Ski: 2018-2019 Faction Prime 4.0, 185 cm
Available Lengths: 178, 185, 194 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 183.8 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1925 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1862 & 1873 grams
Stated Dimensions: 140-118-132 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 137.8-117.8-129.8
Stated “Multi-Dimension” Sidecut Radius: 26 meters
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 66 mm / 18 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm
Core: Balsa/Flax + “TexTreme” Carbon Fiber Laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point:
- “All-Mountain” line: -13.1 cm from center; 78.8 cm from tail
- “Candide” line: -9.1 cm from center; 82.8 cm from tail
Blister’s Recommended Mount: -9.1 cm
Test Locations: Japan; Alaskan Backcountry
Reviewer: 6’0”, 190 lbs
Days Skied: 8[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 17/18 Prime 4.0, which is unchanged for 18/19.]
The Prime series is Faction’s new line of touring skis, and Faction has been talking a pretty big game about them.
We’re currently getting time on both the Prime 2.0 and Prime 4.0, and here’s what Faction says about the Prime 4.0:
“A ski nimble enough to tour up 1,500 metres, but rugged enough for a FWT athlete/UIAGM guide like Sam Anthamatten to rip down the Matterhorn? Sounds like the holy grail. Introducing the Prime 4.0, designed alongside Sam, and made to conquer technical ascents and descents without compromise. Built with a lightweight hybrid balsa flax core, and layers of Textreme carbon along the length of the ski, the Prime 4.0 is exceptionally lightweight for a ski that floats in the freshies and powers through crud and debris.”
No-compromise technical ascents and descents? That definitely sounds like the holy grail, so how does Faction think they’ve achieved this?
The Prime 4.0 isn’t the lightest ski we’ve tested in this waist-width, and that’s probably a good thing if you’re talking about the Prime 4.0’s capabilities for technical ascents and descents.
For reference, here are a few of our measured weights for some comparable skis (all weights are in grams per ski).
1862 & 1873 Faction Prime 4.0, 185 cm
1424 & 1438 DPS Wailer 112 Tour1, 178 cm
1622 (avg.) DPS Lotus 124 Tour1, 185 cm
1654 & 1682 Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon, 186 cm
1816 & 1872 G3 SENDr 112, 188 cm
1903 & 1929 Moment Bibby Tour, 184 cm
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm
1922 & 1958 Volkl BMT 122, 186 cm
1959 & 1975 Volkl V-Werks Katana, 184 cm
2133 & 2133 Salomon QST 118, 192 cm
2161 & 2163 Faction Dictator 4.0, 186 cm
Dimensions / Rocker Profile
As far as wider touring skis go, the dimensions / shape of the Prime 4.0 are fairly common, with moderate tip taper and a little more taper in the tail. But the rocker profile of the Prime 4.0 (and the Prime 2.0) is a bit less conventional.
The 4.0 has fairly deep rocker lines — which is something you’d expect from a ~118mm-underfoot ski that’s meant to “float in freshies.”
But the tip splay of the 4.0 remains pretty mellow until near the very end of the ski … and then there is the tail of the Prime 4.0. It’s tail rocker line is pretty deep into the ski, but does not rise very far (only 18 mm of tail splay), and there is very little curve to the tail rocker — it looks like a straight / diagonal line. (It’s quite similar looking to the Salomon QST 118, but with less tail splay than the QST 118.)
Hand flexing the ski, here’s how we’d describe the flex pattern of the Prime 4.0:
In front of Heel Piece: 8-9
Behind Heel piece: 9
When hand flexing the Prime 4.0, the thing that stood out most was how similar its flex pattern is to the Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon, another lightweight powder touring ski. Here is how we characterized the flex pattern of the Helio 116 Carbon:
In front of Toe Piece: 8-9
Behind Heel piece: 9
Both skis have soft tips and shovels that should help them plane in deep snow, but they also have pretty stiff tails. With such similar flex patterns, we’re interested to see how the other differences between these two skis (e.g. rocker profiles, shape, and weight) affect their performance on snow.
This is actually the most surprising thing — by far, actually — about the Prime 4.0.
Faction has two recommended mount points for the Prime 4.0, an “All-Mountain” line that’s -13.1 cm behind center, and a “Candide” line that’s -9.1 cm from center.
Given that most of us probably think of Faction as more of a newschool ski company (with perhaps the best freestyle team in the world), it’s pretty wild to see them put such a traditional mount on a ski.
In fact, even their Dictator 4.0 — a very-directional, big-mountain charger — is only set back -9.75 cm behind center, and the Dictator 4.0 has a lot less tail rocker than the Prime 4.0. (Also of note, the recommended mount point of the Prime 2.0 is -9.25 cm.)
And then there is that “Candide” line…
On a list of the “Top 10 Things we are Skeptical of in the Ski World,” the idea that Candide Thovex is personally skiing anything at 9.1 cm behind center is #1 on the list. And whatever #2 is on the list, it isn’t close.
Seriously, this is odd. So we are already experimenting with mount points, and will report back with our findings and some recommendations.
A Few Further Questions / Comparisons
(1) With such similar dimensions and an extremely similar flex pattern, how similar or different will the Prime 4.0 be compared to the Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon?
(2) Faction says the Prime 4.0 is built to “conquer technical ascents and descents” and that it also “floats in freshies.” So how precise is this ski on steep, technical lines, and how well does it blend that with being fun in powder?
(3) The Prime 4.0 isn’t the lightest ski in the powder touring category, but it isn’t some heavy beast, either. So how well does it blend stability, variable-snow performance, etc. compared to some of the heavier skis and lighter skis we’ve noted above?
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Prime 4.0 is a beautiful ski with a lot to live up to — a no-compromise touring ski for technical ascents and descents. Blister reviewer, Paul Forward, has already spent some time on it in Alaska, and now he’s in Japan testing the Prime 4.0’s deep-snow capabilities. So stay tuned for updates, and let us know about any questions you’d like to see addressed in our review.
Flash Review: Faction Prime 4.0
Blister members can now read our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review of the Prime 4.0.
(Learn more about Blister Member benefits, and Become a Blister member)
NEXT: The Full Review