Rating: 3.32 / 5
Waist Width: 100
Stability at speed: 3.85 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.74 / 5
Crud performance: 3.59 / 5
Flotation: 3.08 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.01 / 5
Overall: 3.32 / 5
Through all the years, all the iterations, the Mantra has inspired a devout following among hard chargers East and West. They won't be disappointed with this year's model-still smooth, precise, and fast, with especially exciting hardpack performance for a ski of its width. It expects purposeful input from the guy who's riding it, but it excels with unwavering, smooth- as-glass confidence in all conditions and terrain. Elling: "Bankable predictability from turn to turn. Never fails you."
NOTES: The venerable Mantra got an update last year, when Volkl made it a little wider (100 mm) and enhanced its slashiness by tapering the tip. It's a big hit with testers, and for 2016 it returns unchanged. The Mantra is virtually identical in waist width to the new 90Eight, but with its two sheets of metal (the 90Eight has none) it's a damper ride, ready for higher speeds on harder snow. Also, it's available in a big 191-cm length with a long, loose 27.9-meter sidecut radius that likes to get to the bottom fast.
It's part of Volkl's All-Mountain Freeskiing collection, which includes five midfat models built for all-conditions versatility and ranging in width from a modest 89 mm (Kink) to a powder-ready 108 mm (100Eight). The series includes two important new models, the 100Eight and the 90Eight, as well as longtime Volkl stalwarts like the Mantra and Kendo. All are built with wood cores for snappy performance and durability. Most have tapered tips, where the widest part of the ski is pulled back toward the foot, giving them a looser, more maneuverable feel, especially in deep snow. All are sold flat (no binding). The Mantra and 100Eight are fully rockered for maximum buoyancy and shock absorption. The 90Eight, Kendo and Kink have rocker tip and tail with camber underfoot for positive edge grip and more traditional feeling rebound energy.