Ski: 2019-2020 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm
Available Lengths: 172, 180, 188 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.3 cm
Stated Weight per Ski (188 cm): 2000 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2113 & 2140 grams
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 135.5-106-124 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius: 21.5 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 60 mm / 51 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm
Core: Poplar +2 full-length Ash stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Base: Armada’s “S7”
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -2.55 cm from center; 90.6 cm from tail
Boots / Bindings: Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 / Marker Griffon Demo
Test Locations: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort & Grand Targhee, WY
Reviewer: 6′, 175 lbs
Days Skied: 6
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 18/19 ARV 106, which was not changed for 19/20, apart from graphics.]
For 18/19, Armada is tweaking their ARV freestyle lineup, with small construction changes across the line, as well as more significant tweaks to a few models. The ARV 106 comes back with several changes to its construction and shape, which we’ll discuss further down.
The original ARV was a staple in the Armada lineup for years, and then two seasons ago, Armada introduced a whole line of ARV skis. Since then, the ARV 106 has been Armada’s wider, freestyle-oriented, daily driver. It’s more all-mountain / less park-oriented than the ARV 96, and it’s less powder-oriented than the ARV 116 JJ. The ARV 106 fits into a neat middle ground of playful skis designed to be wide enough for the average powder day, but still not feel out of place on the occasional park lap.
We spent a considerable amount of time on the original ARV 106, and really liked it. We found it to be a capable and versatile ski that felt a little more like a wide park ski than some of the other skis in this category, like the ON3P Kartel 108. So how does the new ARV 106 compare to the old one, and how does it stack up in the current class of playful all-mountain skis?
Here’s what Armada says about the new ARV 106:
“Our most versatile all-mountain freestyle ski gets a completely new construction for 18/19, bringing an ultra-playful and responsive yet stable ride to high performance skiers tired of tossing sticks in the trash every half season. Reinforced with new sidewall construction to absorb high speed chatter and any rail, wall, or concrete you can press them on, the Armada ARV 106 also features ash stringers for increased pop and play. Introducing a new shape akin to the JJ 2.0 of winters past, the new ARV 106 is as at home surfin the white wave as it is thrashing the pro park.”
Some of the most significant changes to the ARV 106 come in its construction. First, the 18/19 ARV 106 now uses a primarily poplar core with two full-length ash stringers. This is in contrast to the previous ARV 106, which only had ash reinforcements underfoot. The orientation of the fiberglass on the 18/19 version has also been tweaked, which Armada says makes the new ski a bit stiffer torsionally.
The 18/19 ARV 106 also now uses Armada’s “AR75” sidewall construction, as opposed to the previous version of the ARV 106, which used their “AR50” sidewall. Basically, the “AR75” sidewall means that roughly 75% of the ski uses a semi-cap sidewall construction, and the remaining 25% of the length (in the case of the ARV 106, the tips and tails) uses a full cap construction. Armada claims the increased length of sidewall construction should help absorb high speed chatter and impacts from jibs.
And on the topic of impacts, Armada has also changed up the edges on the new ARV 106, bumping up from last year’s 1.7 mm edges to 2.2 mm edges for the 18/19 version. This should help the new ARV 106 hold up a bit better to rails, and this change has been made across the range so that all 18/19 ARV skis will use the beefier 2.2 mm edges.
All in all, Armada says the changes to 18/19 ARV 106 will make it more stable than the previous version, and a bit less playful.
Shape / Rocker Profile
Another important change between the current ARV 106 and the 18/19 version is in its shape. Armada says the new ARV 106 has a shape that is akin to the old JJ 2.0. The 18/19 ARV 106’s shape is definitely not as tapered as the old JJ 2.0 or the ARV 116 JJ, but it is slightly more tapered than the previous version of the ARV 106. And while its tips and tails have slightly earlier taper lines, the new ARV 106’s tips and tails are also slightly more “blocky” — they don’t come to quite as much of a point as the last version. Armada says this should help the new ski float a bit better than the previous iteration.
In our review of the first ARV 106, we said that it felt like a big park ski, and a lot of this was probably due to its lack of taper compared to skis like the ON3P Kartel 108 and K2 Marksman. So we’re interested to see how the new shape of the 18/19 ARV 106 affects its on-snow feel.
