Faction Skis 2016 Head to Head

Faction Skis 2016

A key player in the freeski revolution, Faction Skis was born 12 years ago out of a wish to create skis that could go where the new breed of freeskier wanted to go and stand up to whatever challenge was placed in front of them. Fast forward to today and they’ve built a solid reputation for making skis that combine upfront design and technology with the care and quality that comes from hand-craft and traditional construction techniques.

There’s something in the range to suit every rider, whether you’re new to the game or as hot as their frankly ridiculous firebrand Candide Thovex, but it’s not always easy to compare and contrast the different models. So, in this feature we’ll look at the range and put some of the key contenders head-to-head to see how they match up.

All-mountain offerings: Candide 2.0 vs Ten5

Buying Skis

Boasting similar underfoot widths, comparable price tags, and being classed by many as all-mountain skis, there are some key differences between the Candide 2.0 and the Ten5 that leave them aimed squarely at two quite different riders.

Profile and Tail Shape

In the nose and underfoot, the profile of the two skis is almost identical – it’s in the tail that the differences are clear. The Candide is a more freestyle-oriented model, which is reflected in the generous 150mm of tail rocker and twin-tip shaping – ideal for those switch powder landings. The Ten5, on the other hand, has a more freeride-friendly directional shape, with less rocker and a traditional flat-ended tail.

Sidecut shape and turning radius

With a marginally wider waist, longer turning radius and less-pronounced dual-radius sidecut the Faction Ten5 is built for hard-charging, stability at speed, and travelling in one direction: down. It’s built to perform well on the piste but excel on powder when the time comes.

But while you might think that the Candide is built for slower more technical direction changes on piste and in the park – with a narrower waist and tighter turning radius – its wide nose and tail mean that you can be confident of hitting jumps fast and sticking big landings in the deep stuff, no matter which way you land.

Construction and flex

Both skis share a poplar beech core and sandwich micro cap construction for a balance of responsive playfulness with strength, durability and edge hold.

The Ten5 shows its freeride leanings with an added layer of Titanal, for torsional strength and responsiveness when blasting through chop or hurtling into high speed carves. It’s certainly a ski that sits at the stiffer end of the spectrum, making it less suited to beginners or freestylers.

The Candide does away with the Titanal for a more forgiving flex, while added carbon reinforcement underfoot helps to create a bomb-proof ski that can suck up big landings with ease.

The verdict

Both are phenomenal skis that can stand up to most that the mountain can throw at them, but if you have to choose, here’s our verdict.

Get the Candide 2.0 if…

You want a go-anywhere ski, that’s as happy going forwards as it is backwards, and has the flex and forgiveness to help you progress your freestyle to the next level.

Get the Ten5 if…

You want a hard-charging ski that can devour the piste for days, but really comes alive when you point it at some soft stuff.

One for the girls?: Ambit vs Heroine

Buying Skis

Faction have a few different options when it comes to female-specific skis  in their range. The Heroine is billed as a swiss army knife of a ski, ready for anything, whereas the Ambit is a competition-standard freestyle ski that’s been tested at the highest level. 

Both are a bit narrow in the waist for spending a lot of time in the powder though, so if you’re looking for something to play with primarily on the piste and in the park, which would work best for you? Let’s take a look…

Profile and flex

Taking a look at the profile of these skis, it’s immediately clear that there are subtle differences at play. The Ambit features 5mm of camber underfoot, compared to the Heroine’s 2mm. This is to ensure that, despite the Ambit being a softer-flexing ski, it can still transfer as much force as possible along the whole length of the edge during a turn to give lots of grip. That extra camber will also act as a little more suspension when landing jumps in the park.

The Heroine on the other hand has 50mm more rocker in the tip, meaning that when it does come time to hit the fresh stuff, it’ll give you just that little bit more float.

Shape, sidecut and turning radius

As expected, the freestyle-oriented Ambit uses a fully symmetrical sidecut, just as wide in the tail as it is in the tip, so it’s super-happy entering and landing tricks switch. The Heroine is a little wider in the nose than the tail, and a little wider than the Ambit overall, so again, it’s going to perform better in soft snow, but will favour travelling forwards.

