2023 Völkl Mantra 102 Review
This year’s best wide all-mountain ski is a tried and true performer
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This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 8.59/10
- Rank: #1
- Versatility: 9.57
- Crud Performance: 9
- Flotation: 7.86
- Playfulness: 7.86
- Responsiveness: 8.86
- Quickness: 8.14
- Hard-Snow Integrity: 9
- Stability at Speed: 8.86
- Forgiveness: 6.57
- Price: $800
- Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191
- Dimensions: 142-102-124
- Radius: 16 (177cm)
- Level: Advanced, Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Stability at Speed (#1), Responsiveness (#1)
- Cons: Playfulness (#2), Forgiveness (#12)
The all-new Mantra 102 won us over with its ability to chow down on any conditions the mountain threw at us. With so many exceptional wide all-mountain skis on the market, to have the Mantra 102 be such a standout is a testament to Völkl’s commitment to their craft, and according to tester Peter Nestor, a professional boot fitter from Sun Valley, “it’s the benchmark of the category.”
The ski’s 102mm waist is a happy middle ground between the sleek 96mm M6 Mantra and the pow-hungry Katana 108. As such, it’s a nimble and energetic ski that testers raved about in soft snow, hardpack, and crud. “This was one of the best skis I’ve been on in years,” said Montana-based tester Sam Cox, though he added it’s a ski primarily “aimed at advanced skiers.”
The poplar and beech wood core, full-height sidewalls, and Titanal frame create a lively ski with plenty of pop that stays firmly planted on the ground when rallying fast hardpack turns. Its elegant lines are tailored toward edge hold on natural snow and demolishing crud while providing enough surface area to sail through fresh powder smoothly. Carbon tips boost the torsional rigidity advanced skiers among our test crew raved about while reducing swing weight for easy steering and responsiveness in the trees. Speed demons, take note: we couldn’t find the speed limit—this ski arcs fast turns with incredible precision.
Despite its all-mountain prowess, the Mantra 102 is not for the faint of heart. “Strong intermediate skiers can get on the Mantra, but only the best skiers will unlock its full potential,” said tester Jon Sexauer, an expert skier with a freestyle background. “I was surprised how much of a difference speed made with this ski. It feels a little difficult to manage at slower speeds, but as you speed up, this ski feels smoother and more enjoyable. If you’re strong or bold enough to open it up, the Mantra 102 will reward you.”
With a 20m turn radius, the Mantra 102 favors fast, wide open turns instead of slithering through the woods at low speeds, but Völkl’s 3D sidecut design does allow you to transition from long radius to short turns when the terrain suddenly changes. “Völkl has a winner here,” said Alta local Gabe Glosband, who noted that before the Mantra, he had yet to find a Völkl ski with enough playful energy. “I could easily ski this ski every day and be very happy. This ski is category-defining.”
“An absolute hoot at full throttle in wide open terrain,” said Sexauer. “If you enjoy powering through crud, this ski can do it, but you have to be on top of it. Just don’t expect the Mantra 102 to let you off the hook when your legs are trashed at the end of the day. They aren’t forgiving and will make you pay for mistakes.”
Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.