The New Volkl Mantra M5 (Ep.4)

2018-2019 Volkl Mantra M5 & Volkl Secret

From its initial release back in 2005, the Mantra quickly became one of the most iconic skis — and one of the most iconic ski names — in the world. And for the 18/19 season, there will be a new, 5th iteration of the Mantra, the Mantra M5.

Last month, I flew over the pond to check out the new Mantra (which will be released in the fall of 2018), to tour the extremely impressive Volkl factory in Straubing, Germany, and to speak to two of Volkl’s key designers: Tobias Heil, the head of R&D at Volkl, and Dominik Grunert, the lead designer on the Mantra M5.

You can listen to my conversation with Tobias and Dominik here, and you should. In the company’s 90+ year history, rarely if ever has a review publication been granted this degree of direct access to Volkl R&D and Engineering, and Tobias and Dominik were extremely interesting and candid when talking about the Mantra M5 in particular, and about Volkl’s guiding design principles in general.

So check out our conversation, then you can now take a look at the M5’s updated specs, rocker pics, and comparisons — in addition to our initial on-snow impressions of the new M5.


  • What were your trying to achieve with this 5th version of the Mantra, the M5? (2:28)
  • Talk about the changes and the guiding design principles? (3:38)
  • History of the Mantra (6:55)
  • Will this new shape and / or construction make its way into other Volkl skis? (9:35)
  • The women’s version of the Mantra — the Volkl Secret (10:08)
  • Which skis on the market is the Mantra M5 set to compete against? (12:20)
  • Of the 5 different iterations of the Mantra, which are your personal favorites? (13:38)
  • Dominik on the Volkl 100Eight (16:30)
  • Rocker Profiles & Flex Patterns (17:50)
  • Weight — what is Volkl’s position on construction & weight? (23:03)
  • The possibility of bringing back a limited run of the metal Katana? (25:35)
  • Predictions: where is ski design headed in the next 5 years? (28:15)
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12 comments on “The New Volkl Mantra M5 (Ep.4)”

  1. Nice quickie, Sam.

    “The ski didn’t want to slash or slarve high speed turns, it still wanted to carve through the variable conditions and deeper chop I was skiing.”

    Plenty of us still around looking for exactly these traits. Looking forward to more, once they allow a pair to leave Deutschland!

  2. Sort of sounds like the M5 is Volkled K2 Pinnacle 95 – same lengths & similar dimensions, and ‘Titanal Frame’ doing the the same parameter weighting job as Konic Technology.

    A little disappointing to see the Mantra heading for the ‘All Mountain Skis // More Forgiving’ of next year’s Blister Buyer’s Guide – better look after my M4s!

  3. Bye Bye Mantra.I might be wrong but moderat fullrocker ski with proper metal is the best allmountain tool. M5 might be better carving pist with moderate speed and probably it will suit more people. Really hope the old Katana comes back but think the M4 was even more versatile.

  4. A few points to add to the discussion. First, kudos for getting this interview with the Volkl engineers. Their willingness to grant you such access and the candidness of their responses to your questions speaks to the seriousness with which the industry views Blister and is a testament to what you have built.

    Second, regarding the design change, I suspect Volkl took notice of the success of the Nordica Enforcer and initiated a design review. The Enforcer, with it’s traditional camber underfoot, is probably more similar to the M3 Mantra on 2D snow, but with updated tip and tail rocker profiles is probably is easier in 3D snow than the M3. My recollection of when the M4 was released was some hesitation in the community that the traditional camber was eliminated in favor of the full rocker (Volkl used to call this ELP, Extended Low Profile rocker which is a good description given that ‘full rocker’ or ‘reverse camber’ can conjure images of pure powder ski profiles with huge amounts of splay – Volkl’s interpretation of full rocker is more subtle and highly effective). As stated in the podcast, the full rocker has clear advantages in 3D snow of any type and I would say the advantages are more noticeable as the consistency and quality of the 3D snow gets worse. Perhaps some of the decision to change back to traditional camber is that the core Mantra following preferred the traditional camber and didn’t require the ease of the full rocker off piste, and that the typical skier probably spends most of their time on piste and traditional camber had clear advantages on 2D snow.

    One of the engineers said something about changes in weather patterns and snow quality leading to more time on piste. I think in the original German that statement probably sounded more like ‘market research suggests people judge skis by their first impressions which are almost always on piste and our core Mantra following can blast traditional camber through crud anyway’. The M4 is an all mountain ski for skiers who truly are 50/50 on / off piste whereas most consumers’ split for an all mountain ski might be more like 70/30 or 80/20. And when the conditions off piste are less than ideal (chopped up snow inbounds at the end of a powder day / after a thaw freeze cycle / crust layer and soft underneath etc.) most skiers probably don’t venture off the trail anyway (it can be a lot of work!) and this is when the full rocker really shines. My two ski quiver is the 185 Enforcer and the 184 metal Katana. The Enforcer works really well in most situations; it’s great on 2D snow and good in 3D snow (great if it’s lighter snow even if tracked up). But when it gets uglier off piste and the 3D snow has variable consistency, oh man those metal Katanas make you feel like a much better skier than you actually are. Especially for those of us who have to take a plane to get to the mountains and whose technique might break down a bit in nastier snow. And the ease of use in these conditions is because of the full rocker (the larger radius sidecut would have a second order affect here). And yes the Katanas still rail on groomers, and I might even like them better than the Enforcers when there’s a few inches of chopped up debris on top of a solid groomer base because you can just haul and never feel like one ski will get deflected and cause you blow up.

    Lastly, thank you for asking the Volkl team about the metal Katana. You have done a great service for skiers everywhere. Volkl, please bring them back, I’m horrible in crappy snow without them! Tinker with the profile of Titanal sheets like the M5 so you can call it an evolution and not a regression, whatever, just bring it back! (Should we start a write-in campaign?) The genius of that ski is how the flex pattern, sidecut and rocker profile all match so perfectly. It crushes crud and variable 3D snow and yet when you lie it on edge on a groomer the entire edge length makes contact yielding plenty of edge hold. Don’t tell Jonathan but I have a pair of 191s still in the wrapper. Like a fine wine, I’m saving them for a special occasion like when I finally move the family out West.

    • Hey Dave, thanks for your input, I think you make some great points.

      And you might want to up the security on your garage, Jonathan really wants another pair of that 191 Katana…

  5. I just drove the 18/19 yesterday in New England on 177’s. Edge hold was similar to my 13/14 version (not sure the M version). The swing weight is lighter and the torsional rigidity of the ski i felt was very similar. It felt damp and powerful and commanding, similar to my other Mantras, which I love.

    I also had the Enforcer 93 and the Rustler 10 out and the Mantra was still my favorite by far. Enforcer was much harder to get to edge and the Rustler was a fun second with better edge and easier turn initiation I thought. The Mantra was way better than the Enforcer 93 for edge hold. Conditions were frozen groomers in the morning and then softer spring type skiing in the afternoon. Once the 184 lands in the states, they will be put in the stable for sure. I really think the Volkl team figured out that they missed the boat with a few of the last designs and are certainly trying to make it right and back to what worked.

  6. Just curious about the older Katana, as in the 183 and 190 lengths. Is there a significant difference between those and the newer metal Katana in 184 and 191?

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