Preview: 2015-2016 Volkl Mantra

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Volkl Mantra for Blister Gear Review
2015-2016 Volkl Mantra

Ski: 2015-2016 Volkl Mantra, 177cm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 131-100-119

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 177.8cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,078 grams & 2,092 grams

[Editor’s Note: Here we originally previewed the 14/15 Mantra. The ski was not changed for the 15/16 season, apart from the graphics. This preview (and the reviews that follow it) also applies to the 15/16 Mantra.]



For the first time in the illustrious history of the Mantra, Volkl has ditched the traditional camber.

In some respects, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Volkl has been going reverse camber for a while, from the Katana, the Shiro, the Bridge, and the Gotama, to the ONE and the TWO last season, to the THREE next season.

But somehow, it never dawned on me that they would ever do more than add tip rocker to the Mantra. And it’s pretty remarkable to consider that the Kendo (which comes back unchanged next season) is now the only ski with traditional camber underfoot in Volkl’s all-mountain or big-mountain freeskiing line.

For those who tend to think of Volkl as a “traditional” ski company … things aren’t looking so traditional these days.

But given just how excellent the Katana is, it would be pretty difficult to doubt Volkl’s ability to create a somewhat similar, narrower version of it. Really (and obviously), the question will come down to how it stacks up against the 13/14 Mantra and the other skis in the category.

Truth in Advertising? “100mm” vs. “98mm”

Volkl says that the new Mantra is 100mm underfoot, 2mm wider than the 13/14 Mantra.

While nobody ought to care much about those 2 millimeters, the question is, Is it true? Or did Volkl just keep the same width and decide they’d now rather call a 98mm ski a 100mm ski?

Calipers show that Volkl is telling the truth, 100%. The 184cm, 13/14 Mantra measures at exactly 98mm at the waist, and the new 177cm Mantra measures at exactly 100mm underfoot.

For some odd reason, we like it when companies manage to get their specs correct, so kudos to Volkl for the precision.

Flex Pattern: New vs. Current Mantra

Let me start by saying that this is an apples-to-oranges comparison, but I’m sure some people are curious. Handflexing definitely doesn’t tell the whole story, and if you’re going to draw conclusions about whether Volkl has softened up the Mantra, you should do a 184 new vs. 184 old.

With that caveat … the 14/15 177 flexes awfully close to the 13/14 184. It’s probably a touch softer in the tip and tail, but the difference is subtle enough that I’d call it irrelevant, and we can move on to assessing how well the new shape and camber profile works on snow. Speaking of that camber profile…

Camber Profile

The 14/15 Mantra probably has the most subtle rocker profile of any ski I’ve ever seen. The top picture on the next page gives the best sense of this. Our pair is definitely flat underfoot, so this is not a truly continuous reverse-camber profile.

Comparisons to the 180cm Blizzard Bonafide

The “177” Mantra and the “180” Bonafide are almost identical in length: 177.8cm vs. 178.0cm.

The 180 Bonafide has more tip splay than the current or new Mantra; traditional camber underfoot, unlike the new Mantra; and the Mantra actually has a less tapered tail and slightly more tail splay than the Bonafide.

While the Bonafide is certainly a “looser” ski than the current Mantra, I will be very curious to see if it still feels looser / more pivot-y than the new Mantra.

review of the 2014-2015 Volkl Mantra, Blister Gear Review
177cm Volkl Mantra (left), 180cm Blizzard Bonafide

When handflexing the 184cm 13/14 Mantra skis side-by-side, the most noticeable difference is that the shovels of the Bonafide are softer than both the 13/14 Mantra and the 14/15 Mantra.

Anyway, we’ll leave it at that for now. Taos just picked up more than two feet of new snow, so we’ll be jumping on some fatter skis right now.

But since the 177cm 14/15 Mantra is the direct comparison to the 180cm Bonafide we reviewed, we’ll put time in on the 177 Mantra, then time on the 14/15 184 Mantra to see how it stacks up to the 13/14 184 Volkl Mantra.

Update: You can now read our reviews of the 2014-2015 (2015-2016) 177 and 184cm Mantra.


NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

27 comments on “Preview: 2015-2016 Volkl Mantra”

  1. Thanks for the preview! As a huge Katana fan, I’m saddened by the loss of the metal version. But this new Mantra may be the Katana replacement I’m looking for.

    Quick question: where is the recommended mount point compared to true center on the new Mantra? My eye ball guesstimate from your photo suggests it is further forward than the old Katana (which was more than -10cm from true center in the 183cm/184cm versions).

  2. Wow – Thank for posting this so quick. It looks like a few companies are taking their 98 waist models and bumping them up to 100. The Rossi Experience 98 now becomes Experience 100 along with Nordica NRGY 100 which is replacing the 98 Hell & Back.

  3. I fondled a pair of these in the shop the other day. Seems like the sidecut profile of the tip was changed as well…more One Two-ish. I’ll be interested in your comparison between the this and the current one as I’m currently on a pair of pre-rocker Mantras and they are getting a bit thin around the edge after 5 years.

