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2nd Look: Armada TST

Brett Caroll reviews the Armada TST for Blister Gear Review

Armada TST

Ski: 2016-2017 Armada TST, 192cm

Available Lengths: 165, 174, 183, 192 cm

Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 190.0cm

Stated Dimensions (mm):  120-133-103-124

Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski (grams): 2,025 & 2,045

Sidecut Radius: 18.9 meters

Core Construction: Poplar/Ash + Fiberglass Laminate

Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Cochise 130 Pro / Marker Jester (DIN 10)

Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line

Test Location: Alta Ski Area

Days Skied: 6

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

Armada calls the TST a “true all-mountain charger,” and this season, I have ridden and reviewed two other skis that fit into that category: the Line Influence 105 and the Nordica El Capo. Above all, It’s been interesting to identify just how much variety there is within this category.

But Armada actually does help to locate the TST on the “all-mountain charger” spectrum by emphasizing the TST’s ability to carve on hardpack and float / slash through powder. That emphasis demonstrates Armada’s priorities in creating the TST, and, in regard to those priorities, they hit their mark.

Flex and Camber Profile

In his review of the Armada TST, Will Brown already covered Armada’s flex pattern rating system, so I’ll just discuss the flex and camber profile of the TST compared to the Influence 105 and El Capo.

Compared to the Influence 105, the TST is softer all the way through. However, the flex pattern between these two skis is actually fairly similar, as both gradually transition from the stiffest section underfoot to a noticeably softer tip and tail, with the tip being the softest part of the ski. On both of these skis, the gradual softening of the ski provides a very predictable level of support and stability.

The El Capo, which I described as being stiff underfoot but as transitioning abruptly to a softer flex at the tip and tail, has a stiffer section underfoot than the TST, a slightly but noticeably stiffer shovel, and approximately equally stiff tails. Even though the TST’s shovels are slightly softer than the El Capo’s, their gradual transition from stiff to soft was much more predictable when I was driving the shovels of the ski, and I never felt like the shovels might fold in on me like I did on the El Capo.

I agree with Will’s assessment of the 192 length TST as a manageable, cooperative ski for its length. It never felt difficult to maneuver. The rocker line on the TST is about 40cm from the tip, which, combined with a significantly tapered tip, substantially reduces the TST’s effective edge on hard snow. This, along with a fairly light swing weight, make the 192 feel quite manageable.

Groomers

When I first looked at the TST and saw its deep rocker line and tapered tip, I didn’t expect much in the way of groomer performance. With a significantly reduced effective edge I was under the impression that these skis would struggle to carve on-piste, especially in firmer conditions. After many groomer laps in a variety of snow conditions, I’ll readily admit that my first impression was wrong.

Brett Carroll reviews the Armada TST from Alta Ski Area for Blister Gear Review

Brett Carroll on the Armada TST, Alta Ski Area.

Despite the length of the 192, the TST’s effective edge has a surprisingly short (18.9 meter) sidecut radius. When compressed, this sidecut radius bites into the snow and favors quick, short GS turns. And because the TST is not as stiff underfoot as the El Capo or Influence 105, I found it easier to get the sidecut to bend and carve at lower speeds than those other skis.

The TST also feels poppier and more energetic than the El Capo or Influence 105, both of which I described as damp, energy-absorbent skis. I found that the El Capo and 105 performed best on groomers while driving the shovels, but by subtly working the ski from shovel to tail throughout the turn, I felt like I could build up a substantial amount of energy in the ski to pop me into the next.

Will describes the TST as being able to “rail like a race ski.” While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, the TST is very competent carving turns on groomers for an all-mountain ski. I had trouble getting the TST to hold an edge on true boilerplate conditions, but I felt comfortable laying them on edge on anything softer than that. I found the TST to hold an edge on firm groomers better than the El Capo, but not quite as well as the Influence 105.

Will and I were both pleasantly surprised by the stability of the rockered tip when skiing fast through chopped-up groomers. While softer and more rockered than other skis in the category, the TST’s tips are stiff enough to smooth out chopped up snow on groomers.

Finally, the TST felt very versatile in that I could rail one turn, then feather my edges and smear the next. I think that the rockered tip and relatively soft flex helped these smeared turns feel smooth and comfortable, and I appreciated having that versatility.

Overall on groomers, the TST feels livelier and poppier than either the El Capo or the Influence 105, and prefers shorter radius, snappier turns than those skis. The TST is easier to carve than the El Capo and the Influence 105 at slower speeds, yet still feels almost as stable as the El Capo and nearly as stable as the Influence at high speed. I found them to be better at carving on firm snow than the El Capo, and close to, but not quite, as good at doing so as the Influence 105.

