Pros: Stable, powerful, versatile from groomers to crud & Sierra cement
Cons: Some will find the tail a little stiff in deep snow
At the Start Haus, we spend a lot of time talking about 98 mm underfoot all mountain skis, because in Tahoe and similar western ski areas, they make for a good quiver-of-one ski that can do everything well. These are the skis that live in the car for sneaking in a few runs before work or getting a few lunchtime laps.
In Tahoe, the Volkl Mantra may be the most popular for this category. When we get classic "Sierra Cement", the wood core with titanium laminate has the guts to bust through the thick stuff. The addition of tip rocker helps it float, not only in powder, but in variable, cut-up snow as well.
Flat, powerful tails are good for hard charging skiers finishing out turns on the groomers. The trade-off their of course it working the tails around in deep, soft snow - it's not as easy as something either softer in the tail or with tail rocker.
With a wide range of 98 mm waist skis in this category, the Volkl Mantra is on the hard-charging side of the spectrum, happier at high speeds laying down long, arcing GS style turns. If you're looking for a "playful" or "quick and turny" ski, look elsewhere. But if speed, stability and edge grip are at the top of your shopping list for an all-mountain ski, this one has a loyal following for good reason.
SierraJim tested the latest version of these skisat Winter Park, Mammoth Mountain and Alpine Meadows, finding it had "excellent grip and moderate dampening for a ski in this width class," and the "new tip really shined in windblown snow and blasting through crud."
Freeskier Magazine rated it highest in the men's all mountain category, and Ski Magazine said "it puts excitement into everyday skiing."
Here's SierraJim talking a little more about the Volkl Mantra: