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Volkl Mantra Review

The 2018 Volkl Mantra
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $825 List | $569.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Fast, solid, consistent
Cons:  Stiff, unforgiving
Bottom line:  This is a hard charging ski for all terrain and conditions; a true all-mountain ski.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Volkl

Our Verdict

The Volkl Mantra is a crusher of mountains which is why it won the coveted Editors' Choice award. Its recent makeover entails a topsheet redesign, which freshens up the aesthetic without affecting the performance of the ski. The fully rockered profile, albeit slight, combined with the 100mm waist and metal laminate make this the hard-charging, crud busting, pow slaying machine you've been looking for. This ski outperformed all other skis tested in the men's all-mountain category. Because of our testers enthusiasm for this ski and its ability to handle literally everything they threw at it, the Volkl Mantra wins our coveted Editors' Choice award.

Product Update
Volkl let loose their new look for the 2018 Mantra, pictured above. After contacting the manufacturer, we can confirm that the only changes involve the colors, graphics, and price. The design, construction, and performance remain the same from the 2017 to the 2018 model. Our purchase links above will direct you to the latest version. If you aren't sold on the new look, get a discounted price on the 2017 Volkl Mantra before they are sold out!


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's All-Mountain Skis of 2017-2018


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Andrew Pierce

Last Updated:
Thursday
September 28, 2017

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The Latest Mantra vs. the Prior Version


Volkl recently re-released the popular Mantra with updated graphics. We confirmed with the manufacturer that no other technical changes took place, just the aesthetic modifications. The price for the 2018 version will set you back $825, but you can still find the 2017 prototype at a largely discounted price. Check out the two models below, with the latest Mantra on the left and the 2017 model on the right.

The 2018 Volkl Mantra
Volkl Mantra 2017
 

For quick reference, see the summary of this update below:
  • New Graphics — The 2018 Mantras are sporting an updated design. We think the aesthetic of the new model looks smooth and refined.
  • Price Change — The price for the new Mantra costs $825 (versus $750).

Hands-On Review


From the icy slopes of the East Coast to the champagne powder of Utah to the bluebird days in the Sierra with 3 foot of fresh overnight, and literally every mountain with any snow condition in between, this ski is a man among men. For those of you old school skiers still scared away by the Mantra's (relatively) new fully rockered profile, come join the dark side…it's not so bad over here! This is not the insane banana-rocker you see on some skis in the liftline (IE Surface, Armada, etc.).

The rocker profile on the Mantra is ever so slight, and to the naked eye looks to be almost non-existent. Where you will notice the minimal rocker profile is when the ski is on your feet making it easier to float in the powder, easier to transition from edge to edge between turns, and easier to make those quick turns when scrubbing speed or bouncing your way through the bumps.

Dropping on the Volkl Mantras...our Editors' Choice for Men's All-Mountain Skis in 2017!
Dropping on the Volkl Mantras...our Editors' Choice for Men's All-Mountain Skis in 2017!

Skiers unfamiliar with the Mantra may also be weary of its 100mm waist and the wide turn radius (25.4m listed for the 184cm length), but fear not, the power of this ski can be tamed and harnessed for a full day of fun at your home mountain. It turns out that the 100mm waist, once considered to be "fat", is actually the ideal width for slaying both powder and groomers on the same day. And despite having a large turn radius, the full design of the ski allows the skier to slarve and make short radius turns easily. The 2016/2017 Mantra went toe-to-toe with every ski in the men's all-mountain category and won at nearly every performance comparison.

2016/2017 Volkl Mantras. 184cm. New Topsheet!
2016/2017 Volkl Mantras. 184cm. New Topsheet!

Stability at Speed


The Mantra WANTS to go fast, just like a few other skis we tested - see the K2 iKonic 84 ti. Its large turn radius (especially for the all-mountain category) lends itself to making huge high speed turns. One might expect that the fully rockered profile would inhibit the ski's ability to feel stable at high speeds, but as you lay the ski over and engage more and more of the skis edge, the chatter seen in other skis with full rocker disappears.


The multi-layer woodcore contributes to the ski feeling damp, while the titanal layer diminishes any noticeable chatter. It has supreme edge hold, and all of our testers felt confident in the predictability of this ski in icy firm conditions, like we found with the Nordica Enforcer 93, as well as soft snow. Feel free to go as fast as you feel comfortable with, as the Mantra will definitely keep up with you. Just be careful, you'll feel so confident going fast on these skis that you may be going faster than you think!

The Mantras are incredibly stable at high speeds  even when cruising through variable snow conditions.
The Mantras are incredibly stable at high speeds, even when cruising through variable snow conditions.

Carving Performance


A fully rockered ski should not carve like this, but believe us…it does. The effective edge of this ski is not compromised by its rocker profile, and the ski may even feel like it skis a bit longer than listed. Its shape and turn radius lend itself well to railing large high speed turns on wide open groomed terrain, but the ski can also be controlled and directed into shorter and quicker turns easily.


Some of our reviewers found the Mantra harder to get on edge than other skis in this category (see the K2 iKonic 84 ti) due in part to its slightly larger waist. It does seem as though the Mantra is slightly slower edge to edge than other skis reviewed, but this should not deter you from feeling confident rolling the ski over again and again and again…

Laying the Mantras on edge is super fun!
Laying the Mantras on edge is super fun!