Our pair of the 18/19 ARV 106 also appears to have slightly more tip and tail rocker and a bit more tip and tail splay than the 17/18 ARV 106 (60 & 51 mm for 18/19 vs. 52 & 46 mm for 17/18). We felt that the first iteration of the ARV 106 provided a good deal of effective edge on firm conditions thanks to its more conservative rocker profile, but also thought it didn’t float quite as well in pow compared to skis with more rocker. So, we’re also curious to see how the changes for 18/19 affect the new ARV 106’s performance on both firm and soft snow.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the 18/19 ARV 106:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9
Behind Heel Piece: 9.5
The new ARV 106 feels a bit stiffer overall compared to the last version. Armada says this is due to the addition of the full-length ash stringers and the increased thickness of the extended section of semi-cap sidewall.
We noticed the new ARV 106 flexes considerably stiffer in the portions with semi-cap sidewall, and is softer in the capped portion of the tips and tails. These transition zones don’t feel very hinge-y, but the flex ramps up smoothly and quickly as the ski changes between semi-cap sidewall and cap construction. And since that semi-cap sidewall comprises about 75% of the ski, that means the new ARV 106 is actually fairly stiff through much of the ski. This makes us excited about the new ski’s potential stability, and also makes us curious about how playful it will feel vs. the old version.
Our pair of the 18/19 ARV 106 has a recommended mount point of 2.55 cm from center. That’s a significant change from the last version, as our pair of the 17/18 ARV 106 had a recommended mount point of 6.45 cm from center. However, Armada informed us that the production version of the 18/19 ARV 106 will have two mount points: a more freestyle mount point of 2.5 cm from center and a “freeride” mount of 5 cm from center. So, we’ll definitely be playing with the mount point of the 18/19 ARV 106 to see how it performs at both recommended lines, and how it feels when skiing with a more centered vs. more forward stance.
Despite the addition of full-length ash stringers and the thicker edges, the new ARV 106 is coming in at a pretty similar weight to the last version, and it again sits near the middle of the pack for skis in this category when it comes to weight.
For reference, here are a few of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for a few notable skis:
1941 & 1994 Faction Candide 3.0, 186 cm (18/19)
2032 & 2062 Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm
2109 & 2145 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm (17/18)
2113 & 2140 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm (18/19)
2144 & 2153 K2 Marksman, 184 cm
2221 & 2245 ON3P Kartel 108, 186 cm (18/19)
2241 & 2295 4FRNT Devastator, 184 cm
Bottom Line (For Now)
By the numbers, the 18/19 Armada ARV 106 looks like it will again be a strong contender in the wider all-mountain freestyle category. We’re very interested to see how the changes to the ski’s flex, construction, mount point, and shape play out on snow. We’ve been getting time on the new ARV 106, so stay tuned for updates, and let us know about any questions you’d like to see addressed in our full review.
Flash Review: Armada ARV 106
Blister members can now read our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review of the ARV 106.
(Learn more about Blister Member benefits, and Become a Blister member)
Sometimes it’s really difficult to write reviews of tweaked or updated skis because it’s hard to articulate what really changed, other than the topsheet. But with the redesigned ARV 106, I could sum up this latest version of the ski with one phrase: “More Versatile.”
Armada somehow managed to make the ski more maneuverable at slow speeds and also more stable at higher ones, all without taking the “fun” out of its DNA.
The 2018-2019 ARV 106 received subtle tweaks across the board, from construction to shape, and in return, you get a ski that just performs a bit better in a wider range of conditions than the previous model. I’ve now skied the ARV 106 in the full spectrum of conditions, from icy park laps to blower pow, and I’ve come away very impressed.
We’ll be comparing the new ARV 106 to a bunch of similar playful all-mountain skis in an upcoming Deep Dive article, but for now, we’ll go over how the 18/19 ARV 106 compares to its predecessor, and what types of skiers would like it the most.
Neither version of the ARV 106 has been a true park ski, but Armada likes to flaunt both skis’ jib performance. That seemed more appropriate with the old version — it felt very much like a wide, but pretty “traditional” park ski (i.e., not much taper or rocker). It performed well across the mountain, but still felt like it had a lot of “jump-and-rail” DNA.
Not so with the new version. The new shape and flex pattern lend themselves more to steep, fresh faces than quad kinks. That’s not to say that the new ARV 106 feels out of place in the park, it’s just not quite as park-oriented as the old model.
The new ARV 106 doesn’t carve quite as well on icy in-runs, its flex isn’t as forgiving for presses and butters, and some skiers will probably find it washing out on landings due to the added tail rocker and taper. But the swing weight of the new ski feels a touch lower, and the added taper is helpful for underrotated spins as its less prone to catching.
So, the new ARV 106 is fine if you like to occasionally swing through the park on your way back to the lift, but if you’re looking for a wider, dedicated park ski, the new ARV 106 isn’t your best option. That said, it is worth noting that the new ski’s sidewall and edge construction should help it hold up better to rail abuse.
Something about the old ARV’s flex pattern and shape took a few runs for me to get used to when skiing firm, chopped-up snow. It just didn’t feel intuitive compared to similar skis like the ON3P Kartel 108. I found myself skiing with a more centered stance and working a little harder to consistently break the ski loose. Once I figured out the ski, I got along with it very well, but it wasn’t just plug and play. The new version is.
My first lap on the new ARV 106 was down a firm, moguled run at JHMR and I found myself skiing fast and with a lot more confidence than I expected on my first lap with the ski. The new shape and profile let the ski release and slide more predictably, and it was very easy to make a wide variety of turn shapes.
This new version has a higher speed limit on firm snow and is more confidence inspiring when jumping into bumpy, variable conditions. Of course, that’s a relative statement — the ARV 106 isn’t some heavy, directional ski. It’s still a playful jib stick, and skiers who ski with a more forward stance and who aren’t used to this sort of playful ski will still find its limits quickly — just not as quickly as they’d have found the limits of the old version.
I’m a big fan of “day after the storm” skiing, and skis that excel in these conditions. Everything’s still soft, there are still pow stashes to blow up and slash, but my primary focus is going fast and jumping off everything.
The ARV 106 stands out in this scenario. It feels great while blasting through soft snow and also while jibbing and spinning off of everything. It’s stable on the ground and light in the air — a great combo. Here, again, I think it’s a much better ski than last year’s version. I found the old version could be just a touch hooky in some conditions, and it required you to stay on top of it a little more to keep it composed. This new version is more intuitive, and makes it easier to shut down speed suddenly when necessary.
The ARV 106 is not a dedicated pow ski (its big brother, the ARV 116 JJ, fills that slot). But the new ARV 106 is much better in fresh snow than the old version. I’d guess that the new shape is mostly responsible for this — that added taper makes it easier to break loose and slash deep snow pockets, while also helping the ski plane without catching. For its width, the ARV 106 performs very well in powder.
It’s never going to plane as well as a wider, more heavily rockered ski, but that’s not the point. The ARV 106 won’t let you down if you get out of the car to find a surprise 20” dump, and that’s about the best you could ask of a 106 mm all-mountain ski. Sure, it won’t be as fun as a dedicated pow ski, but it’s better in the deep stuff than the old version, and compares well to its peers when it comes to performance in pow.
Who’s It For?
I said the old ARV 106 was perfect for anyone coming from a park background who was looking for something that felt very similar to their park skis, but that performed better all around the mountain.
This new version removes that “park background” caveat and instead is a great option for anyone looking to treat the whole mountain as a playground, regardless of how much time they’ve spent on park skis. There are more jibby, playful all-mountain skis on the market, and there are more stable, aggressive skis, but the ARV 106 strikes a very nice balance, meaning that it should work for a pretty wide range of playful skiers.
It’s rare that an updated ski comes back improved almost across the board. Usually brands end up trading some stability for playfulness, or vice-versa. But, in the case of the new ARV 106, Armada managed to make the ski more versatile across almost the entire range of conditions. Unless you’re purely looking for a 105mm+ park ski (which, to be honest, I’m not really sure anyone should be looking for), the new Armada ARV 106 is better in all aspects than the old version, and a wide variety of skiers will get along very well with it.
Deep Dive: Armada ARV 106
Keep an eye out for an upcoming Deep Dive where we’ll directly compare the new ARV 106 to a bunch of other all-mountain freestyle skis, including the ON3P Kartel 108, Sego Big Horn 106, K2 Marksman, J Skis Vacation, and more…