Ski: 2015-2016 Armada AR7, 181cm
Dimensions (mm): 120-87-110
Sidecut Radius: 21.5 meters
Mount Location: –1cm from true center
Boots / Bindings: Dalbello KR2 Core I.D. / Rossignol FKS 140
Test Locations: Breckenridge, Keystone, Whistler Blackcomb
Days Tested: 20
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 AR7, which is unchanged for 15/16, except for the graphics.]
The AR7 has been a staple in Armada’s line for many years now, and its role has remained largely the same: a gimmick-free, versatile park ski. Armada has continued to tweak the design a bit each year, and after 20 days on the current version, I’m largely convinced that the AR7 might deserve the title of Most Versatile Park Ski on the market.
Design / Flex Pattern
The AR7 sports a traditional camber design with a hybrid cap construction on the tips and tails, and sidewalls underfoot. The flex pattern is fairly soft and forgiving in the tip, progressively stiffens underfoot, then softens again in the tail—though not quite as soft as in the tip of the ski.
Thankfully, Armada has also incorporated a thicker, 2.5mm edge to mitigate damage from rail impacts—a common culprit of destroyed park skis.
The Armada AR7 is a bit bigger in each dimension than the ski I’ve most recently been riding, the Fischer Nightstick. The AR7s are a bit heavier, and it took a day or two to get used to this slight bit of sluggishness on takeoffs and in the air.
Once I was used to the additional weight, however, the AR7 felt every bit as stable and predictable as any ski I’ve tested in the past three seasons, except for the Fischer Nightstick (which is the most stable ski I’ve ever used on jumps).
Suffice it to say, the AR7 gets the job done on jumps. It won’t waver unnecessarily in the air, or scrub out on good-to-moderately-iffy landings. Of course, no ski will land your questionable tricks for you, but the Armada AR7 certainly doesn’t make landings problematic, either.
Jibs, Rails, and Other Features
I spent most of the first week on this ski just hitting jumps, so much of my first impression was shaped by how they handled in that area. That all changed after a few consecutive bad weather days when I was limited to hitting jibs at Keystone. Immediately, I was very impressed by the AR7’s ability to take on just about any terrain park feature I jumped on, taking versatility to a new level among park skis.
I was initially concerned with how the additional weight of the ski would affect traditional rail tricks such as spins on and off rails and switch-ups. Once I had made slight adjustments to my skiing to account for that difference, just as when hitting jumps, the extra weight wasn’t a burden when performing those tricks.
Instead, the AR7 makes rail skiing ultimately more fun due to its very effective flex pattern. Soft in the tips and tails with a stiffer section underfoot, the ski maintains a buttery feel without sacrificing much in terms of stability on jumps, but also when maneuvering between rail features and different sorts of transitions. The AR7 feels vibrant and responsive, striking a nice balance in terms of its flex pattern—not overly stiff like the Fischer Nightstick, but never feeling like a noodle, as was sometimes the case with the Scott Jib TW.
These attributes make the AR7 an impressive tool for all kinds of quirky tricks in a park setting. Nollies, presses, and butters—especially butters—feel unusually easy on a ski that also performs so well on bigger jumps. And this is where the AR7 really separated itself from the Fischer Nightstick.
While the AR7 didn’t perform quite as well as the Fischer Nightstick or Atomic Punx in terms of stability on big jumps, it more than makes up for that slight loss of stability when it comes to any other type of park feature. By direct comparison, it performed nearly as well as the Atomic Punx in terms of stability, but outperformed the Punx in terms of playfulness on just about any other type of terrain, and blew the Fischer Nightstick out of the water on jibs and other (non-jump) features.