Crud


This is THE crud busting ski. It is the only ski to receive a 9 out of 10 in our crud category, and rightfully so. The only condition that this ski could not handle was not even something we would consider skiing (IE frozen, icy, unforgiving, chicken head riddled, steep bumps). The Mantra is able to float above and through chopped up powder due to its width, and the rockered tip feels totally solid, able to bust through chunder without so much as a whimper.


Its mid-fat waist helps in soft or slushy snow, and in conditions that would usually grab one ski and send it in a different direction than your other (looking at you, Salomon QST 99, the Mantras (both of them) stayed true, due in part to their responsiveness and ease of turning. Quite a few of our testers are professional ski patrollers, and they preferred these skis hands down, because their ability to handle the crud patrollers find themselves having to ski often.

The Mantras handeling variable conditions with ease.
The Mantras handeling variable conditions with ease.

Powder


Compared to the other skis in the men's all-mountain ski category, the Mantra has quite a few advantages when it comes to its performance in the powder.


First of all, it is fully rockered. The rocker in the front of the ski allows it to float to the top, while the rocker in the back allows you to release out of your turn easily. Second are the ski's width and sidecut. At 133mm in the tip, 100mm underfoot, and the 118mm tail, it allows for more overall float. While the Salomon QST 99 delivers a similar amount float, it doesn't have the consistency and power our testers felt while on the Mantra.

The Volkl Mantras handling a bit of powpow  and quite well might we add.
The Volkl Mantras handling a bit of powpow, and quite well might we add.

Unless you ski exclusively in Hokkaido, Japan, we found the Mantra capable of handling all powder conditions well with the exception being the deepest of days, where you may want to bring out your true powder skis (think 110mm+ waist).

Playfulness


This is the one category in the review that the Mantra left something to be desired. As to be expected with a ski that scores so high in carving, speed, and crud categories, it a bit heavy and can seem a little stiff, especially compared to a ski like the Salomon QST 99.


That being said, the rocker found allows it to be responsive and easy to turn, and what is sacrificed in playfulness, is made up in other categories.

While not being super playful in a jib-sense  the Mantras still have pop and plenty of energy.
While not being super playful in a jib-sense, the Mantras still have pop and plenty of energy.

Bumps


The Mantra caught our testers by surprise in the bumps. One may not expect a stiff ski that "skis long" to be much fun in the moguls (ie K2 iKonic 84 ti), but the Mantra delivered again! We keep looking to the full rocker for answers, and that allows this ski to be responsive, easy to turn, and very consistent. Whether it was bumped up terrain at the end of a pow day, or 1,500ft of slush bumps, the Mantra continued to earn its reputation as the Editors' Choice.


Best Application



This is a skier's ski. It has a can-do attitude and will allow whoever clicks into it to have fun all over the mountain on any given day. Its best application is whatever condition and terrain type you are on in that given moment. Our testers were thrilled to be on this ski, even in the nastiest of conditions. If you're on the Mantra's, you should feel confident that this ski can handle anything you throw at it.

Value


The price of this ski is comparable to most others in the all-mountain category. It took the top overall score in our metrics over all of the skis tested, and so one should not hesitate in buying these skis, especially if you're looking for a true one ski quiver.

Conclusion


This is our favorite men's all-mountain ski, if you couldn't tell by all the raving above. While it may have been outperformed by another ski in one or two aspects of our testing process, the Mantra is far and away the best option for anyone looking for a do-it-all ski.

The Volkl Mantra feels super stable at high speeds.
The Volkl Mantra feels super stable at high speeds.

Testers love it for its crud busting, reliability, consistency throughout all types of snow conditions, and it's overall fun factor. Some testers did feel more comfortable with a shorter ski than the 184 (see the Volkl Mantra 177) due to the ski's burly nature, but we cannot recommend this line of skis enough, and encourage you to get on a pair as soon as possible!
Andrew Pierce

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 26, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 1 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

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   Oct 26, 2017 - 08:27am
Papa Hari · Sailor · Seattle, WA
I skied the 185 cm 2016/2017 Mantra 25+ days last winter at Whistler, Stevens, Alpental, Crystal, Jackson and Steamboat. I encountered nearly all types of snow conditions. I’m 59 years old, ex-high school racer, ex-instructor, ex-ski patrol, 6’1, 185 lbs without gear, weekend warrior.

On older refrozen snow the torsional stiffness and dampness made otherwise crappy conditions enjoyable so long as I skied the ski rather than allowing it to ski me. It has very good edge control on icy slopes but is a bit big and heavy for quick survival turns on double blacks. I give the ski a 3.5/5.

On crud and “day 3” powder (3 days after a dump) the ski is a 5/5. Point it and go, ski it like your on corduroy. The ski loves to charge through chopped up snow on the edges and ungroomed portions of the mountain.

On day 2 powder you’ll be able to comfortably handle the endless transitions between soft and chopped. The ski is big and stable and rewards those who ski it while punishes those that try to tail slide. 4/5 day 2 ski.

On days with 2”-8” of new, the ski felt comfortable, fast and surprisingly soft. A bit slow edge to edge, but super stable on mid to long radius turn. 4/5 rating and very fun.

Twice I skied the Mantra on big (18”-24” of new) powder days. I’ll never take it out in deep powder again. 2/5. In really deep snow, this ski is a submarine. You won’t see your tips all day. In really deep snow the Mantra has no float.

The Mantra is a ski for expert skiers. Over all I love it. It’s my go to daily driver other than on big pow days.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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