Armada ARV 96 Review

This is my review of Armada ARV 96. In my opinion, it is a playful ski that offers all-mountain versatility and the ability to tackle many terrains in a responsive, versatile package while lacking in soft snow.

Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of this ski, who it is best for, and other similar alternatives to consider.

Quick Summary

  • Where to Buy: Amazon
  • Best for: All-mountain skiers who value the ability to adapt, as well as those who like to get out and hit the park. Downhill skiers will appreciate these too.
  • Pros: Lightweight core that gives you extra power. Strong AR75 sidewalls. The construction is tough, and the skis are quite stable. 2-year warranty on top of the already nice value.
  • Cons: Not great in soft snow. You’re also going to need to work to maintain control. The design will be a bit too busy or cluttered for some riders, and there are slight durability issues.
  • Alternatives: Icelantic Nomad 105, Blizzard Rustler 10, Supernatural 100

Why Trust Me

I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time researching these skis. I analyzed how they held up across different environments and talked to skiers who used them first hand during both calm and tumultuous conditions.

Detailed Review

The ARV 96 is a ski focused on versatility. It gives you the option to ride both inside and outside the park, a feature made possible due to its responsive and playful nature. It’s a true all-mountain option lifted by its Poplar Ash wood core, AR75 sidewalls, and overall durable construction. You might see limitations in powder, and they do require you to exert some energy, but this is a good model for all-mountain riders.

Also Read: Best All Mountain Skis

On-Snow Performance

The ARV 96 is an excellent ski for those who like to rock both groomers and landings. That even holds up at higher speeds. Many skiers of different levels will love zipping around the mountain thanks to the core that provides stability when cruising around on groomed snow. That ability makes them good for the park and gives them the ability to be used as a true all-mountain option.

Something else I like about these skis is their tough construction. Though we’ll get into more details later on, the beefy design enables them to handle mixed snow much better than a lot of other skis. The rough rocket profile does make them less reliable in crud, but they are still serviceable. Beyond that, the skis can hold their own on icy days. If there’s one weakness here, it’s that they aren’t as great in soft snow. However, they will still serve you well in other terrain.

Out in the Park

As a truly versatile ski, the ARV 96 also does a solid job in the park. This option is energetic on takeoffs and reliably stable on landings. The stiffer construction helps here because it enables you to land more solidly on bigger features. It feels good to touch down with these, which is something I can’t always say. There’s plenty of pop as well.

It’s important to note that these skis do force you to work to get the most out of them. Operating will get easier with time, but you’re going to need to exert some force out of the gates. They do have strong stability at higher speeds and have what it takes to perform tricks on rails. The pair doesn’t give you the results you’d find in more specific skis, but it’s solid in the park for an all-mountain model.

Shape and Construction

The ARV 96 doesn’t reinvent much when it comes to shape or physical design. The 96mm waist is average, as are the medium sidecut and mellow tip/rail rocker. The edges are slim (2.2mm) and the ARV sidewall gives you a nearly full sidewall underfoot that extends to both ends of the ski.

The model comes with a decent amount of taper and a moderate rocker profile. That’s nothing to write home about, but it does create a solid package. One other aspect to note is that the ARV 96 has a good amount of camber. In terms of general design, it’s soft at the ends and has more stiffness in the areas with sidewalls. As that’s nearly all of the ski, everything feels sturdy and secure.

Weight and Durability

If there’s one area where the ARV 96 struggles, it’s durability. The skis have a decent construction, but their edges round off extremely fast. You’re going to see a lot of wear and tear, especially when using them in the park. I’m also not a big fan of the four piece edge wrap. Yes, it gives you a more natural flex but only does so by creating gaps. The filler in those gaps can then come loose, which is a bit of a bummer.

To back up the construction, the ARV 96 has a solid weight. It’s not going to give you the same heftiness you’ll see in more metal-focused constructions, but it weighs more than other popular all-mountain options. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, extra weight always comes with pros and cons, but it’s something to take note of if you want a lighter setup.

Price and Value

Another big plus for this ski is the value. The ARV 96 delivers excellent results in a range of different environments. Not only is that versatility nice to have, but the ski has quite a few features without breaking the bank. It’s not terribly expensive, especially if you manage to snag it on sale.

What I Like

My favorite trait of the ARV 96 is its stability. The AR75 sidewall construction is quite impressive, managing to absorb high-speed chatter you might encounter as you zip around on runs, and the construction does a good job of ensuring you don’t lose control. I always appreciate when you can easily pilot your skis, and these do a great job in that regard. No matter where you ski, you’re going to get good results.

The lightweight design and poplar core are also a nice mix when it comes to power, and the profile allows you to carve in varied terrain. I’m also a big fan of the value. Moderately priced skis are always a breath of fresh air in the face of higher-end models, especially ones that come with as much versatility as the ARV 96.

What I Dislike

This ski is not the toughest option out there. While it will take on multiple seasons of use without any lasting damage, the edges are going to wear down if you use the pair a lot. The four piece edge wrap is something else I don’t like.

I am also not a big fan of the ARV 96’s appearance. This is a smaller complaint that is by no means a deal-breaker, but everything seems a little too busy or cluttered for my taste. The colors pop, but everything tends to blend together. The graphics are also much too flashy for what I like. That won’t be a big issue for people who like a more striking design choice, but I prefer skis that are more subdued.

The Alternatives

As well-rounded as the ARV 96 is, there are many other great freestyle all-mountain options on the market. If you want a suitable replacement that gives you alternative traits, these fill that role:

  • Icelantic Nomad 105 – The Nomad 105 (review) is a stable all-mountain option that’s lightweight and fun to ride. It does well on many different types of snow, including powder. That makes it extremely versatile. They are expensive, but advanced skiers who want something they can use in different conditions will appreciate this one.
  • Blizzard Rustler 10 – Another reliable all-mountain model, the Rustler 10 (review) comes from a trusted brand with a high reputation. These skis are a bit more expensive than the ARV 96, but the multi-wood construction cuts down on vibrations and gives you a lot of control.
  • Supernatural 100 – The Supernatural 100 falls right in line with the ARV 96 when it comes to price point, look, and feel. However, it differs in that it provides you a lot more control. The sidewalls do a good job of reducing chatter and the maple macroblock core gives them quite a bit of extra durability.

FAQs

Do these skis hold up at higher speeds?

Yes. The Armada ARV 96 does a good job at staying stable when things really get going.

How much do these weigh?

The pair comes in at right around 4 pounds per ski.

Are these good for advanced skiers?

Yes. More experienced riders will be able to use these to great effect.

Final Verdict

If you want a strong all-mountain freestyle ski, the ARV 96 may just be for you. This model doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it does allow you to hit the park or slopes with little worry.

It’s great for people who like to soar through the air, as well as those that like to butter. There’s a lot of fun to be had with these skis, as long as you’re willing to work for it.

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