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Volkl Mantra vs. AC4 vs. Gotama vs. Karma

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hey guys...so after a bunch of research of threads, reviews online and the inability to demo any skiis...I've decided to purchase my new skis from the Volkl line. I've been a Volkl owner in the past with some of their older GS skis and loved them. I'm looking for a one-ski quiver fat enough to float decently on the fresh pow but still able to rip on the crud and groomers. However, I'm caught in a bit of a dilemma. I can't decide between the Mantra, AC4s, Karma and Gotama. Here's some quick background info on me..

Age: 27 yo male, very athletic (former college tennis player)
Height: 5'10" (almost)
Weight: 170 lbs.
Skill: Expert (ski anything but get a little hesitant on the REAL steep and tight stuff). Aggressive style.
Snow conditions: I live in the Midwest but do mainly all of my skiing out West. Do probably about 80% of my skiing off-piste. Will hike to backcountry frequently; however I don't do it day in and day out.

Here's a little bit of what I've gathered on the four models:

AC4 - raved about seemingly everywhere you look. Lots of people love it on this forum. Skiing Magazine loved this ski. Does well in most conditions, absolutely rips groomers and crud and probably the most versatile of the 4 models. However, doesn't quite stay on top on the freshies as well as Karma, Gotama and Mantra due to it's relative narrowness underfoot compared to the other three skiis. Can get a little bit hard to manuever with the hard bumps. I'd probably go with a 177 length. About $1000.

Karma - twin-tipped, free-riding model. Supposed to be an advanced ski versus an expert ski but seems like a lot of "experts" love this ski. Does very well in all conditions b/c it's a little more forgiving due to its wood core. A little bit lighter and easier to keep afloat in the pow versus the AC4. Not quite as good on the hardpack as the AC4. Probably go with the 177 b/c people have said it seems to "ski short." About $600 without bindings.

Mantra - sort of a wider version of the Karma. 94mm underfoot vs. 87mm for the Karma. A little less stable when skiied fast. A little bit stiffer than the Karma. I'd go with the 177. $700-750 w/o bindings.

Gotama - Obviously the fattest of the 4 models. Best in the fresh powder, however is decent in all conditions. However, needs to be skiied aggressively or else you can get "skiied by it." Skiing Magazine gave this ski as the best "Big Mountain Expert" ski out there. So they obviously love it. Same price as the Mantra.

If you guys had to choose from on of these, which would you choose? Or if you've have experience with any of these feel free to comment. Based on my stats, I'm leaning towards the Karma or the Mantra. I feel like these fall in the middle of the road and if the mountain I'm skiing at gets dumped on while I'm there, I'll be alright with either of these.
post #2 of 11
First off, that is one hell of a variety to be dwelling over...a Karma is going to ski completely different than a Gotama. It all depends on the conditions your planning on skiing in and the type of skiing you prefer.

For sharp and quick radius turns I would not suggest the Gotama. While it can be forced into tight places, it loves long swooping turns at high speeds. (What I've heard)

For a more tight and quick ski, the AC4 is an incredible ski and hardly gets ANY bad reviews. The Karma or Mantra would suffice as well, however considering your backcountry trips, I would steer you away from the Karmas. There wouldn't be enough float and it is a more "park oriented" ski, which you mentioned none of in your thread.

Overall, I would suggest the Gotamas. For the powder/backcountry in the west, the Gotama is an amazing set of planks. They will take you to mach 10 and never shiver, and when skied aggressively will turn relatively quick. When you hit a patch of crud or chopped up/heavy powder it will bust through it like a tank however will not feel like one. No other Volkl will give you the float as the Gotama as well. Its all a matter of epinion. Hope I helped, you can't go wrong with a Volkl
post #3 of 11
You need to consider the AC4 in a 170cm. The other skis are twin tips, The AC4 is not.

Have you considered a demo on each?

post #4 of 11
For your size try the Karma in 185. The 177 will feel very short because of the twin. Gotama in 183 for the same reason.
post #5 of 11
AC4 - don't know, never skied it.

Karma - don't know, never skied it.

Mantra - More versatile than the Gotama especially in harder snow situations. Not less stable at speed. For your specs I'd get at least the 184.

Gotama - Great soft snow ski. Does not need to be skied aggressively but will definetly hold in there when skied aggressively. Skis short - I'd go with a 190, maybe a 183 if you really hate long skis.
post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by Jer View Post

Mantra - More versatile than the Gotama especially in harder snow situations. Not less stable at speed. For your specs I'd get at least the 184.
Definitely, the 184 Mantra.

I spend almost all my time off-piste and ski the Mantra as my everyday ski.

Yes, the mantra can be skied fast. The mantra definitely rewards an aggressive style.

BTW: I have heard very good things about this year's Gotama. Doing a search on the TGR Tech Talk forum maybe a good idea for comparing the Mantra and Gotama.
post #7 of 11
yeah everyone of your choices was about 7 cm too short IMO

For an everyday "softer" snow ski out I would go with a Mantra 184cm first or gotama 183cm 2nd.

ON the flip side of things I would go with only a 170cm AC4 but that ski would serve a totally different purpose that my gotamas do now.
post #8 of 11
(side note: Hi bushwackerpa, how's the west?)

Topic at hand:
I have skied the AC4 and the Karma.

Two completely different animals.
Add length to the karmas and prepare yourself to drive a performance ski.

The AC4 is a bit more of a carving, powder, versatile ski. figure a normal length for that one. (170 ish is fine)

You'll get a lot out of either of them, but if you're NOT looking specifically for a Twin tip, go for the AC4.

I will add:
I Love the Karma and am happy to have it in my quiver, but I'm not sure I'd want it as my only ski.
post #9 of 11
I would strongly advise you to broaden your horizons and compare similar skis from multiple brands instead of 4 very different skis from the same brand. Volkl makes nice skis, they are not significantly BETTER than any other manufacturers.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
I just pulled the trigger on the AC4s in 170mm. Had a good bootfitting session for some new boots so I think I'm all set. Wish me luck. I'm hoping for some Denver snow in mid-January.
post #11 of 11
I just picked up some AC4s.. haven't skied the other skis you list there, rhough.

I helped open copper bowl at Copper Mountain yesterday via what the ski patrol call "directed skiing". I took it through deep powder, down the chutes, and out. I've been loving these all week.

male - 21
level 8-9
60/40 Off/On-piste
primarily ski Copper
aggressive skier..used to race in high school
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