Expert Review: 2023 Faction Mana 3 Skis [with Video]
Ski Experts Daryl Morrison and Theo G. tested the 2023 Faction Mana 3 skis on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Ski Experts Daryl Morrison and Theo G. got their hands on the 2023 Faction Mana 3 this spring and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every skier is different; if you have any questions about the Mana 3 or need recommendations on which skis would be best for you, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Faction claim about this ski? [Daryl] The brand claims that this is a great ski for someone looking for a more all-mountain powder-oriented, super hard-charging, big-mountain ski. And I'd say that's definitely what this is.
[Theo] Faction markets the Mana as a twin-tip all-mountain ski that's going to be exceptionally stable. It's replacing the old Candide line after Candide Thovex left Faction this year for a yet-to-be-named new ski line. The Candide line used to be Faction's more all-mountain twin-tip option that was stable in chop, good at carving turns, and not so much focused on the park. Faction has the Prodigy series for park skis.
What is your overall impression of this ski? [Daryl] My overall impression is that it is unchanged from the Candides of last year. It is still super stiff. A super strong ski requires someone who is very balanced, active, aggressive, ready to charge hard, and able to excel on deeper snow days.
What is its tail rocker like in comparison to other skis? [Theo] The Mana does not have as much tail rocker as some other skis in the class. Its 1G camber presents a good amount of tip rocker coming in about two-thirds of the way up from the top of the binding. It has fairly uniform shovels and tails when compared to the underfoot portion of the ski. It doesn’t extend much beyond the 112 that you're seeing underfoot.
How does it turn? [Daryl] Carving is not going to be the best on this ski, particularly in icy or hardpack conditions. This is a very wide ski at 112 underfoot, and it's very hesitant to be maneuverable and open to shorter radius turns. It's got a 21-meter turn radius, and the ski is pretty much just happy to go ahead and do that. The ski will scrub speed just fine if you want to throw them sideways, but it is definitely not a great ski for carving all sorts of different turn shapes.
How about edge hold? [Theo] I really noticed the Mana's edge hold and stability when turning at high speed. At low speed, I found there was a lot of chatter through the ski that actually extended from the tip toward the underfoot portion. But at high speeds when I ripped down a black diamond groomer, toward the end of the day, I was really pleased by the performance the Mana had in terms of edge hold, precision, and ease of arcing GS turns down that steep firm trail.
Any chatter in the ski? [Theo] Its fairly significant chatter through the tip prevented it from being the most maneuverable option.
How does it perform at speed? [Daryl] This ski is extremely stable and competent at high speeds. The ski is designed to be skied really fast and hard. And because of that, it's going to be super stable when you're carving really hard turns, when you're dropping cliffs, when you're skiing big mountain lines, and anything like that at all.
[Theo] At high speeds, the Mana was easy to control. I'd say at lower speeds, it's a wide waist width at 112 millimeters. But at high speeds, the weight of the ski comes in at about 2,000 grams. I want to highlight just how exceptionally stiff it is. It's one of the stiffest skis I've tested over our week at Powder Mountain reviewing skis. That kept it fairly maneuverable and reliable at high speeds.
Would you consider this a freestyle ski? [Daryl] This is definitely something I would consider a freestyle ski. It's not something that I would ski in the park and it is very stiff. So, this is more oriented toward big-mountain freestyle, in my opinion. You can definitely throw tricks on it, but it's going to be a little slower to come around than something that is smaller in waist width or just lighter in construction overall.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop? [Theo] Underfoot it's a very stiff ski, which means that it's not the most playful option at all. The Mana has some of the stiffest tips and tails of any all-mountain twin I've been on. It’s extremely stiff and hard to get up on, and that does give it a good amount of pop at speed. For an all-mountain freestyle twin, the Mana could not have been less playful. It had only moderate pop, and that came at very high speeds just because it takes a lot of force and pressure to get up on the tails and the tips of this ski. It has an extremely stiff nature throughout the entire ski. The flex is fairly uniform.
