How fleeting is stardom, how swiftly the limelight fades. It was only two years ago that the Völkl 90EIGHT was injected with new life by 3D.Glass, which this pundit declaimed as the most clever product upgrade of the year. Then along came the M5 Mantra and the 90EIGHT lost popularity like a close talker with bad breath. The problem with this fall from grace is that the two skis are quite different, despite having similar sidecuts and baselines, which would normally suggest some overlap in their behavioral profile. But their signature construction features are from two different worlds that have circled each other in the ski universe for decades: a metal laminate, traditionally the province of GS and speed event skis, versus a fiberglass torsion box, once upon a time the paradigm of race slalom design. When it comes to demolishing crud, the M5 is more of a bulldozer and the 90EIGHT more like a crate of grenades. The lighter and peppier 90EIGHT is more inclined to glide over broken terrain, while the carving power of the M5 wants to dive into it. Jack Walzer of Jan’s has the 90EIGHT pegged as “fun, playful, great in soft snow ski and very lively.” If you plan on using your new All-Mountain West skis primarily off-trail, the 90EIGHT is probably the superior tool.
Full Review with test scores available on members’ site.