I am new to this forum. I am also new to buying my own skis, as I have rented my entire life. I went on a trip to Whistler in March that pretty much made me want to purchase my own skis so I can get out early and shred the pow before everything is skid out. I ordered some Salomon Access 80 boots that should be here soon, and I've been looking at and reading about skis for a few weeks now. I'm 6'1" about 200lbs and am an advanced-to-expert skier and am definitely looking for a ski that will handle both on and off piste use, and maybe in the future some hiking/backcountry use (MAYBE).
A local shop has a deal on some Volkl Mantra skis in 177cm that I've been looking at. Unfortunately, I can't demo them. Over the weekend I headed up to a relatively local resort and demo'd a pair of K2 Hardsides in 181cm. They felt large at first, but after a run or two I got used to them and really enjoyed the day. On paper the Mantra and Hardside are pretty much identical, and everyone I've talked to said the Hardside was created to compete with the Mantra. I've also heard from multiple people that a lot of guides and staff use Mantras as an all around ski, so that's encouraging.
I can probably get a better deal skis + bindings for the K2 Hardside demo skis, but if the Mantras are going to work better for me, I'm willing to pay a bit more.
I have a few questions questions. How do people who have skid the Mantras like them, compared to the Hardside? Would there be another ski that is superior to both of these for all mountain on/off piste skiing? And what kind of bindings do people like with this type of ski? The Hardside come with Marker Griffon, but I can get a good deal on some Salomon STH 12 Driver bindings.
Thanks for reading!