2020-2021 Armada Tracer 98

Ski: 2020-2021 Armada Tracer 98, 180 cm

Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 179.1 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 1575 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1632 & 1637 grams

Stated Dimensions: 132-98-123 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 131.2-97.3-122.2 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (180 cm): 18 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 55 mm / 22 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Core: Caruba + Titanal Binding Reinforcement + “Adaptive Mesh” & Fiberglass Laminate

Base: “Comp Series” sintered

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -10.05 cm from center; 79.5 cm from tail

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 19/20 Tracer 98, which remains unchanged for 20/21, apart from graphics.]

Luke Koppa reviews the Armada Tracer 98 for Blister
Armada Tracer 98, 19/20 Graphics
Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics


As we noted in our First Look of the 19/20 Tracer 108, Armada is updating their backcountry-oriented Tracer series for 19/20. The skis are getting lighter and reportedly more durable in order to better compete in the growing backcountry and 50/50 category.

The Tracer 98 got the most significant update of the Tracer skis, so let’s take a closer look to see what’s new with the 19/20 ski.

What Armada says about the Tracer 98

“The crown jewel of the Tracer Series, the Tracer 98 is your everyday off-piste ski built with versatility in mind. A layer of Adaptive Mesh keeps the ride damp and stable while the beveled top-edges create a lighter ski that can handle anything your ski legs throw its way. For 19/20 we paired a superlight, 100% Caruba Wood core to a more durable fiberglass construction making the Tracer 98 even lighter and more durable. The quickest edge-to-edge and best performer on hardpack the Tracer 98 is the true 1-ski quiver from resort to backcountry.”

It’s interesting that Armada calls the Tracer 98 the “crown jewel of the Tracer Series.” I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but given that it’s grouped with the big Tracer 118 CHX, versatile Tracer 108, and ultralight Tracer 88, we’re curious to see what makes the Tracer 98 stand out.

I think it’s also worth highlighting that Armada doesn’t seem to be pigeon-holing the Tracer 98 into the backcountry category, and is instead labeling it as an “everyday off-piste ski.” The Tracer 98 is quite light, so a big question for us is whether it’ll seem like more of a dedicated backcountry tool, or a 50/50 ski you could use inside and outside of the resort.

Lastly, the main update for the 19/20 Tracer 98 is a switch from a poplar / ash core to a full caruba core. Caruba is a lightweight wood and is likely a big factor in the new Tracer 98’s lower weight. Armada also tweaked the laminates of the Tracer 98, ditching the 18/19 ski’s “Xrystal Mesh” innegra weave for their new “Adaptive Mesh” and a lighter fiberglass layup. Armada says the Adaptive Mesh is a single-layer laminate that varies in orientation throughout the ski, with more of a longitudinal orientation near the tips and tails and more of a lateral orientation around the middle. This is similar in theory to K2’s “Carbon Spectral Braid” in that Armada’s Adaptive Mesh changes orientation throughout the ski.

Shape / Rocker Profile

The 19/20 Tracer 98 maintains the same shape and rocker profile as the 18/19 Tracer 98.

The Tracer 98 has a pretty moderate amount of tip and tail taper — more than skis like the G3 FINDr 102 and K2 Wayback 96, but a bit less than skis like the Dynastar Mythic 97.

Looking at its rocker profile, the Tracer 98 is, again, fairly middle of the road. It has slightly deeper tip and tail rocker lines compared to the Wayback 96 and Salomon MTN Explore 95, but its tip rocker line isn’t as deep (or nearly as splayed out) as the Mythic 97’s. Compared to the Line Vision 98, the Tracer 98 has shallower rocker lines and lower tip and tail splay.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Tracer 98:

Tips: 5.5
Shovels: 6-7
In Front of Toe Piece: 8-9.5
Underfoot: 9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 9-8
Tails: 6.5-6

Like the Tracer 108, the Tracer 98 has a directional, accessible flex pattern. The Tracer 98 has soft tips and shovels, ramps up smoothly to a strong midsection, and finishes with a soft tail. That said, the Tracer 98 is really only soft at the very end of the rockered portion of the tail, and is still pretty stiff behind the heel piece.

Overall, the Tracer 98’s flex pattern is pretty similar to the Vision 98’s. The Tracer 98’s front half feels pretty similar to the MTN Explore 95 and Mythic 97’s, but both of those skis finish with stronger (and flatter) tails compared to the Tracer 98.


The 18/19 Tracer 98 had a stated weight of 1780 grams per ski for the 180 cm length. At that weight, the Tracer 98 sat pretty squarely in the 50/50 category of skis that are light enough for touring, but heavier than more dedicated backcountry skis in order to offer better downhill performance in the resort.

