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2013-2014 Volkl Mantra

Volkl Mantra, Blister Gear Review.

Volkl Mantra

Ski: 2013-2014 Volkl Mantra, 184cm

Dimensions (mm): 132-98-118

Sidecut Radius: 25.8 meters

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2058 & 2071 grams

Boots / Bindings: Atomic Redster Pro, Nordica Patron Pro & Salomon X Pro 120 / Marker Jester

Mount Location: Boot Center / “0” Line

Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley; Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand; Stowe, Vermont

Days Skied: 12

The Volkl Mantra has seemingly been around forever, and it seems to be a ski that everybody knows. So why bother to review it?

Five reasons:

1) Without question, the Mantra is a benchmark ski in the class of “all-mountain,” ~100mm-underfoot skis.

2) We keep seeing skis we love get tweaked when we feel like they were dialed, or discontinued when we feel like they were just starting to get attention. We’re sick of this.

But in fairness to the ski manufacturers, once a ski has been around for a while, it can become old news; everybody wants to hear about the shiny new products. And great skis either stop getting talked about, or never get the attention they deserve.

We love checking out the shiny new stuff, but we also want to help create an environment where companies get credit for dialing a product, then don’t feel pressured to screw with it just to drum up fresh interest.

If you’ve seen our Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards, you know that we’ve already paid homage to the Mantra. I don’t think the Mantra should change at all, and this review will try to explain why. On that note, let’s move on to reasons 3-5 for this review:

3) There are people skiing the Mantra who probably shouldn’t be—they’d be having more fun on something else.

4) There are people skiing the Mantra who think it rules in all conditions, which isn’t true.

5) There are people who have never skied the Mantra (and who have never considered skiing the Mantra) who should consider it.

So basically, I want to try to (a) locate this excellent ski that isn’t excellent at everything; (b) get some people who’ve never considered skiing it to reconsider, and (c) get some people who are skiing it to understand that just because this is probably the best selling ski in the universe doesn’t mean that it’s best suited for them.

And if I play my cards just right, it seems that I’ve got a good shot at ticking off every single Mantra-Lover or Mantra-Hater who reads this review. Only one way to find out…

What’s the Mantra For?

Volkl calls the Mantra, “One of the most versatile skis ever,” and goes on to say:

“The wide profile floats in powder, while the carefully matched early rise shape pulls into the turn and maneuvers in all snow conditions with ease. For good skiers who want a powder ski that you can also ride when the mountain turns icy, the Mantra is an easy decision.”

In my preliminary review of the Volkl One, I praised Volkl for their accurate description of that new ski. But this description of the Mantra feels either wrong, or like it will require a lot of asterisks and qualifiers and footnotes.

But before we get to those asterisks and qualifiers and footnotes, let’s talk about the Mantra’s flex pattern, shape, and camber profile.

Flex Pattern

The Mantra is stiff. But at my weight, at least (~185 lbs. / 83 kg), the ski doesn’t feel stupid stiff.

And while I happen to like stiff skis, the best and most noteworthy thing about the flex pattern of the Mantra, I would argue, is its consistency.

I’ve said it before: I’d rather ski something that’s either stiffer than I need or softer than I like if the flex pattern is simply consistent and progressive. Skis that abruptly transition from soft tips to stiff shovels (or go from soft to stiff abruptly in the tails) generally create a smaller sweet spot on the ski, making skiing a trickier balancing act. And skis with soft shovels but stiff tails feel like you’re riding two different skis, depending on whether you’re forward on your toes or back on your heels. No bueno.

In this respect (only), the Mantra reminds me of a much softer, very different ski: the LINE Sir Francis Bacon. The Bacon is much softer than the Mantra, and it’s designed to do different things than the Mantra (e.g., ski switch and trick). But it has a beautiful, consistent flex like the Mantra. And in that sense, both are predictable, “easy” skis to ride, and I really like them both, because I know what I’m getting—the skis don’t feel like they have a split personality.

Point is, while the Mantra may be stiffer than a lot of skiers need, I’m giving Volkl a hundred points for the flex pattern.

Shape & Camber Profile

This should come as no surprise: I really like the tip shape of the Mantra. If you want a ski to charge, then it often helps to keep the widest section of the tip close to the top of the ski. The Mantra does. With such a design, you’ll generally sacrifice a bit of quickness to skis that have heavily tapered tips (like the Armada TST, DPS Wailer 99, etc.), but you’ll generally gain an increase in stability and a decrease in tip deflection.

The 184cm Mantra has a rocker line that is 14 centimeters from the tip. When decambered, the rocker line is about 32 centimeters from the tip. (See rocker pics on the last page).

The Mantra has traditional camber underfoot, and that traditional camber extends far back, about 6cms / 2.5″ from the end of the tail. (For comparison, the 180cm Blizzard Bonafide has a rocker line that starts about 19cms / 7.5″ from the tail when the ski is decambered.

Speaking of that tail, I love it. No pintail here. And like the Nordica Hell and Back, the widest section of the tail is very near the end of the ski, giving the ski a good amount of effective edge, producing a very stable, un-skittery ride.

