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2023 Armada Locator 96 Skis Review

By: Sammi Bushman, Product Content Writer | June 22, 2022

2023 Armada Locator 96 Skis

The Lowdown

The Armada Locator is a lightweight free-touring ski suited for backcountry riders who want a versatile, uphill oriented option. It’s also great for those who favor light and soft skis every day but don’t necessarily find themselves off trail very often. Thanks to a caruba core and carbon reinforcements, the Locator is both stable and easy to maneuver. Stability is good everywhere except on hard and icy slopes, where it requires more force and skill to keep your line and avoid skidding out. At 96 mm underfoot, the Locator floats on softer days, making it feel wider and gooier than it is. A wide range of sizes in the inaugural year makes this lineup pretty much unisex, with the possibility to expand in both directions by one or two sizes each way. We love to see a ski that’s marketed towards style and function rather than gender. Get on the Locator for volcano skiing, long hauls, and soft, smeary fun with directional playability you’ll love.

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Technical Details

The Armada Locator is the company’s first major foray into the 50/50 free touring market. While the Tracer and UL series have served as the go-to for riders transitioning to uphill oriented objectives, this new, multiple model lineup offers consistent and measured performance across the category. The Locator 96’s sub 100mm waist and 1500 gram weight make it ideal for bigger objectives in mixed or spring time conditions. If you don’t plan on ski touring but are looking for something easier to handle, it’s also a good choice to reduce the swing weight needed to turn in bounds.The tail clip and flatter tail distinguish it from Armada’s signature twin-tip style. Boasting a feather light and soft caruba core, its flex mimics that of it’s predecessor, the Tracer. Size wize, the new Locator ranges from a 157 to a 185. As a starting lineup, it’s great to see the brand take a more unisex approach to encompass riders of all heights. 

Sizes (cm)  157, [164], 171, 178, 185
Dimensions (Tip, Waist, Tail - mm) 127 - 96 - 117
Turning Radius (m) 21
Weight (per ski - g) 1350
Camber Profile Rocker / Camber 

Ride Impressions

With lightweight skis like the Locator, it’s always important to calibrate your expectations going into your ride. This ski is designed with a dual purpose: to perform well in soft snow and to excel on the skin track. And in those conditions, it thrives. The first few days on these skis I took them out onto the hill of Hyak, where the skinning is very moderate and the conditions are always a surprise. Much to my delight, the uphill was a breeze. The soft flex of the locator made them easy to adapt to curves in the snow, and their light weight helped me get a hold of my kick turns, which I often struggle to hold. On the way down however, I had a hard time getting my feet under me. On the refrozen afternoon snow of a slushy day, the Locator 96 threw me around like a rope when you take a big climbing fall. When I did get an edge it held moderately well, but the struggle of staying upright in firm conditions overwhelmed whatever ability I have to hold a consistent edge. 

Armada advertises the Locator 96 as a companion to big mountain ascents and icy slopes, but I’d pack my crampons on colder days just in case.

On the day I skied soft snow, my edges held like a dream and my opinion changed dramatically. The Locator was easy to control through slush, sticky afternoon post pow concrete and the flaky fluff of summit. Its soft flex pivots well through soft variable snow. Carbon throughout helped it feel stable without the heavy, chargy feel of skis with a whole strip of metal. While I’d vastly prefer something heavier through variable snow to go as fast as possible, the Locator is perfect for days when there’s just a few inches of fresh and ripping laps comes easily. 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆


Lightweight and easy to maneuver on the uphill / In kick turns
Responds well in soft snow and spring slush
Rides well in and out of bounds


Soft flex - not ideal for larger or aggressive / fast riders
Light weight can throw you around once the snow re-freezes
Size range only goes to 157, still not completely “unisex”


Who Are They For?

The Armada Locator 96 is great for backcountry skiers looking for a lightweight uphill ski that smashes soft snow and slush. Ready for the corn harvest this spring? The Locator 96 is your new best friend. Its soft flex also makes it great for riders who want something lightweight and responsive for everyday use, but don’t find themselves pushing race speeds on the mountain. 

The Bottom Line

The Armada Locator 96 is great for anyone looking for a ski that’s light, pivotable, and easy to maneuver. It’s the perfect addition for someone in search of a lightweight touring ski, or as a quiver killer for riders who find themselves riding at moderate speeds on lower-risk runs. Its soft flex stands out in buttery snow, while the mid-90’s width makes it a versatile player for everything from Volcano days to ripping around with friends after a mini storm. There’s still room to grow on either end of the size spectrum, but Armada’s initial debut offers a good range of sizes that’s suitable for people across the gender and ability spectrum. The neutral color tones are a plus for those who don’t enjoy colors associated with strong gender norms. :)

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From the Brand

There’s an all new archetype for touring skis built around downhill performance.


The Locator Series is designed for adventures beyond the ropes where untouched powder and steep lines await. Combining phenomenal performance characteristics with super light weights, the four skis in this collection are the ultimate tools explore the mountains anywhere your legs, lungs and willpower can take you. Locator Series skis are balanced to excel on the up and the down in the enormous range of conditions found in the backcountry with float, stability and versatility at weights that won’t sap the energy needed to charge the descents. It’s okay to draw outside the lines.


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2023 Armada Locator Review

About the Reviewer

Name: Sammi Bushman
Age: 24
Height: 5’ 6”
Weight: 130 ish
Size Reviewed: 164
Location(s):Snoqualmie Summit, end of day chunder with a FAST snowboarder / Summit, touring, Summit slvush
Mount point: Factory Recommended
Bindings:  Armada Shift MNC 13 Alpine Touring Ski Bindings
Boots: Tecnica Zero G Tour W 105
Riding Style: "Advanced, “straightline Sammi ” and “Bushman the bullet.” I like to go fast, so I favor heavy skis that push me or moderate flexing skis that respond well to changes in snow quality."

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