Powder Review: Armada ARV 116 JJ UL
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In a nutshell
The Armada ARV 116 JJ UL is a wildly playful powder ski that’s fun to smear, pivot, and butter, and makes it feel like you’re in a movie when you’re skiing fresh snow.
Length Skied: 175 cm
Weight: 1698 g
Stated Dimensions: 139-116-135 mm
Stated Sidecut: 17 m
Recommended Mount Point: -5.5 cm (Factory) or -3 cm (Freestyle)
The Armada ARV 116 JJ UL is available now.
Part of Armada’s Zero Series, the ARV 116 JJ UL is the lighter, hybrid resort/backcountry version of the ARV 116 JJ. Armada says it “floats like a butterfly and cuts like a butter knife,” a description I found to be charmingly apt in my days on the ski.
Length and Mount Point
I skied the 175 cm version of the ARV 116 JJ UL and felt it was the right length for me; although the 185 may have offered even more stability at speed, the 175 was solid in the various conditions I put it through. I usually ski 172-175 cm skis, and the ARV 116 JJ UL felt right in line with the pow skis in that range.
Fortunately, Armada offers this ski in a 165 cm for shorter people, giving the model a size run that is more generous to petite folks than that of many brands.
I skied it at the -5.5 cm factory mount point and was happy with that position–it gave me plenty of (relatively stiff) tail to hang out on in deep snow and not too much tip in front of me so I could really flick the ski around. I can imagine that mounting the JJ UL at the freestyle point of -3 would show off its jibby, switch-skiing personality even more.
Where does the Armada ARV 116 JJ UL shine?
On a stormy resort day I was skiing with a friend on the 185 cm version of the same ski, and we had very similar takeaways about the incredibly joyful, accommodating nature of the ARV 116 JJ UL.
The ARV 116 JJ UL shines exactly where it was meant to: deep powder days. The ski is light, loose, easy to pivot, and so playful that I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a video segment on every run I took. It’s easy to get in the air but provides suspension and stability in soft landings. In tight trees the ARV 116 JJ UL is super quick and maneuverable. It’s one of those skis that doesn’t require decisive, premeditated movements–at the last second I could just shift my weight to make an abrupt turn or stop.
I will continue harping on this topic until every woman I know has a quiver that includes fat skis: it is a misconception that powder skis are inherently more challenging to use, and women deserve true pow skis like the ARV 116 JJ UL that are approachable, rewarding, and fun.
Where does the Armada ARV 116 JJ UL make some compromises?
Any time I slowed down, caught my breath, and decided to focus on precise, symmetrical turns on groomers or in bumps, the ARV 116 JJ UL basically laughed at me and continued on its merry way of haphazard wiggles and smears. While this ski is better than it should be on groomed runs and in mediocre snow, it does not reward traditional-style skiing–this is a ski that wants a relaxed, centered stance, not a firm carving hand. If you are looking for a more precise ski in a similar weight and width, the Moment Wildcat Tour behaves a little more like a traditional all-mountain ski.
Due to its light weight, I could see this ski getting thrown around a bit in denser, choppier snow, but I found it to be surprisingly good at busting through unconsolidated bumps and warmed-up spring slop. Those seeking a damper ski with the same personality to really charge in variable conditions should consider the heavier ARV 116 JJ.
What would a perfect day on the Armada ARV 116 JJ UL look like?
The Armada ARV 116 JJ UL deserves a full weekend, not just one day: on Saturday, the ski hill receives twelve inches of fresh snow on a supportive base, so you ski pow until your legs give out, doing tail presses, jumping off features, and charging down untracked slopes. The next day, since the resort has been thoroughly plundered and your JJ ULs are mounted with hybrid bindings like Shift, you head out for some mellow backcountry laps to find more soft snow to wiggle through.
Check out our breakdown of the best powder skis on the market: