2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109

Cy Whitling reviews the Atomic Backland FR for Blister Gear Review.
Backland FR 109

Ski: 2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109, 189 cm

Available Lengths: 175, 182, 189 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 185.7 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (182 cm): 1850 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (189 cm): 1970 & 1979 grams

Stated Dimensions: 135-109-125 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 134-109-124

Stated Sidecut Radius: 19.5 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 76 mm / 45 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~5-6 mm

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -8.5 cm from center; 84.4 cm from tail

Ski: 2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109, 182 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 180.3 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 1850 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1808 & 1835 grams

Stated Dimensions: 134-109-124 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133-108.5-123 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 18.5 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 77 mm / 41 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -9.05 cm from center; 81.1 cm from tail

Total Days Skied: 18

Test Locations: Cameron Pass & Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; Mt Bachelor, OR; Teton Backcountry, WY; Rogers Pass, British Columbia


For the 15/16 season, the Atomic Backland FR 109 replaced the popular Automatic 109 and the ski received several updates — most notably, the addition of Atomic’s HRZN Tech in the tip (but not the tail).

HRZN has been present in the Atomic Bent Chetler for a few years, and it is also now featured in the Backland FR 117 and 109, but not in any of the narrower Backland skis.

So what is HRZN tech? It’s basically a boat-hulled section of “horizontal” rocker that is present at the edges of the tip of the ski, ahead of its widest point. Several companies are using similar technology; DPS does something similar with their “Spoon” skis, and Armada’s new ARV 116 features similar tips and tails. In theory, this sort of design is supposed to help the ski surf in soft snow more easily and reduce edge catch in the tip without sacrificing firm snow stability.

At 1970 grams per ski in the 189 cm length, the Backland FR 109 is light enough to be considered for 50/50 use, and Atomic acknowledges this. They state: “Mount some Tracker bindings and MultiFit Powder Rocker Skins on this low-weight powder performer and it works great as a Freeride Touring ski, too.”

So how does the Backland FR compare to skis like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Icelantic Nomad 105 Lite, Salomon QST 106, or Kitten Factory All Mountain?


Jonathan Ellsworth describes the flex pattern of the 182 cm Backland FR 109 as follows:

Tips: 7-7.5
Shovels: 8-9
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 9
Tails: 8-7.5

The tails are definitely stiffer than the tips, and the skis’ flex ramps up smoothly underfoot. That smoothness is a stark contrast to the 16/17 Rossignol Soul 7 HD which feels similar to the Backland FR 109 in the tips, but the Soul 7 HD gets very stiff very quickly underfoot.


The Backland’s shape looks very similar to the old Automatic 109. In fact, they have exactly the same stated dimensions. And that seems like a very good thing. The Automatic 109 was popular with a lot of skiers for good reason — it had a good blend of stability and maneuverability, and it was playful while still performing fairly in variable conditions. There was enough tip and tail taper to keep the ski from grabbing, but that taper didn’t feel overdone.

Rocker Profile

Atomic says the Backland 109 has “pronounced camber underfoot with….Powder Rocker that’s big in the tip and smaller in the tail” and that’s a pretty apt description, with emphasis on the “pronounced camber.” The Backland FR 109 has significantly more camber underfoot than the Icelantic Nomad 105 or Kitten Factory All Mountain, and has a similar amount to the Rossignol Soul 7 HD. The tip rocker also looks very similar to the Soul 7 HD’s.

The tail rocker of the Backland FR 109 is minimal; it looks almost more like a turned-up twin tail than a “rockered” tail.

A Few Questions

All of this combines to make what appears to be a fairly traditional recipe for a capable and versatile 50/50 ski, or a light all-mountain ski. But before we get it on snow, here are a few questions we’re looking to answer:

(1) Given that the Backland 109 is lighter than the Automatic 109 it replaces, how similar or different is the new ski’s performance in variable conditions?

(2) Does the HRZN Tech in the tips produce a noticeable difference in feel over the Automatic’s traditionally rockered tips?

(3) How does the Backland 109 compare to the current crop of intuitive and forgiving all-mountain skis?

(4) Is the Backland 109 more suited to inbounds use? Or 50/50 inbounds/touring use?

Bottom Line (For Now)

By the numbers, Atomic has created a ski with a lot of potential to be versatile and forgiving, that could appeal to a wide range of skiers. So we’re excited to get it on snow and report back on its performance.


Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Backland FR 109 for our notes on its initial on-snow performance.

NEXT: The Full Review

28 comments on “2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109”

  1. Looking forward to your comments on these. Am 6′, 165 lbs, directional skier mostly Lake Tahoe looking to replace an OG 185 cm Cochise with something a little less demanding and more playful. Liked the QST 106 in the 188 length (demo bindings on the line), except felt a little too much tail especially in the bumps and deeper mank. Also considering the SN 108 which am very interested to try based on your descriptions here as well as the 100eight. The new Blizzard Rustler 10 looks interesting as well. Love to hear your thoughts on any of these!

