Newschoolers' Quick Review:
The Armada ARV 96 is a versatile all-mountain park ski. A medium flexing option that pretty much lets you take on anything you want. You can take it to decent sized jumps and you can swerve around the smallest of features.
Labeled as an improved all-mountain ski and an energetic and stompy ski in the park, the 96 have energy on takeoffs and feel stable on landings, even on big features thanks to being a touch stiffer. They definitely feel better landing than anything in the jibby mid-90s category I’ve tried. There’s also a nice low swingweight thanks to the spin-tip and thinner edges placing less weight at the extremes of the ski. The 96s also have plenty of pop, certainly more than most of today’s noodles, like the Blends.
In terms of shape, it’s the same as it has been for the last years. It has a 96mm waist, fairly average for a wider park/all-mountain ski these days, a medium sidecut (19m at 177), and mellow tip/tail rocker. It also has a relatively ‘standard’ moderate amount of camber underfoot.
Armada describes the flex profile (out of 10) as 6- 7- 6.5 from nose to tail. I’d say the 96 is more like a 6 - 7.5 - 8 - 7.5 - 6.5. So the ski does soften off as you move towards the tip/tail a bit, but the middle two-thirds of the ski are fairly solid. It’s a smooth feeling flex curve - but I found them to be significantly stiffer than the ARV 106 particularly in the nose, despite Armada listing the 106 as the stiffer ski. They aren’t quite as stiff as the ON3P Kartels or the K2 Poacher but all in all the ARV 96 is a pretty solid ski.
The core (Poplar-Ash wood core) definitely seems to have made them more stable and energetic on groomed snow. They feel like a true park/all-mountain crossbreed. That means they are both solid on groomers and landings, even at high speeds.
The rocker profile is smooth with a slightly more defined tip/tail than the Poacher and Chronic, so they don’t slice as well through crud and there’s a bit more deflection. But despite the tips and tails also being lighter/softer than those other skis, they still do a decent job. The flipside of that coin is that they are less likely to catch up in tight transitions both around the mountain and in the park. They don’t have much early taper either, and the new, extended sidewall seems to have made them torsionally stiffer, so for a rockered ski, they still do a decent job on icy days, which was another former weakness.
These are one of, if not the best all-terrain jib options out there right now, in a circa 96mm width. Their all-mountain performance is now definitely comparable to the Poacher, with slightly different strengths and weaknesses.
Sizes: 163, 170, 177, 184 cm
Dimensions: 124 / 96 / 116 mm
Radius: 18.5M - 170cm
Weight: 1900g /ski - 177
Flex Pattern: 6 - 7 - 6.5
Brand Description: The ARV 96 is skiing’s ultimate handyman—no matter what you throw at it this ski will get it done. Featuring a Poplar-Ash wood core and AR75 sidewalls, the ARV 96 delivers it’s signature versatility and a new era of all-mountain freestyle performance with the most responsive feel yet.