2019-2020 Armada ARV 116 JJ

Since we published our First Look at the ARV 116, I’ve gotten more time on it at Mt Bachelor and Sun Valley, and published a Flash Review of the ski. Now, after five days on the ARV 116 JJ I’ve got answers to a few of the questions I asked in my First Look, as well as comments on how it performs in a variety of conditions. We’ll also be comparing the ARV 116 JJ to the current crop of playful powder skis in an upcoming Deep Dive Comparisons article.

Slush

I haven’t been able to ski the ARV 116 JJ in pow yet, but I have a lot of time on the ski in the closest thing to it: slush. And here, it does very, very well. I really enjoy skiing the ARV 116 in soft snow; it’s very easy to pop and slash around and play on small terrain features. At higher speeds, I was impressed with the ARV 116’s stability and predictability. It felt composed, and I felt comfortable making larger-radius turns, and equally comfortable throwing the ski sideways to dump speed.

Cy Whitling reviews the Armada ARV 116 for Blister Gear Review.
Cy Whitling on the Armada ARV 116 JJ, Mt Bachelor, OR.

Everything about my experience on the ARV 116 JJ in slush makes me excited to ski it in fresh snow. So far, it’s shown the potential to be one of the more playful powder skis I’ve been on recently.

Firm Snow / Groomers

Such conditions and terrain aren’t the point of the ARV 116 JJ. But plenty of skis in this class do well in firmer, more challenging conditions (skis like the Moment Blister Pro, ON3P Kartel 116, and Black Crows Anima). On groomers and on icy snow, the ARV 116 JJ felt fairly composed, but not confidence inspiring, especially at high speeds. It’s not a stiff, straight, heavily-cambered ski, and I became especially aware of this whenever I started to open things up. I found that it was very important to stay centered on the ski; when I tried to drive the tips too hard, I found they were easy to overpower.

That said, the ARV 116 JJ is predictable and reliable enough in these conditions that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a wider one-ski-quiver to people in places that get a fair amount of snow. It does fine in firmer conditions, it just doesn’t excel.

Moguls

This is where I was most surprised by the ARV 116 JJ. I don’t ski a lot of moguls, and thus I don’t love skiing them, and I’m not very good at them. But at Sun Valley, the ARV 116 JJ was much more fun in the bumps than I expected, especially given their width. It felt quicker than its size would indicate, and it was very easy to slarve through trenches. It never felt hooky (this could maybe be partly attributed to the spooned tips and tails), and the centered mount helped me stay balanced. That’s another factor in my lack of reservation recommending this ski to playful skiers looking for a one ski quiver — in a variety of bumps, I found that the ARV 116 JJ was one of the most fun and intuitive skis I’ve been on recently.

My Questions

I posed several questions about the ARV 116 in my First Look, and I’ve got partial answers to most of them.

Q: How does the ARV 116 compare to the JJ and JJ 2.0? Is it more versatile? Significantly less playful? Significantly more stable (especially in variable conditions)?

This is the big one, and the one I can’t answer yet. I’ll ski the JJ 2.0 and ARV 116 back to back next winter and report back. But based on my brief previous time on the JJ, I’d predict that the ARV 116 JJ is going to be more stable and versatile, without sacrificing too much playfulness.

Q: How does the ARV 116 fit into the ARV line? Does it feel like a wider ARV 106, or like a totally different ski?

The ARV 116 feels like a very natural extension of the ARV line. It feels like a wider, more pow-specific ARV 106. It maintains that predictable flex pattern that transitions smoothly along the ski, and that feel that’s reminiscent of a wide park ski. So if you like the ARV 106 and want something a little wider for deep days, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the ARV 116 at all.

Cy Whitling reviews the Armada ARV 116 for Blister Gear Review.
Cy Whitling on the Armada ARV 116 JJ, Mt Bachelor, OR.

Q: How noticeable is the 3D Base technology in the tips and tails?

Short answer: Not.

Long answer: Maybe the 3D Base is responsible for some of that slarv-y-ness I loved in moguls and while playing in soft snow, but I can’t say I notice a difference over other playful skis like the Line Mordecai or J Skis Friend. Perhaps if I was more inclined to nose or tail butter, I’d feel more of a difference. On the flip side, I haven’t noticed the 3D base in any negative way either, so I really can’t complain about it. It’s similar to the HRZN Tech in the Benchetler. Maybe it’s making the tips and tails a little looser and more surfy in soft snow, but it’s not making the sort of drastic difference that will make skiers love or hate the ski.

Q: How does the ARV 116 compare to the current crop of playful powder skis?

We’ll publish a full Deep Dive on this topic comparing the ARV 116, Black Crows Anima, Moment Meridian 117, ON3P Kartel 116, Black Crows Anima, and many, many more skis soon, so stay tuned for that.

Bottom Line

The Armada ARV 116 JJ is a compelling addition to the ARV lineup and a logical replacement for the JJ 2.0. It’s a predictable, very playful pow-oriented ski, that’s a whole bunch of fun in soft snow. It’s not the most stable ski in this class in firm conditions, but it holds its own, especially when skied from a more centered stance. We’ll have an update and more comparisons soon.

DEEP DIVE COMPARISONS

Become a Blister member or Deep Dive subscriber to read how the ARV 116 stacks up against a number of other playful powder skis, including the Line Mordecai, ON3P Kartel 116, Moment Blister Pro, Atomic Bent Chetler, and K2 Catamaran.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

12 comments on “2019-2020 Armada ARV 116 JJ”

  1. Cy,

    What you described here is 99% what I felt when I was riding original JJ 2.0. Looks like tip and tail splay is a bit less agressive now? Looking forward for the comparison with the original jj’s!

  2. Can you comment on the mount point? You mention it in the preview, but I can’t see it being discussed in the full review. Also, is there any chance to get someone of your more directional guys on the longest version (maybe new AK JJ)?

    • Knizepan,

      I started out with it at the -2.5 mount, and really liked it there, it felt balanced without feeling too short. The demo bindings won’t go all the way back to the other -6 cm mount point with my BSL, so I haven’t ridden it there yet, I did take a few laps at -4 cm and didn’t notice too much of a difference though.

      And that’s an interesting note on the longer version, it would probably be a very good comparison ski to skis like the 192 Bent Chetler, which some of our more directional skiers have liked.

  3. Hy Cy !
    I looked at the photos of the Armada ARV 116 2018/19 Version you posted with your Review.
    The bindings canˋt be at -2,5 cm in these photos,can they?
    It looks as if they are all the way at the back!
    I just had the 2019/2020 version mounted at the „freestyle“ position printed on the top sheet(as opposed to the more backward „factory recommended“ position),
    which I suppose would correspond to the -2,5 cm Position. And my skis look almost Center-mounted!
    Have I got something wrong ? A comment would be much appreciated ! Thanks in advance!

  4. I skied several days last year with a guy who was on Armada ARV 116’s. He could leave railroad tracks on firm roughed up groomers at mach schnell. The suspension of this ski appeared to be superlative.

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