2013-2014 Armada VJJ

Heading back to Utah, I had to wait only a few days before a storm system rolled in and dropped more than 14” of powder. Visibility was low, so I headed over to my favorite tree run at Alta, Wildcat Face off the Wildcat lift.

The flotation of the VJJ was incredible, though, again, it was my first run on skis with considerable tip and tail rocker. I was blown away by the sensation of surfing atop the snow. And the shape of the tails let me dig down into the snow as needed, to dump speed or generate face shots.

The VJJ also has a “bubble” shape, meaning that the ski is fatter fore and aft between the tip and tail, which lead to five measurements (126-136-115-133-123) to describe the skis dimensions rather than the traditional three. This multi-dimensional shape, along with the VJJ’s 12-meter turn radius, makes the ski exceptionally maneuverable, especially through tight trees and on harder groomed snow.

Armada VJJ Ski, Blister Gear Review
Lexi Dowdall, Upper Punch Bowl, Alta Ski Area.

In the tight trees near the bottom of Wildcat Bowl, I marveled how nimbly the VJJs were turning. I’d never been able to navigate trees with this level of swiftness and agility on my Pandoras or my Czars.

Storms continued to unload on Alta through the last two weeks of January. On a particularly deep day over in Catherine’s Area, I was impressed how well the VJJs surfed atop the deeper powder, at both fast and slow speeds. The tapered shape and rocker in the tail kept the tips of the ski well above the snow surface. I rarely experienced problems with the tips digging in. When I did, a slight transfer of weight to the rockered tails was the only effort needed to correct the problem.

Another testament to the VJJ’s excellent powder performance came when I compared them to the 2008 Volkl Kuro. I spent three days in mid-March on 175cm Kuros, in some of the deepest snow of 2012. The flotation of the Kuros was all-time, but by the third day, my legs were exhausted from hauling such enormous boards around the mountain. (Their dimensions are 164-132-139).

After my first run of the third day, I snuck back to the car and swapped out the Kuro for the VJJs. In all honesty, the VJJ did nearly as well in powder, which surprised me, given their 115mm waist versus the Kuro’s 132mm. The VJJs were so much lighter, nearly as good in powder, and much better on groomers. It was an exciting moment for me: I had finally found an all-mountain ski that could surf pow with the best of the ultra-fat boards.

Once the snow was skied out, I found the VJJs could also handle the chop quite admirably. Positive camber underfoot and their poppy wood construction meant the VJJ provided the responsiveness required in these tougher skiing conditions. I found them to be somewhat difficult to maneuver through moguls, but that could easily be attributed to user error. The 175cm length and the fat girth coupled with my utter lack of competence in mogul fields made this a challenge for me. (Then again, this is a fatter ski, and certainly not designed for mogul shredding.)

In regards to soft snow with firm patches underneath, the VJJ performed well. The ski was forgiving yet playful in variable snow, and I found it easy to correct my stance if I got caught in the backseat or tossed around.

20 comments on “2013-2014 Armada VJJ”

  1. Lexi:

    I quite enjoyed your review. I am 5’8″, 128 pounds. I enjoy skiing the trees, pow, and crud. I am interested in the VJJ, Rossi S7,or La Nina in the 170+ length. How would you compare the three? Which is the best “one ski quiver”?


    • Hey Lisa!

      Thanks for reading! I unfortunately am woefully unable to fully answer your question. I am a newer member to the Blister crew, so I haven’t yet had the chance to try out the La Nina. Though we do have a review of the La Nina from one of our ladies, See here:


      The VJJ has a bit smaller sidecut radius (12 m) than the La Nina (16.5 meters), so I’m tempted to say that it may be a slightly more nimble choice in tight trees. I scored one day on the women’s S7 last season, and based on that one experience I would say the S7 has a much more “buttery” feel to it than the VJJ. Though I have heard user complaints about the tips of the women’s S7 fluttering at high speeds. From my limited experience with the S7, the VJJ seems to perform much better in crud.