Stable vs. Forgiving

But while the Mantra is stable, I wouldn’t call it forgiving. It was not designed to allow you to ski on your heels, easily making windshield-wiper turns at slow speeds (think Rossignol S7). If you do not like to drive your skis, there is very little reason for you to consider the Mantra, unless you are a very big person who would benefit from such a substantial ski.

But in general, if your preferred style is “mellow”—either mellow terrain or mellow speeds—then it’s probably best to look elsewhere, because the Mantra will probably feel like overkill.

All-Mountain (as in, The Entire Mountain, Not Just the Nicely Groomed Parts)

This is where I’ll make my most passionate case for the Mantra: it’s a ski for those who spend a good bit of time skiing off piste in firm-to-variable conditions. If you mostly stick to the groomers when the mountain hasn’t seen any fresh snow in a while, I won’t try to talk you into the Mantra.

But where I really came to appreciate the Mantra was at Taos last spring. The mountain was in a freeze / thaw cycle, and it happened to be a day when things didn’t warm up enough to get soft. Stauffenberg was shiny ice, and nobody was skiing it. I decided it would be a good test, so I headed up there … and ended up lapping it most of the day.

The steep entrance was windscoured clean, with huge moguls through the first quarter of the run. The moguls then mellowed out toward the middle of the run, where there was more ice that had been blown clean—it was conducive to big, fast turns, so long as you could maintain an edge. Stauffenberg then ends in a very fast runout through bumped-up terrain. (You don’t have to ski it fast, but it’s fun to.)

Through the steep, icy, big bumps with deep troughs at the top, the Mantra provided plenty of bite and a stable platform. Confidence inspiring. And actually, that was the story for the rest of the run, too. And that’s why I kept lapping Stauffenberg that day.

It’s also why I say that, the worse the conditions, the better the Mantra gets. The Mantra isn’t a “fun” ski, it makes skiing in tough conditions more fun.

More Evidence: Off-Piste, Variable Conditions

In low visibility during a snow storm in Canterbury, New Zealand this past August, the Mantra was totally predictable in ankle-to-boot deep pow, provided a stable platform, and offered no unwelcome surprises. I couldn’t see well, but I could stand on the ski and trust that the shovel wasn’t going to fold on me or buck me in transitions from soft to variable to ice.

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Volkl Mantra at Broken River, New Zealand, Blister Gear Review.

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Volkl Mantra, Broken River, Canterbury, New Zealand.

 

86 Comments

  1. Guy December 4, 2013 Reply

    Great review as usual. Curious if you guys can compare the Praxis 9D8 to the Mantra in the future. I know the 9D8 was built to compete in this category and in med-stiff or stiff flex it should have a similar personality. Any preliminary thoughts based on the specs would be cool to read.

    • Author

      We haven’t skied the 9D8, but it would be interesting since Praxis explicitly states that they aren’t trying to do anything other than build their own version of a classic shape. The lack of metal in the 9D8 makes me think that the Nordica Hell & Back will be the more direct comparison than the Mantra. The 185 9D8 has a tighter sidecut radius than the 184cm Mantra, will certainly be easier to bend (in a medium or medium/stiff flex) than the Mantra. Would be fun to check it out.

  2. Kevin December 5, 2013 Reply

    Nice write up Jonathan. Wondering when we will see an honest review on the Blizzard Bonafides. Thanks.

    Kevin

  3. Clarky December 5, 2013 Reply

    So, for the ‘bad snow offpiste’ quiver niche, would you go Mantra or Cochise?

    • Author

      It depends. The less you care about carving / groomer performance, the more I’d probably go with the Cochise for the extra width & stability off-piste. But in steep, windscoured entrances, I really like the bite of the Mantra, and would be less interested in the Cochise’s tail rocker.

      Of course, the real apples-to-apples comparison isn’t Mantra/Cochise, but Katana/Cochise…

  4. Craig December 5, 2013 Reply

    Good article Jonathon. I have owned many a Mantra and believe you nailed it.
    So one question….comparing last years Belfonte (182) to the 184 Mantra for stiff Alta days, would you say basically the same analogy holds true for the Belfonte except with a bit more width?

    • Author

      Thanks, Craig. And the analogy – do you mean, “the worse the conditions, the better the ___ gets” ?

      Sort of. The Belafonte & Mantra don’t feel very similar, really. The Mantra feels like a stiff GS ski, the Belafonte doesn’t have metal, and doesn’t feel race stock like the Mantra does. It also has a deeper rocker line and more splay, and is 106 vs. 98 underfoot. And it has a seriously twinned tail. I’d rather ski the Belafonte in a mix of pow + soft chop + firm crud, and I’d rather ski the Mantra down windscoured faces and highspeed groomer laps. Finally, I’m not saying that either the Belafonte or Mantra are the perfect skis for pure ice, but I’d rather ski the Mantra on ice than the Belafonte.

