Model: Faction Mana 3X
Overall Ranking: #7
Overall Score: 6.94 / 10
Tip / Waist / Tail (mm)
Flotation (#5), Stability at Speed (#3)
Versatility (#7), Forgiveness (#8)
Stability at Speed
7.75 / 10
Quickness / Maneuverability
5.75 / 10
7.25 / 10
5.25 / 10
6.25 / 10
5.75 / 10
6.5 / 10
7.75 / 10
Allow us to introduce you to Faction’s all-new Mana series, featuring five models that boast the same construction as the now-dormant Candide line. It’s a series of unisex and women’s freeride skis ready for a rowdy time, and the Mana 3X, the widest women’s option, comes ready to charge. The Mana 3X rewards ladies who go big, and advanced and expert skiers will find it a playful and surfy pow ski hungry to slash and slarve its way down deep, untouched slopes.
The floaty, 112mm-waisted twin tip ski (which also comes in a slimmer all-mountain-oriented 102mm) was made for B.C. pillow-popping thanks to a generous rocker and just a touch of camber underfoot. This profile encourages pivoting and smearing instead of edging, which is appropriate for a big mountain powderhound such as this. That said, if you gravitate towards a wide ski that can still hold its own on hardpack and groomers between pow stashes, this is not the ski for you. Testers found that the Mana 3X struggles to lay into turns and get on edge on groomed runs back to the base, and feels a little sluggish to maneuver unless you hit top speeds. “This ski was tough to steer in mashed potatoes and bumps,” said tester Avery Pesce. “The tips get a bit too hooky.”
The carbon-rubber Stomp Pad underfoot provides a solid platform for—you guessed it—stomping landings, which contributes to the stable feel; but that’s also what makes this ski a little heavy and hard to engage for less sendy skiers. It also only comes in two size options—165cm and 172cm—and despite the ample rocker, these sticks feel long and bulky. As a result, testers found this ski makes you work hard to manage anything but open terrain and high speeds and gave it low marks in Forgiveness and Versatility accordingly. But those with the power and technique to unlock the Mana 3X’s energy will be rewarded with a reliable, chargy powder ski that’s ready to blast off to the moon. “Snowy peaks will turn into rodeo grounds when you jump on these skis,” said tester Erika Northrop. “If you are ready for a wild ride, jump on cowgirl!”
Testers agreed the Mana 3X would be a dream to ski in untouched terrain where you can paint your tracks wherever the heck you please, so if you have heli- or cat-accessed downhill laps on your agenda, take note. Outside of assisted backcountry laps, the Mana 3X won’t be everyone’s cup of tea; less confident skiers who prefer a more nimble and forgiving ski to navigate glades, bumps, and chutes might want to look elsewhere. But the Mana 3X may be just the ticket for aggressive freeriders who aren’t afraid of a ski that needs to be tamed in exchange for reliable, high-speed big-mountain skiing.
Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.