      For what it’s worth, I used my VJJs as a ‘one ski-quiver’ here in Utah for the duration of last season, even though our powder storms were few and far between. I have 5 or 6 pairs of skis in my closet, and VJJs were inevitably always at the top of that stack. I’m actually slated to review Armada TSTs in the very near future. They are a bit skinnier than the VJJs, a bit stiffer, and they have no tail rocker. I’m thinking this is actually going to be an excellent all-mountain tool if you are located somewhere less snowy than a [typical] Utah winter. Be sure and stay tuned…

  2. Hi Lexi,
    I happened to stumble onto your reviews and really enjoyed them. Thanks for your insights!
    I’m considering getting a pair of VJJ’s as my first ever pair of full rocker skis. I am 161cm and have been pretty happy with my current pair of Line’s Celebrity 100 at 165cm as sort of my one quiver skis. After reading your reviews, I am thinking 165cm VJJ might ski too short for me and just wondering if I should go with 175cm though I’ve never skied anything longer than 165cm. I am no expert but quite an aggressive skier and love to go fast on groomers but also do a variety of things including tree runs, some smaller cliff jumps, etc..If I get VJJs, I’ll probably take them out mostly for deep powder days and some slackcountry country touring so it would make sense to go longer but just not sure if 175cm might be an overshoot..what do you think? I’d really appreciate if you could share your thoughts. Thanks! – Heather from up in the Canadian Rockies

  3. Hey Heather!

    Thanks so much for reading!
    So I am about your same exact height, and before skiing the VJJ I was using skis in the 168-165cm range. Because the VJJ ski has such dramatically rockered tips and tails, the 175cm length skis as if it were a much shorter ski. Armada has done a great job with keeping this ski lightweight, so the extra length didn’t add a troublesome amount of swing weight so it’s still easy to initiate turns.
    I was pretty nervous when I sized up from my 168cm Czars to the 175cm VJJ – but I am SO glad I did, I would have been very unhappy with the shorter length.

    I think you are definitely going to appreciate the longer length when you are ripping groomers, they are going to be much more stable for you. If you are hitting small cliffs, that’s a pretty good indication that you won’t be overwhelmed by the 175cm, you know what you’re doing! : )

    I also think that if this is going to be your DEEEP pow ski, the extra length is going to give you noticeably better flotation as well. If possible see if you can demo some different women’s skis in that 175cm range to get a feel for longer sticks before you purchase. That’s always the safest bet, but based on the info you provided, I think you would be able to handle the 175s with no issue.

    • I just went ahead and ordered a pair in 175cm! I’ll be honest, the idea of skiing on 175cm skis still makes me a bit nervous but I’m sure I’ll be very happy once I take them out for some turns. Can’t wait for snow! Thanks a lot for your advice Lexi.

  4. Lexi,
    Your review was great! Thanks so much. I am currently deciding between the Rossi S7 and VJJs. I am 5’5, 120 pounds, and a fairly aggressive skier (although I need to work on my technical skills). I mostly ski in Vail, CO, and the surrounding resorts (Breck, Beaver Creek, Winter Park), but also take 2-3 backcountry hut trips a year. I would like to put AT bindings on them – possibly the Marker Tour F12s. Do you have a strong opinion one way or the other for the skis and any recommendations on a good touring binding to pair? Thank you so much for your help!

  5. Howdy Claire,

    Thanks so much for reading! Normally I would recommend a Dynafit setup for touring because that basically changed my life! But it sounds like you are primarily looking to do resort skiing with the occasional hut trip, in which case you are going to want a more resort-centric alpine style binding with touring capabilities.

    I tried the Duke for a couple seasons, as a smaller skier with little legs, I had a pretty difficult time keeping up with my buddies lugging the Dukes uphill. They have great skiing performance, but the weight is prohibitive for smaller bodies like you and I. If you are thinking Marker I would 100% skip the Dukes and grab the F12 instead. They weigh 4lbs 12 oz and the Duke’s weigh 6lbs 2 oz. That weight difference is pretty enormous! Keep in mind that weight on your feet is crucial to consider since each added pound will slow you down (Here’s an interesting read: http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/hiking/one-pound-off-feet-five-pounds-off-back.htm)

    You will also definitely want a boot with a walk mode. There’s tons of exciting options out there nowadays for a solid Alpine style boot with a walk mode to make touring more comfortable. I made the mistake of going on an overnight trip with my traditional alpine boots. I was so blistered and sore by the time we made camp, I literally couldn’t ski. I sat in our snow cave and got lost in the twilight zone because it was so hard to tell what time of day it was inside the cave! Basically, it sucked!!

