If you want an all-mountain ski with a focus on speed, the Volkl Mantra M5 is an option worth exploring. The lightweight and versatile ski provides plenty of pop when you’re carving, as well as a strong-but-lightweight build. It’s not the best option for big powder days, but it holds up well as a solid cruiser.
- Where to buy: Amazon, EVO, REI
- Best for: Skiers who want a versatile all-mountain option that caters toward high-speed control.
- Pros: Excellent abilities at high-speeds on hardpack for an all-mountain option. Lighter by design than previous models, which makes it easier to handle.
- Cons: Not my favorite all-mountain powder ski. A little less playful than other options in the category.
- Alternatives: Head Kore 93, Nordica Enforcer 93, Icelantic Nomad 95
Why Trust Me
Born and raised in the mountains of Colorado, I’ve been skiing almost as long as I’ve been able to walk. I’ve skied all over the world and have decades of experience skiing on, testing, and reviewing different skis and skiing equipment. I had a good friend purchase the Volkl Mantra M5 last season and was able to borrow them for a few days. My detailed review of my experience alongside input from others who spent a full season on them is below.
I had an older set of the Mantra years ago that were big, burly, and capable. However, they were nowhere near as versatile or as responsive as more recent models. While I enjoy the stability and control these skis allow, they aren’t quite as playful as some of my favorite all-mountain options. That said, they do some serious work at high speeds and can certainly get you all over the mountain.
Starting the review off with what I like about these skis, they have great performance at high speeds. All-mountain skis can tend to get chatty and a little loose when you really push them on packed and groomed snow, but not the Mantra M5. These can even feel like a racing ski if you want them to, and they offer some great characteristics when you point downhill and go. If you’re a speed demon, you will love them.
The Mantra’s strong, stable build has a lot to do with how well they perform at speed, and that attribute can provide you with endless fun at the resort when conditions are less than perfect. The edge control and response are precise and effortless as well. That also adds to high-speed capabilities. They will carve up corduroy with the best of them and have enough grip to easily handle an iced out blue.
The reason these skis are so great at high speeds on packed conditions makes them a little limited in other areas of the mountain. They are capable, don’t get me wrong, but when you take them in steep and deep conditions or other big mountain scenarios, they leave something to be desired. They do hold up strong in the bumps and trees, however, and you’ll be able to cruise as fast as you can in those situations.
Even though I’m thoroughly hyping the M5’s speedy nature, they do indeed fall into the all-mountain category. They are effective across the mountain from the steep sliders to the trees to the bumps and beyond. They are powerful and hold up across various conditions, but I do find that power does sacrifice some playfulness.
If you’re an aggressive skier who likes to stay focused on getting downhill as quickly as possible, the Mantra M5 will deliver. If you like to play around, jib, chase powder, and have a more laid back style, they might not be your ski. That’s not to say they aren’t fun to ski on. They certainly are. They just aren’t my pick for those looking for a playful ski. They’re more for those who want to grab the mountain by the throat.
Unless you’re feeling frisky, I wouldn’t spend any time with these skis in the park. Even though the latest model is lighter in weight than previous editions, they are still too much ski to be hucking airs with or hitting other features. They are capable in powder, but a little narrow to truly feel surfy. They also can bust through crud and slush pretty easily.
Construction and Style
The M5’s construction paves the way for their powerful and speedy nature. They are strong, durable, and built to last. I have friends with older pairs of Mantras that are just as bad and beefy as they were years ago. The newer model is lighter, which would make you think they are not as strong, but I don’t think that’s the case.
A lot of the strength and lightweight nature comes from the wooden core. Volkl combines poplar and Beechwood to create a solid and stable starting point for the rest of the construction. On top of that, there’s a Titanal Frame laminate that adds strength without much weight, as well as a carbon tip that provides you with another layer of strength and stability.
The tip and tail rocker profile gives you the wide versatility that you would expect out of an all-mountain option, while the skis hold more camber than you’d expect. This adds to their excellent performance at speeds and provides the power, but also limits pop and playfulness.
Price and Value
The Volkl Mantra M5 is a moderately high priced all-mountain option that’s similar in cost to other skis in the category. While it’s more than capable, it’s a little particular in my opinion. That does slightly limit its versatility and gives it a moderate rating on the value scale. If you want a powerful ski, this will do the job. If you want a playful powder chaser, there are better options out there.
The main limiting factor here when it comes to value, is that I believe an all-mountain ski should be a viable 1-ski option for the season. While the Mantra M5 can fill that role, I think other all-mountain options do it a bit better overall.
What I Like
Back in the day, Volkl was the leader in the push towards a versatile all-mountain ski. The Mantra M5 lives up to this distinction today and provides an aggressive, hard-charging model that’s great for intermediate to advanced skiers. For days when I want to ski hard in-bounds and there isn’t powder to be found, this ski is awesome.
I also love how the skis perform at high speeds. You can push them as fast as you want without losing stability or experiencing any chatter. That’s rare for an all-mountain ski and something unique to the Mantra. There’s more camber underfoot than many other all-mountain skis, which give the product speedy characteristics. It also has excellent turning and carving abilities on the hardpack thanks to the cambered profile.
If you want a ski that can get up and go while still being decent in capability across the board, the Mantra M5 will surely deliver. Speed demons and straight-liners alike will appreciate all that these monsters can do, while anyone with experience on them will appreciate the lighter weight and easy-to-maneuver nature of the latest model.
What I Don’t Like
My biggest gripe with these skis is that they just don’t seem as versatile as other all-mountain options. While they are built for speed and power, I find that the attributes come at a cost in the form of a rigid feel that isn’t as poppy and playful as I would like. They aren’t a bad ski by any means, but I do think they are on the line of what can be considered a true all-mountain option. I wouldn’t want them as my only ski for a season.
I also don’t like the powder performance. They are decent in moderate amounts of snow, roughly six inches or so, but when the white stuff really starts to stack up they can get bogged down. That’s another downside to the more cambered profile. Any ski can be fun in powder, but if you want something that truly excels in the all-mountain category, you’ll want to explore other options.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the Volkl Mantra M5 that provides some slightly different all-mountain characteristics, take a look at these other options:
- Head Kore 93 – If you want another ski that can hit high speeds while remaining stable in the all-mountain realm, check out the 93. This model has excellent response and control and provides focused performance all over the mountain. The skis aren’t as powerful as the Mantra M5, but they still provide plenty for riders of all levels.
- Nordica Enforcer 93 – This is an option to explore if you want a little extra versatility in relation to what the Mantra has to offer. For a fairly narrow all-mountain ski, the Enforcer is capable across multiple conditions. The skis are lightweight and poppy, but still have enough control and stability to charge at high speeds and handle crud.
- Icelantic Nomad 95 – These are some of the most playful all-mountain options out there, in my opinion. They deliver excellent performance in nearly every condition. Though they won’t hold up as well at high speeds as the Mantra, the Nomad 95 skis give you a fun and reliable experience everywhere else.
Are the Volkl Mantra M5 a true all-mountain ski?
Yes, but they do have a few characteristics that are slightly different than other all-mountain options. That’s mainly due to more camber built into their profile shape.
How do these skis perform in crud or chopped up snow?
They have a powerful, aggressive nature that makes them excel in the crud and chopped up snow. They don’t have as much pop and play as other options, but they do have plenty of bite.
Can the Mantra M5 be used in the backcountry?
Technically, yes. However, I would hesitate to set them up as a backcountry option. They leave a bit to be desired in the powder and I would recommend something that has more rocker built into the profile.
The Volkl Mantra M5 is a capable all-mountain option that focuses on stability at speed and underfoot response. The cambered profile gives the skis power on hardpack and in the crud but it loses something when it comes to playfulness and pop. Overall, the skis provide you with excellent performance, especially if you like sticking to the front side of the mountain or don’t have great snow conditions in your area.
In deep snow conditions, however, the Mantra doesn’t perform as well as other options in the category. For this reason, alongside their less playful nature, I wouldn’t recommend them as a one ski option. Even so, if you love to go fast and stay in control while you ride, they will provide what you’re after.