Faction Mana 4

A detailed ski review.




The flex is stiff, no doubt, but the linear profile over its length combined with the long rocker makes it relatively un-intimidating. The font half of the ski feels almost identical to the rear half, and overall the flexing character seems quite "linear" to me, in that it doesn't hit a sudden wall. It is stiff off the top but lets you deflect it more and more with what feels like a linear increase in effort.

Here is how I would compare the effective/perceived flex to some of the other skis I own/owned:

This is simply a relative scale for comparison. 5 is not average and 10 is not a maximum. 

Mount Point

The recommended lines as printed on the topsheet lie between -4.9 and -7.8cm. After much deliberation, I decided to mount at -7cm. This was based on my experience with others skis, interpretation of the Faction design, and intended application (soft snow). In first use, which happened to be deep snow: it was immediately clear I would need to pressure the shovels more than I’m used to. Not necessarily a bad thing I thought; I can adapt. The benefit is tremendous tip-up power. The shovels were floating and planing perfectly. But the more I used it in various snow types, the more it became apparent that the mount was awkwardly behind the sidecut of the ski, and detrimentally far from the shovel rocker, resulting in a belated turn initiation and a somewhat wondering effect of the tips. So I remounted at -6cm and WOW, what a difference. These flat/reverse camber ski types are ultra sensitive to mount point unfortunately. At -6 I immediately felt aligned with the Mana4, not just because it more suited my existing posture, but also because the ski design (rocker/sidecut/flex) clearly just wanted me there. Ultimately, I don’t believe the Mana4 is accommodating to a rearward mount point like -7 or -8cm even if you are used to those positions in other skis, this particular ski doesn’t offer enough tail support or shovel pressure to function well at a rearward balance point. And the less 3D the snow, the more apparent that becomes. I’m perfectly happy with -6cm as a touring ski for the PNW (read: usually variable but aways 3D snow). But if mounting for the resort, I would personally go just a smidgen further at -5.5cm. But the "newschool" mount point (as Faction calls it) of -4.9cm would likely not be crazy either, especially on the 184 length and for a shorter boot than mine. (Size 30) For reference, I I'm personally a bit sensitive to having too much tail. I don't enjoy near-center-mounted skis or any skis with tails which are hard to get out of the way during dynamic skiing (read: often imbalanced). The deep tail rocker and high tail splay simply make the Mana4 tail disappear quite easily despite being stiff. In powder, I still find the tails present enough at -6cm. 


I have only tried the 190cm, but can say that as a person who is usually looking for the longest ski possible, I have never once wished for more of the Mana4 beneath me. I'm inclined to recommend users under 190lbs to consider the 184 length, even if that sounds a bit short, especially for a "pow" ski. It floats exceptionally well for its size and the strong tip/shovel could burden lighter riders on longer sizes. For comparison, I have found most double-metal skis and similarly strong flat-tailed skis to be more of a handfull than the Mana4. The Mana4 actually doesn't feel punishing when unengaged (likely due to the deep and splayed rocker lines), but rather just more of an empty and somewhat skittish experience when not taken seriously.

Turning the Thing

The seemingly lack of any preference to make big or small turns is a major selling point of the Mana4. The combination of an especially long effective edge but somewhat narrow sidecut (144 shovel to 119 midsection is 25mm delta - below average for any ski) makes for a tool with a very long effective turning radius at low edge angles, but this changes progressively as it gets tipped over on edge and the rocker profile morphs into the side profile. The flat camber underfoot allows easy rotation from the hips, making emergency or off-balance maneuvers easy. But they are surprisingly not limited to slarvy turns. Rolling them on high edge angles will quickly engage a medium-radius carv with surprising precision. On hardpack I found them predictable and consistent. Being accustomed to wide skis already, I found the Mana4 easy (albeit committing) to put on edge and delightfully strong in a carve. I believe them to be exceptionally torsionally rigid which is partly what yields this powerful and "precise" feeling on edge. It is however, this same quality which makes them notably unforgiving at times. Despite requiring this piloting attention, I can't say I've found them to be hooky at all. Its more that they just feel wondering and a bit chattery when driven with a relaxed body posture. 

Resort Chops

The stiff tips do wonders to stabilize soft chop such as late morning of a busy pow-day at the ski resort. Combined with its easy mobility and rotate-ability, the Mana4 resists getting bogged down in even the deepest chop. But you do have to hold form. It's not a ski you bring to "chill" on. The stiff tips and tails will rotate you involuntarily if you let them.

In firm chop; including wet/heavy conditions, refrozen, or just abused pistes; it can feel harsh. You can get away with either a “heavy foot” (powering through) or “light on the feet” (dancing around) approach, but either way, more than average energy will be required to make fun with the Mana4 in rough conditions. This shouldn’t be a surprise really - given the stiff shovel, snappy flex, and flat camber which does little to buffer the incoming vibrations to your boot. Its not a damming quality - just this ski’s least strong performance aspect.


In proper 3D snow they are incredible. Its a winning combination of stability from the stiffness and maneuverability from the flat-rocker profile. They can hold a line through deep, grabby snow, and next moment rotate on a dime. The floatation is better than I have experienced elsewhere, including Nocta and Bent120s. The wide tails are supportive in soft snow and allow the ski to get fully sideways when asked to. The stiffer shovel planes easily and offers a lot of anti-dive (aka tip-up ability) while keeping your weight centred, also minimizing any ploughing effect. A softer ski will still perform better at slow speeds or really low angle terrain, but the Mana4 doesn't take a lot of speed to get up and going nicely. Excellent platforms for landing big drops.

Trees and Bumps

The reverse camber provides easy pivot through mogul lines and a certain slithering quality to tree runs. You'll be able to dump speed if there is any space to do so and its generally easy to get the tails slashing high on banked turns. Typically spaced tree runs work great, though its still long and stiff enough to find limitations in deeply trenched situations. This is not saying anything unique to the Mana4, only that short and soft is your fiend when jumping from bathtub to bathtub in a super well-established tree line.


I love a ski like this is proper slush. In warm corn snow you may still prefer a more flat tool to best ski "normally". But in proper slurpy conditions where mounds of skier-pushed snow become the norm, I find a stiff and rockered ski to be the only way to keep skiing really hard. The slightly narrower sibling Mana3 (112mm waist) may be even better suited but you don't want anything too narrow for your weight.


I have found the Mana4 to be predictable and uncomplicated; highly versatile to snow and terrain types; light enough for full day tours; and capable to meet my every need on the decent. Its not for the faint of heart, but for the drivers willing to show up engaged, the Mana4 appears to offer great performance and consistency. And while it wont be anybody's 1-ski quiver, it's also one of few skis I'd be happy to personally mount either with a tech-touring binding or an alpine-resort binding. I expect a lot of strong skiers would find a ton of fun on a ski like this with very manageable downsides. If in doubt, err on the side of shorter length and forward mount.


While its a relative departure from mainstream ski design - its by no means a new concept. There are several notable examples of wide and reverse-cambered skis paired with stiff flex profiles including (but not limited to):

I have not had the pleasure of trying any of the above skis but there is reason to suspect they all offer a slightly differing experience. Opening the comparisons to similarly wide and rockered but not deliberately stiff skis would include a whole lot more models from many brands.

Compared to my 2022 Black Crows Anima, which has 32mm delta from tip width to midsection with a strong 5mm camber underfoot - and is my longstanding favourite resort tool, the Mana4 has less automated turn initiation, a different movement of the inside leg, and far better floatation. The Anima is also heavier and feels much heavier with its high swing weight. The camber of the Anima gives direction when bases are flat to the snow, and the sidecut allows a wider range of practical edge angles. Despite also mounted (as recommended) at -6cm, the Mana4 in comparison wants distinctively more forward pressure to engage on hardpack. Both skis perform exceptionally in soft chop, though the suspension of the Anima wins on firm or rugged terrain.

Compared to the 2018-2022 Nocta, the piste/resort/2D turning performance is... well, not comparable. The Mana4 is dramatically more capable at the resort than a ski like the Nocta, though also dramatically more efforting to ski. The Nocta in comparison is very soft, more rockered, and with minimal effective edge. This version of the Nocta, oft dubbed the v2, is far less versatile to challenging snow conditions and far less supportive in speed or bigger features, but also delightfully more rewarding at slow speed and loser on low angles.

B Corporation

Not sure how many people care about this - but Faction (Swiss) became a certified B Corp in 2021. This effectively provides corporate executives the internal direction and external allowance to make decisions which prioritize societal-good over sheer profits, whilst legally protected from shareholder lawsuit. That includes employee care (wages, benefits, opportunity) as well as environmental sustainability and community support (local procurement and donation/sponsorship). Its an onerous and demanding certification and thus very telling of the company moral. I won’t let that bias the ski review, but generally speaking I hold B Corps in admiration, choosing those products where possible in categories like food, household goods, clothing, and others. FYI Wonder Alpine and Icelandic Skis (USA) are also B Corps.



Last updated or reviewed 2024-02-14