  2. I use the Backland 109 inbounds in Utah. Love the ski. Very nimble in tight spots and feels great charging down an open face. I use it as part of a 2-ski quiver: the Backland for 6+ inches and an Enforcer 93 for everything else and it works like a charm!

    • Hi.. Where did you mount the bindings? I installed them factory recommended, but I have the doubt that maybe it is better to mount them -1 or -2. What do you think about it? P.s. I mounted market tour 12. Thanks

  3. Has anyone skied the Backland 102? I haven’t seen many good reviews on that ski, but it seems to be the perfect dimensions for typical Colorado resort skiing…

    • I am about to test my Backland 102 skis this weekend. I will let you know how they ski. My previous skis were Volkl Nunataqs.

        • Dave, I spent 3 days on Atomic Backland FR 102 16/17, 188cm long. I am 181cm/83kg (naked). The skis are definitely not soft. I could ski the groomers (not too icy ones), powder… The ski turns easily and is playful. I liked it very much. But, I ski in Scarpa F1 shoes and I think that I can ski. For me this is one quiver ski.

  4. Any idea when the full blister review of the 109 is coming? I’d love to get thoughts on this ski as a backcountry one ski quiver…


  5. At some point i’d love to see you guys more globally address “pivotyness” or “slarvability” or whatever you want to call it as it relates to construction and shape. I often think of flat cambered skis as super pivoty based on my experience with Katanas, Scouts and old Megawatts. That shape clearly does this. However, once things get cambered, knowing how loose a ski will be is a total crapshoot, and it’s not reliably covered in reviews.

    I see this ski’s camber and think: not going to be very slarvy. You say here they’re “easy to throw sideways” but is that a slarve turn, or is is that the rocker and light weight just provides less resistance to a more forceful motion?

    The OG Squad 7 was awesomely pivoty, and had a ton of camber. The OG pure carbon DPS W112 was similarly shaped (less camber, more sidecut), and didn’t pivot worth shit. The ZeroG 95 has pretty minimal camber and rocker and didn’t pivot at all for me (super locked in) even after an aggro detune.

    The ability to slide turns and slarve is super important to me in the BC, but it’s hard to know without demoing what ski will do this reliably aside from the few rocker-flat-rocker models out there, especially when a demo tune might be off.

  6. Can you give me your thoughts on the Backland 109 vs. the Volkl VWerks BMT 109? I’m trying to decide between these two skis as my one ski backcountry quiver. Performance in pow, steep firm couloirs, etc? Thanks so much!

  7. I have been on the Atomic Blog 185 for several years. I imagine this to be similar to the backland 109… 132-110-124…but certainly with differences. The one knock I have on the blog is the tails seem too soft, and this seemed to be echoed by most people who review them. Does anyone have an idea of how these two compare, specifically in the tails? Thanks,


  8. Curious where you guys mounted them? I have a 189 and will be using it primarily as a touring ski. While being around 195lbs im not exactly a finesse skier but i do enjoying bouncing around off natural lips and hucking cliffs.

  9. Hi, everyone! I hoped, there is going to be a review of Atomic Backland FR 117.. but, nothing!
    I’m sure many skiers wants to know the differences between 109 and 117, and many of them- between Backland 109/117 and Automatic 109/117…. still nothing on site.
    So… For the next season I have two new pairs of ski- 17/18 Atomic Backland FR 117 (186 cm) and 16/17 Scott Punisher 110 (189 cm). Wondering which to pair with Marker Kingpin, every opinion about these two pair will be appreciated!
    I have 50 + days on Scott Punisher 110 – my favorite skis, so far.
    And while expecting Atomic Backland FR 117 – I was unpleasantly surprised to find, that the weight of the skis is 2167 g per ski, nor 2050 g, what is written on the label and in the official specifications! 117 grams more- WTF?!? Bought these for touring, but now I’m wondering- The Punisher is about 2150 g per ski….
    Is anyone in the similar situation? Will be very helpful not only for me.. thanks!

  10. Have you guys had a chance to check out the new Backland 107s? They’ve lightened up quite a bit and I’m curious how they perform. I’d also be interested in Mike’s question about the comparison to the Wildcat Tour. Thanks!

  11. I don’t ride switch and did not like them at factory being 205#. Im on the 192 Moved them back to -6 and love them now. Not as quick obviously but way more composed and drivable suits my style

  12. Please bring this ski back… the new backland does not have that playful tale, and the new Chetler’s that share the similar shape lack the carbon and liveliness..

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