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Also read our review of the Volkl Mantra 102, new for 2020.

The Volkl Mantra M5, new for 2019, marks the biggest evolution yet for one of the industry’s most iconic skis.

Over the last half-decade-plus, the Mantra has built a cult following on hard-charging, powder-hunting, all-mountain skiing. It’s gone through redesigns, but it’s always measured around 100 mm underfoot and lugged two sheets of metal. 

Not so with the M5. The newest Mantra still wants to be skied aggressively, and it still excels across the mountain even in less-than-ideal conditions. But it’s got some key differences over its predecessors:

volkl mantra m5
The 2019 Volkl M5 Mantra

Camber underfoot: Volkl brings back the rocker-camber-rocker profile, giving the M5 increased pop and energy underfoot, plus a longer effective edge, with increased versatility at all speeds.

Narrower waist width: Mantras pioneered the landscape of aggressive skis with metal around 100mm underfoot, paving the way for popular models like the Nordica Enforcer. Now, the M5 slims down to 96mm.

Titanal Frame construction: This is the M5’s most head-turning trait. Rather than two full sheets of metal, the new build features horseshoe-shaped titanal wraps—frames—around the tips and tails of the ski. Volkl wagers that this strategic metal placement brings all the needed power and strength in a lighter, sleeker package. The titanal frames don’t connect underfoot, allowing the skis to flex naturally. Carbon helps dampen the ride and lower the swing weight.

Field Notes

I along with a few other Powder7 staffers burned hot laps on the M5 at the Outdoor Retailer on-snow demo at Copper Mountain. A few weeks later, I took the skis to Loveland, Colorado for two days. The M5 looks sharp and sleek, if understated. 

Groomers

My first experience laying trenches on the M5 came on my first few runs at Copper for OR in January. The snow was hard but grippy corduroy and fast. After approximately 20 seconds, I was Maching through intermittent morning shadows off the American Eagle chair hailing the M5’s agility, speed, and bomber edge hold. Three runs later, I still hadn’t really found a speed limit, and I almost bucked myself launching off a roller.

As far as groomer performance, the M5 supported Volkl’s claims that the titanal frame technology holds up just as strong as full metal. This, plus the camber and sidecut, make the M5 a better carver than old Mantras. As I rave, keep in mind my dainty 5’7″/160 profile, and remember to ask a burlier skier or ex-racer to corroborate my praise.

Bumps and Trees

Through hard bumps, slush bumps, and packed-powder bumps, the M5 proved to be a capable and versatile tool. In fact, steep moguls were the terrain feature in which I most noticed the difference between the titanal frame and the classic metal. I wasn’t much of a fan of skiing the old Mantra through bumps; it just felt bulky. But the M5’s slimmer profile and more progressive flex transform the skis’ bump performance. You can still, of course, find more forgiving skis to pound down Mary Jane; the M5 wants to be skied well. But its responsive feel pays dividends, and this performance translates well to trees, too. 

Volkl Mantra M5 Titanal Frame Construction
Volkl’s Titanal Frame reinforces the tips and tails (second layer from the top).

Powder

Many skiers today, myself included, are infatuated with wide skis that can do everything. But the reality—and the industry’s current focus on mid-waisted 95mm-ish skis reflects this—is that skis with waist widths in the mid- to upper-90s can handle most conditions on most days on most mountains. Scads of skiers just don’t need mid-fat freeride skis. Powder, of course, is the counterargument, and if you spend most of your time hunting for it, you probably want a surfier, slightly wider ski than the M5. However, the M5 is more fun in soft snow than I thought it would be, and it devours chop. And that’s more than you can say about some similarly aggressive skis in its class.

Downside

The M5 isn’t for the deep days, and it’s not particularly playful or poppy. But classic Mantra customers didn’t care then, and we don’t anticipate them caring now.

Bottom Line

The Volkl Mantra M5 retains its predecessors’ hard-charging ability and high speed limit, making it a top-of-class option for true all-mountain skiers who spend half their time on trails and half off-piste. It’s beefy enough for rippers, but the new construction also makes it more accessible for a wider range of skiers. Intermediates will find it a good ski to grow into, while advanced and expert skiers will find a worthy tool that can absolutely fly. 

What else is new for Volkl in 2019? Find out here.

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