2020 Armada Tracer 98

The Armada Tracer 98, along with the entire Tracer collection, has been updated for the 2020 ski season. They’re designed with a blend of stability, nimbleness, and maneuverability, all in a relatively lightweight package that’s perfectly acceptable for touring use as well as in-bounds at the resort. Armada uses a full Karuba wood core, which is supported by their Adaptive Mesh technology, a variable angle weave that optimizes vibration damping along the longitudinal axis. The Tracer 98 has rocker that’s paired with early taper, more pronounced in the tip, but also present in the tail shape. The recipe is for a highly versatile ski that’s maneuverable, not as fatiguing as a heavier ski, and undoubtedly ready for adventure.

Jeff Neagle skied the 180 cm length and described the Tracer 98 as “a very versatile all mountain ski, especially for someone who values quickness and off-piste performance over groomer prowess.” That feedback makes a lot of sense, as Armada’s Invictus line leans the other direction: all-mountain skis focusing more on stability at speed, edge grip, and power. Jeff’s only scores lower than 4 out of 5 were for stability and edge grip, both coming in at 3 out of 5, which is understandable. “Super easy to turn, maneuvers through trees with ease. A heavy or really aggressive skier will likely want more torsional stiffness and/or stability, but realistically that’s the only downside.”

Evan Caha found more stability in the Tracer 98 than Jeff did after also testing the 180 cm. His stability score jumped up to 4 out of 5, which matched his scores for quickness and versatility. Based off that, skiers may have differing opinions on the amount of stability and vibration damping this construction achieves based on their skiing style and expectations. Evan thought it “turned well” and actually found that it had “no chatter” and that he couldn’t find a top speed. That’s saying a lot, especially considering the 180 cm length he tested is only 1575 g.

Phil McGrory skied the 188 cm length and was most impressed by the ski’s lightweight feel, ease of use, and maneuverability. His highest scores were for flotation, quickness/maneuverability, and playfulness; quite similar to how Jeff scored the Tracer 98. He described it as feeling “lightweight: and that it was “easy to turn.” That performance characteristic is important for a ski that’s intended to be skied in the backcountry, sidecountry, and tight in-bounds terrain. You need to be able to make quick movements in challenging terrain and need to be able to trust your equipment. It certainly seems the Tracer 98 earned a trust-worthy status with Phil.

Dave Carter had a similar response to the Tracer 98 as Jeff and Phil, finding the ski’s quickness and maneuverability to be its highlighting performance factor. Dave tested the 180 cm length, and described the ski as “a good performer in a variety of conditions.” If there was a goal of the Tracer 98, it would be versatility, and with all the feedback from our testers, it’s certainly proving to achieve that goal. Dave did think it was “lacking a bit at high speed,” but that’s not surprising, nor disappointing. We mentioned the Invictus line, and that’s going to be a perfect avenue for someone who wants a relatively similar shape, but boosted stability and power compared to the Tracer series. Remember, however, they’ll also be heavier, so it’s all about picking which line works best for your skiing.

Whether you’re planning on mounting it with an alpine touring binding, or just an alpine binding, the Tracer 98 is a whole lot of fun. Those that want a lightweight, maneuverable ski will fall in love with the Tracer series, and the 98 is exceptionally versatile. You might not be able to lay down race-inspired turns with it on boiler-plate snow, but it does just about everything else quite well.

Testers

Dave Carter

Age: 61Height: 5'9"Weight: 155 lbs.

Ski Style: They don't call me "carving" Dave Carter for nothin'

Evan Caha

Age: 30Height: 5'10"Weight: 140 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and adventurous with a love for high edge angles

Phil McGrory

Age: 31Height: 6'0"Weight: 160 lbs.

Ski Style: Adventurous spirit in search of pow

Jeff Neagle

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

Ski Style: Aggressive freeride with freestyle background

28 Comments on the “2020 Armada Tracer 98”

  1. Jeff gave the 2020 T108 a higher score for stability than the 2020 Tracer 98, do you feel that is accurate, or just a fluke of human testing?

    In replying my comment on the 2019 you wrote: “I think you’re talking yourself into the 98. That ski, at 108, is not terribly maneuverable. For one ski, I’d be pretty hesitant to go with the 108 unless you’re doing way more backcountry than resort skiing. Stability-wise, that 108 will give you the more surfy feel, especially in crud and chop versus the 98, which will want to have more snow contact. On icy groomers, neither will sparkle, but the 98 certainly has a leg up with the narrower waist and the lower tail rocker. I’d vote for the 98”

    Do you still recommend the 98 over the 108 in the 2020 version? How does the rocker profile compare between the 2 sizes in 2020?