      • Craig December 5, 2013 Reply

        Thanks Jonathon, that helps.
        I only have experience on the Mantra, not the Belfonte and I suppose that helps answer my question as to which conditions a Belfonte would hold preference over the Mantra and vice versa. Based on home base being Alta….I am thinking the Belafonte may better supplement my one ski quiver (Old Bibby) rather than the Mantra. If you were an Alta only skier….do you think the Belfonte is a wise pick to supplement the Old Bibby?

        Till now I have only been a one ski guy and this will be my first go at adding a second dimension to my quiver of one.

        • Author

          A good friend of mine has a 2 Ski Quiver for Alta that consists of the 182 Belafonte and the 190 Bibby. Only 2 skis he’s used at Alta for the past 2 seasons. So it can definitely be done, and would be fun. But if you’re ripping laps down Collins, or bumping down Highboy, I would still prefer to do that on the Mantra. If you’re mostly making big turns off the High T or down Ballroom, I might opt for the Belafonte.

          • Craig December 5, 2013 Reply

            What about Billygoat’n tight trees or wherever there is a liklihood of sinking an edge during drought conditions or of course Spring corn/slush? I was thinking the fall line bumps/tight constraints/with the slightest bit of edge sink preference would lean toward the Belfonte whereas the Mantra would favor the wide open let’r rip/gs/wind scoured mank/ type of aggression. Did I get it backwards?

            My preference/style is more suitably described with the former description favoring steep ratty trees or edges with a shred of cushion/dust left over. (ie. Eagles Nest/Eddies/west rustler/High-T laps where the snow is best at the moment. I was thinking the lack of steel and smooth/crud fall line performance would make the Belfonte more manuverable and generally more of a go everywhere do-anything ski when the conditions are less than Bibby good (which granted is not very often). Does that make sense?

            Sorry to be a pest….I thought I had it figured out, now I think I might be upside down!

  5. mikep December 5, 2013 Reply

    everytime i ride the mantra all i can think is that it’s a chattery garbone with too much sidecut.
    everything the mantra does the garbone/belafonte does better, its time to put the mantra out to pasture.

    • Author

      Are you talking original 106 Garbone, or the 112? I definitely don’t think the *feel* of the Mantra is for everyone, and I’ve only skied the 182 and 187 Belafonte – not the Garbone – but I’m not ready to believe that the Garbone is a better GS-turns-carver than the Mantra. I certainly haven’t found the Belafonte to be.

      • mikep December 5, 2013 Reply

        106. a non-dumbed down belafonte.
        For me the Garbone is faster on the groomed, more depenable on shit snow and is tougher so the only thing the mantra can do better is float I guess but who wants that? seems like a dumb comprimise to me.

  6. Mike T December 5, 2013 Reply

    Great review. I’ve owned more pairs of this ski than I can count, and I keep buying them for the same reason — if it hasn’t dumped, these are the best skis to ski the entire mountain. Could I try to ride my Katanas or Shiros and seek out “leftovers”? Sure, and those skis are way better in powder. But I won’t have as much on the 95% of the mountain that is either groomed, bumped, or torn up.

    If you ski fast, they are great. If you ski slow, they are way too stiff.

    Perfect ski for an ex-racer on resort days.

    • Author

      Thanks, Mike – I’m glad that Mantra owners are weighing in. It’s funny, given that you see this ski everywhere there are chairlifts, it’s actually a pretty polarizing ski, I think. I get why people love it, and I get why people hate it. Hopefully the review just helps some people figure out which camp they’ll likely fall into.

  7. Blister Member
    Ryan December 5, 2013 Reply

    Great review as always…really thought-provoking. One question though: let’s say I already have a ski for more than a couple inches of powder. And so I’m looking for a second ski for those worse conditions (ice, crud, etc.). Why not get a ski that’s stiff like the mantra, but narrower (like 80-90 mm)? It seems like the narrower ski might be somewhat better on groomers and in the bumps, without giving up much to the Mantra in conditions where I don’t need to float.

    I’m guessing the answer has to do with stability in crud/variable, but am wondering if there’s more to it.

    • Author

      You guessed right, Ryan. If you’re just talking about groomer & bump performance, I imagine I’d take a ski like the Volkl Kendo over the Mantra. (I still need to get on the Kendo, though). But for the off-piste conditions I describe in the review, yes, I’ll take the stability bump of a wider ski.

  8. Joel December 6, 2013 Reply

    Hi there,

    It sounds like you know your Mantra.

    Could you compare the earlier Mantra (full camber, 2011 and earlier I think) to the later version (with some early rise).

    I heard that the early rise version doesn’t give you as good feedback for when you ski the ski’s sweet spot as the full camber one.

    Cheers.

    • Ben December 9, 2013 Reply

      I would love to know this comparison as well. I beat the death out of a pair of the Red Mantras (i think 2009 model) which were 94mm underfoot, and would still use them as my groomer / shit snow ski if I didn’t crack and pull out an edge. I wonder how these compare to the newer 98mm width w early rise?

      • Author

        Hey Joel and Ben – it’s been too long since I’ve skied the old red Mantra to make definitive statements. But the subtle tip rocker of the current Mantra DEFINITELY makes it a better soft-snow ski than the old Mantra. Stiff + Metal + 0 tip rocker = pretty much no particular reason to break the ski out in soft snow.

