Once again, the Volkl M6 Mantra earns our Editors' Choice award. Simply put, the versatility this ski provides is unmatched in this year's ski lineup. The result is close to perfection with Volkl's innovative new technologies combined with an already tried and true recipe. Strong through long turns while still nimble in tight terrain, our testers always wanted another run on this ski. Through all of the scores, the M6 Mantra stood out above the rest and retained the title of Best All-Mountain Ski.Editor's Note: We updated our M6 Mantra review on September 22, 2022 to include an image of the latest graphics, which are pictured above. This slight change is the only difference between the new ski and the model we previously tested.
Volkl M6 Mantra Review
Cons: Damp, heavy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Volkl M6 Mantra proves to be yet another top-notch product from the German manufacturer. Volkl builds on its success from previous Mantra models that also received our review's top award. The result is a true all-mountain machine offered at a very competitive price.
Coming in at 96 millimeters underfoot, the M6 Mantra includes Volkl's Tailored Titanal Frame and Tailored Carbon Tip Technologies. This combination creates a powerful concoction of stability no matter the snow conditions. Unlike some skis with double titanal sheets, the M6 remains accessible to a wide range of skier abilities and styles. Whether you occasionally venture off the groomed trails or are a more seasoned off-piste skier, we think this ski will support your skills well.
New to the Mantra is Volkl's 3D Radius Technology. The three built-in turn radii add to its impressive versatility and help the skier create the perfect turn for any situation. Our testers thoroughly enjoyed arcing with confidence down the entire mountain.
Stability at Speed
The M6 Mantra has a magnetic edge grip quality to it. We liked this ski/snow interaction sensation when on edge and at speed. Vibrations were aptly dampened and helped us remain confident even on early-morning frozen hardpack. Continuing in the Mantra tradition, torsional rigidity is superb. This ski keeps asking for more and more edge angles at high speed while maintaining solid ride quality.
Volkl's adjusts the Tailored Titanal Frame to each ski length. The designers strategically place these inserts above the sidewall at the tip and tail. In the 177-centimeter length we tested, we were impressed with the Mantra's superior stability at speed.
Depending on your skiing style, having an extra touch of weight on your feet isn't necessarily a bad thing. Any ski filled with two sheets of titanium will never be the lightest of the lot but will offer increased stability in exchange for a few hundred grams.
We didn't mind having the additional weight underfoot on the M6 Mantra since it never seemed to affect edge-to-edge speed. We particularly appreciate this trade-off of weight for stability if it affords us the confidence to cut a deep carve at speed while cruising early-morning groomers.
Volkl gives us a mostly traditional blend of rocker/camber/rocker, which results in a predictable and progressive ski flex.
The overall feeling while carving on the M6 is confidence. The consistent ski flex helped our testers stay composed at both medium and high speeds. Damp and agile, the M6 Mantra kept our crew more than satisfied on-piste and encouraged us to "mix it up."
With its patented 3D Radius Technology, the M6 Mantra boasts three turn radii in a one ski package: 30 meters up front; 18 meters underfoot; and 24 meters behind your boot. The tip and tail edges gripped and pulled our testers through longer turns at higher speeds. And when you need to make a fast move, the shorter turn radius built into the midsection of the ski helps you make short turns quickly.
Volkl's 3D radius did require some getting used to – our testers admit to feeling unimpressed with this technology initially. However, this review involves testing each ski's strengths and weaknesses over a longer period, not just two or three runs. This mileage allowed our testers to truly build a relationship with this new M6 Mantra, just as you might with your new pair of skis over your first few days on them. We feel confident that this technology from Volkl adds quality to the ski and will help more skiers experience different carving sensations.
Realistically, how many days are bottomless powder? Even after a five or six-inch storm, except in the heaviest snow conditions, you will likely find the bottom very quickly. There are endless what-ifs and ideal situations to hope for. As skiers, we are used to making the most of the situation.
With less titanal material than other, similar-width skis, the M6 Mantra floats noticeably better. Volkl's Tailored Carbon Tip technology shines in terms of powder performance, even if it is just out of sight.
Heli-skiing? No, we would not ever take the 96 mm M6 Mantra out for a bottomless day. But how about a big resort snow day facing the inevitability of tracked-out lines? Absolutely. This is the perfect day out for an all-mountain ski like the M6 Mantra – a ski with enough girth to float you through the morning but one that isn't too fat to bump through moguls in the afternoon.
Other similar-waisted skis in this review tended to dive and get bogged down in softer snow. But the combination of a slightly extended tip rocker and less titanal material at the front of the ski proves to be versatile as ever – the M6 Mantra provided both the float and agility to keep our testers feeling confident on big resort storm days.
Despite lacking the double titanal layer construction common among skis that perform well in this metric, the M6 Mantra more than holds its own. We figured there had to be something that would hold this ski back, but cruddy snow conditions seem to be no match for the M6 Mantra. The combination of Volkl's technologies, such as the Tailored Carbon Tip and the tried and true rocker/camber/rocker profile, serve to cement this ski as the true all-mountain machine.
Crud is best charged into and through with purpose. With just the right blend of characteristics, the M6 Mantra stays true even when submerged in the heaviest "Sierra Cement" snow. Simply put: Commit to your line and be rewarded.
The M6 Mantra retains its stability and nimbleness in bumps and tight terrain. Our testers sometimes noticed the 3D Radius Technology would "get in the way" through deep troughs or rock gardens. However, the narrower waist width and extended tip rocker were enough to keep things manageable and fun. By no means is the M6 a slouch, but it is also not a top pick for a freestyle session or bumps camp.
The "locked-in" feeling from carving on-piste served to hold some of our testers hostage in the bumps specifically – making quick adjustments while still on edge was more difficult than expected. After more and more laps with the Mantra, we learned how to control its tech and find its sweet spot, even in misshapen bumps. If you have a professional touch, the M6 Mantra remains a solid platform on which to chase your kids down the bumps after lunch.
Should You Buy the M6 Mantra?
Definitely yes – but with the caveat that your other skis may get jealous of your new go-to ski. The Volkl M6 Mantra is our go-to as an all-mountain charge for any terrain and in any condition. This ski checks all of the boxes for what we're looking for in an all-mountain ski. And when compared to the rest of the competitors, the M6 is offered at a middle-of-the-road price point. The Volkl Mantra series is legendary, and the new M6 continues that lineage as a top-of-the-line, award-winning ski.
What Other All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
An all-mountain ripper like the Volkl M6 Mantra is ideally designed to thrive whenever and wherever you decide to take it skiing. But depending on your snow climate, terrain access, or skiing style, a few other models may be more up your alley. For those lucky enough to live in locales that enjoy plenty of powder, our top-pick Blizzard Rustler 10 or the wider-waisted Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti are sure to add a dose of fun to your next snow day. For others looking for a particularly playful ski, the Faction Dictator 2.0 is lightweight, agile, and offers a universal value that will impress.
— Bobby Garrett
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