    I hope this helps! Sounds like you have an awesome winter planned! : )

  6. Hey Lexi,

    Thanks for all your comments and recommendations on the Vjj’s, regarding length etc. I’ve just picked up a pair and am mounting Dynafit ST bindings. I’m considering mounting them 1.5 cm back of centre to help get the tips up in the deep pow. I ski mostly backcountry in BC Canada, Rogers Pass and surrounding areas.

    Any thoughts on my mounting choice would be appreciated.

  7. Hey Cathy,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read my review :)
    You will be SO stoked on that setup in BC, I’m excited for you!

    I do however advice against mounting your Dynafit ST bindings back of the factory recommended line. A couple reasons. 1. The VJJs are SO generously rockered in the tips that keeping the tips up in deep snow isn’t really a concern. As long as you are centered or fairly forward this ski won’t dive, it’s meant to gobble powder and they are just really solid in deep snow.

    I actually connected with one of the Armada reps to double check my theory on this one. He admitted that many backcountry skiers want to mount behind the factory recommended line thinking the ski was more specifically recommended for freestyle skiers, which is not the case. JP Auclair dialed in the mount point for Armada on the JJ (and VJJ) with the intention of shredding powder. If mounted back, the ski tends to have a wheelie effect when powering through the end of your turn in powder – which is obviously not desirable!

    Summary Statement: Mount ’em up at the recommended line :)
    Many wonderful backcountry powder days to you, Cathy!

  8. Hi Lexi,
    I have just bought VJJ 2013/165 cm. I have to chose bindings.
    Are Marker Griffon bindings better than Marker Squire (DIN at 7)?

    • Hey Berin!

      Those bindings are pretty similar.
      The Squire’s DIN range tops out at 11, where the Griffon maxes out at 13.
      If you are setting your DIN around 7, you probably don’t need the Griffon.

      The Griffon is also about a pound heavier, so that too is something to consider.
      Because I am small, I always go for the lighter option, as it’s easier for me to transfer power to my skis with a lighter binding.

      It depends on what you plan to do with your VJJs.
      If you have a racing background, like high speed, or plan to be hitting jumps and cliffs, the burlier Griffon may make the most sense. If you’re just cruising around and hunting for powder, I would go with the Squire.

      Congrats on the VJJ! You’ll love them!

  9. Dear Lexi,
    Thank you so much for your reviews and helpful comments to other readers’ posts. I am in the market for a bigger better set of skis and I’m hoping you can offer a little advice. This is only my second ski season but I am an aggressive and adventurous skiier who seeks out deep pow, tight glades, and the occasional drop/jump. I am exclusively (at this point) a resort skier. Last season I rode 153 K2 SuperFree skis but I found that their tendency to sink in powder kind of debilitating. I am 5’4″ and 120 pounds. Based off this limited info do you think the VJJ 165 is an appropriate ski for me? I am also looking at the K2 MissDirected and the Saloman Stella skis but all three of these have a different turning radius. How much would this matter given the kind of skiing I enjoy? I appreciate any help you can provide. Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

    • Hey Lucy!

      Sorry for the slow response, I missed your question.

      I was looking over the construction of the K2 Superfree and I’m not too surprised you found them sinking in powder, they are a fairly skinny ski at 76mm underfoot.

      You said you like tight glades and were concerned about the turning radius. In looking at those numbers, just remember that a smaller number means the ski likes to make smaller, snappy turns. A ski with a large turning radius is a bit harder to turn quickly and will like to make big, fast arcing turns as opposed to short snappy ones. For reference your SuperFree has a turn radius of 14 meters.

      The new VJJ.20 (this article is on the older model) has a turn radius of 15 meters, so that will feel similar. You are however going to notice a substantial difference because the VJJ is so much wider than the SuperFree at 115mm underfoot. I think the VJJ makes an amazing powder-centric all mountain ski, but coming off a 76mm waist you might like something a little thinner to start out with as you progress.