        Having said that, I think you both ought to demo the current Mantra. I definitely don’t feel that there is a resulting loss of a sweet spot, but rather that turn initiation is dead easy (for a ski like this), and that the tip rocker encourages you to drive the shovels hard with even more confidence that you aren’t going to stuff a tip in variable snow. Would love to hear, though, if you guys agree. Go find out!

  9. Michael December 6, 2013 Reply

    Jonathan,

    I have spent too much time reading all your reviews, but there is so much information I find myself coming back again and again to learn more. With that said, based on my ski type and what I am looking for, I have narrowed my choice to the mantra, the bellafonte, or the bonafide. I am slightly leaning toward the mantra over the bellafonte, but was hoping you could shed some light on how those two compare to the bonafide, as I don’t have as good of understanding of the bonafide as the other two. For background, I’ve been skiing the karma for the past 6 years, which I like but I am looking to upgrade to the newer technology with a little wider underfoot.

    Thanks for all he effort you put into your profession.

    Michael

    • Author

      Thanks, Michael – we’re still waiting on those Bonafides, thought we’d have them by now. But as a very gross generalization, I suspect that the Bonafide will be a little looser and a little more soft-snow oriented than the Mantra; the Mantra will be the more locked down, firm-conditions ski. We’ll see….

  10. Franklin Delano Brosevelt December 6, 2013 Reply

    Looking forward to a Blizzard Bonafide review, and a Bonafide vs. Mantra, and Bonafide vs. Cochise comparison.

    Thanks!

  11. Doug December 9, 2013 Reply

    Have you ever ridden the old school Dynastar Legend Pro. I’m talking the 186cm version, before they got softer with (I think?) the 184cm version? I had stockpiled a couple because I love the stiff, smooth, super damp feel of the ski. Compared to the Mantra of that era, it was considerably beefier, stiffer, and more damp. I have been looking for a current ski with a similar feel, albeit with the slight bit of tip rocker the current Mantra now has. I have been told that somewhere along the line, the current Mantra was beefied up and that the current Mantra is described as one of the beefiest of the <100mm underfoot metal laminate skis? I do love the feel of a smooth metal ski when things get variable or hard. Thanks for the excellent reviews.

    • Author

      Thanks, Doug. I actually skied a 187cm, Legend Pro XXL (no tip rocker, 106mm underfoot) today at Taos. Interesting ski, but it doesn’t remind me of the Mantra at all, really. I’m not sure that the XXL is the ski you had in mind, but if it is, then no, the Mantra isn’t a similar replacement for it. Apples-to-oranges for sure, so again, not sure whether the XXL was the ski you had in mind.

  12. Author

    @Craig: I’m not sure that I can be more specific and still be confident that we haven’t simply entered tomato / tomatoe territory. So I’ll stand by the distinctions I’ve made, but I’m reluctant to try to go even more micro. Sounds like it might be time to demo?

    • Craig December 10, 2013 Reply

      Tomato it is! I chose girth over steel. To demo would definitely yield the best report card, unfortunately Moments are no longer available in SLC…neither are ON3P’s which have a couple interesting offerings as well. At the end of the day a leap of faith and an affinity for the old Bibby landed a pair of Belfonte’s on my door step last night. Based on my style and home hill I believe these will be a good choice for me. Although I must say after sizing them up last night your comment toward Mantra bump’n made a bit more sense to me. The Belfonte’s are beefy! I was thinking the rocker lines/tail profile/and absence of steel would hands down make the Belfonte more manueveralbe in tight confines or troughed bumps. Now I see how beefy they are and realize how the present day Mantra may perform equally as well or even better in those conditions. It will be fun to find out! I have only owned the old school pre-rocker Mantra models which on occasion loosened a few fillings when I was less than a 110%. Based on the beef of the Belafonte, looks like I may loosen a few more fillings from time to time! Thank goodness for dentists!

      PS – You know what would be a great future Blister Gear Review…..Dedicated Chute Skies!!

      Merry Christmas all…enjoy the new toys!!

  13. Carl December 10, 2013 Reply

    Hi there and thanks for (another) great review! I got myself the Rocker2 115 the other year, with the intention of using it as my only ski (primarily for the Alps). As I will not be seeing too much pow this year I was thinking of adding something like the Mantra to my quiver, to be used on groomers and non-pow off-piste. Would that make sence (i.e. is the difference between the skis enough to motivate a purchase)? In terms of sizing, do you think I should go with 177 or 184 (I’m 35 yrs old and have skied my entire life, 5′ 11” 165 lb). I’m also wondering whether the Mantra is crazy stiff or still manageable at my weight / experience (for reference purposes, I don’t consider my 188 R2 to be hard to handle), or if I should consider a less stiff option, like the Hell & Back (if so, how much would I loose in therms of crud / variable performace and stablility against the Mantra). Thanks in advance for any advice!

