as the VJJ. The combination of the length and stiffness in the tail was simply too much for me, being a smaller skier (5’3” and 120 pounds). I immediately regressed into a teenaged, tail-gunning version of myself, and I could not get out of the backseat. I would literally have to pull my feet back underneath my body in an attempt to regain a balanced or forward position.

For example, when exploring Eagles Nest off Alta’s High Traverse, the combination of steeps, moguls, and varied terrain, along with the stiffness of the tail, had me rebounding off bumps, struggling to maintain control, and flailing in the backseat. Unsurprisingly, I also found the tips crossing over each other on multiple occasions.

In an effort to gain better control on the TSTw, it was obvious the next step was to play with a couple different mount points.

 

13 Comments

  1. Marcel April 27, 2013 Reply

    Nice review Lexi!

    Would you recommend 165 or 156 for someone coming from a 78mm 152cm ski? Looking for some all mountain/powder skis for my wife, she is a 5’3″ / 130 intermediate skier, she was a grommer only skier on her first two seasons and ready to enjoy other terrains, first I was thinking of a more pow oriented tip/tail rocker and 110mm or so, but that might be a big jump from 78mm and maybe a 100mm will give her more confidence in the transition! I’ve been looking at s7w 168cm, rockette 115 164cm and the tstw 165cm, right now really between the tstw or rockette.

    I saw some other comments saying the tstw skis short, but that wasn’t you impressions, but I noticed you had a size that was something you would pick for a rocker/rocker powder skis, so maybe the wrong size really made you think that and you were more confortable in the 165cm tst. So looks like for my wife the 156cm would be just too small and wouldn’t really help much in getting used to bigger skis!

    Would you say the tstw skis shorter than a more traditional all mountain ski? I saw it in a local shop and it has a considerable tip rocker, and even though it doesn’t have a tail rocker it does have some rise when compared to say blizzard samba, which would make it a little shorther on running edge specially when you bend the skis.

    Again nice review and good back to back with the vjj!

  2. Lexi Dowdall May 10, 2013 Reply

    Hey Marcel,

    Thanks so much for reading!
    In regards to your question, the 174cm TSTw did ski a bit shorter than that actual length because of the rocker (I would say it feels closer to a 169-170cm ski). But the stiffness in the tails was still too much for my smaller frame, though I am a relatively aggressive skier.

    I’m thinking that the 165cm may be a bit on the long side for your wife, but if she is thinking that she is ready for something longer than her 152cm current ski it could work. My guess is that the 156cm TSTw will feel comparatively similar in length to her current setup. Though it will require a little getting used to the fatter girth, I suspect she will love some fatter sticks!

    If she is at all interested in skiing moguls, I would probably steer clear of this TSTw however, they really didn’t lend me much (or any) confidence in bumps. I think the Rockette at 115mm underfoot may be a bit too big of a jump in width, and you aren’t going to see quite the versatility she may enjoy on a ski nearer to 100mm in width. The Rockette 92mm however, might be an awesome bet!

    I have only spent 1 day on the Women’s Rossi S7w, but I found it to be a responsive, forgiving ski that intermediates can love. I’ve seen tons of gals invest in the Rossi S7 who have found this is a nice tool to aid them in progressing from an intermediate level. I did find that it was significantly more forgiving than the TSTw.

    There’s my 2 cents! Hope it helps!

  3. Carolyn July 9, 2013 Reply

    Hello!
    I have been skiing my whole life (almost 19 now) and will be going to college in Colorado this year. I desperately need new skis, but I am having such a hard time deciding. I love skiing all kinds of terrain (I raced a little, I’ve been heli-skiing, I love moguls), but I tend to get stuck in the backseat (I think this also may be because of my bad boots- also being replaced this season) so I think I need skis with a center mount. I do love racing-style boots that force you to flex forward more.) I want responsive skis but I also don’t want to feel overpowered or like I have to be on top of it all the time, so I do need forgiveness.

    I am hoping you can help me find a pair of skis. I have made a list, but honestly I’ve been researching so much that I cannot decide:
    K2 Superglide (I worry these will only be good for groomers)
    Blizzard Black Pearl
    Blizzard Samba
    Nordica La Nina
    Volkl Kenja (2012)
    Armada TSTw
    Salomon Rockette 90
    Atomic Affinity Storm
    Volkl Kiku
    Rossi S7

    Let me know if you have tested these and if so, what do you recommend? Or anything not on this list… Thank you!!