The 19/20 Tracer 98 cuts a significant amount of weight, coming in at around 1630 grams per ski for the 180 cm length. While the new ski still isn’t as light as skis like the MTN Explore 95, Vision 98, Mythic 97, and Wayback 96, the 19/20 Tracer 98’s weight closes the gap between it and some of the dedicated backcountry skis in its class.

For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try and keep things apples-to-apples.

1250 & 1256 Fischer Transalp 90 Carbon, 176 cm (18/19–19/20)
1353 & 1358 Majesty Werewolf CLT, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
1353 & 1376 Blizzard Zero G 95, 185 cm (17/18–18/19)
1390 & 1439 Salomon MTN Explore 88, 184 cm (16/17–19/20)
1446 & 1447 Line Vision 98, 179 cm (19/20)
1469 & 1477 K2 Wayback 96, 177 cm (18/19–19/20)
1476 & 1490 K2 Wayback 106, 179 cm (18/19–19/20)
1477 & 1482 G3 FINDr 102, 184 cm (17/18–18/19)
1512 & 1523 Dynastar Mythic 97, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
1543 & 1565 Salomon MTN Explore 95, 184 cm (16/17-18/19)
1547 & 1551 Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon, 185 cm (17/18)
1562 & 1566 Scott Superguide 105, 183 cm (17/18–18/19)
1605 & 1630 Line Vision 108, 183 cm (19/20)
1606 & 1641 Blizzard Zero G 105, 188 cm (19/20)
1629 & 1684 Elan Ripstick 96, 181 cm (17/18–18/19)
1632 & 1637 Armada Tracer 98, 180 cm (19/20)
1633 & 1638 Faction Prime 2.0, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1642 & 1651 Renoun Citadel 106, 185 cm, (18/19)
1680 & 1707 Line Sick Day 94, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
1706 & 1715 Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
1720 & 1747 Line Sick Day Tourist, 186 cm (16/17)
1734 & 1750 Renoun Endurance 98, 184 cm (18/19)
1745 & 1747 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm (16/17–18/19)

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) Given its low weight, will the Tracer 98 offer enough stability for hard skiing inside the resort?

(2) This class of ~100mm-wide skis often try to blend firm and soft-snow performance, so will the Tracer 98 feel skewed toward one end of that spectrum?

(3) The Tracer 98 has a pretty moderate shape, rocker profile, and flex pattern. So what types of skiers (beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert, etc.) will get along best with it?

Bottom Line (For Now)

With their updated Tracer 98, Armada is now offering a lighter ski that — at least when it comes to weight — more closely competes with many of the other lightweight backcountry skis on the market. But unlike many of those skis, the Tracer 98 isn’t super stiff, flat-tailed, or packed full of carbon. Stay tuned for updates on its on-snow performance to see how the new Tracer 98 performs.

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2020-2021 Armada Tracer 98, BLISTER
2020-2021 Armada Tracer 98, BLISTER

25 comments on “2020-2021 Armada Tracer 98”

  1. I am wondering what your thoughts are on this as a resort ski with a couple of times a week dawn patrol ski / BC? Right now I am skiing a 4Frnt MSP 99 which I am not totalling in love with. It is a little too stiff and not very playful for me. I have a Origin 106 for powder days but was looking for a ski that handled the groomer days better than the Liberty Origins. I have also been looking at the Atomic Bent Chetler 100, Faction Prime 2.0, Rossignol Black Ops and the Elan Ripstick 96. Just not sure which ski would be good for say a 70 / 30 mix of all mountain day with some touring day. I just don’t want a super stiff ski. I like a little more playful ski.

  2. Absolutely amazing ski! Huge confidence builder in steeper terrain with pillow lines. Ski absolutely rips groomers with a ton of pop and stability.
    Mogul fields? No problem, this ski’s low swing weight and perfect flex shreds moguls with ease! Just an unbelievable amazing ski!

  3. Anybody know if these ski short or true to size? Trying to decide between 180cm and 188cm. I generally like skis around 185cm, which normally work well for me at 5’11” 220lbs. Looking to use these for some soft snow touring so concerned 180cm may be too short for my weight.

  4. They ski true to size and I would mount on the recommended factory mount point, as they will ski not “short” at that point.
    I am 6 foot, about 192 lbs.

  5. Awesome ski. This was the surprise ski of the (short)m 19/20 season for me. Really fun, easy to maneuver good pop/rebound but also stable. Mounted with shifts +2cm from the factory line.

    • Hey Chris, interesting comment about the mount point. Hopefully you got to ski them some more this 20/21 winter.
      Are you happy with the skis mounted at +2 from rec or would you change it? Also what length are you skiing?

    • Hey Chris, interesting comment about the mount point. Hopefully you got to ski them some more this 20/21 winter.
      Are you happy with the skis mounted at +2 from rec or would you change it? Also what length are you skiing?

  6. Just had my first outing on Tracer 98 mounted on the line with Shift bindings. Mt Ruapehu NZ Whakapapa ski area day one started on groomers with some man made quite creamy in places the skis were very light and lively, flicky carvy and exceeded my expectations. After lunch we skinned up and out wide the skis are light and easy to skin, we got on some sun softened faces which had not been skiied the skis started out great but as the snow got softer and deeper I found the tips bogging a little and the skis overturning a little. I was thinking maybe my 82 kg plus pack might be a bit much for them, but I stopped pushing forwards and stayed neutral and they became smoother. I also wondered if mounting back might be good. Day 2 at Turoa some good groomers but totally iced up offpiste and the wind came up stripping the upper Mt. The skis had good grip everywhere and something a bit new for me they are very slarvy freeride so good for flicking sideways anywhere and everywhere as I needed. Overall very easy safe and reliable to ski, not high speed, maybe mount back if you are more carvy less freeride oriented, but actually I think best to adapt and use the slarve, don’t push hard and enjoy the carve!

    • Great feedback! And that’s very much in line with our experience with both Tracers — very versatile, yet intuitive and easy skis. And regarding deeper / denser snow, I’d agree in that they encourage a slightly more neutral, centered stance in those conditions. We haven’t been able to experiment with mount point on them but for me and Jonathan, we’ve both been quite happy with them if we just lay off the shovels a bit in deeper, denser snow.

  7. PS I am on 180 cm Tracer 98. I also have the 180 cm Tracer 108 mounted on the line with Shifts, as yet unused, which I will be touring on next week in the South Island NZ. Cheers Stan

  8. How did this stack up to the MTN 95? Looking for a spring mountaineering ski with a slightly more modern shape. Juggling between this or the Bent Chetler 100 (which seems a bit heavier).

    • The Tracer 98 is a bit more maneuverable (particularly in soft snow), while I’d take the MTN Explore 95 for firm conditions (more fun to carve and better edge hold). Stability is a close call, but I find the Tracer 98 slightly more damp / smooth when conditions are really rough. So if you wanted an alternative that’s slightly easier / more playful / more maneuverable than the MTN Explore 95, it could be a good call.

      • Hey, thanks Luke. Really appreciate the feedback. It seems the Vision 98 might be a little more forgiving in tighter terrain with mixed conditions. Think the edge hold is that much more significant on the MTN for sidestepping icy patches in chutes or hop turning?

        Oddly, lots of Mitches asking about this ski. Maybe that’s a sign…

        • Yeah the Vision is definitely the most maneuverable and forgiving of the three. As for edge hold on icy patches, the Vision has been fine for me in most cases. The main area where I much prefer the MTN Explore is when hop-turning down icy sections that are also quite steep (40°+). In those scenarios, I prefer something with a longer sidecut radius, less rocker, and a stiffer flex pattern, like the MTN Explore 95. I can still slide down in a pretty controlled fashion on the Vision 98, but the MTN Explore 95 digs its edges in a bit better and feels more secure in those scenarios. But if that sort of skiing (steep & icy) is fairly rare for you, the Vision 98 would probably be fine and be a lot more fun in trees and soft snow.

  9. Hey Luke , good advice and i am looking at buying a pair for touring in Scotland with mixed conditions and some piste skiing. On 22nd Dec you mention the Tracer 98 which seems to be the thread but on 23rd you mention the Vision 98? is that just a misstype or are we talking about two different skis? I have also been looking at the Line Vision.

  10. The Tracer 98 is an all around fun ski, great for lighter weight skiers with its softer flex. In short, it’s an extremely light, playful and ideal for touring. I’m 5’7 140lbs and ski the 180. Only thing I would change is to add a little more shovel rocker. Sometimes I feel like the shovel catches a little bit when there is a crusty top layer on the snow. Im sure detuning the shovel would help with this though. In the mean time you just have to pop out of the turn a bit more versus slarve into the turn like you can on a reverse camber ski. I’d be curious to ski it mounted +1 cm. I mounted my on the recommend line but feel the ski would also ski well at +1, especially since I’m a bit shorter.

  11. Hey Luke, did you guys do the full review in the end? I was curious as to whether you had a chance to play with the mount point a little – you always have interesting feedback on that (and pretty unique… I don’t know if there are other reviewers online that do that)

    • Doh! Just noticed you had already mentioned in previous comments that you hadn’t played with the mount point.

  12. Hey,
    I am considering to build a new set for my multi-days, long missions in the backcountry. Since I am a tall guy (200cm) but not heavy (90kg)my focuse is on the Tracer 98 188 or Black Crows Camox Freebird 188. ( my daily skies are Chugach 194 ) Do you have any expirence in comparing their hard snow performance? Wich one would hold better edge on a steep, hard slopes ?
    Maybe you can give me a hint at which other model to have a look in the same weight category
    Greetings from Austria

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