Faction is based in Verbier Switzerland where freeride skiing is deeply rooted in the culture, just ask Swiss mountain guide Sam Anthamatten who’s responsible for the Prime’s design. Faction’s new Prime series of skis is aimed squarely at the dedicated backcountry skier and comes in four versions, the Prime 1.0, Prime 2.0, Prime 3.0 and Prime 4.0. So what’s the difference you ask? Mainly shape and flex pattern which equates to each ski being ideal for specific skiers and snow. The Prime 1.0 is the narrowest ski in the line at 90mm underfoot and best suited for hardpack snow given it’s stiffer flex pattern. The Prime 2.0 is 98mm underfoot, whereas the Prime 3.0 is 108mm underfoot and the Prime 4.0 is the widest in the line at 118mm underfoot. Each ski in the Prime series gets wider and their flex pattern goes from progressive to stiffer as they go from 1.0 to 4.0, making the Prime 4.0 best suited to deep snow conditions. The Prime 3.0 is a well-rounded option that can take on deep backcountry days and the ski that I’ll focus on in this review.
The Faction Prime 3.0 skis make for a lean, mean ski touring combo.
Unlike the Faction Candide CT 3.0 Skis that we reviewed last year, the Faction Prime 3.0 Skis are much lighter and designed to climb as well as they ski. They have a multi-dimensional sidecut with generous rocker measuring 430mm at the tip and 450mm in the tail with 2mm of camber underfoot. A total of five different sidecut radii along the edge match the Prime 3.0’s flex pattern which helps keep the ski’s arc round and maximize contact with the snow. This multidimensional sidecut has a shorter radius underfoot and longer radii blended out to the tip and tail which provides a stable yet surfy feel. The progressive flat tail adds to the stability of the ski at speed yet keeps things playful while the extended tip and tail rocker creates a semi-reverse camber ski that makes pivoting the ski easy while maintaining float in deep snow and minimizing edge catch in technical conditions.
The hybrid balsa/flax and poplar strip core of the Prime 3.0 skis is responsible for its lightweight characteristics. Add to this a proprietary carbon-fibre layer which Faction calls “TeXtreme Carbon” which is thinner and stronger than regular carbon yet increases the Prime 3.0’s torsional stability, without compromising weight. This material was created for aeronautical engineering and is very tough and durable and highly resistant to small cracks. This sandwich construction of high and low tech materials provides optimal edge hold and keeps the skis powerful and torsionally stiff.
The final material in the Prime 3.0 skis is a strategically placed titanal reinforcement plate underfoot. lightweight provides a hard and durable layer for the binding mounting screws to bite into given the remainder of the ski's core is made of wood.
Tips and tails close up.
Any successful touring ski must be lightweight, the challenge is to make it go downhill as well as it can go up. This was Faction’s mandate with the new Prime series of skis. They designed the Prime 3.0 to be predominantly used as a backcountry ski with the intention of it also serving as a one quiver ski. By giving it a lightweight hybrid core, traditional camber underfoot and a sizeable amount of tip rocker that starts very close to the binding mounts (similar to the Volkl Katana’s) these skis maximize contact with the snow. Making long arcing turns is what the Prime 3.0 likes best, tighter turns are achieved with a little more power from the driver or you can simply skid your way into them.
At 108mm underfoot the Prime 3.0 is most comfortable floating in pow but doesn’t provide the most stable ride on hardpack and icy groomers. Given the skis early rise tips and tails, there’s some chatter and deflection on more challenging terrain or stiff snow conditions. Given its progressive flex and medium stiffness, the Prime 3.0 is a capable alpine ski given the right conditions. In the wrong conditions, it can be challenging to keep on track, but this is to be expected from a ski of this weight as its primary objective is backcountry pow turns and climbing (which is does with ease), not moguls and tight trees.
The Prime 3.0 is more playful than most touring skis (due to its progressive and subtle tip & tail rocker) and turn initiation is easy as is smearing or dumping speed. It can be agile when needed and most importantly fun in deeper snow especially on longer day tours when their lightweight is really noticeable. Their 108 width is ideal for touring, not too fat and not too thin—as Goldilocks said: “it’s just right”.
In order to keep the Prime 3.0 light and hungry for backcountry vertical we mounted them with Hagan’s Core 12 Bindings. This combo created an unstoppable set up for big vertical days in the Whitewater backcountry here in the interior of BC. where all of the testing took place.
If you’re looking for a backcountry ski that can also do time inbounds then consider the Faction Prime 3.0, but be prepared to spend top dollar as these sticks are not cheap.
Price: $1,249CAN / $1,199US
Weight: 1710g / (182cm length)
Lengths: 170, 177, 182, 189
Turn Radius: 23m (182cm length)
|Powder Performance 2/2
Groomer Performance 1/2
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