  4. Lexi Dowdall July 12, 2013 Reply

    Carolyn!

    Don’t think I’m ignoring you! I just attempted to type 2 huge responses on my iPhone and they were deleted both times! I’ll get back to you soon on a real computer!!

    Best,

    Lexi

  5. Lexi Dowdall July 18, 2013 Reply

    Dearest Carolyn,
    Thanks for being patient with me, sorry for the long wait! You will absolutely love your time in Colorado. I expect you should be able to log some seriously great ski days, with that comes the need for the perfect ski : ) Do definitely make sure investing in new boots is your first priority, a properly fitted pair is honestly more important than new skis in my experience. Sloppy boots are the worst! Now I haven’t skied all these sticks, but I can offer you my impressions or advice as best I can.

    K2 Superglide – Besides a bad name, I think your concern with this ski was legitimate. At 80mm underfoot, it’s going to be an awesome groomer/frontside ski. But it’s going to leave you unsatisfied for those CO powder days. I think this is not going to be your best bet. It’s targeted more for beginner/intermediates and it’s going to be a ski you would quickly grow out of.

    Blizzard: I’ve never actually had to chance to try any Blizzard skis, so I don’t feel quite comfortable offering an opinion on these two.

    Nordica La Nina: You should check out Julia’s review (http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2012-2013-nordica-la-nina) on this ski, she really enjoyed this ride. This is a versatile option at 113mm underfoot and will be a great everyday ski that will still deliver in the powder. This is going to be on the stiffer side, so if you want something more forgiving, you might want to seek a softer flex.

    Volkl Kenja:
    Kenja is a bit narrow underfoot at 87mm, I think this one isn’t going to be your best bet either for when those CO storms roll in. This will make you very happy on the frontside groomers, it will be a good crud buster, but I think unless you have a dedicated POW-only ski this one will leave you wanting better flotation.
    TSTw: I didn’t find this ski to be particularly forgiving. The stiff tails weren’t great in bumps and the powder performance was OK – but not as awesome as the VJJ. If you’ve read my VJJ review you’ll know I’m a self-professed VJJ fan, I absolutely LOVE those skis. I highly suggest checking those out before the TST due to their awesome performance in powder while maintaining good all-mtn versatility. I honestly just bought another pair because my last VJJs were shredded after 2 years of heavy use. This is my favorite ski of all time! Check out my review here: http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/armada-vjj

    Salomon Rockette 90: Another solid option! A friend of mine has these and raves about them, she uses them as an everyday ski in and around Alta. I think 90mm underfoot is finally coming close to a good balance between all-mountain and powder friendly.

    Affinity Storm: Ehhhh…another one to skip. This ski is really targeted more towards intermediate skiers and you would quickly grow bored. Also a bit on the narrow side for ultimate storm floatation.

    Volkl KiKu: I’ve never skied this pair, but they’ve always been on my short list. This is a nice powder-centric ski that can also handle the everyday situations.

    S7: People rave about this one since it really helps intermediate skiers take their ability to the next level. It’s a really versatile, forgiving ski with a smooth buttery feel. I ultimately found it couldn’t hold up in chop, but in all other conditions it provided a fun ride.

    You should also seriously consider the LINE Pandora ski. I’ve got so many friends who are raving about this pair. It’s a nice mix of powder with all-mtn capabilities. I think you should add that to your list of considerations.

    I hope this helps!!

    • Carolyn August 5, 2013 Reply

      Thank you SOOO much for replying and answering all of my ridiculous comments- I found a pair of the LINE pandora’s on sale and I think i might get em now.

  6. Mike February 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi Lexi,
    great review, very interested to read your review of the 174 TSTw as I’ve been considering the 174 TST (exactly the same ski of course with different graphics as you mentioned).
    I’m a lighter-weight male, 155 lbs (70.5 kgs), 14cms taller than you, but Will, in his review of the TST, suggested that the 174 would be a good size for a couple other guys my size. And ability. You, as a former racer, are naturally going to be on a whole different level than someone who used to be an advanced skier in the 80’s, stopped skiing for 24 years, now probably intermediate-advanced, learning to adapt to carving skis!
    A Canadian ski instructor (who I haven’t met yet) emailed me advising that I should be sticking to 84-88mm wide skis, 90 max, for an all-mountain 1-ski quiver, but do you think those skis are really for intermediate skiers, or someone who wants to spend most of their time on the groomers?