What about riding switch? [Theo] This is a fun ski to ski switch. I think it's because it was so stiff. I was able to carve switch on it, which on some looser skis on steep terrain can be nerve-wracking.
How is it for buttering? [Theo] If you're going at low speeds and you're attempting to butter, nollie, or ollie, it's going to be very difficult. You're going to have to put a lot of weight and pressure into the maneuver.
How is it on jumps? [Daryl] It jumps well.
[Theo] As it was so stiff, you weren't able to ollie off smaller side hits as easily as you could from a flexier ski. On jumps, as it is a stiff ski, it lands well. It's stable on landings; but its medium weight and lack of flex mean that smaller hits and maneuvering in the air are more difficult than it would be on a lighter, flexier ski, something like the K2 Reckoner or the Prodigy from Faction.
How would it be in powder? [Daryl] This is going to float really well in powder, but the ski is going to be difficult to control if you are not an advanced expert, super confident, and very balanced skier. So, though it is made for big-mountain lines and made for deeper power days, it does require a very competent pilot.
How is it on uneven terrain? [Daryl] It is going to be really good in chundery conditions, as long as you're really balancing on top of the ski. Because it is so stable, it can eat up pretty much anything you put it on. It’ll just charge through anything. So, as long as that's what you're trying to do, it’s going to be really good in variable conditions.
[Theo] This is a good ski for skiing chop since it is powerful. It's stiff. It doesn't have a lot of flex, although I did experience some chatter at lower speeds when cruising through chop.
Is it maneuverable in the trees? [Theo] I skied it in the trees. It was fun in the trees, as we had a couple of fresh inches of snow here at Powder Mountain, which came down this afternoon. It softened up a little. It was able to surf on top and carve through some of that snow, which its strong flex profile enables it to do. And a lighter ski might have gotten jostled around a bit more than that. So, in other words, It was not as maneuverable as a lighter ski would've been. Its stiff flex profile doesn't allow for really quick turns. It did really well on the fresh snow though. It provided enough float and busted through any chop in my path.
What kind of terrain is this ski not ideal for? [Daryl] So, the two main terrains that I would avoid on it are really hard snow or icy groomers. I would not recommend skiing this on ice or hardpack. It's a pretty wide ski, and it's definitely not designed to be a hard carver. I took it off a little bit into the stuff from yesterday that's also frozen over, and it was getting pushed around quite a bit by the bumps and the little terrain changes even though I really wasn't doing anything. And on moguls, it is going to feel really cumbersome and heavy — just a lot to manage when you're skiing in moguls. But beyond that, I'd say that anything's good to go.
Is there any location you'd pack this ski for? [Daryl] It is great as a pow ski for higher snowfall areas, such as Utah where we are now, or the West Coast in general.
Is there any location you wouldn’t pack this ski for? [Daryl] I would not recommend this ski to anyone who is sticking to the East Coast. There are narrower waist widths that are going to be much more appropriate for the East Coast.
Who would you recommend this ski to? [Daryl] I would recommend this ski to a strong skier, as it is not a super accessible ski, and it is very easy for it to get out of control. It is suited for particular conditions – more for powder and less for days like today. It is not an awesome daily driver.
I personally own last year's model of this in a 178 — last year's correlate model, which is the Candide 3.0 — and I have a really great time on it. I definitely would encourage people who want to buy this ski to consider when and where they are going to be skiing it before pulling the trigger on it. It is, again, something that requires someone who is an active skier, who is aggressive, who knows what they’re doing, and who can control the ski really well.
Who should avoid this ski, there are other better options for them out there? [Daryl] If you're not quite as comfortable on your skis, I would size down in this ski because it is difficult to ski if you are not really confident.
[Theo] I've skied the Prodigy from Faction. If you're looking to perform maneuvers that require you to apply pressure to the tip and the tail and flex the ski, perhaps in the park or off-side hits, the Prodigy is a better option for you.
Skis work differently for different types of skiers. If you have any questions about the 2023 Faction Mana 3.0 or want help finding the right skis for you, reach out to Daryl, Theo, or any other Ski Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations.