Expert Review: Völkl Mantra 102 Skis · 2022
This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in December 2021.
About this review This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in December 2021.
The Volkl Mantra 102 is a charger of a ski, designed for advanced-expert skiers. It takes a bit more effort to handle, but that effort is rewarded with power and precision through virtually any snow condition.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Volkl Mantra 102
- Size: 184cm
- When I bought these: December 2021
- Days tested: 5
- Mount position: Factory Recommended
- Boots: 2019 Scarpa Maestrale RS
- Boot Size: 28.0
- Bindings: 2022 Marker Griffon 13 ID
- Where I’ve used it: Crystal Mountain, WA and Snoqualmie Pass, WA
- Terrain: Both on and off-piste, hard pack/ice, powder, and variable conditions.
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 200lbs
- Experience: 14 years
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a daily driver that would be fun in soft snow without compromising how it performs on groomers and variable conditions. Specifically, I wanted a ski that I could take with me anywhere, in any conditions, and not worry about the forecast or my ski choice!
Why I chose this gear
I went for the Mantra 102 because it’s an absolute BEAST that steamrolls through anything, at any speed. I knew it would handle crud and chop without issue and that the 102mm width would float when things got good!
When I was shopping around, I was looking at the Salomon QST 106. I ultimately landed on the Mantra 102 due to its better groomer/firm snow performance–especially since I’ve got a powder ski in my quiver already.
What I love about it
- Speed: Stability at speed is what makes these skis stand out. Nothing phases them. I know I’ll never find their speed limit every time I ski them. This is due to a couple of things; firstly, the M102 is heavy and stiff with a bunch of metal - this burly construction lends itself to power and stability, secondly, Volk’s 3D sidecut allows for a super stable tip and tail dimensions with a tighter radius underfoot. I have found that they track straight as an arrow at speed, but when put on edge they are happy to tighten things up–an excellent combination. On the flip-side, they don’t necessarily love to be skied slowly. They can pivot fine, but they take some pressure to bend into a turn, making them a bit of a handful until brought up to speed.
- Edge hold: I’ve found the edgehold to be excellent, especially for something as wide as 102mm. I’ve had them in super firm snow conditions and I never really felt outgunned in edging. I think a significant factor is their long effective edge and low-slung rocker lines. They feel like a much longer ski when you put them on edge. Sure, a narrower option, like the M6 Mantra or Kendo 88–would allow for a bit more edge grip, but for such a versatile package, I am more than happy with the M102!
- Turns: First things first, these skis like to make long, smooth turns. That said, I’ve been pleased with Volkl’s 3D sidecut, which allows for pretty much any turn shape from its 27m tips to its 20m waist. To be clear, these aren’t slalom skis, but for all-mountain/freeride use, they’re top-notch. Another vital point is that the M102 isn’t what I would call playful. It feels smooth and damp rather than quick and sharp. My first words after skiing them were, “I felt like I was skiing in slow motion!” – and I meant that in a good way.
- Groomers: What do you get when you mix speed, edge hold, and great long-medium turn dynamics? An absolute ripper on groomers. Not only will they make super quick slalom turns, but those of you who like to carve long, fast turns will LOVE these skis.
- Powder: I was able to get these into ~8-10” of fresh snow, and was pleasantly surprised with their float. I felt that they gave me a great platform to stand on, and I never experienced any real tip dive at all–which I suppose makes sense given their rearward mount point, decent waist size, and 140mm tips. However, what was more surprising was the way they released and steered in heavier snow. I thought for sure that they would be too hooky in the tails, but again I was pleasantly surprised with how compliant they were. Now if I was only skiing powder days, I would opt for something a bit wider with more tip and tail splay, but these things are great for most days – especially when the snow is a little tracked out.
- Durability: The materials used for the base, edges, top-sheet and core are all fairly burly, and so far, my skis have held up great. They look pretty much new other than a lift line ding or two (not my fault!), but no chipping or major top-sheet scuffs.
- Weight: These skis are not light, but I consider that a good thing for a ski resort! Going right along with their charging nature, the 2230g/ski weight ensures a smooth, damp ride.
- Stability: As mentioned a few times now, the Mantra 102 is a super stable ski. Very damp with virtually no chatter. That said, I also feel like they have a good rebound which makes them feel pretty lively while changing edges.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Trees: Though not the worst in trees/tight places, they can be a bit of a handful with their relatively long effective edge and heavier swing weight.
- Moguls: As mentioned above, they are a bit on the heavy/slow side to really cruise through the bumps. They aren’t too bad and I wouldn’t hesitate to ski some moguls, but it’s just not their strong suit.
- Park: 100% not a park ski. I would recommend almost any other ski before this one for the park… But that’s a given.
- Backcountry: I would avoid the Mantra for backcountry touring. They’re just too heavy to have a good time on the way up. On a similar note, they are on the demanding side, so skiing down after a long hike would be even more difficult.
- Switch riding: I don’t love these skis for switch riding. I find that their low tail splay, rearward mount point and long effective edge make them tough to maneuver in reverse.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment on these skis was the first lap I took on them. I remember how locked in they felt and how well they smoothed out the crud. I was blown away when my ski partners complained about the snow.
Value for the money vs. other options
I feel that the value for money is competitive with other skis in the category. Skis like the Enforcer 100, Mindbender 99ti, and Salomon Stance 102 are just about the same price. Options such as the M6 Mantra are a tad cheaper; however for a Western skier like myself, the extra price for that 6mm bump in width is well worth it.
For me, the Mantra 102 hits the nail on the head with the combination of stability, edgehold, powder performance, and carving ability. I think I’ve found my daily driver!