2020 Armada Tracer 108

The Armada Tracer 108 falls squarely into the freeride category. It’s been updated for the 2020 ski season and is designed to cross over from the resort to the backcountry and everywhere in between. Weight is an important consideration with the Tracer 108. Too light and it wouldn’t be stable enough for aggressive skiing, too heavy and it would be overly fatiguing as a touring ski or in tight terrain. To achieve this blend, Armada uses a hybrid core made from both poplar and Karuba wood. Their Adaptive Mesh, a variable angle weave, and a Laminate Matrix, directional fiberglass, combine to boost the ski’s torsional stiffness and vibration damping, without the extra heft of metal laminates. The wood core is also milled into a tapered shape, losing height as you reach the ski’s edge, another technique to reduce overall weight. We were a big fan of the previous version of the Tracer 108, and were psyched to put this new version to the test.

Jeff Neagle tested the 180 cm Tracer 108 and just based on his numerical scores, he really enjoyed it. We saw some high scores from Jeff, including 5 out of 5 for playfulness, quickness, and overall impression. That said, he didn’t give it a single score less than 4 out of 5, a sure sign he liked the ski. “Feels like Armada took everything I liked about the old Tracer 108 and made it better,” described Jeff. “Still very maneuverable, but feels more stable, smoother, and more forgiving all at the same time.” That’s high praise, especially considering how well the previous version did in our 2019 ski test. Jeff also thought it hit a high-performance level, but that “lots of skiers of varying abilities could enjoy these.”

Justin Perry also skied the 180 cm Tracer 108 and thought it felt “playful and easy to turn and control.” That aligns nicely with Jeff’s feedback, and Justin’s scores came in similar as well, nothing under 4 out of 5. Justin was impressed by its performance in soft snow, commenting that it “cuts right through crud with the rocker profile.”

Shaun Roberts skied the longest length, the 188 cm, and found the Tracer 108 to be very versatile despite its 108 mm waist width. “This is a ski that can ski most everything. It skied and popped through bumps well and charged groomers.” He also thought it “held an edge decently well on firm snow,” which is quite a compliment for a ski this wide and lightweight.

Jascha Herlihy couldn’t help jumping on a 180 cm Tracer 108, and we’re really glad she did. All 5’s out of 5 from Jascha, which is a rarity in our ski test. “Amazing! Beyond words for the ski that I’ve been lapping for 3 runs. This ski is light, playful, energetic, spunky, and versatile. I would love to own this ski.” When our testers say they’d like to own a ski after testing it, we consider that the biggest compliment it could receive.

Parker Herlihy, another tested who skied the longest length, thought it was “really strong all around,” echoing the sentiment from Shaun Roberts. Parker found it to be “damp at slower speeds” and that the “tail is very easy to release turn to turn.” The Tracer 108 is a smooth, maneuverable ski, that much is becoming clear.

Brooks Curran had some valuable feedback for us on the Tracer 108. He thought it was “for everyone but the hardest chargers.” That makes sense, as heavier skis will provide more stability and power. Think Freeride World Tour type performance. That said, Brooks thought it had “just enough dampness to churn choppy snow to butter.”

The Tracer 108 provides an awesome option among the freeride ski category. A little lighter than a lot of its competitors’ skis, but still smooth, damp, and hands-down a whole lot of fun. There will be an Armada-branded version of the Shift binding for 2020, and we expect a lot of skiers will pair it with the Tracer 108, creating a very versatile resort freeride/touring package.


Brooks Curran

Age: 24Height: 6'2"Weight: 170 lbs.

Ski Style: Ex-racer, now backcountry freerider

Parker Herlihy

Age: 21Height: 6'4"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Freeride fun with big air on the brain

Jascha Herlihy

Age: 19Height: 5'9"Weight: 195 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive and fearless with a playful soul

Chuck Waskuch

Age: 47Height: 5'8"Weight: 180 lbs.

Ski Style: Smooth and Controlled

Jeff Neagle

Age: 33Height: 5'10"Weight: 150 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive freeride with freestyle background

Justin Perry

Age: 29Height: 5'9"Weight: 167 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive all-mountain freeride

18 Comments on the “2020 Armada Tracer 108”

  1. How do these compare to the Line Vision 108’s? The Line’s are considerably lighter so I’d assume a little less stable at high speeds/rough snow but there’s a whole lot more to how a ski behaves than just weight & general stability.

    1. Right you are, Ed!
      Both have their own type of carbon inlays, but they are laid out in different patterns. The Line’s are vertical while the Armada’s are criss-crossed. This gives the Armada better torsional stiffness and a little better snap and pop overall. For fresh snow only, I think the Line would be a great floater, but for other types of snow, as well as resort groomers, the Armada is a more versatile ski. Have fun!

    2. Hi, I have a question regarding the size. Which one would you recommend – 172 or 180? I am rather aggressive skier that likes playful skies and is currently more focused on bigmountain/touring options. Looking for a one-quiver ski. I am 170cm (ca 5’6) but rather light – 61kg (ca 135ibs). Before I had 172 Line skies but felt too short for my riding style (but those were twin tips). I am just bit worried that at 180 I might loose the playfulness. Thanks!

      1. Adam,
        I think the 172 is the way to go unless you really know about your self that you prefer longer skis. Based on just your stats and application, it sounds like a 172 is appropriate. Have fun!

  2. Hi, How do the Tracer 108 compare to the Line Sick Days 104 and Fischer Ranger FR 102? In (i) powder, (ii) crud, (iii) on-piste/hard pack and (iv) touring capabilities? I would use the ski 50/50 inbounds and back-/sidecountry. I am an advanced skier (6’4 and 185 Pounds).