      I would suggest the ARVw – which is similar to the VJJ but narrower. It was very playful and managable in varying conditions, – check out this vid for more info : )


      I suggest sticking somewhere in the 90-100mm underfoot range for the type of skiing you want to do.
      Other skis to check out:

      You should also add the Blizzard Black Pearl is another great option to add to your short list.
      A really versatile, all-mountain ski, this is a bit skinnier at 88mm underfoot with a 17 meter turn radius.

      Of your options, I think the Stella is closer to where you want to be underfoot at 102mm but the larger turn radius of 23 meters will mean this ski prefers straighter faster arcing than quick snappy turns.
      The MissDirected is pretty fat at 117 mm – but I really think if you’re looking for an all-mountain ski you are going to be more comfy on something 100mm wide at the waist or less. If you’re looking for just a pow ski the MissDirected could be a great choice.

      All depends on what you want/need out of your ski!

      Check out the Rossignol Saffron 7 too!
      Holler if you’ve got more questions!

  10. Hey Lexi,

    Unbelievable reviews making me very eager for the season to start. I am an east coast skier who grew up racing moguls and now have moved out to the Rockies. I spent last winter skiing on my 158cm “East Coast All Mountains” and, as always, loved them in the bumps but as soon as the big mountain powder hit, I was history. This season I am looking for a pair of all mountains that will still let me play in my moguls but also fully enjoy and learn to ride the powder these mountains have to offer. I am an aggressive skier but at only 5″0 I am finding it difficult to find a hard charging pair in a length short enough for me. I noticed you are not that much taller and also ski aggressively so was hoping you may have some suggestions or guidance about skis to look at and length to try out?

    • Hey Clare!

      Thanks for reading!

      Have you considered the Blizzard Samba yet?
      Of anything I’ve skied lately this ski performed the best in all conditions and I found it much simpler to control in moguls or chop than some of the fatter skis intended for deeper stuff. The Samba was really fun in soft stuff too, so for a quiver-type ski I would say this is a really good option to investigate.
      The Samba is avail in shorter lengths like a 152 or 159 cm.

      • Lexie, thanks for the response!

        The Samba is actually the one I’ve had my eye on (didnt want to bias any response from you by mentioning it). Great to know youre a supporter of this ski. One question though, what do you mean by “quiver type”?

        Thanks again!


        • Hey Clare!

          Think of a quiver of arrows. Many skiers have a full quiver – thus lots of different skis to choose from depending on conditions. Those are the lucky folks.

          Others may only have 1 or 2 pairs of skis to use in all types of conditions. Thus a ‘quiver ski’ like the Samba is a ski that is very versatile and can handle varied terrain, snow and weather conditions.
          The Samba is good in steeps, trees, powder, groomers, ice, crud and just cruising around – thus it is a quiver ski! : )

          • Hey Lexi!

            Quiver, new term that I love! Thanks for that, makes a ton of sense.

            One further question, do you have a recommended mount point for all mountain skis, in particular the Blizzard Sambas? I was to be able to ride them hard on bumps and front side but be far enough back to glide through pow days in the bowls. As an old racer I tend to be very much over the front of my skis and struggled last season to get the tips floating on my old pair. Will the Rocker of the Sambas make up for that or should I also be mounted a little further back?

            Thanks again!


  11. Hey there Lexi.
    I have a pair of VJJ 165 ski’s. I’m sad I didn’t go longer. I’m 5’7 and weigh about 130 on a light beer day. I’v been using them for 2 years now. And I LOVE them. I ski between Colorado and Utah. I can ski anything on the mountain and I can ski aggressively when needed, but I choose not too. Iv done chutes, bowls, and tree skiing. I love this ski and I can ski it in nice glades, but it’s a bitch for me to turn in tight trees. Think Winter Park ( Mary Jane side. ) and forget about taking them in huge moguls. Sounds like a oxi-moron skiing MJ, I know. lol, but like you, it might be user error. Any suggestions on a ski I can demo? The other ski I have is Dynastar Paradise. There just ok. once you ski a pair of VJJ’s, you never go back. :) So I’d like to try a all mountain pair I can take in trees with a smaller turn radius. Thanks, Ryan

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