  4. Hi

    When do you think you can test the ski?
    I hoped they would do it more to a twin tip at the end, at least a little bit more. I like my mantra, but also skiing backwards. Shit

  5. It seems like they have the same rocker profile as my 12/13 katana (low rocker in Volkl terms). Any chance you would have a weight of this pair in 177? I’m still looking around a bit for a slightly more versatile and lightweight version of my katanas.

  6. geeze….every time you get it all figured out they go and change things.
    I’m hearing this new version is skiing fantastic. Gonna wait on the purchase of the old ones until you guys post a review of the new ones. A couple local shops can get in the early releases if we so desire.
    Looking forward to the review!!

  7. What lengths will the new Mantra be available in? Will they still have a 170?

    Could you describe the binding, looks like there is a base plate on it. Will Volkl make a (Marker?) binding for this ski? Will it still be sold as a flat ski for other bindings? Thanks for the review.

  8. Great reviews. I am looking to buy the Mantra. Wondering whether to wait for the 2015 model. I am an advanced intermediate, 6 foot 200 lbs. I ski and live in Colorado. Any suggestions?

  9. I rode the mantra 184cm ver 2014-2015 in Whistler last week after 3 days of riding the ver 2013-2014. I weight 200lbs and 5’11” and this is my first skis review/comments. The ver 14-15 mantra was my first time on a rocker ski and it took some getting used to. They were definitely a bit squirrely when laid flat, but they carved very well on groomers and ice and through moguls. The biggest learning curve for me was using them in powder. My first two powder runs were challenging because I felt the tips were getting caught in tracked up snow more than the ver 13-14. After 4 more long powder runs on the ver 14-15 skis I learned how to rock them by giving them a bit more speed and biasing my weight back. I could be wrong but I feel the tips are little more flexible than the ver 13-14. After 1 day of riding these skis, I decided they will be my next set of skis. To me, the ver 14-15 ski like a big mountain ski on powder runs and they reward you when you give them speed. The rest of the time they just excell. I have a set of 2006 Gotamas 174cm and the mantras out perform in them in my opinion.

  10. I try the mantra 177 last week and they’re amazing. I weight about 6ft 200lbs. That was for à ski test and those was my winner of the day. They’re Quick and super stable at High speed. For sure on the flat… But it s normal whit That kind of camber. Very easy to ride in thight trees to find powder and a real train on groomer. If you want just one pair of ski the Mantra is what you should try.

  11. Jonathan,

    love your reviews, I have never seen anything as professional and detailed on either side of the Atlantic (I’m German …)! I can’t make up my mind between the Mantra and the Bonafide. I’ve skied the Mantra in 190cm for the past 4 years and absolutely loved it. I weigh only 172lbs on 6’1 but ski very aggressively with good technique, so the length has never bothered me and I liked it for the extra flotation/stability it gives you out of bounds. I ski in all kinds of conditions and mountains, as I live in DC, but go back to the Alps every year. Other than that I do a bit of East Cost skiing and try to do at least one trip to the Rockies every year. The Mantra has proven the perfect single pair for this program. I was almost about to buy the 13/14 Bonfides as they seem to have an edge on the Mantra in the powder, and seem similar in all other conditions … and then I read your review on the 14/15 Mantra which throws a whole lot of new questions into the mix: So the 177 Mantra seems to improve the Mantra where it was lacking, in powder, which makes my decision to go with the Bonafie shaky. But the longer versions (which I would be interested in) seem to be worse. How can there be such a difference between the lengths? Or is it just a question of the skiers weight? Or should I go with the 13/14 Bona Fides, which I could currently pick up for a great end of the season price? What is the 14/15 Bonafide like, does it change at all?

    Many questions, I hope you can help me take a decision!

    Thanks, Christian

    • Thanks, Christian. A few thoughts: if you’re coming from a 191 Mantra, I’m not confident that you’d love dropping all the way down to a 177 Mantra. And the 184 Mantra is still a point of confusion. I’ve got a number of other skis to test, and I’ve already spent a lot of days on it, but I still hope to be able to say more about that 184. Perhaps if you’re coming from the current 191 Mantra, the new 184 will feel more familiar in terms of quickness than was my experience. That wouldn’t really surprise me.

      As for the Bonafide, would you be going 180cm or 187? As you know, I thought the 180 skied very well, though I didn’t love it on groomers. But I would really like to ski the 187, not sure that that will happen this spring. And no, no changes to the Bonafide for 14/15.

    • Thanks for your quick reply, Jonathan. I guess I would look at both skis in their longest version as I have had such a good experience with the Mantras in 191. It sounds like I need to wait until you ski on the longer ones, as you have neither skied the 187 Bonafide nor the new longer Mantras … never mind, I can wait until next season! What did you not like about the Bonafide on the groomers? And do you think it would be better with the longer version?



  12. Just wondering if you intend to test the Gotama.
    I’m really interested in comparing the Katane, the Katana V-Werks, the Gotama and the One.
    All are in range between 100mm and 116mm and it would be very interesting to see the differences.

    Cheers Frank

  13. Sorry,

    had a mistake in my post above:

    I’m really interested in comparing the MANTRA, the Katana V-Werks, the Gotama and the One.
    All are in range between 100mm and 116mm and it would be very interesting to see the differences.

    Cheers Frank

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