Looking at turning radius, you might expect that the freestyle ski would have the tighter sidecut, but it’s the Heroine that just nudges under at 15m, compared to the Ambit’s 16m. This would mean that you could expect a similar level of technical manoeuvrability from both skis, but with a stiffer flex and dual-radius sidecut, it’s likely to be the Heroine that feels nicer in a high speed carve.

Construction

Taking a look under the hood, the two skis start to look quite different. The Ambit uses a full cap construction, whereas the Heroine uses a sandwich/micro-cap construction. Cap constructions are viewed as being more durable, so suited to the battering into rails, jibs and bonks that the Ambit is likely to take in the park. 

The Heroine’s sandwich/micro-cap construction, on the other hand, is designed to give that same cap protection underfoot where it’s needed most, while still utilising a sidewall in the tip and tail for increased responsiveness and torsional stiffness. Again, making the Heroine able to deal with the increased pressure and forces involved in hard-charging.

Coming in at that slightly higher price point, the Heroine also benefits from a denser and slightly faster PTEX4000 base.

The verdict

There’s no doubt that the extra spend on a Heroine gets you a few extra bells and whistles that don’t come with the Ambit, but that’s not to say the Ambit isn’t ideally suited to what it does – just ask Faction Pro and Olympian, Devin Logan. So, which should you buy?

Get the Ambit if… 

You need a hard-wearing, no-nonsense, soft-flexing ski that’s going to be super fun around the piste and come alive in the park.

Get the Heroine if…

You’re more of a directional charger, who likes to lay out carves on the piste and take it to the park or powder when the mood takes you.

Built for the Backcountry: Agent 100 vs Candide 4.0

Buying Skis

While they’re both aimed at the backcountry, these two skis are all about how you get there – with the Agent squarely in the touring camp, while the Candide is all about the uplift. That’s not to say you couldn’t tour a Candide 4.0, but let’s look at the two side by side to see what the difference would be.

Profile and flex

Both skis are at the stiffer end of the spectrum, as you’d expect for a pair of advanced-level backcountry weapons, but their profiles are very different.

The Agent features a big old 5mm of traditional camber underfoot, meaning it’ll perform well on the piste – or if you find yourself traversing steep, icy, wind-scoured faces – with loads of pressure along as much of the edge as possible. You still also get 150mm of nose rocker, to keep you floating when the snow gets deep.

In contrast, the Candide is a powder-gobbling animal. You get a tiny 1mm of camber underfoot, while it gives you 300mm of front and 250mm of rear rocker, to smash through crud and stick switch landings all day long.

Shape, sidecut and turning radius

You might expect the freestyle-oriented Candide to have a tighter turning radius, but let’s not forget this is a ski designed to cope with Thovex velocities and maintain stability, so a 23m turning radius is just about right.

Being narrower overall, while still carrying enough surface area to keep your head above pow, the Agent gives you a tighter 20m turning circle. This will come in very handy when negotiating tight couloirs, bumps and trees.

Construction

While the Agent might be the out-and-out touring ski here, weight-saving has been high on the design team’s agenda with both skis.

The Candide uses a core of balsa wood and flax to give a light weight core that’s going to give the playful versatility it needs to remain a freestyle weapon.

The Agent opts for the light and stable hardwood, Paulownia, bonded with carbon fibre to give the ultimate combination of light-weight responsiveness and torsional stiffness. It’ll make light work of the climbs and descend for days.

Both skis give you a fast PTEX4000 base and wrap their lightweight cores in a sandwich construction, but the Candide gives a little cap in the nose and tail for a touch more freestyle ruggedness and durability.

The verdict

By no means a direct comparison, these two skis are more than up to the challenge of slaying the next steep face that rolls away in front of you, but the one you choose really depends on how you got there and how you want to get down.

Get the Agent 100 if…

You want to get way off piste under your own steam. And whether it’s tight trees, open faces or closed-in couloirs you have to descend, you want a ski that can cope with it all.

Get the Candide 4.0 if…

You’re going to use uplift, or you want the freedom to express yourself in more way than one on the way down – with a surfy pow destroyer that’s perfectly at home with all the butters and backwards landings you can throw at it.

Check out the full range of Faction Skis!

Now that we’ve given you a run through of some of the key items in the range, you can shop all Faction Skis on FreezeProShop.com.

If you need more help choosing a ski or making sense of the range available, check out our ski buyer’s guide and size guide.