The 2015 Volkl Mantra: Your New All Mountain Escort // Ski Reviews
The Volkl Mantra was first introduced for the 2005/2006 ski season. The first version of the ski featured a 130-94-113 sidecut profile, which was relatively wide for the time. Remember, rocker skis were a brand new, untried technology which had yet to really break into the mainstream ski scene. As a result, a ski with the dimensions of the original Volkl Mantra was intended to be used purely as a soft snow ski, with limited use on piste.
Ironically, as times changed and the Mantra’s dimensions stayed similar, the ski gradually become more focused on on-trail performance. The previous two years of the Mantra marked the peak of this, as the ski featured a camber/rocker profile combined with two layers of titanium. These technologies, combined with Volkl’s Power Construction (or, in simpler terms: vertical sidewall), created a ski that became the industry leader for skis that could rail on groomers, while still being capable of off snow performance. With that in mind, and knowing the Mantra’s history, it makes perfect sense that Volkl gave the ski a complete makeover for the 2014/2015 season.
Still, I was skeptical of the changes when I first clicked in to give these guys a test ride. Right off the bat, I was quick to notice the slightly wider platforms that I was standing on. This years Mantra’s are only 2mm wider underfoot, with the same width in the tip and tail (132/100/118), but the difference was still noticeable, even from just standing on the skis. The other major difference that I noticed was the switch from a camber/early rise profile, to Volkl’s ELP rocker which features no camber and slight early rise in the tip and tail. Typically, I’m not a big fan of skis without camber that try to maintain on-trail performance. To me, camber less skis have always felt a bit more “sloppy” to me.
So here I was at the top of Stowe’s gondola getting ready to make my first turns on the new 2015 Volkl Mantra’s. In my mind, I remembered last years Mantra’s as the freeride ski that maintained an on-trail focus. Those bad boys were some of the most powerful groomer ski’s I’d ever been on, and their off trail performance was suitable as well. To say that I was skeptical of the changes Volkl made for 2015 would be accurate.
Of course, as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and really I should never have doubted Volkl. As soon as I had the opportunity to pick up some speed and hunt down a side stash of soft snow, I understood why Volkl eliminated the camber and gave the skis a bit more width. The Volkl Mantra has always been about versatility on the mountain- being able to rail groomers while still floating through powder. The elimination of camber underfoot combined with additional base width opened the door for the Mantra’s off-piste performance even wider.
On trail, the Mantra’s still were able to hold that edge that they’ve become known for. In fact, thanks to the new early taper design of the tip and tail, I found these skis even more nimble than they had been in past years- despite their increase in waistline. Another major difference that I noticed while pushing my speedometer, is how quickly these skis can drop their speed. In past years, when the Mantra’s had camber, it could take some serious time and effort to slow them down. Now, without camber under foot, it’s incredibly easy to put the skis sideways and get them on edge. When you do, you’ll start blowing snow and going slow. This “slow down” factor might actually be one of the most noticeable differences between the on-trail performance of this year and last year’s Volkl Mantra’s.
There are a couple of carryovers from last year’s Volkl Mantra’s though. In order to maintain the strong, driving style of the ski, Volkl decided to keep the construction the same as past years. That is, a full wood core paired with two layers of titanium, and vertical side walls. These are the two traits that really gave the Mantra that “on rails” feeling that it’s die-hard followers fell in love with. The carry over is something to be thankful for as it allows these skis to maintain their on piste performance, while the new changes increase the skis ability off trail.
Overall, I have to say I was really, really impressed with the new 2015 Volkl Mantras. I’m the kind of person who follows the mantra (ahem), “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” In my mind, the 2013 and 2014 Volkl Mantras weren’t broken. For ripping trails and maybe occasionally checking out some powder, I thought the skis were perfect. Thankfully, I was missing the point. In Volkl’s mind, these skis were meant to be just as at home in powder as they were on trail. From that perspective, Volkl saw that their off-trail performance could use some improving and they went about solving that problem. Again, thankfully Volkl saw more potential in the Mantra than I did, as the new 2015 Volkl Mantra really is a hell of a ski.
The Bottom Line? If you’re a powerful skier looking for a one ski quiver that’ll change it’s personality depending on the conditions- this is your ski.