Ski: 2019-2020 Atomic Backland 107, 182 cm
Test Locations: Crested Butte & Berthoud Pass, CO
Days Skied: 10
Available Lengths: 175, 182, 189 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 181.4 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1550 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1643 & 1663 grams
Stated Dimensions: 137-107-124 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 136.3-107.4-123.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (183 cm): 18.5 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 56 mm / 19 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~5 mm
Core: Karuba/Poplar + Carbon Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -9.2 cm from center; 81.5 cm from tail
[Note: Our review is being conducted on the 19/20 Backland 107, which was reportedly not changed from the 18/19 model, apart from graphics.]
The Atomic Backland 107 won the award for “most requested review” of the past year. Well, we finally have the ski in hand, so you can all stop flooding our inboxes with requests (just kidding, we appreciate the input).
This ski has been getting a lot of hype. And given that it effectively replaces Atomic’s very popular Backland FR 109 (and previously, the Automatic 109), that makes sense. So what is this new ski, and how does it compare to its predecessors and other skis on the market?
What Atomic says about the Backland 107
Atomic keeps things brief with their description of the Backland 107:
“The Atomic Backland 107 is a powder-charging backcountry ski – now featuring HRZN Tech in the tip for even more floatation.”
In their short description, Atomic chooses to emphasize the Backland 107’s powder performance. And specifically, they say it’s supposed to charge through powder, not just lazily play around through it. They also chose to classify it as a “backcountry” ski, and that seems sensible, given its weight (more on that later).
As for the talk about Atomic’s beveled-edge “HRZN Tech,” well, we’ll hold off on any conclusive statements until we ski the Backland 107. But after using the Atomic Backland FR 109, Bent Chetler 120, and Bent Chetler 100 (all of which feature HRZN Tech), we’re not ready to say that it makes a massive difference. But we’ll see if that changes with the Backland 107.
Shape / Rocker Profile
The Backland 107’s shape looks very similar to that of the Backland FR 109. For how wide it is, the Backland 107 has pretty moderate tip taper lines, and more significant tail taper compared to other skis in its class like the Black Diamond Helio 105, K2 Wayback 106, and Blizzard Zero G 105.
The Backland 107’s rocker profile is an aspect where it differs significantly from the Backland FR 109. The Backland 107’s tip rocker line is shallower, and rather than a gradual rise like the Backland FR 109’s tip rocker line, the Backland 107’s tip rises pretty abruptly (it’s fairly similar to the Atomic Bent Chetler 100 in this regard). In the tail, the Backland 107 has a shallower rocker line than the FR 109, and the Backland 107’s tail splay is much lower (19 mm vs. 45 mm). In other words, the Backland 107’s rocker profile is a bit more conservative than its predecessor’s, and it ditches the Backland FR 109’s twin tail for a much more subtle, lower tail rocker line.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Backland 107:
In Front of Toe Piece: 7-9
Behind the Heel Piece: 9-7.5
The Backland 107 has an interesting flex pattern. Its tips and shovels are very soft, but then it quickly stiffens up. And that section that’s very soft is really only where the tip is rockered and raised off the ground / snow. The middle of the ski is pretty strong without feeling “planky,” and the tail is much more supportive than the tip, but not super burly.
Compared to the Backland FR 109, the Backland 107 is softer in the tips, and maybe a touch stronger in the tail. Compared to the Line Vision 108, the Backland 107 is a bit softer at the very tips, but ramps up much quicker as you move to the middle of the ski, and finishes with a stronger tail. Compared to the Amplid Facelift 108, the Backland 107 is again a bit softer at the tip, ramps up a bit slower as you move from the tips to the center, but has a stronger tail. Compared to the new Blizzard Zero G 105, the Backland 107 is softer in the shovels and in the midsection, but has a slightly stronger tail.
The Backland 107’s recommended mount point is around -9.2 cm from center, which is fairly similar to the FR 109’s -8.5 cm, and falls in line with the mount points on more traditional / directional touring skis like the Black Diamond Helio 105, Blizzard Zero G 105, and K2 Wayback 106.
