Ski: 2016-2017 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm
Available Lengths (cm): 172, 180, 188, cm
Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 186.5 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2109 & 2145 grams
Stated Dimensions (mm): 134-106-124
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 136-106-124 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius: 21.5 meters
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 52 mm / 46 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3-4 mm
Recommended Mount Point: -6.45 cm from center; 86.8 cm from tail
Test Location: Porter’s Ski Area, NZ
Days Skied: 3
Armada released their completely new ARV line this year, and while the ARV 86 and 96 are aimed more at park skiers, the ARV 106 is positioned squarely for all-mountain jibbing. It’s cut from the same cloth as skis like the ON3P Kartel 108 and K2 Marksman, and follows in the same tradition as skis like the old Line Sir Francis Bacon, a Blister favorite.
Armada introduces the ARV 106 with a question, “Is this your powder ski or your everyday ski? Yes.” That’s the sort of claim a lot of companies are making about their more playful skis in the 105-110 mm waist range, but they’re all taking different routes toward the goal of creating an easy, playful one ski quiver. So what’s going on with the ARV 106?
Jonathan Ellsworth summed up the ARV 106’s flex pattern like this:
Interestingly enough, Armada rates the ARV 106 as a 6.5 in the tip, a 7.5 underfoot, and a 7 in the tail.
I agree with Jonathan’s assessment, although I’d be inclined to rate them a little softer underfoot than Jonathan did, closer to Armada’s rating. That rating looks very similar to the ON3P Kartel 108, but the ARV 106 actually feels very different. The Kartel 108 has only slightly stiffer tips and tails than the ARV 106, but it ramps up to a stiffer flex much more quickly — closer to the tip of the ski than the toe piece of the binding. The ARV 106 stiffens much more gradually as you make your way to the center of the ski.
The ARV 106 has what Armada calls their “AR Freestyle Rocker.” It’s very short, and doesn’t extend far down the tips and tails of the ski. They have significantly less rocker overall than skis like the Kartel 108 or K2 Marksman, or even more traditional all-mountain skis like the Salomon QST 106. My immediate reaction on seeing the rocker profile was that these look more like rockered park skis than most rockered all-mountain skis. The rocker profile is just shorter and very gradual, so that it almost looks like part of the tip and tail splay.
Armada hasn’t followed the trend of heavily tapering the tips and tails for lower swing weight and easier turn initiation (like the new Line Bacon or K2 Marksman). Instead, just like the rocker lines of the ARV 106, its taper is gradual and pretty minimal.
Why Does This Ski Look Familiar?
If you’ve been paying attention to Blister reviews for a while, this ski might be starting to sound a lot like the old (2012-2015) Line Sir Francis Bacon. A consistently soft flex pattern that ramps up very gradually underfoot? Pronounced camber underfoot with gradual tip and tail rocker? Minimal taper? Check, check, and check!
In fact, just by the numbers, the new Armada ARV 106 may just be the closest thing to the old Line Sir Francis Bacon on the market right now, and that should be very good news to a lot of skiers. Because while the new Bacon performs well in a wide variety of conditions, it favours a very different style than its predecessor. That’s fine, but a lot of people really love (and prefer) the old Bacon.
Furthermore, at our measured length of 186.5 cm, the ARV 106 sits right between the 184 cm and 190 cm Bacon. A lot of people were torn between sizes on the Bacon, and the ARV splits that difference nicely.
After two days on the Armada ARV 106 in New Zealand and a booter session in Wyoming, my biggest takeaway is that this thing feels more like a wide, soft park ski than anything else in this category I’ve been on. It’s soft, and consistently so — there are no weird hinge points that give the ski a split personality, so the ski very predictable.
It’s very easy to butter, jib, and press any feature, but I definitely noticed the lack of deep tip and tail rocker lines — both positively and negatively. On firm snow and groomers, it’s noticeably easier to carve powerful turns on the ARV 106 than the K2 Marksman, the ARV 106 feels longer and more stable thanks to the increased effective edge of the ski.
However, in the small amount of very light, fresh snow I got the ARV 106 into, it didn’t plane nearly as easily. Since I only got a few runs on the ARV 106 in fresh snow thanks to a freak October dump, I’m reserving judgement on its deep-snow performance, but both by the numbers and my initial impressions, this isn’t one of the stronger pow skis in this category.
Where it does excel is jibbing and jumping. It’s predictable on rutted run-ins, easy to get into the air, and the flex is forgiving enough for backseat or rutted-out landings. Of all the skis in this all-mountain jib category, this is the ski I’d recommend to those looking to spend a lot of time in the park, but who want a wider ski for the rest of the mountain, too. Everything about the ARV 106 will be intuitive for skiers coming from narrower park skis.
We still have a lot of questions about the ARV 106, and we’re excited to get more days on it in a broader range of conditions.
Bottom Line (For Now)
Just because the new Armada ARV 106 looks a lot like the old Sir Francis Bacon doesn’t mean that it skis like one. It’s joining a stacked category and competing with the likes of the ON3P Kartel 108, K2 Marksman, Moment Meridian, Sego Tater Tot, and many other very good skis. So far, the ARV 106 seems to have taken more cues from the park end of the spectrum than any other ski in this class, but we’re excited to get the ARV 106 on snow this month to see if that continues to hold true.
For comparisons to the K2 Marksman , Line Sir Francis Bacon, and ON3P Kartel 108 check out our Deep Dive here.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics