2020 Volkl M5 Mantra

Here we go again with another fantastic Mantra! Unchanged from last year’s debut except for minor graphics, the M5 sits right at the top of the All-Mountain category. Advanced skiers looking for that one-ski quiver don’t need to look much farther than this stick. The addition of the titanal frame last year proved to be a big success, as the skis maintained all the performance from previous models, but added some newfound maneuverability. At 96 mm underfoot, the skis got narrower and more fun. With the addition of the Mantra 102 this year, skiers looking for that wider version should check that out for sure. Our testers, both male and female, raved about the M5’s strength, precision, and unflappability.

Justin Perry appreciated the 177 and its ability to “do it all at high speeds!” He gave top marks for stability, quickness, torsional stiffness, and overall impression. It’s safe to say that Justin is a fan (he owns a pair, just to be transparent), but is still “surprised at how the skis cut through some deeper snow as well as the hard pack.” The “high speed” aspect of the M5 is one to take note of, as many testers found the Mantra performed better when at speed. His scores of all 4’s and 5’s lead us to believe that he’s happy with his skis.

Parker Herlihy found the Mantra to be “meaty.” He called it a “strong all-around ski that is fun on groomers.” Specifically, he calls out “dads who used to race” as being a target demographic for the M5. We agree that former racers will love the full-metal construction and race-room attention to detail of the Mantra, just as they always have. This “meatiness” resonates with a lot of skiers, and makes the M5 a strong candidate for heavier and stronger athletes. Parker skied the 184 and found it to be the right size, with an appropriate amount of stability.

Also skiing the 184, Josh Wolfgang gave top marks for torsional stiffness and edge hold. No surprise there, and also his claim that “if I’m skiing on-piste they’re the right size, but could be a bit long off-trail.” A fair amount of testers found this to be true, that the shorter size would be a better option for anything other than on-trail, high-speed cruising. As one of our taller testers, it’s good information to have that even at over 6 feet tall, a skier could be comfortable on the shorter length. Josh also found that the Mantra was “super-fun once it’s on edge, but it requires some speed to roll it over.”

Now in its second year of its newfound shape, build, and profile, the M5 Mantra is again positioned squarely at the top of its class. From groomers to steeps and everything in between, advanced and expert skiers do not need to look too hard to see that the M5 is a true all-mountain killer. Our testers were across the board impressed with the stability and precision of the skis, and if you’re looking for one ski to rule it all, the Mantra is a fantastic choice.


Josh Wolfgang

Age: 23/24Height: 6'1"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and carvy with a love for the fall line

Michael Carroll-Sherwin

Age: 30Height: 6'1"Weight: 185 lbs.

Ski Style: Quick and nimble with freeride influence

Parker Herlihy

Age: 21Height: 6'4"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Freeride fun with big air on the brain

Jeff Neagle

Age: 33Height: 5'10"Weight: 150 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive freeride with freestyle background

Justin Perry

Age: 29Height: 5'9"Weight: 167 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive all-mountain freeride

Marcus Shakun

Age: 39Height: 6'5"Weight: 225 lbs.

Ski Style: Powerful, but playful with the terrain

18 Comments on the “2020 Volkl M5 Mantra”

  1. The person who skis the most in a given year is 65 and older,” said Michael Berry, president of the NSAA, based in suburban Denver
    Where are the ski testers for the 55 plus skier and the skis they like the most?

    1. I am 68 and have been skiing since college. I have been skiing 50 + since retiring 9 years ago. I have settled on the Brahma 88 as the every day ski. Handles the ice, soft snowy days and powder. I have skied slalom skis some days when I want to play around, but they are hard on the knees. The Brahma is nearly as quick, but much easier on knees. It will also push the slush around, which the narrower skis won’t do. I weight 230 and the Brahma is not to soft to support quick turns. If you are looking for a ski you can push hard or just cruise all day the Brahma will handle.

  2. Hey Guys, I’m trying to decide between the Kendo 88 or the M5. I’m struggling with my decision, mostly due to my skiing style which has changed over the years. I’ve been skiing forever, but as a 40 (high 40s) something Dad who’s days of wild off peste adventures are long gone. At 6’1, 200lbs I’m more at home on front side groomers now and spend 75% of my time chasing my kids around the hill. I want a one quiver ski that I can enjoy for many years to come, something that can handle powder when the opportunity presents itself, but also rips up the groomers. I don’t want a ski that feels bulky or that I have to be always on my game to enjoy.

    Fast, easy, nimble, and something that works in any type of skiing is the ski I am looking. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Frost!
      I think the Kendo is the way to go. Very smooth and quick, and not bulky at all for a ski with metal. No top end on them, either. Not quite as floaty as the wider version, but how many days are really that deep? The Mantra is great, it’s just more material, so everything gets cranked up a notch, but also requires more input. I think overall the 88 is the nimble and versatile ski you’re looking for. Have fun!

      1. Hi Frost. I just got the 2018-2019 Mantra. At 100mm I was a bit nervous about them being too demanding for all day and in crud on ‘normal days’. (I’m 54!). I’m a decent skiier, but not nearly as aggressive, nor in shape, as in the past. The other ski I really liked is the Brahma 88mm. I’ve skiied 4 days on the Mantra now and really love it. It is not ‘too much’ for me at all. Super easy to ski, compared with the Faction 100 from a few years ago. I’m very stoked on the Mantra.

  3. Hi guys,
    Thanks so much for these amazing reviews! Incredibly helpful, but they do make it hard to decide as most sound so enticing … Maybe you can help: I am looking for a one-quiver all-mountain ski for fairly aggressive, expert-level skiing, about 60-70% terrain, 30-40% groomers depending on conditions, mostly in Europe with occasional trips to Colorado and elsewhere. I enjoy moguls, trees and short turns (no jumps or parks or anything of the sort), but also want good edge hold and stability for carving on icy conditions. I have been looking at the Mantra, Ranger 92 Ti, Salomon QST 92 and Rustler 9 (all in 177-180) so far. Anything you would recommend among those, or anything else I should consider?
    Any thoughts much appreciated!

    1. Hi Matt!
      What a great list! I always like it when skiers come up with the Ranger 92 on their list, because that’s such an underrated ski. For some reason, it just doesn’t get the PR that the Rustler 9 gets. For icy conditions, the Ranger tops them all, even the Mantra. Short turns and moguls are a blast as the thing is super maneuverable. There’s a lot to like about all of them, but the Ranger seems to check your boxes. Have fun!

  4. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the review. Super helpful. I’ve been reading your site for a long time and I have never asked a question before as most of the time the answer is already in one of the comments. Not this time!

    I’m thinking of getting the mantra but I’m wondering what size I should get. I’m going to be mounting telemark binding on it. I’m 183cm and 77kg and in my early 30s. Advanced skier (20+ years) and intermediate telemarker (6 years). I’m debating if I should get the 177cm or 184cm. If it’s alpine I’d definitely go for the 184cm. On telemark I’m not so sure. Any advice would be welcome.

    1. Hi Andrew!
      I think quickness is the bigger issue versus stability, which both lengths will have plenty of. In terms of terrain, if you’re on groomed, non-bumps, minimal woods, longer turn style stuff, then the 184 will be a better option, but if you do prefer the quicker turns and tighter terrain, the 177 will get you what you need. Again, very similar in terms of overall stability due to the build in a telemark application, but for quickness, you’d like the 177. Hope that helps!

  5. SE Gurus!
    I’ve read a ton of reviews on all mountain skis 90-100mm. Full disclosure, I’m a Völkl fan and want a change from RTM 84s. I’ve (mostly) narrowed it down to Mantra M5s, Kendo 92, and possibly Ranger 92/99 Ti. I’m 6’0”, 54, 190, not as aggressive as back in the day, but still enjoy the whole gamut; steep, powder, bumps (until my knee raises the white flag), cruiser groomers. You get the picture. About the only thing I rarely ski is trails/trees.
    What say you?
    Thanks in advance! Your reviews are THE consistent go-to source!

    1. Thanks, Reed!
      I like it when skiers have the Ranger 92 on their list as it’s a very underrated ski for one reason or another. Very smooth initiation and a strong and powerful tail. It doesn’t have quite the top gear of the Mantra, but is a more versatile tool for a wide variety of skiers. We haven’t seen the Kendo 92 come through yet, but it’s basically the Secret, and that’s a strong option in that category. That said, the Ranger (both 92 and 99) has more versatility due to the build, shape, and profile versus the bluntness of the Mantra/Kendo build. Hope that helps!

  6. Hi SE team,
    I love the bumps, I love the trees, but most of all bumps in trees! Ski the east, prefer Jay, Mad River and Sugarbush. But reality here is many days are groomer only. Was looking at Head Core 93’s (light playful) but then the reviews on the Mantra M5 sounds like it does everything for all terrain. I’m 5ft 10″ 155lbs and on the tall side of 50. Can you suggest one of these or a different pair? and what length? Thanks

    1. Hi Joe!
      The M5 is certainly the heavier option with the Kore, so that’s something to consider for bumpy trees. Certainly a better carver than the Kore, so for that groomer ski, it’s quite a bit better. For a middle ground, check out the Salomon QST 92 or the Blizzard Rustler 9–both lie somewhere in between the Mantra and the Kore in terms of performance. I’d look to the mid-170’s for length based on your stats. Have fun!

  7. Hi SE Team,

    I have read a lot of good things about the M5 as an all mountain ski as right now I have a good powder ski in the Rosi Soul 7. I’m looking for something with less chatter/better handling on non powder in Colorado. With that said, I’m 5’9, 170 pounds, in good shape physically, high intermediate (don’t like the real steep terrain) and enjoy skiing the groomers when there is not fresh powder around.

    I’m wondering if the 170 or 177 would be the right size? Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Chad!
      Due to their amazing stability, I’d go with the 170, especially if you’re using them for a more piste-oriented ski. Definitely a different animal versus the Soul, and you’ll love their dampness and on-trail performance. Have fun!

  8. I have the 177 M4 Mantra (the 2018 full rocker version) which is on its last legs. I’m 5’8″ 150 lbs expert skier, love this ski, but have felt it was a little too short and a tad too light for really aggressive all mountain all conditions skiing. I’m looking at the M5 Mantra to replace it and can’t decide 177 or 184. Since the M5 is just 96mm underfoot (compared to 100mm for the 2018 M4), should I go 184? I’ll take stability and dampness over maneuverability or playfulness any day of the week.

    1. Hi Derick!
      Your last sentence of your comment certainly puts you in the 184. Just based on your size and previous experience with the ski, I’d initially recommend that you stay put at the 177, but since you’re looking for stability and dampness, the longer length will do that better. Have fun!

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