Returning with a graphics change for 2022, the fan-favorite Armada Tracer 98 is back to provide light and playful performance to a variety of skiers looking for versatility and fun. Built with a Caruba wood core and Armada’s Adaptive Mesh, these skis are built with lightness in mind, all without sacrificing strong and energetic downhill performance. This is one of those Unicorn-style skis that’s able to be used as strictly a touring ski with a tech binding or a straight-up downhill resort ski with an alpine binder. Either way, you, the skier, will be very impressed with the agility, energy, and well-roundedness of this ski. Coming in at 1550 grams per ski, we’re definitely in the “light weight” range, but don’t let that fool you, the titanal plate underfoot, AR75 sidewalls, and the Taper Top shape give this ski a strong edge grip on a variety of terrain and snow conditions. As usual, our testers were pretty impressed with the range of this ski, noting its poise and posture and fun-loving personality.
Rocker / Camber / Rocker
Adaptive Mesh, AR75 Sidewalls, Tapertops
All Mountain, Powder, Big Mountain
Matt McAlary found the 180 cm Tracer 98 to fall into this category of a split-personality ski, and we couldn’t agree more. “Albeit very soft longitudinally, the Tracer 98 remained pretty darn torsionally stiff. It held an edge really well at high speeds but felt nimble enough at lower speeds where I felt like I could actually do something with it and have fun as opposed to waiting to get it up to cruising speed. The ski doesn't offer much in terms of support if you do find yourself in the backset as the tails are really soft. I tried wheelieing over a roller and the ski flat as though it just collapsed under me. The forgiving flex throughout would make it a great in softer snow. The early taper in the tip gave it a butter knife-like feel in the sense that the ski was able to stay true on the line I chose and would not deflect. This was something that I felt was really highlighted through the skies shape and side cut. It would be a phenomenal touring ski or a great 50/50 resort/touring ski due to its weight. I think I would choose this over a lot of touring-oriented skis as it actually felt like a "real ski" and not a wet noodle. Lightweight, playful easy to ski, and ultimately stable enough to charge. A great balance struck by Armada with the Tracer 98.” All 4’s and 5’s on the scorecard for Matt, showing the true well-rounded nature of these Armada Tracer 98’s.
On the longer 188, Phil McGrory liked the length and had some consistently high scores to go along with it. 4’s out of 5 were given for flotation, maneuverability, quickness, and playfulness, and those scores are all to be expected. Also not a surprise was the lowly 2 out of 5 for torsional stiffness and edge hold, as this wider-bodied ski certainly isn’t designed to hold like a race ski. Phil Notes that the skis are “Light weight and great for turning.” And contrary to what they advertise on paper, Phil’s experience was that the Tracer 98 “Prefers higher speeds on groomed and firmer snow.” Perhaps the longer length had something to do with that experience, and in our minds, that’s the most valuable type of feedback we can get. On the 180, Jeff Neagle echoes the application potential of these great skis: “I can think of so many skiers at Stowe, our home mountain, who would love to own a pair of these skis and would likely use them as their daily driver skis. The Tracer 98 kills it in tight eastern trees. It’s super maneuverable thanks to the rocker profile and relatively light feel. You can flick it around and smear it extremely easily, which is tremendously valuable in steep, technical terrain. They also, however, have some stability too. They shouldn’t be pigeon-holed as just a lightweight ski that’s designed for touring. For many skiers, this is a perfect all-mountain ski. They don’t have the best edge grip or power on groomers, but there’s a huge segment of skiers who doesn’t care about that stuff and just wants to explore new zones in their local backcountry or sidecountry. That’s how I think of the Tracer 98 and I think that’s a pretty good way of thinking about its application. I should add that it performs well enough on firm snow that this type of skier won’t feel completely lost when they’re cruising a groomer or cat track back to the lift. You can still link some nice carving turns on them, it’s just not as powerful or responsive as something like the Declivity 92 or 102.”
For advanced skiers looking for a one-ski quiver for both in and out of bounds skiing, I’m not sure we’re seeing a more appropriate ski than the Armada Tracer 98. We talk a lot about these versatile ~98’s underfoot being that Unicorn style of ski, and when they put their light Caruba wood in the core and make the ski energetic and agile, freeride and backcountry touring skiing jump to the forefront of skier’s minds with this great ski. From steeps and trees to bumps and powder, the supremely versatile and maneuverable Tracer 98 checks a whole lot of boxes.