That said, we ended up liking the Backland FR 109 at a variety of mount points, including all the way up to -5 cm from center. So, we’ll be playing around with the mount point of the Backland 107 during our testing.
This is arguably the biggest difference between the Backland FR 109 and the Backland 107. Our pair of the 182 cm Backland 107 comes in at around 1650 grams per ski. That’s a significant drop in weight vs. the ~1820-gram 182 cm Backland FR 109. And the Backland 107’s lower weight moves it closer to the “dedicated touring ski” category, whereas the FR 109’s weight put it more in the “50/50” category.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1476 & 1490 K2 Wayback 106, 179 cm (18/19–19/20)
1477 & 1482 G3 FINDr 102, 184 cm (17/18–18/19)
1547 & 1551 Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon, 185 cm (17/18)
1562 & 1566 Scott Superguide 105, 183 cm (17/18–18/19)
1605 & 1630 Line Vision 108, 183 cm (19/20)
1606 & 1641 Blizzard Zero G 105, 188 cm (19/20)
1642 & 1651 Renoun Citadel 106, 185 cm, (18/19)
1642 & 1662 Atomic Backland 107, 182 cm (18/19–19/20)
1706 & 1715 Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
1720 & 1747 Line Sick Day Tourist, 186 cm (16/17)
1733 & 1735 Blizzard Zero G 108, 185 cm (17/18–18/19)
1745 & 1747 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm (16/17–18/19)
1752 & 1771 Amplid Facelift 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
1755 & 1792 Line Sick Day 104, 179 cm (17/18–19/20)
1814 & 1845 Elan Ripstick 106, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1825 & 1904 Black Crows Corvus Freebird, 183.3 cm (17/18–19/20)
1843 & 1847 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (17/18)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
1849 & 1922 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
1898 & 1893 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (18/19)
1913 & 1943 Sego Condor Ti, 187 cm (18/19)
1923 & 1956 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106, 189 cm (17/18–18/19)
1941 & 1965 Fischer Ranger 108 Ti, 182 cm (17/18–18/19)
1950 & 1977 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (17/18–18/19)
1970 & 1979 Atomic Backland FR 109, 189 cm (17/18)
1980 & 2016 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (17/18–18/19)
1996 & 2012 Dynastar Legend X106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20)
2022 & 2047 Faction Dictator 3.0, 186 cm (17/18–18/19)
2026 & 2056 Black Diamond Boundary Pro 107, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2036 & 2064 Salomon QST 106, 188 cm (18/19)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) The old Backland FR 109 stood out because it was a fairly light ski that was still very playful. With its more conservative rocker profile and directional flex pattern, will the Backland 107 still fill this role?
(2) The Backland 107 is very light, but there are still a number of skis that come in lighter than it. So should it be thought of as a dedicated touring ski, a 50/50 ski, or one that some people could use solely in the resort?
(3) Will the Backland 107 share the Backland FR 109’s versatility when it comes to mount point and skiing stances?
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Atomic Backland 107 comes in at a very light, touring-friendly weight, but with a shape that’s more akin to most “freeride” skis on the market. We’ll be getting time on it very soon to see what that translates to on snow, so stay tuned for updates.
Luke Koppa and I have now both spent time on the Backland 107, in conditions ranging from deep powder to suncupped and extremely variable “snow” in the middle of July. Here’s our take on this “freeride touring” ski.
Sam Shaheen (5’10”, 145 lbs): This ski weighs ~1,650 grams per ski. That’s a pretty average weight in the class of mid-fat, dedicated touring skis, if not slightly on the heavier side. There are several lighter skis (like the Black Diamond Helio 105, Blizzard Zero G 105, and G3 FINDr 102) and a few heavier skis (like the Moment Wildcat Tour 108).
The Backland 107 feels about average to slightly heavier on the skin track, no surprise there. It doesn’t have an extreme rocker profile, mount point, or odd (enough) tip or tail shape to cause skinning problems that we occasionally see with touring skis.