    I like to venture into the bumps occasionally, so was concerned with your description of the 174 TSTw in the bumps, but I’m not a great bumps skier, & would probably just cruise thru them, try to link a few turns, & definitely go easy on the speed in steep bumps! Do you think the TST would be ok for that style of skiing?

    Ultimately, I’m trying to work out what ski would suit best for 50/50 piste/off-piste, as although I would love to spend 80% of my skiing time off-piste, realistically I think it’ll be around 50/50 at best. Next year might be Japan, which can get a lot of powder, although last year we got 2 days out of 8……… Will keep the skis for at least 3 seasons, it’s a big decision, first ski purchase in 25 years!
    Cheers Lexi

  7. Sara October 13, 2014 Reply

    Hi Lexi,

    Your points regarding the mounting point on this ski are really interesting. I was curious if you’ve had any more thoughts on mounting positions since writing the review.

    I just bought a pair of 174s and I’ve been really excited to put a pair of dynafits on these and use them as my bc ski, BUT when I had someone (..the bf…) mount them they mounted one ski backwards! Yikes! Now I’m in a pickle because I’ll have to remount the skis and can no longer go directly off the factory line. I called a shop and they recommended going back 1-2 cm. I’m 5’3 and 125 lbs so they said I would have some wiggle room with moving back on these. In your experience, was moving the mount 1 cm back worse than the original mount position? Do you think it will still be a manageable ski if I do so? I know I also ski in the backseat and I’m afraid mounting them backwards is just going to exacerbate the problem.

    Thanks a million,

    Sara

  8. Kelly February 3, 2015 Reply

    Hi,
    Thank you for this awesome review. I am 5ft 8inches and an intermediate skier. Been skiing all may life off and on. I weigh about 155 and am debating between the 165 or 174. What is your opinion on this? I have never really skied on the correct skis before. Currently using my brothers old skis that are below my chin(way to short)!
    Thank you so much
    ~Kelly

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall February 4, 2015 Reply

      Hi Kelly!
      Thanks for reading.
      It’s really hard to give a good answer on this for you. You mention that you hadn’t spent much time skiing the correct length, so I don’t feel comfortable telling you which length would be best since it could go either way! As an intermediate skier I think the 165cm sounds best, but again, I had so much trouble with the length on these, I feel wary of putting much confidence in my guess.

      My advice to you would be find a local demo day at a mountain close to you.
      Feb is PRIME demo time, I’d do a google search and see which resorts are hosting a demo day around President’s Day weekend, it’s a great time to find local demos.
      That way you can try the same model ski in a variety of sizes to see what size you can comfortably ski. Demo – demo – demo, this will give you the answer you need!

  9. Lexi Bliss February 12, 2015 Reply

    Hey Lexi,

    I’m out on the east coast (VT) and looking for a good intermediate/advanced ski. Something that can handle our crap icy days and the powder we get from time to time (like now), and go from all over the mountain to skinning and time in the back country of the east. I’ve read both your reviews on the Armada TSTw and the ARVw, and while I plan on demo-ing, I just wondered which of those two you’d recommend. From one Lexi to another- thanks so much for your time and knowledge!

  10. cecilia December 18, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lexi. I am a 5´2″ /106 female advanced to aggresive skier (I like to ski fast). I am coming from a Fischer Koa 74 150cm (skill level 9) and then I tried a Head Total Joy 2016 158cm (very nice but made me feel a little bit unconfident on extreme terrains the first 2 days). There are not many powder days where I live (southamerica), often icy conditions or crud/crust. I want to try a TSTw 156cm (or 165cm?) or a Blizzard Black Pearl 152cm. Which one do you recommend? Thank you so much for your time!!! Best regards.

  11. Cathy February 13, 2016 Reply

    So agree about Line Pandora 95’s! What a fun ski!! I love to ski the powder, bumps and trees. Not a groomer. Recently spent long day demo’ing skiis and 2 favorites were Icelandic Maiden and Line Pandora. Curious if you’ve tried the Maidens? Thanks, Cathy

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*