2023 Armada ARW 106 UL Review
No women’s powder ski list would be complete without this perennial favorite
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 7.73
- Rank: #4
- Flotation: 7.6
- Playfulness: 8.6
- Responsiveness: 8.6
- Quickness: 8.4
- Crud Performance: 6.6
- Stability at Speed: 7.2
- Forgiveness: 7.6
- Versatility: 7.8
- Price: $875
- Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188
- Dimensions: 133-106-123 (172)
- Radius: 19.5
- Level: Intermediate, Advanced
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Playfulness (#1), Responsiveness (#1)
- Cons: Crud Performance (#6), Stability at Speed (#6)
Smeary and playful, the Armada ARW 106 UL pops pillows and weaves through trees with energy and rebound. It’s first and foremost a lightweight powder cruiser that promises a good time and won’t trash your legs. Armada’s women’s freestyle family, the ARW line, has an impressive roster, with a 115, 106, 96, 86, and 84mm option depending on where you plan to lay down tracks. Designed to be one of the most versatile in the ARW lineup, the 106 UL really shines in a few inches of fresh as well as creamy spring corn.
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The ski’s easy pivot and low swing weight is courtesy of the ultralight caruba wood core (Armada’s lightest core), a construction that makes the ARW 106 UL an approachable ski that doesn’t demand an aggressive stance to drive. The bases feature Armada’s Smear Tech, a beveled base in the tip and tail which contributes to the smooth, surfy feel testers quickly fell in love with. This also eliminates any hookiness or catching in the edges while bouncing through turns or sending it off big airs. All of this explains this ski’s category-topping scores in Playfulness and Responsiveness.
Intuitive steering aside, for a playful freeride ski, testers were surprised at the level of control this ski demonstrated on hardpack. For a wide, soft ski, it stays relatively quiet and balanced when arcing turns on firm groomers between pow stashes. “Wicked surprised by the groomer performance. It’s stable and holds a solid edge through the turn,” said tester Avery Pesce. “Swings around like a dream. Incredible energy and maneuverability. I trusted the hell out of this thing regardless of how big or small the bumps and tight or open the trees.”
That being said, if you plan to ski mostly firm snow, this isn’t the ski for railing high-speed inbounds turn in anything aside from powder. A few testers noted that the ARW 106 UL feels twitchy when you put the pedal to the metal, with the soft tips and tails losing some stability. “Firmer snow caused this ski to deflect quite a bit, bouncing and tossing you around,” said tester Jordan Garrett. “But it’s very nimble, so it will do well on a mountain with several different terrain features, such as bumps, glades, and even a terrain park.”
It’s definitely got a speed limit, but that keeps it approachable and friendly for skiers with less experience in soft snow, and with a size run from 164 to 188 (testers enjoyed skiing it slightly long), the ARW 106 UL isn’t reserved for smaller riders. “If you’re very playful or new to powder skiing, this could be the one,” said Garrett. “East Coast storm chasers with an adventurous approach to the mountain will enjoy how well this can lay down a turn, and those out west will appreciate the smearing ability of this ski in bumps and trees.”
Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.