If you want the absolute lightest, there are lighter touring skis out there, but remember, what you give up in weight will pretty much always be noticeable on the downhill.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): Yep, no complaints on my end when it comes to dragging the Backland 107 uphill. Only thing I’d add is that its low tail has worked just fine when it comes to stabbing it into the snow during transitions.
Powder / Soft Snow
Sam: I was fortunate enough to get the Backland 107 into some extremely deep snow this early season and the Backland 107 really feels at home in these conditions.
Bear in mind that this ski is only 107 mm underfoot, so take everything I’m about to write with that fact forefront in your mind. But for a 107 mm underfoot ski, the Backland 107 performs very well in deep snow.
As I’ll talk about later in the review, the tail on the Backland is pretty stout and feels pretty locked into a turn in shallower conditions, but in deep snow, the tail is easy to release predictably and feels much less punishing than it does in firm and / or variable snow.
In deeper snow, the Backland 107 offers a distinct surfiness to it that is extremely fun. And I can’t help but attribute this (at least partially) to Atomic’s HRZN Tech tips. Yes, it seems like a complete marketing ploy. But after spending many days on the Atomic Bent Chetler 120, Bent Chetler 100, and now the Backland 107 (all of which feature HRZN Tech), I’ve come away with a fondness for their boat-hull-esque tips. They don’t have a massive impact on the way a ski feels, but I do think that these tip shapes contribute to a looser feel in powder than skis with “regular” tips. Let the debate rage in the comments.
I could easily ski the Backland 107 as my dedicated pow touring ski here in Colorado, though on the deepest days, I’d be wanting more width for sure. But for a 107mm-wide ski, the Backland 107 is quite good in pow.
Luke: I was not fortunate enough to ski pow on the Backland 107, but everything Sam said seems reasonable, based on my time on the ski in some slushier conditions.
Soft Variable Snow
Sam: As I alluded to above, the Backland 107 is not the most forgiving ski in this category. The sweet spot on the ski is relatively small and the tail is not as forgiving as the hand flex would make it seem. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in variable snow.
When the snow isn’t consistent and predictable, the Backland 107 feels a bit punishing and unpredictable. I often want to ski from a neutral stance in weird snow to avoid punching through some soft snow and tomahawking, but the Backland 107 definitely feels a bit out of place when skied from a centered stance.
However, especially in the backcountry, I’m generally hesitant to drive my skis hard in variable snow. In variable snow (which is the majority of the snow I end up skiing in the backcountry), I found myself wishing I was on a different, more forgiving ski.
Luke: Yep, I totally agree. Despite not feeling that stiff when hand-flexing it, I was very surprised by how strong the Backland 107’s tail felt. This is a ski that definitely feels best when skied with a forward, driving stance. If I did that, the Backland felt like a pretty powerful ski. But as soon as I got off the shovels and onto the tails, I felt like I was losing control.
That strong tail will be a theme in this review, so I think it’s worth noting now that Sam and I have both been very comfortable skiing skis that are much longer, heavier, and / or stiffer than the 182 cm Backland 107. I’m far from the most technically perfect skier out there, but if you often end up skiing backseat (which, like Sam, I end up doing often in varying backcountry conditions), this will be an important thing to keep in mind.
We’re planning on having reviewers Eric Freson and / or Drew Kelly try the Backland 107 since they’re both more aggressive skiers than I am, and I’m very curious to hear their thoughts on this aspect of the ski.
Sam: On firm snow, I actually quite like the Backland 107, as long as the snow is pretty consistent. If it isn’t consistent, then the ski feels punishing and unforgiving like it does in variable snow.
But if the snow is pretty consistent, the Backland 107 has a pretty good suspension and holds a strong edge. Because it likes being driven so much, it excels in firm and consistent snow where I can do the work of keeping the ski on line that a ski as light as the Backland 107 has trouble doing on its own.
If you don’t mind the weight for longer tours and peaks, I think the Backland 107 would make for a pretty good (wide) ski mountaineering ski. I would happily make exposed jump turns in firm snow on this ski.
