The Armada ARW 96 wasn’t on our initial list of skis to test during our 2020 ski test, but Shelby Parenteau noticed skiers having so much fun on the men’s ARV 96, she couldn’t help but grab a pair to take some test runs. The ARW 96 is a classic Armada ski. It’s a twin-tip that’s designed for playfulness and all-mountain versatility, essentially what the company is all about. It has camber underfoot with tip and tail rocker, although the rocker is tremendously pronounced. The poplar and ash wood core gives it a stable feel, yet allows for a relatively soft, playful flex too. Whether slashing turns in the trees or ripping around the terrain park and the rest of the mountain, the ARW 96 is built for fun, and we were psyched that one of our testers grabbed a pair to give them a go.
Shelby Parenteau was on the 163 cm length in the ARW 96 and her top score wasn’t surprising, 5 out of 5 for playfulness! Flotation, quickness/maneuverability, versatility, and overall impression also earned high scores of 4 out of 5. “This ski was a soft and playful all-mountain ski. I can see how it would be a lot of fun in powder or soft snow (like probably this afternoon).” Shelby tested this ski on a spring day with firm groomers in the morning and softer, corn-like snow in the afternoon. A lot of our male testers raved about its feel in soft snow, so we’re pretty confident Shelby would’ve liked it. “Fairly light and quick, the only drawback I found was it got a little squirrely at high speeds and the edge didn’t want to hold at those speeds.” That’s valuable feedback, and not overly surprising. Armada has other skis that are designed more for speed and stability, like the Victa series. The ARW 96 is much more focused on a fun, playful feel. “Definitely a good ski for a freestyle lady skier who wants to ride all mountain as well as the park.”
Shelby hit the nail on the head with her last recommendation there. Anyone who likes to ski the terrain park, but wants versatility for the rest of the mountain will love this ski. That said, you certainly don’t have to be a terrain park skier or need to be throwing tricks out there to enjoy this ski. It can also serve as a super-fun, not-too-demanding all-mountain ski for those who don’t necessarily need a tremendous amount of stability at speed or edge grip for aggressive carving turns. It’s a blast in the trees, has a distinctly playful feel, and could even serve as a powder ski, especially for a lighter weight eastern skier.