Nov 19 2013

Review: Volkl Mantra

The Mantra has been in the Volkl lineup for a long time as an Alpine model. This has been their best selling ski for the past few years and it is among the most popular expert level skis in Tahoe until just recently. Volkl has also had a backcountry version of this ski called the Nanuq. For 2011, the Mantra became a little wider at the waist and a tiny bit narrower at the tip than older versions and then in 2012 it also obtained a modest tip rocker. Since then, it has not changed and it has developed a modest following among skiers looking for a ski with a little stiffer flex for backcountry use.

Still a classic - Volkl's Mantra.

Still a classic – Volkl’s Mantra.

This last year, I started testing the Mantra at Winter Park on the hard snow of the front side testing hill. I only tested a few of this width ski on the hard snow but the Mantra has always exhibited excellent grip and I wanted to sort of reset the bar so to speak. The grip underfoot is very, very, good and the skier just needs to realize that as with any 98mm ski, it takes some time to get from one edge to another. The tip rocker on the Mantra does disengage the edge a bit when the ski is at low edge angles but it was not a problem even on the hard snow at Winter Park. The Mantra is stiff enough that there was no sensation of “tip flap” at high speeds. I concluded that the Mantra is still one of the better skis in hard snow grip for this group and remains a ski that prefers longer turns over shorter radius ones.

We have tested the Mantra in deeper snow in the past but last season, there wasn’t any available. At the WWSRA demo event at Mammoth I was able to ski the Mantra extensively in mixed and varied snow. In one particular area at Mammoth, there was a steep side hill with some crud that was scoured and firmed up by the wind, then sprinkled with a skiff of snow that blown off the upper mountain. In those conditions, the tip rocker showed its value on the stiff Mantra. The Mantra would initiate pretty easily without getting caught or yanked around. This ski has a high level of torsional stiffness and a very stiff tail that allows it to grip and remain stable in rough snow. The Mantra needs some speed or muscle power to get a bend in the tail in order to finish the turn and in the rough, mixed snow this was noticeable.

In the past, when we got the Mantra out in heavy, chopped up snow, it really showed its best side. The Mantra can handle crud with the best in class and its stability is also excellent. In tighter spots and bumps, or when the snow got lighter and deeper, the Mantra was no longer in its best element as the stiff flex inhibited the flotation and bending the tail required work to get the turn finished. As in the past, the Mantra has retained the grip, power and stability that made it popular among Tahoe experts.

MSRP: $750

Size (cm) Tip (mm) Waist (mm) Tail (mm) Radius (m)
170 132 98 118 22
177 132 98 118 24.2
184 132 98 118 25.8
191 132 98 118 28.2

© 2013