    Carl

    • Author

      Hi, Carl, I actually just put a few days touring on the Rocker2 115s before getting back on the Mantras, and I can definitely say that adding either the Mantra or the Hell and Back would make great sense. And I would also recommend the 184 Mantra or 185 Hell & Back if you’re skiing the 188cm 115s.

      What I can’t say with certainty is whether you’d prefer the Mantra or Hell & Back. As I note in the reviews, the Hell & Back is like a slightly dialed back Mantra. Both skis have tails that are similar in stiffness, and their weights are quite close. The harder you are pushing in variable, off-piste conditions, the stronger case I could make for the Mantra. But if your style is to use a little more finesse and to keep speeds a little more in check, the Hell & Back will probably suit you well. Both are terrific. Let us know what you decide to do, and how it works out!

      • Carl December 12, 2013 Reply

        Many thanks for the useful input, Jonathan! Although the description of my skiing style probably best fits the Hell & Back, I think I will give myself a pair of 184 Mantra for X-mas (if for no other reason than to see where that brings my skiing-not-great-snow capabilities). I guess the threshold between the Mantra / 115 will be somwhere around 8-10” of soft snow. I’ll be sure to report back how this works out for me. Cheers //Carl

  14. Blister Member
    Jack December 10, 2013 Reply

    Wondering how the line prophet 98 might stack up in this realm. Anybody have experience to compare with the mantra?

    Looking for a variable / poor conditions ski to complement a set of last year’s bibby’s.

  15. Bob December 10, 2013 Reply

    I’m 185 lbs on the 178 Mantras. I’m mostly at Alta/Snowbird and they are stable enough there. I went with the 178’s to not over torque my aging knees but most people are on the 184’s. I have a pair of FX94’s I really like in the primo conditions but he Mantras are the go to skis until proven otherwise. I would say they are good to 12-15″ which is the majority of powder days I get to ski. Great in the spring corn>slush. Even though the Mantras are fatter than anything I grew up skiing on the two ski quiver seems to be the way to go. I just got a pair of Blizzard Cochise 185’s based on the Blister reviews and talking with people on them. Back to back with the Mantras on some windlblown they are going to be way fun. Thanks for the great in depth reviews.

  16. Steve December 11, 2013 Reply

    Quick question. What jacket and pants are in the Taos picture for the Mantra review.

    Thanks

    Steve

    • Author

      The Flylow Lab Coat, and the Arc’teryx Sabre pants. I’ve got about 15 days in the Lab Coat, and about 30 days in the Sabre pants. So far, I’m a big fan of both, and I’m getting close to publishing the reviews.

  17. Chris December 11, 2013 Reply

    @ Doug sounds like your looking for a Kastle mx98 should be out in Jan in its updated form (elliptical side cut and slight tip rocker) tht or the new fx104. I really like the Mantra and previous katana but since buying an mx series Kastle I can’t go back. Some good feedback on the original mx98 over on epic.
    Johnathan superb review one of your best.

    • Doug December 14, 2013 Reply

      Yeah Chris, that has been my thought, that I would like the feel of the Kastle. Then there is that slight issue of $$$. Jonathon, you guys reviewed them? No input on Mantra compared to Legend Pro?

      Cheers

      Doug

      • Author

        Thanks, Chris!

        And Doug: I’ve only skied the Kastle BMX 98, 188cm; we haven’t skied the MX98. We do have a review up of the non-tip rockered FX 104, though I haven’t skied it. Would be fun to get more Kastles into the mix.

  18. Kurt Will December 12, 2013 Reply

    I am considering the Volkl Mantra or the Blizzard Bonafide for an all mountain ski in Colorado. I noticed you said you were going to ski the Bonafide soon and was wondering if your review would be posted soon?

  19. Michael December 21, 2013 Reply

    “At my height and weight, I have no interest in skiing a shorter Mantra. And I’d only consider moving up to the 191cm Mantra …” what is your height and weight? I’m 5’10” and 165-170 and I’m trying to decide on length between the 180 or 187 bonafides

    Thanks,
    Michael

    • Author

      Hey, Michael – all of our reviewer’s stats (and bios) are available if you click on the author’s name at the top of each post, but I’m 5’10, 180 lbs.

      I’ve got 8 days on the 180cm Bonafide. I definitely worried that I was going to wish I was on the 187 the whole time. But in great soft conditions as well as firm conditions at Taos, I actually only wished for more length when skiing end-of-the-day, de-groomed groomers at very high speeds. If you’re not going to break out the Bonafides when it’s deep, I can vouch for the 180cm. Also, see Jason Hutchin’s review of the 180cm Kabookie. He’s even closer to your weight.

  20. Andrew January 1, 2014 Reply

    Good review. Very informative, Thanks. I’ve been eying the Mantra’s but on the fence on what I should really buy & what I would like. A little history: I’ve been skiing for 25 years, I’m a balls-out go nuts through the moguls, steep, deep powder and then carving up the groomers, basically I like everything. I had owned a pair of 190 RD Coyote’s for many years (and loved them through all the above mentioned) until I strayed away from skiing in 2002 (sad). I am just getting back into it now full bore and am dizzy from how skis have changed and all the technology and options. I live in SoCal and 50% of time I’ll be in the area (Mt High, Mt Baldy, Big Bear – etc) a few days hiking up to Mt. Baldy (not the ski area, the actual mountain) if there’s an awesome dump. I know I’ll be up to Lake Tahoe, Mammoth/June and definitely Alta/Snowbird the other 50% of the time. I’m 6′, 200lbs and am a very aggressive skier. Would these Mantra’s be a good fit? Should I just get to Mammoth and test a few pairs to see what should suit me? Thanks.

    • Author

      Thanks, Andrew. If you haven’t been on skis in 12 years, then yeah, demoing would make a ton of sense. It’s a brave new world out there. Check out our reviews of the Volkl Katana, Blizzard Cochise, the Moment Belafonte. Those will provide some good jumping off points.

  21. Dave Stanton January 6, 2014 Reply

    I’m 5’10”, 160-165 lbs and am sold on the Mantras, thanks in great part to your in-depth reviews. I got to demo a pair of 177’s at Taos the other week after one of my bindings exploded on Zdarsky. I had a great day lapping so-so conditions in West Basin and loved the Mantra’s bite up top and stability ripping the lower section. my question is ski length and binding placement. i grew up racing back east in the day of Rossi 210 Strats and Dynamic vr17’s. yep, that old… and after some years boarding I’m back on skis, realizing I still get my jollies driving a stiff ski. But i’m not clear on best placement for my stats and binding placement on the Mantra. Also I’m wondering whether going to the 184’s will compromise in tight trees – i’m now skiing 185 Helldorado’s as my all mountain setup until i get the Mantras, with no real issues. though i agree with your review – tips and tails are soft and getting in the back seat of the Helldo’s can get you in the trunk pretty fast.

    Thanks in advance for your advice!
    Dave

    • Author

      Hi, Dave – cool you got to ski the Mantras in West Basin; you now know exactly where and why I came to love them. And since I don’t hear you saying that the 177s left you wanting, seems like a pretty easy call to stick with that length, mounted on the line. If, for some reason, you do bump up to 184, I’d mount at +1. But the fact that our reviewer Will Brown, who weighs the same as you, found the Mantra to be more ski than he needed (see my Bonafide review), makes me reluctant to tell you to bump up in length. The effective edge length of a 177 Mantra is probably greater than your 185 Helldorados, so the 177s ought to provide plenty of stability – which it sounds like you already found to be true. And let’s take some West B. laps this season.

  22. Dave Stanton January 7, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Jonathan. West B. for some laps for sure. Cheers.

  23. TP January 8, 2014 Reply

    Great review Jonathon! At 6′ 200 lbs. I was looking for a daily driver with good versatility that would hold ice better in replacing my ’11 Dynastar Legend 94’s (wood graphic) in 184, (home hills are Kirkwood and Mt Rose). I bought the ’14 Mantra 184 (fire sale) at a local retailer today. Love the beefy flex and minimal tip rocker, hard to find these days. I’m looking forward to a few careful runs on them this weekend (Sierras are bone dry on snowmaking groomers). Now looking at front side skis. Any experience with the new Volkl Code Speedwall L?

  24. TP January 11, 2014 Reply

    Kirkwood got three inches of snow today and it was nice to take the new Mantras out for two fast GS runs on Buckboard as the floater rocks were all covered. I am very happy with the skis, they are truly good at carving, (Agreed I don’t think Volkl did the ski justice with the low carving score they gave it on the website). These skis make beautiful round accelerating turns. the touch is light and very stable. I don’t feel there will be any issues skiing the few bumps I encounter in the gullies at Kirkwood and the bottom of the chutes at Mt. Rose. I appreciate the review and except for the biggest days, these skis are an able body do it all choice, for a strong skier. Highly recommended!

  25. Jake January 24, 2014 Reply

    Jonathan
    I currently ski the Scott Punisher 189 and love the ski for groomers, trees, powder, crud, and things like the back bowls at Vail when the snow is new or a week old. I do find they are hard to handle in the bumps and especially tight long bump runs which is no surprise considering how big the ski is.
    I am looking for a ski in the 85 to 90 mm range to ski in the bumps and groomers. At 6′ 4″ and 250 what do you think of the of the Kendo, Steadfast, or Brahma?
    Any suggestions would be helpful. I have a pair of 2003 Gotomas in 183 that I rip pretty well in the bumps at 103 underfoot but want something smaller now that I have the Punishers. I ski Summit County and Vail.

    • Author

      Hi, Jake – we haven’t skied the Steadfast or Brahma, but we have skied the Kendo, and I would be inclined to recommend it given that I believe it is stiffer than the other two skis and you’re a big guy. Will Brown and I really liked the Kendo in bumps and on groomers, but would still opt for the wider Mantra for off-piste steeps and variable. But for just bumps and groomers? Check out the Kendo.

      • Blister Member
        Jack January 31, 2014 Reply

        I have 184(6?) steadfast for tele. I would say much of the discussion about the H&B applies but in a bit narrower package. Supportive tail, nice camber and sidecut. Rail GS turns and handle variable off-piste well. Only time I have any issues is in firm tight spots (ie trees off Pali at A-Basin) . They’re not terribly quick and do require a bit of concentration in these conditions. They don’t really like to slash like something with some tail rocker.

  26. Hias January 27, 2014 Reply

    Looks like the Mantra has been changed quite a bit for next season. Any idea if and when you will have a chance to update the Review with the new model?

  27. Blister Member
    Hannes January 31, 2014 Reply

    @ Hias – I have heard the same thing. If I got it correctly, 2015 mantra is going to have a 100mm waist and voelkl’s full rocker profile…

    @Jonathan – It is the third ski, where I read your review how dialed it is as it is and the next second I hear that ski is going to be “tweaked” or overhauled (bibby, belafonte, mantra…)…

  28. Blister Member
    Scott L February 19, 2014 Reply

    Jonathan, I am looking for a ski to compliment my Bacons when it has been a while since storm systems. The mantra is a bit wider than I want. However, I was looking at the Kendo among others. Can I expect it to be a very similar to the mantra? It would be primarily a firm/icy snow ski for ripping groomers. I dont typically see super deep powder so the bacons cover the majority of what I need except when I want to crank up the speed in the above conditions. Other skis on the list are the Brahma and the sick day 95, prophet 90 or the new supernatural 92. I know you havent reviewed many of the above but just maybe you have skied them. I have a nordica afterburner at 84 mm waist and wish it was longer (163cm). My Bacon is a 172 cm and am very happy at that length. Not sure I would be as happy with the 178 Bacon as I desire that super quick playful feel off trail and in the trees. That is the biggest reason I did not get an Opus/Bent Chetler etc for the deeper snow.

    Thanks in advance!

  29. Blister Member
    Scott L February 19, 2014 Reply

    Sorry I should have added my stats. I am 5’2″ and 130 lbs and an advanced type skier.
    Missed 2 demo days this year due to work. Hopefully I can make one before the season ends.

    • Author

      Hey, Scott. There’s no question that if you’re just looking for a ski to rip groomers (and not looking for it to also tackle demanding, bumped up, steeps) the Kendo would be my choice over the Mantra. I’d like to flesh out this point – basically Kendo vs. Mantra – but I only have 1 day on the Kendo and would want to get more time on it. It was a better carver than the Mantra on groomers, but for skiing Reforma and Taos’ West Basin ridge hard and fast, I would take the Mantra every time out for the added stability you get from its width. But if you’re sticking to groomers or frontside bumps? The Kendo is a solid choice. (And I am looking forward to skiing the Brahma and the Supernatural 92 someday….)

  30. Jason February 26, 2014 Reply

    I totally agree with your review of the Mantra. I wished I actually read it before I purchased it. I do love the ski but I feel that towards the end of the day its a little rough on my legs and probably a little too much ski for me. I demoed the hell and back after reading you review on that and found that its much more appropriate to someone my size 5ft10 170lbs. Unfortunately I only have about six days on my new Mantras so I think I have to tough it out.

    • Rich M March 24, 2014 Reply

      Jason,
      What size mantra did you get?
      thanks
      Rich

  31. Rich M March 24, 2014 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    Is the Mantra the perfect replacement for my discontinued Enforcers? Same sort of construction and dimensions, and demands. I tried the NRGY 100 and didn’t like the softness.
    I use the Patron 185 for the deeps, K2 Blazer for rips (181) and my all time favorite Nordica Enforcer 177 for everything, with wonderful full on pure carving trenches like my Madd snowboard. 5’10” 170 lbs.
    BTW, I was disappointed to hear of the full rocker for the new Mantra, so I guess it’s this years or none.
    Thanks for your wonderful reviews.
    RIch

    • Author

      Thanks, Rich. And my apologies – I’m not sure how I missed your comment. But in short, while I haven’t skied the Enforcer, it sounds like the 13/14 Mantra would be a good fit given what you’re looking for.

      Did you get them?

      • Rich M December 6, 2014 Reply

        Yes, as a matter of fact I did. Especially important after reading your reviews of the new 14/15, since I didn’t want the rockered model that skis softer. Thanks again for all your wonderful reviews. They really do help and are much appreciated.
        BTW, snagged a set of Stockli skis at a ridiculous clearance price…so low I figured I could buy them, try them and resell them if I didn’t like them and not lose a dime! We’ll see if they are the super carvers they’re purported to be.
        Looking for snow.
        regards,
        Rich

  32. Connor October 29, 2014 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    Great review. I have those mantras now and cannot say enough about them. I have read many of your reviews and am most interested in the Volkl ONEs. I am going to the French Alps for 4 months this year and am wondering what a second ski to my Mantras should be. I am a very advanced skier, and like I said LOVE my mantras- just wanting something with more fun in it to ski with my buddies – I am 21. I greatly appreciate any further help you can provide!

    Thanks,

    Connor

    • Author

      Hey, Connor – I’m afraid that I haven’t put more time on the ONE, so really am not in a good position to comment. Our pair is currently in Utah, and we ought to be publishing a 2nd and maybe 3rd look of that ski in the next month or so. Sorry we can’t be of more help at the moment.

  33. Jake December 4, 2014 Reply

    Hey im trying to figure out if this is the right ski for me I was thinking of getting the 13-14 version just because I like the graphic a little more and don’t know if they are any different in terms of flex or tip or tail width . I’m from the midwest and ski some I would not call myself expert or even a pro or expert but would definitely say that I’m an aggressive skier and love to go fast. Just wondering if you have any insight on my situation.

    Thanks

  34. Kevin February 24, 2015 Reply

    Does anyone know where I can buy ONE Volkl Mantra 2014 ski that’s 170cm in length?

  35. Dave March 24, 2015 Reply

    I love your website! I need a new pair of ski’s as the base of my older Head Supershapes are coming delaminated from the ski. I am 6-5, 250lbs and am considering the 2014 Volkl Mantra at 184 that a local guy is selling. Being in the northeast, skiing about 30 days/year, I typically ski on groomed trails and like to ski fast high speed turns. But I also enjoy an occasional bump run or tree run, but that would be less then the 25% of the time. Is this a right choice for me? Any other suggestions?
    (They also come with a Marker Tour F12 binding which I don’t intend to do any touring. Is that an issue?)

    Thanks!
    Dave

    • Author

      Thanks, Dave! If you’re primarily skiing on groomers at high speeds, at your size, I really think you should check out the 184cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8. It’s simply a better carver than the Mantra, while still being (as I’ve written) an excellent all-mountain ski. The 13/14 Mantra and X-Drive 8.8 are two of my favorites. But if you’re not getting into techy steeps, but doing a lot of groomers + some bumps & trees … the narrower X-Drive may make more sense.

      And for me personally, I would never buy a ski with a touring binding on it if I had no intention of going touring. You’re a big guy, and while you might not notice the difference between the Tour F12 and a Marker Jester or Salomon STH2 or Look Pivot 14 or 18 (torsional rigidity, etc.) … I can’t make a case for why that binding makes sense for ripping groomers at high speeds. I’d look for a Mantra or X-Drive without a touring binding, or else sell the touring binding and mount with a dedicated alpine binding.

  36. Nicholas December 20, 2015 Reply

    What would you prefer as a do it all ski? The mantra or the TST (maybe invictus 108 or 95)?

  37. Graham January 3, 2016 Reply

    I know this is an old review but I thought I would share my experience on the Mantra. I am a large guy at 6 foot 3 and 250 pounds. I do not live in the mountains but travel west at least twice a year which means I ski whatever condition the hill is in when I arrive. I own this model of the Mantra in 191 and it is an exceptional ski for whatever the mountain has to throw at you. My style can be best described as powerful and I can ski the Mantra anywhere in any condition and it will respond. I find I can trust it completely. I’ve had softer skis in the past and due to my size and style I found I often over powered them. This is never the case with the Mantra. As a matter of fact I love the ski so much I am trying to find another pair for when mine finally are done. PS. I have the model with the Wizard/ Samarai theme and love the graphic.

  38. Shane February 28, 2016 Reply

    The 184cm 2013/14 Mantra sounds like exactly what I am looking for. Unfortunately I can’t find them, and I want a ski with some camber so the 2015/16 won’t do. Any suggestions on another ski that replicates this performance? Thanks!

    • Author

      Shane – see my review of the Salomon X-Drive 8.8.

      • Shane March 5, 2016 Reply

        Thanks for the suggestion. They sound great, but I am a bit concerned about the width. They would be mostly for Kicking Horse and Lake Louise in western Canada, and I was thinking more like 96-100 underfoot. Even though you said they ski wider I worry about them in say 4-5″ fresh. I do have some 4Front Renegades that are good when its deep.
        I read your review of the Rossi Experience 98 that sound good too, but they might be too carvy? I mostly ski steep chutes and trees, groomers to get where I am going, and a park lap here and there.
        Any other thoughts? Thanks for the help.

        • Blister Member
          SteveH October 25, 2016 Reply

          Belated reply but I’ll just offer my 2 cents. I have the E98 in 180. (Should have gone longer in hindsight.)
          In my experience, the E98 is a difficult ski in tight places. I would not recommend it for trees (at least tight, east coast trees) or moguls. Western-area trees, maybe less of a problem. I find the ski is *very* carvy and the tail really likes to hook up. It’s not that you can’t ski tight lines with the E98, you just *really* have to focus on forward pressure and staying off the tails, else they just hook up and say “no skid for you!”. The E98 makes the 2011-14 (hope I got the years right) version of the Mantra feel smeary.
          If find the E98 excels at carving fast on groomers, and similar skiing style in bowls and big open faces where the surface is pretty much anything but moguls. Maybe that’s more than $.02.

  39. Blister Member
    SteveH October 25, 2016 Reply

    I had this ski for 3 seasons until 2 years ago and I always thought J.Ellswoth’s summary of “excels in firm, variable, off-piste conditions” was spot on.

    Just wondering what current-season ski do the reviewers think skis very similarly overall to this previous iteration of the Mantra?

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