2023 Armada Reliance 102 Ti Review
This year’s most playful wide all-mountain ski also eats crud for breakfast
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 7.39/10
- Rank: #5
- Versatility: 7.83
- Crud Performance: 7.17
- Flotation: 7.33
- Playfulness: 7.5
- Responsiveness: 7.67
- Quickness: 7.33
- Hard-Snow Integrity: 7.33
- Stability at Speed: 7.67
- Forgiveness: 6.67
- Price: $950
- Lengths: 164, 172, 180
- Dimensions: 134-102-124
- Radius: 17.5 (172cm)
- Weight: 1,800 g
- Level: Intermediate to Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Playfulness (#1), Crud Performance (#4)
- Cons: Hard-Snow Integrity (#5), Forgiveness (#4)
Armada didn’t change this ski’s construction from its debut last season, and with good reason. Testers loved the playful energy the Reliance 102 Ti brings to the snow, and were surprised by its versatility, considering Armada’s park and free ride-focused reputation.
“An Armada with a bit of metal and a directional sidecut may not be what you think of when you think of Armada,” said tester Tracy Gibbons, a buyer for a ski shop in Bellevue, Wash. “The Reliance (and unisex Declivity) are playful and balanced and perform really well when pushed hard. This may not be a top-of-mind brand for some of you, but the Reliance sure does ski well—especially if you want to be a bit adventurous.”
This ski blends the best of lightweight nimbleness with directional strength thanks to its caruba wood core and articulated Titanal banding. At 1,800 grams per ski, it fits into the middle of the pack in terms of weight, though it feels quite dexterous—perhaps thanks to the Reliance 102 Ti’s EST Free Rocker profile and shape, which mixes heavily-tapered tips with a decent body rocker. Once you get it going, the Reliance 102 Ti loves to shred little slalom turns. As Gibbons said, this ski handles “mixed snow and tree-skiing with precision and pop.”
This ski also excels in crud. All testers agreed it was most at home off-piste rather than the hard stuff (makes sense, since it’s a wide all-mountain ski). That said, testers were surprised how well it holds an edge on the groomers. Despite its rocker profile, this ski has enough effective edge to bite into groomers when you bend the ski in the apex of your turn. At 102 millimeters underfoot, it falls squarely in the middle of the All-Mountain Wide category in terms of waist width, but its liveliness makes it feel narrower than advertised and promotes quick edge-to-edge transfers.
While its stouter tail helped testers put on the brakes when things got going a little too fast in sketchy conditions, most testers agreed the Reliance 102 Ti does have a speed limit on firm groomers. “It could be a bit more stable and a bit less loose in the tails,” said tester Renée Cernichiari, a former ski racer from Colorado.
So who’s the Armada Reliance 102 Ti for? It’s not a particularly demanding ski, although it does like to charge in techy terrain. Intermediates could have fun learning to ski moguls and the crud well on this ski. But it has a slight preference for skiers who can really get after it. “It does like to charge and those who charge will reap the benefits,” said Gibbons. All in all, this is a reliable yet nimble option for the more advanced gal who gravitates toward a playful ski to explore off-piste.
Kelly Klein is an associate gear editor specializing in skis and bikes. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.