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Backcountry Skis

2023 Armada Locator 104 Review

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Brand: Armada

Model: Locator 104



Specs

Tip / Waist / Tail (mm)

131-104-122

Lengths (cm)

162, 170, 178, 186

Radius (m)

22

Waist Width (mm)

104

Gender

Unisex

Level

Strong Intermediate to Expert

Strengths

Responsiveness, Flotation

Weaknesses

Crud Performance, Forgiveness

Stability at Speed

6.78 / 10

Quickness / Maneuverability

6.89 / 10

Playfulness

7.11 / 10

Forgiveness

6.56 / 10

Crud Performance

6.56 / 10

Versatility

7.11 / 10

Responsiveness

7.67 / 10

Flotation

7.44 / 10

There’s no one-ski-fits-all solution to backcountry skiing, but some skis toe that line better than others. Armada’s new Locator 104 is light enough for midwinter tours, without sacrificing its ability to charge. The Locator series is an all-new lineup for Armada this season, available in a beefy 112, a versatile 104, moderate 96, and spring-oriented 88. Armada bills the 104 as an “everyday, every conditions backcountry ski,” and for the most part that rang true while testing it out last season.

Related: Ski technology and terms you should know

Thanks to a caruba wood core, the Locator 104 is fairly light—sub 1,500 grams per ski—without dipping into the flimsy noodle category, allowing for fresh legs on the summit while impressing testers with its response and energy in a variety of terrain. Ample tip rocker makes it feel far wider than 104mm in soft fluff, yet camber underfoot and flat tails still guarantee edge control and quick, efficient kick turns.

The curved tail notches are designed to lock skins in place and prevent them from wiggling off the tails of your skis, which is a nice touch for long walks. Carbon reinforcements ensure a fun and engaging pop in and out of turns and a platform that testers  felt they could really trust to boost off of. “An energetic pow booster and launcher,” reported tester Mike Britt, a ski patroller from Aspen Snowmass. “Perfect set-up for playful sidecountry skiers.”

The lightweight construction and occasional reported “tip flop” did kick some of our testers into the backseat, which was fine for deeper conditions, but maneuverability depends on the skier. While some found the ski a little stiff and sluggish to initiate tight turns in the trees, those with race backgrounds who really drive their skis found that the energetic Locator 104 likes to be pushed or else the tail hangs on a bit too long.

“Soft snow with obstacles in the fall line seem to be the comfort zone for this ski,” said tester Jordan Garrett, who appreciated the ski’s ample rocker. “It gets a bit twitchy on hardpack, and you can get bucked around if you aren’t on it.” However, Colorado-based tester Jon Sexauer called it “easy to figure out, forgiving if you make a mistake, with a wide-enough platform to feel confident in a variety of snow conditions.”

One thing testers could agree on is that when you give the Locator 104 gas, you will be rewarded. It chomps at the bit to lay wide open turns down big freeride terrain. “I loved how much I could open this ski up. I poured it on and it asked for more,” said tester Luke Larsen, owner of Salt Lake City’s Lifthouse ski shop.

For intermediates and advanced skiers looking for one backcountry ski to do it all when, the Armada Locator 104 is a reliable choice.

Compare the Armada Locator 104 to the other best backcountry skis of 2023

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