  2. Hi, I am highly interested in the Tracer 98 which seems to be the answer I am looking for in term of adding a pair of ski to my quiver, that will be ideal for days of powder, shopped up powder, crud and spring skiing. I am an advanced skier aggressive most of the times but that like to take it easier in other, Mid-40s, 5’8”, 200 lbs. In those snow conditions I like a lighter ski and forgiving as well. Is the Armada Tracer a good ski for me and my expectations. Also, what size do you recommend, 180cm?. I ski Fisher Ranger 90 ti 172 which I find short for my weight.

    1. Right on, JP!
      I am in agreement with you on both ski model and length. The 2020 version is a bit snappier and more energetic than the previous version, so I think it’s a good call. Have fun!
      SE

  3. Hi.
    First of all I want so say, that you guys doing a great job with all your reviews. I´m very interested in Tracer 98 as I´m looking for a Touring/Freeride/Allmountain Ski. I´m 185 cm 80 kg an intermediate to expert skier and live in Austria, where I ski most of the time. In my range there is also a Slalom Ski for groomers and a Ranger 115 FR for big days. Now I have the Ranger 98 Ti but I want something more playful as I´m also searching for some jumps in the backcountry. I think I would use it as a 60% Touring and 40 % resort so it shouldn´t be that heavy but i don´t want a noodel which is just soft. Also on my list is the Blizzard Rustler 9. Which one would you recommend? Both skis i would take the longest option because of stability. Or you have any other skis which fits better? Thanks, Kristof

    1. Hi Kristof!
      Thanks for the kind words! I’d be concerned that the Tracer would be too noodley while I think the Rustler 9 and its partial metal laminate is right in your wheelhouse. If you want another comparison for that one, check out the Fischer Ranger 94 FR. Have fun!
      SE

  4. Looking at getting the Armada Tracer 98 or Fischer Ranger 94fr as a 50/50 ski for resort/touring. More than likely, will put a Fritschi Tekton on one of these skis. How do they compare from a flotation and stability standpoint? I’m 5’11” 220lbs and so thinking 180cm Tracer or would the 188cm length be better. For the Fischer Ranger 94FR. I’d go with the 185cm. Mostly ski Tahoe and touring goals will be to find soft snow in winter and corn snow in the spring.

    1. HI JB!
      I think you might find the Tracer a bit light for stability versus the Ranger–if you’re looking for uphill ease, that’s a better choice. Also if you’re really only in soft snow, the lightness won’t be that much of an issue, but if you get in any type of terrain or rugged conditions, I think the Ranger is going to be more confidence-inspiring. Hope that helps!
      SE

  5. Thanks for all the great info on here. I’m also looking at the Tracer 98, debating between the 180 and 188. I’m tall and skinny, 6’2″ (188cm) and about 170lb. I’d say I’m an intermediate skier with the goal of calling myself advanced soon, skiing mostly at a Western resort but I enjoy mostly off groom/tree skiing while I’m there. And looking to dabble with some touring as well. Any thoughts on length? Currently skiing a 179 length that I got years ago when I was a beginner. Thanks!

    1. HI KM!
      I think the 188 will be fine–they’re light enough so as to not feel bulky. You might find the 180 will be too twitchy for your height. Take care!
      SE

  6. Hi! I’m an advanced Eastern skiier looking for a maneuverable ski that will split time between resort and AT (80/20). I’m currently skiing a 2018 Nordica Navigator 80 @172 and like the edge grip and responsiveness on-piste. I’m 5’11 and 190lb.

    I’ve been considering the Tracer 98, Rossignol Sky 7 HD, Nordica Enforcer 94, and Salomon N QST 99, but am getting a bit lost with the pros and cons. Can you suggest a couple skis that I should focus on / forget? Thanks!

    1. HI ML!
      The tracer and the Sky are on the light side of the group while the QST and Enforcer are a bit burlier. I’d say the lighter skis are more 50/50 while the Enforcer and QST are more in your 80/20 range. Of those, the QST is likely a better option–a bit more forgiving and maneuverable than the beefier Enforcer, even though it’s a bit narrower. Overall, I’d stick to the QST 99. Have fun!
      SE

  7. Hi! I am an advanced western Skier looking for an all mountain ski that I can begin touring with as well. (probably about 30% of the time) I am 5’9 and 160 lbs. Do you think the 180 cm length of these will be a hair too long or just right for me to fully push myself. ( I am used to skiing 176cm )

    1. Hi JR!
      I think the lighter weight of the ski, and if you’re using some sort of tech touring binding will make that 180 just fine. You’ll probably like the extra 4 cm when it comes to stability, as well. Have fun!
      SE

  8. Hello guys.
    After 15 yrs of snowboarding, it is time to try some backcountry skiing.
    I am looking for some skis 50/50. I am not completely a beginner but it is a couple of years when I was confident on the skis haha.
    I am 178cm and approx 72 kg + equipment.
    Do you think these skis in 180 will be a good choice for me? I don’t have a plan to be crazy in powder this year.
    Or Nordica enforcer 100 in 169 or 177 or should I look somewhere else?
    ( I bought used Rossi super7 HD 116,188 with Dynafit radical ft 12, didn’t try them yet, but I think these are overkill for me. So I ll keep bindings for the new pair of skis)
    Thanks for your advice.

    Martin

    1. Hi Martin!
      I think the Tracer is a better choice than the Enforcer 100, which is more of a resort-only ski versus the 50/50 of the Tracer. Fischer Ranger 102 should also be on the list, and the Elan Ripstick 96. Light, fun, and floaty, these skis are versatile and well-rounded. I’d look to the low to mid-170’s for length. Have fun!
      SE

  9. Hi all, how do you consider the TRACER 98 compared to VISION 98 and BENT100? I would like to replace my mtn 95 with something easier and more playful, because I found the tail a bit difficult to turn in hard conditions. I would use it for 100% backcoutry, but I like to ski in freeride mode.

    1. HI Davide!
      Of the three, the Vision is the lightest and most flexible. The Tracer is the second-lightest, but has more energy and snap than the BC 100. For a simple wood core ski with a twin tip, the BC 100 is an awesome product that a ton of skiers enjoy. More playful than the Vision, which kind of has that stiffer tail, but also more stable–just feels like a better-built ski. It’s hard to vote against the BC 100 for this application. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Thanks for reply. I thought the bent 100 was the most directional.
        My use, however, would be 100% ski touring , but I am looking for a ski that is easy to turn.
        How do you consider the tracer in this perspective?? or do you still recommend the bent 100 even if it weighs more?

        Thanks

        1. Davide,
          The BC 100 was originally created to be Chris Bentchetler’s park ski, so it certainly has that park-like influence, but they built more all-mountain/directional stuff into it, like the HRZN tips and tails as well as the positive camber. Yes, it’s a bit heavier than the Tracer, but that also means that it’s going to hold up better to more aggressive skiing. I’m 6/2 220, and if I were to ski the Tracer, I’d really only want to use it in fresh snow, while I’m not scared of smashing the BC 100 all over the resort. For a touring ski, the BC 100 still isn’t that heavy, but it is heavier than the Tracer by about 100 grams per ski. The Tracer is about as easy to turn, but it doesn’t quite have the high gear. It’s all about compromise, right?
          SE

  10. Many thanks Skiessential for yor help. I bought the tracer 98, Now I want to understand in which position to mount the bindings: on recommended or -1 -2. if someone has had experience I accept advice. I would like the ski to be as easy as possible to turn, so as not to have the tails locked in hard situation.

    1. Hi Davide which binding are you going to mount?I was thinking to get this skis as a 100% touring ski with atk bindings.
      does it look a light ski?

  11. Hey guys – I’m torn between the tracer and the sky 7…loved the tracer 108s when i skied them out west and was impressed by how light/ maneuverable they were..but am looking to go to more of a 1 quiver ski to mix with the northeast as well. I do a fair amount of mogul/tree skiing…of those 2 what would you suggest?

    as a side point – would you take the DPS 100 over these for this intention/ is the gap between them justified?

    1. Hi Sam!
      I do think the 98’s offer better versatility for sure, especially here in the Northeast. The Tracer 98 is a bit more of a performer than the Sky, which I really reserve for skiers who are looking for an easy, quick turner that doesn’t need to ever go fast. The Armada has a higher-performance ceiling while still remaining light and quick. Personally, I’d take the DPS over the other skis, as I do appreciate a bit more stiffness to my skis. I loved the Wailer’s ability to make quick turns as well as being able to be used like a high-performance slalom-type ski. The 15-meter radius is so fun, and while you are spending more money for sure, it’s pretty amazing how much performance you can get out of them. Have fun!
      SE

  12. Thanks for your reviews on this site and on YouTube. I am 64 y.o. 5’10” 160# advanced intermediate. I am looking to replace my Enforcer which I bought in 2012. With the heavy weight and flat tail of the Enforcer, I am thinking that the Tracer 98 or the Ripstick 96 would be less fatiguing. I want a ski that is decent particularly in trees and bumps. My other ski is a Brahma SP. What do you guys think?

    1. Hi U!
      The Tracer has a bit more energy to it, especially in the tips, where the Ripstick is on the softer side. Stronger finish to the turn with the Ripstick, while the Tracer is a bit more playful in the rear. I would lean to the more directional Ripstick, but it’s a toss up!
      SE

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