2020-2021 Faction Agent 3.0

Ski: 2020-2021 Faction Agent 3.0, 180 cm

Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 178.1 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 1720 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1725 & 1774 grams

Stated Dimensions: 134-106-124 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133.2-105.5-123.5 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (180 cm): 21 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 69.5 mm / 24 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm

Core: Karuba + carbon weave + titanal binding plate + fiberglass laminate

Base: sintered

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -11.25 cm from center; 77.8 cm from tail

Luke Koppa reviews the Faction Agent 3.0 for Blister.
Faction Agent 3.0
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics

Intro

Last year Faction introduced a new line of skis, the Agent series, which are designed as lightweight touring skis that serve as the more affordable alternatives to Faction’s “tourable big-mountain” Prime series.

For 20/21, Faction is expanding the Agent series with the addition of the 106mm-wide Agent 3.0 and 116mm-wide Agent 4.0. Faction is actually currently selling a limited-edition Agent 3.0 (which also comes with free skins and is on sale), but the Agent 3.0 and 4.0 will be fully available next season. The only difference between the currently available, limited-edition Agent 3.0 and the 20/21 version is the new ski’s new top sheet, which features a graphic inspired by a peak in the central valley in Verbier, home to Faction’s HQ.

So, how does the Agent 3.0’s design compare to the rest of the options in the increasingly crowded backcountry category?

What Faction says about the Agent 3.0

“The Agent 3.0 truly has it all: a lightweight core, progressive shape, high-tech carbon weave, balanced flex and perfectly engineered rocker. Easy on the uphill and equally capable in the deepest snow, the day-after-the-storm chop or springtime corn, this ultra-versatile offering will be hailed as one of the hottest touring skis of the year.”

Construction

Faction’s description covered the lightweight Karuba wood core and carbon weave used in the Agent 3.0, but it’s also worth noting that Faction opted to use thicker top sheet and base materials, as well as oversized 2.5mm-thick edges.

Shape / Rocker Profile

The Agent 3.0 is based on the shape and rocker profile of the current Faction Dictator 3.0, with the two sharing identical dimensions. The skis’ shovels look pretty tapered, though the widest point is actually pretty close to the end of the ski and I think it’d be more accurate to call the sidecut around the shovel fairly “straight” (Faction calls those straighter sections “surf zones” as they’re designed to decrease unwanted hooking in soft snow).

The Agent 3.0’s tips are not as tapered as skis like the Black Diamond Helio 105, Sego Condor 108, or 4FRNT Raven, but a bit more tapered than the Blizzard Zero G 105 and Line Vision 108.

The Agent 3.0’s tail is less tapered than its tip, and overall the ski looks like it has a pretty long effective edge.

In terms of rocker profile, the Agent 3.0 is fairly traditional with a bit of tip and tail rocker and camber underfoot, but its rocker lines are pretty shallow compared to the Vision 108, Condor 108, and Volkl Blaze 106. Overall, the rocker profile of the Agent 3.0 looks fairly similar to the Zero G 105.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Agent 3.0:

Tips: 7
Shovels: 7-8.5
In Front of Toe Piece: 8.5-9.5
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-9
Tails: 9-8

This is a pretty strong, but it’s notably softer overall vs. the old Dictator 3.0 we reviewed, which was one of the most demanding skis we’ve recently skied. The Agent 3.0’s tips and shovels are not crazy stiff, but I’d call them a bit stiffer than average. The Agent 3.0 is quite strong around the bindings and it stays pretty stiff until you get to the rockered portion of the tail, where it softens slightly but finishes stiffer than the tips.

The Agent 3.0’s flex pattern is fairly similar to the Zero G 105’s, though the Zero G 105’s tail is a bit softer.

Compared to the Atomic Backland 107, the Agent 3.0 has much stronger tips and shovels and a slightly stiffer back-half.

Overall, the Agent 3.0’s flex pattern is pretty similar to the Volkl Blaze 106’s, with the Blaze 106’s flex pattern stiffening up a bit slower as you move from the tips to the center of the ski.

Mount Point

The recommended line on our pair of the Agent 3.0 measures around -11.2 cm from true center, which is pretty far back. Combined with all the other aspects of its design, this makes us pretty confident that this will be a ski that rewards a forward, driving stance.

Sidecut Radius

Faction says the Agent 3.0 features an elliptical sidecut, meaning the radius is longer underfoot and shorter near the tips and tails, with the average radius for the 180 cm Agent 3.0 being 21 meters.

We’ll see how noticeable / not noticeable that elliptical sidecut is, but it is interesting that Faction’s approach is basically the opposite of Volkl’s “3D Radius” where the skis feature tighter radii underfoot and longer radii in the tips and tails. But at the same time, both brands are aiming to accomplish similar goals with their sidecut designs, in that they want the benefits of both shorter and longer radii in a single ski. Faction says the elliptical design is meant to allow aggressive carving when you want, but also quick pivots and slashes when you need to throw the skis sideways to shed speed as the straighter section underfoot is meant to decrease hookiness.

Weight

The Agent 3.0 is a lightweight ski, but it’s definitely not the absolute lightest ski out there. And Faction was very up-front about the fact that they weren’t setting out to make the lightest touring ski and instead had downhill performance as a big priority, or else they could’ve used lighter edges, top sheet, and base materials.

With our pair of the 180 cm Agent 3.0 coming in at an average weight of just under 1750 grams per ski, the Agent 3.0 is notably heavier than touring skis like the Black Diamond Helio 105, Blizzard Zero G 105, and Atomic Backland 107. In equivalent lengths, the Agent 3.0’s weight would be fairly similar to the Volkl Blaze 106 and WNDR Alpine Intention 110. And all in all, the Agent 3.0 is still notably lighter than most 50/50 or lightweight inbounds skis like the Armada Tracer 108 and Elan Ripstick 106.

For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.

1476 & 1490 K2 Wayback 106, 179 cm (18/19–20/21)
1547 & 1551 Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
1605 & 1630 Line Vision 108, 183 cm (19/20–20/21)
1606 & 1641 Blizzard Zero G 105, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
1642 & 1651 Renoun Citadel 106, 185 cm, (18/19–19/20)
1642 & 1662 Atomic Backland 107, 182 cm (18/19–20/21)
1660 & 1680 Moment Deathwish Tour, 184 cm (19/20)
1692 & 1715 Moment Wildcat Tour 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1706 & 1715 Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1725 & 1774 Faction Agent 3.0, 180 cm (20/21)
1745 & 1747 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm (16/17–19/20)
1752 & 1771 Amplid Facelift 108, 189 cm (18/19–20/21)
1784 & 1790 Volkl Blaze 106, 186 cm (20/21)
1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1787 & 1806 WNDR Alpine Intention 110 – Cambered, 185 cm (19/20)
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1828 & 1842 Elan Ripstick 106 Black Edition, 188 cm (19/20)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1849 & 1922 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
1918 & 1931 Sego Condor 108, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
1951 & 1953 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (20/21)
1993 & 2026 Black Crows Atris, 184.2 cm (17/18–20/21)
1996 & 2012 Dynastar Legend X106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2006 & 2065 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2027 & 2052 K2 Reckoner 112, 184 cm (20/21)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2079 & 2105 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2096 & 2100 Salomon QST 106, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2097 & 2113 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 C2, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
2110 & 2119 Moment Wildcat 108, 190 cm (19/20)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2153 & 2184 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 187 cm (20/21)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2170 & 2180 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm (20/21)
2177 & 2180 Moment Commander 108, 188 cm (19/20)
2182 & 2218 Nordica Enforcer 110 Free, 185 cm (17/18–20/21)
2188 & 2190 Prior Northwest 110, 190 cm (19/20–20/21)
2190 & 2268 Armada ARV 106Ti LTD, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2202 & 2209 Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, 186 cm (19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2232 & 2242 Blizzard Cochise 106, 185 cm (20/21)
2232 & 2244 ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2250 & 2307 Argent Badger, 184 cm (19/20)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2312 & 2386 Prior Husume, 188 cm (17/18–20/21)
2318 & 2341 J Skis The Metal, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2321 & 2335 Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2325 & 2352 Folsom Blister Pro 104, 186 cm (19/20)

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The old Faction Dictator 3.0 was a very demanding ski, so given their similarities in terms of shape and rocker profile, will the Agent 3.0 be similar in that regard?

(2) The Agent 3.0 is a lightweight ski, but it’s far from the lightest ski in the touring category, so should some people be considering this ski if they plan to occasionally use it in the resort?

(3) Faction says the ~106mm-wide Agent 3.0 can handle everything from deep snow to chop, something most brands say about their ~106mm-wide skis, so will the Agent 3.0 feel biased toward either end of the spectrum of conditions?

Bottom Line (For Now)

While no single aspect of the Faction Agent 3.0’s design may jump out at us, that actually makes us pretty excited. Predictability is key in the backcountry, and the Agent 3.0’s fairly traditional shape & rocker profile, moderate flex pattern, and not-crazy-light weight all seem like they could make for a predictable ride. Blister Members can check out our initial impressions in our Flash Review linked below, then stay tuned for our full review.

Flash Review

Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Agent 3.0 for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.

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Rocker Pics:

Full Profile
Tip Profile
Tail Profile
Top Sheet
Base
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5 comments on “2020-2021 Faction Agent 3.0”

  1. Is this skis a touring version of the Dictator 3.0 with the same dimensions but with a tour construction build for a lighter weight? Also, do you know if the mount position is also the same for both types of designs? I am more of a traditional old school style of skier who prefers a rearward mount.
    Thanks,
    DHJ

    • Essentially, yes — the Agent 3.0 has the same dimensions and rocker profile as the Dictator 3.0, and I’d assume the recommended mount point is the same. Their core constructions are different and I’m not sure how the current Dictator 3.0’s flex pattern compares (the previous version of the Dictator 3.0 we tested was much stiffer than the Agent 3.0).

  2. Convid SUCKS!!!!!! I’m so pissed off that we’re in limbo wondering if the resorts will even open up for the next season?! Wear a mask and practice some physical space for the time being fellow snow sliders, and do what you can to protect yourself.
    DHJ

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