Firm, Smooth Off-Piste

The past couple weeks in Utah have been clear and dry, which this time of year makes the snow on steep, north-facing aspects fast, firm, chalky, and smooth. In these conditions, the TST still exhibits each of the traits I attributed to its groomer performance. The TST was still easy to maneuver, felt poppy, held an edge/carve, and was stable at speed. Applying these traits to firm, smooth off-piste conditions, the quality I want to emphasize the most is that they still feel stable at very high speeds.

I spent one morning on the TST making laps in the Upper Cirque at Snowbird, skiing several lines that entailed a short straight-line through a chute, followed by 3-5 high speed turns to the bottom of the bowl. I was very impressed by how little the TST’s rockered tip was deflected or felt like it was “flapping,” even during these very high-speed turns. But, as I will discuss later, I want to make clear that this was on very smooth firm snow.

9 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Jack January 29, 2014 Reply

    I’m thinking this might make a great tele ski. Looking for something pretty quick and nimble when I don’t want to charge on my alpine gear.

    Can anyone offer a comparison to the DPS wailer 99, the other ski I’ve been eyeballing for this purpose? Seems like they have a lot in common (at least in shape and ride characteristics, if not construction.)

    • Blister Member
      Jack January 29, 2014 Reply

      I’m 5’10, 165#. Expert. Would probably go with the 183 for tele. Ski Summit County, so mix of open bowls and tight trees / bumpy chutes.

  2. JvR February 1, 2014 Reply

    Excellent review. I do confirm that the TST is difficult to enjoy in variable firmer snow or breakable crust. Especially in steeper terrain, driving the shovel doesn’t help me (or I suck at it); the tip just folds and gets pushed across the fall line when it touches patches of harder snow. This makes you ski pretty slow / conservative, while on other sticks i could open it up a bit more (and crash harder).

    Any pointers on a ski that would work a bit better for me in the variable/firmer steep stuff, but has equal soft-snow performance? Groomers i don’t care about, no slopes here around Lyngen. It’s my AT-ski so shouldn’t be heavier then 2kg. me: 83kg@192cm.

  3. David Deane February 9, 2014 Reply

    Hey Gent,

    I am considering purchasing the TST, 5’11” 245LBS, pretty solid and strong skier. I am currently riding the Atomic Beta 5’s a very stiff GS ski that I absolutely love. I need a big mountain ski and can get a good deal on the TST’s through a buddy. After looking @ all the amazing reviews I did see a few that stated if you are a bigger guy (I am husky and solid) that they may be a little soft, can anyone clue me in on what you think here, I really want to buy the TST’s but don’t dont want to get a ski that is not going to stand up to the punishment I can give it.

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    David

  4. JvR February 10, 2014 Reply

    Whether soft is ‘too soft’ in your case I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not damp, and I guess that’s something you’re looking for too…

  5. Michael October 10, 2014 Reply

    Decisions decisions. 5’9″ 190 very strong tele skiier. Summit county resorts. Trees steeps moguls. Is it tst apostle or helix. All in that 180-185 range.
    Help me obi wan you are my only hope

    • Brett Carroll October 19, 2014 Reply

      Michael – I haven’t gotten to spend time on the Apostle or Helix, so I can’t speak to those. But as far as the TST is concerned, I think that it could be a good choice depending on your preferred skiing style. If you tend to ski trees, steeps, and moguls with a more controlled, precise style at moderate speeds, then the TST will probably work well for you. If you’re looking for a ski that will be stable blasting through chop and crud at higher speeds, then I think you’ll want to look for something stiffer and damper. Hope that helps.

  6. Rich February 12, 2015 Reply

    I am trying to decide on the Armada JJ or TST. I am 5’5″ at 150, ex racer but now skiing powder and trees. My question is whether there is any significant difference between the JJs and TSTs in the trees or deep powder? Demoed the JJs in Steamboat (165 cm) and loved them in deep snow and trees; tolerated them coming down the front side.The TSTs should be a little better on front side carving but it may not be worth buying them if they are not as good in trees/power. I understand these are primarily a powder ski, which is what I want. Anyone have an opinion based on actual experience? Any other similar options? THanks.

  7. Blister Member
    tjaard October 27, 2016 Reply

    Any comparison to the (old) Soul 7?
    Both have a short effective edge, both are soft snow focused yet both sound like they do alright outside that medium

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