In 2021, Volkl’s M6 Mantra Will Be the Most Fun Ski on the Mountain

Volkl’s freeride Mantra has been a staple in its line since 2005. The brand tweaks it nearly every year, but for 2021, the changes to the Mantra are big.

Every generation of Mantra has been a versatile performer in a variety of snow conditions. It’s always had a lot of metal to help it edge in hard snow. And the weight and stiffness have historically positioned the Mantra as an all-mountain ski for aggressive skiers able to load the ski sufficiently to flex it.

The M6 Mantra, Volkl’s sixth iteration of the model, is a ski that will appeal to intermediate and expert skiers looking for something they can carve confidently down the frontside that will also be fun in the woods. It’s a true all-mountain ski that invites the skier to ski it in a variety of ways, as well as on a variety of terrain.

In short: The 2021 M6 Mantra ski will ski just as capable as past models on almost any terrain. But thanks to some tweaks to the ski’s construction, it will feel very different (in a good way).

Volkl M6 Mantra: First Look

For 2021, Volkl didn’t change what the ski can do, but the brand changed how it feels. In the M6, Volkl has “tailored” the ski’s top layer of metal and reoriented the carbon fiber in the tips. As a result, the M6 has more stability while also feeling lively and easy to maneuver, which weren’t characteristics of the Mantra before.

To make this ski, Volkl carved out a significant portion of the topsheet of Titanal. The width of the Titanal Frame changes with the length of the ski. Tailored sections use a 0.7mm-thick Titanal frame above the sidewalls and in the tip and tail instead of a full sheet of metal. By customizing the frame to each ski size and anticipated skier height and weight, the ski’s damping and torsional flex change.

In longer skis, more metal increases the ski’s torsional stiffness, power transmission, and damping for larger, heavier skiers. In shorter skis, less Titanal makes the ski softer and more maneuverable. Across the board, Volkl uses 0.3mm-thick Titanal underfoot for reliable binding retention. It also gives the ski softer flex in its mid-body, which is linked to this ski’s 3D turn radius, which we’ll get to in a second.

mantra m6 specs

M6 Mantra New Carbon Stringers

In addition to switching to a metal frame, Volkl changed the way it uses carbon fiber in the M6’s tip. In past Mantras, a sheet of carbon made the tip stiff. The M6 tips use custom-inlaid, directional strands of carbon, which is visible in the tip of the ski.

Volkl said the directional carbon reinforces the torsional stiffness of the ski at the forward contact point. On snow, that meant that the shovel of the ski slid smoothly and immediately into every turn regardless of how quick or how sweeping I made them.

This was particularly noticeable skiing compacted and skied-off manmade snow. I found myself slipping through turns where I didn’t expect to be able to carve it so hard. When I decided not to be intimidated by the ice, the ski initiated a turn and held an edge.

Volkl explained that the torsional stiffness of the forebody of the ski immediately transitioned to a softer flex. So I could flow through the turn and, despite the crappy snow, carve playfully down the mountain.

mantra m6

Another Update: The 3D Radius Sidecut

The third big change in the M6 is that Volkl built the ski with its signature 3D Radius Sidecut. By building three radii into one ski edge, Volkl was able to give this ski easy handling with rock-solid stability. The tightest radius is in the center of the ski, where it provides support for, say, cruising down a groomer. But it also added liveliness to short turns. Longer radii in the tip and tail gives the ski stability.

Combined with the directional carbon stringers, the longer top and tail radii gave the ski laser-focused tracking. I didn’t get thrown off my line in variable snow. And Volkl said that in soft or windblown snow, the ski is less likely to get deflected because of the tip sidecut and directional carbon combined with tip rocker.

voelkl mantra m6

Our Verdict: Great Stability & Feedback

Past Mantras have been heavy, aggressive skis for expert skiers. They required strength and power to make them perform. The M6 gave me back everything I put into it. Volkl’s “tailoring” and innovations didn’t dumb it down: The brand made this ski one that I don’t need to ride hard all the time to have fun.

Even if you’re a skier who likes to cruise, this ski dishes out stability and confidence. Even when I wasn’t railing it, it held an edge on icy hardpack.

Due to low snow, I didn’t get to put the M6 through its paces in powdery trees, bumps, or the rest of the conditions encompassed by “all-mountain.” But I expect this new, user-friendly Mantra to deliver in all conditions.

mantra m6

Choose the Right Length of Your M6 Mantra

Depending on what length you choose, the same ski will give you different rides. If you’re going to rip groomers and arc your turns, and you consider yourself a hard charger, size up. If you want a ski you can push to top speeds but that’s also fun to wiggle around in the trees, buy the size you’d normally ski. (The M6 Mantra will come in 170, 177, 184, and 191 lengths. See more options for women below.)

It’s a subtle difference. In most all-mountain skis, I ride 177-180cm. If I go much bigger, I feel like the ski is skiing me. Straight out of the gates, I hopped on the 184cm M6, and it ripped. The ski was fast, stable, and let me carve it how I wanted to. I could flex it appropriately. It didn’t buck me or flat-out scare me. I could control it, and it was a blast.

Then, I hopped on the 177. I never thought about the ski or considered what it could do. I was focused on what I could do, zippered my way down one slope, then laid a hip to the snow arcing GS turns on another. Then, I boosted off trailside booters. I went from top speed to mellow cruising. It was intuitive and powerful and playful.

Not to be cliche, but I was one with the ski. The shorter ski was as stable as the longest ski and bit into snow so hardpacked that if I wasn’t from Vermont, I’d call it ice. I had as much fun on the bigger version. Because the 184 has more metal, when I skied it, it felt more like the 177 Mantra Volkl M5.

The M6 is an all-mountain ski in all senses of the word. It can handle all conditions on the mountain. And by choosing to stay with my regular size or size up, I could tweak my preferences toward all-mountain ripper and all-mountain dancer.

m6 skiing

Volkl M6 Mantra for Women: The Secret 96

The women’s version of the M6 Mantra is the Secret. It’s the same ski, with the same materials and construction. The only difference between the M6 Mantra and the Secret is the Secret comes in smaller sizes — 149cm and 156cm in addition to 163cm and 170cm. The 163cm and 170cm are identical to the men’s M6 in 163cm and 170cm except for the topsheet, which is a different color.

The M6 and Secret 96 deliver the widest bandwidth of any model in Volkl’s All-Mountain Freeride series —forgiving on one end and high-performance at the other. It’s a combination that will let the most skiers have the most days on the mountain with full, face-splitting grins. We can’t wait to put more days on these skis.

mantra m6 & secret 96

M6 Mantra Specs

  • Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184, 191
  • Dimensions: 135-96-119
  • Weight: 1,940 to 2,150 g
  • 3D Radius Sidecut:
    • 163 [R1(24.1), R2(14.2), R3(20)]
    • 170 [R1(26.9), R2(15.8), R3(22.1)]
    • 177 [R1(29.8), R2(17.5), R3(24.3)]
    • 184 [R1(31.8), R2(18.7), R3(25.9)]
    • 191 [R1(35), R2(20.5), R3(28.3)]
  • R1: Tail radius, R2: Center-main radius, R3: Tip radius
  • Price: $825

Secret 96 Specs

  • Lengths: 149, 156, 163, 170
  • Dimensions: 135-96-119
  • Weight: 1,940 g (170 cm)
  • 3D Radius Sidecut:
    • 149 [R1(19), R2(11.2), R3(16.1)]
    • 156 [R1(21.4), R2(12.7), R3(18)]
    • 163 [R1(24.1), R2(14.2), R3(20)]
    • 170[R1(26.9), R2(15.8), R3(22.1)]
  • R1: Tail radius, R2: Center-main radius, R3: Tip radius
  • Price: $825

Volkl’s M6 Mantra and Secret 96 skis will be available at select retailers later in 2021.

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Berne Broudy

Berne Broudy is a Vermont-based writer, photographer, and adventurer. She is passionate about conservation, education, and recreation, and has spent her adult life working to make the outdoors a place where all feel welcome with the gear and skills to enjoy it.