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.