    I currently ski an older version of the Rossignol Soul 7 (and am happy with it, especially in soft snow). It needs to be replaced…

    Many thanks for your advice! I do appreciate the work you put into your very helpful reviews.

    1. Hi Hans!
      Tracer is a superior floater for sure thanks to both the shape and the more flexible build. Especially versus the Ranger 102, which is on the stiffer side of the skis on your list. I’d put that as the most versatile and well rounded, and certainly best in crud, but also the heaviest. Not by much, and the tips and tails make it feel lighter, but in the touring capability, I’d rather skin on the 108 or the sick day. Watch for length, though, because the Ranger tops out at a 184 while the Tracer goes to a 188 and the Sick Day to a 186. At 6’4, I’d make sure you get a ski that won’t feel too short. Hope that helps!

      1. Many thanks, for your quick & very helpful answer. The length is something I havent thought about. Some other ski I notice is the Elan Rispstick 106. The Elan Ripstick received a good Review and seems to have similar characteristics. How does the Elan compare to the Tracer 108 (and the Sick Day 104)? The Elan is available in 188… 🙂

        1. Hans,
          The Ripstick is unique because of its asymmetrical rocker profile. Having a right/left specific ski for soft snow makes a lot of sense, as the uphill ski tracks right along the downhill one in the Elan–it’s a very smooth sensation, with no hookiness or grabbing whatsoever. They’re light just like the Tracer, a bit lighter than the 104, and have carbon tubes that run through the core along the edges. These tubes provide 3 Dimensional flex, leading to a smooth and predictable response from the ski. A ton of fun for sure, and that 188 is tempting!

  3. Curious how the Armada Tracer 108 compares to the Atomic Backland 107 I am looking for a 50/50 ski for resort powder days and some side country and touring use mounted with the Shift binding. I am 6′ 4″ 210 and type 3 skier currently riding a rustler 9 188 as my everyday ski and love the versatility and energy of the ski as I like to jump in and out of the woods searching for fresh snow or just rip down a groomer. I am and east coast skier spending most of my time at Stowe and Okemo. I have heard good things about the backland and the HRZN tip in soft snow – but that it also as a small sweet spot and can be difficult in variable conditions, I have heard that the tracer is poppy playful and very versatile. I had planned on demoing both these skies but with the season cut short missed my opportunity so any insight you could provide would be appreciated.

    1. Hi William!
      Very similar overall feel in terms of weight and performance. The Armada has a bit more of a rounded tail, so is more playful in slashing and smeary turns while the Atomic’s flatter tail does bite in a bit more. A bit more responsive/jumpy in the Atomic as well–perhaps that’s the sweet spot you heard about? I’m 6/3 220 and I’ve found the Atomic suits my size a bit better than the Armada, which I have found to be on the light/soft side, but if you’re looking for high levels of playfulness and surfiness, then I guess that’d be a good thing! Both fantastic choices for that 50/50 tourer. Take care!

      1. A concern of mine was how soft flexing the Armada’s were as at my size as I can overpower a ski fairly easily – but also for more of a dedicated powder ski i want a bit softer flex – so trying to find the balance. I love the energy in my Rustler 9’s but they can also smear easily in the woods and yet hold an edge well on the groomers – really trying to find a 50/50 ski with similar characteristics but certainly do not need as good of edge hold as i am putting more bias towards soft snow. Just curious which ski falls in line with similar characteristics to the Rustler?

        1. Hi William!
          Is the answer as simple as a wider Rustler? The 10 or 11? Or are you looking for something totally different? In the 108 area, similar to Rustler, check out the K2 Mindbender 108 and the Nordica Enforcer 110. While they have metal (or two layers in the Nordica), they still have very appropriate flexes for powder skiing. You do gain a bit of weight over the Armada, but for powerful skiers, it’s usually a necessary evil. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Ben!
      Armada did the mount, and for the most part, those skis were mounted factory recommended. We did not measure, but testers do have the option with the demo binding to be able to move fore/aft if they wish, although I’m not sure if anyone took the liberty. Not center mounted, I’m sure. Have fun!

  4. Hello SE,
    thank you for this review, also on youtube. Love it.
    All the way from Slovakia, mainly riding freeride, backcountry in resort JASNA, but my favorite playground is West Tatras – only accessible with skins.
    Last year, I bought old pair in Whistler, Armada Norwalk 2014, 116 under, 188 cm long. Amazing ski, she is so forgiving, but a little bit heavy for day by day backcountry, after 3 hours on skins doing backcountry, you are feeling tired. Looking for brand new pair now, with similar specs. Most of the time I spend out a resort, not on the piste, riding couloir 30` steep or higher.

    Can you SE recommend a ski to me? Do you think Armada Tracer 118 will do the magic in low powder condition ( we got new snow like 5 to 15 cm / per week, occasionally 30 cm ). I am worried that Tracer 108 underfoot is too low for skiing outside of the resort.

    Many thanks, Peter

    1. Hi Peter!
      I think the 118 is a great choice for any amount of fresh snow, and the Tracer is certainly light enough, but also with good energy. I’d also take a look at the Salomon QST 118–a big heavier but very floaty and fun.

  5. I’m pretty sure I will end up with these skis, but trying to decide on sizing. My brother has this ski at 172cm. He’s 5’9” 170 lb, which I thought was a bit short for him, but he loves them. I’m 5’11” and 160 lb, and want to confirm that 180cm makes sense. Expert skier, East Coast, but I have another ski for hardpack/packed powder, so I’ll only be using this for woods, powder days, touring and one or two yearly trips out west if it matters. Thanks!

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