Luke: Yep, on conditions like chalk, windbuff, and other smooth-ish firm snow, the Backland 107 is great. Stay over the front, and the ski rewards you with a pretty damp and stable feel for its weight, and it feels surprisingly solid on edge for how much tip rocker and taper it has. For making big, fast turns down smooth, firm snow, I’d say the Backland 107 is one of the better touring skis I’ve used in this weight class.
But in weird, rough, firm snow like sastrugi or summer suncups, the Backland 107 became pretty difficult to ski. In those conditions, I’m prone to reverting to a centered or backseat stance, and the Backland 107 doesn’t like that.
Trees, Steeps, & Tight Terrain
Luke: In any condition, the Backland 107 is pretty maneuverable as long as you stay over its shovels. As Sam noted, this is less important in powder where the ski feels looser / surfier, but on anything remotely firm, I found myself really needing to drive the front of the Backland 107 in order to get its tail to release.
This was surprising since the Backland 107 still has a pretty tapered tail, but trying to pivot it from the backseat was quite challenging. But for skiers with good technique, I think the Backland 107 is pretty maneuverable.
Is it a Backcountry Charger?
Sam: I think the Backland 107 definitely falls on the “chargier” end of the spectrum than most of the touring skis on the market right now. It feels best when it is being pushed hard and skied from an aggressive, driving, forward stance. Beginners and intermediates stay away, neutral-stance skiers stay away, and if you tend to get lazy when ski touring and occasionally get back seat, there are many more forgiving options out there.
However, if a more game-on backcountry ski sounds appealing to you, then the Backland 107 is probably worth considering.
Luke: It’s funny, I never thought of the Backland 107 as a “backcountry charger,” though I also didn’t get to ski it super fast due to the conditions. So I’m not sure I agree with Sam here, mostly because of the Backland 107’s soft tips and shovels.
That said, I never once felt like I was folding the tips of the Backland 107. But I’m not a big guy nor the most aggressive backcountry skier, so this is another area where I’m curious to hear Eric Freson and Drew Kelly’s thoughts. But I definitely agree with Sam in that the Backland 107 encourages an aggressive, forward stance, which could make it a good option for those who find other touring skis to feel too soft in the tail or too inclined to make casual turns from a centered / neutral stance. And to be clear — this ski still only weighs ~1650 grams per ski for the 182 cm version, so the “backcountry” part of the “backcountry charger” name is very important. This is not some damp, super stable inbounds ski, and I personally would never want to ski it in the resort. I’d personally prefer a much more damp, heavy, and forgiving ski in the resort. But for skiing fast in the backcountry — especially in soft snow — the Backland 107 feels at home.
Who’s It For?
Sam: If you’re looking for a strong, mid-fat touring ski, have strong technique, and like to ski the backcountry like a resort (in other words, ski hard), then I think the Backland 107 is worth a look.
It is also worth considering if you’re an advanced or expert backcountry skier looking for a ski that you can use for a bit of everything, including ski-mountaineering (as long as you don’t mind the added weight or width of the Backland 107).
Luke: I definitely agree with Sam’s first paragraph. Beginners and intermediates have more forgiving touring skis to pick from (see the “Backcountry Touring Skis” section of our 19/20 Winter Buyer’s Guide). But for those with good technique, the Backland 107 is a pretty versatile and strong touring ski that can handle a bit of everything, provided you don’t mind / you like / you want its stronger tail.
As for ski-mountaineering, if you’re looking for a dedicated ski-mo ski, I’d suggest something much narrower. But if you’re like Sam and you ski everything from deep pow to steep lines in the spring and want one ski for all of that, then the Backland 107 is a solid choice.
Atomic replaced the very playful Backland FR 109 with a very different ski — the Backland 107. It’s a ski that responds best to the strong input of a skilled pilot but rewards with strength, precision on firm snow, and a surprisingly surfy feel in deep snow.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Backland 107 to see how it compares to the Black Diamond Helio 105, Blizzard Zero G 105, K2 Wayback 106, Line Vision 108, Ampler Facelift 108, G3 FINDr 102, 4FRNT Raven, & Moment Wildcat Tour 108.