2018-2019 Atomic Backland Carbon AT Boot
Available Sizes: 24.5 – 30.5
Size Tested: 27.5
Stated BSL (27.5): 298 mm
Stated Last: 98 mm
Stated Range of Motion: 74°
Stated Weight (27.5) : 1161 g per boot
Blister’s Measured Weight
• Shells, no liners: 907 & 915 grams
• Liners: 260 & 255 grams
• Shells + Liners: 1167 & 1170 grams
Ski / Bindings Used: G3 Ion / Salomon MTN Explore 95
Days Tested: 4
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Backland Carbon, which was not changed for 17/18 or 18/19, apart from graphics.]
The Atomic Backland boot series are intended to be lightweight, high-performance, dedicated ski touring boots, and are a significant departure from anything the company has done before.
Atomic describes the new Backland boot line as, ”100% built for touring, so they’re super light and come with incredible mobility to make climbing feel totally natural. Plus, unlike other touring gear, they’re packed with Atomic technology for powerful skiing and awesome comfort.”
There are four new boots in the Backland lineup. We tested the Backland Carbon, which is the stiffest-flexing boot in the series.
The Backland Carbon Light ($899) uses a similar shell construction, but shaves off a bit of weight compared to the Backland Carbon. The Carbon Light includes an Ultralon liner (the same foam used in Intuition brand liners), and two sets of tongues of varying stiffness, and costs about $150 more than the Backland Carbon ($749).
For around $100 less than the Backland Carbon, the Backland ($649) and Backland Womens ($649) have a Grilamid cuff rather than a carbon fiber cuff.
Construction / Design:
Shell and Buckles
The Backland Carbon uses a basic construction that looks a lot like the Dynafit TLT6 and the Vulcan Mercury series which remains a significant departure from most touring boots on the market. Put simply, these boots are all constructed with a lightweight, relatively low-volume Grilamid lower shell that is connected via pivots to a carbon or fiberglass reinforced upper cuff (in the case of our boot, the upper cuff is carbon).
For increased downhill and uphill performance, they all feature a removable tongue that slides in under the buckles, and those buckles are largely made of lightweight cables connected to camming buckles.
Atomic has put together a nice 90-second video that clearly shows all of this:
The Backland differs slightly from the TLT6, in that it has a wrap-around lower buckle that provides a larger pressure distribution (probably more equivalent to 1.5 or 2 lower buckles), but is a bit more finicky to work with, because it’s longer and requires lacing over a plastic hook.
The upper buckle of the Backland is a simple micro and macro adjustable buckle. In this way, it differs significantly from the “Ultralock” Dynafit boots mentioned above, because the Backland Carbon’s buckle is completely independent of the ski / walk lock system, while the Dynafit system locks the upper cuff and buckle in one motion. I’ll touch on this more below.
Another unusual feature of the Backland Carbon is the swath of water-resistant textile that creates a nice extra barrier to snow and water even when tongue is not installed. This piece of material does, however, make it a little more difficult to get the liners in and out of the boot.
Having now owned five pairs of ski boots that have removable-tongues (two TLT5s; one TLT6s; one Vulcan; and now these) I have a lot of experience with removable-tongue touring boots. I’ve even experimented with modifying a pair of Full-Tilt tongues to fit in my TLT5s, and have helped create a set of vacuum-bagged carbon reinforced tongues for my TLT6s. As a result, I’ve become quite comfortable placing, removing, and managing the tongues.
Given my experience, I have to say that the Backland Carbon tongues are far more difficult to use than any of the Dynafit boots referenced above. This is based primarily on how hard they are to insert and, even moreso, remove.
The tab of plastic on the lower shell that is designed to hold the tongue in place seems to be much bigger than it needs to be, and makes it very difficult to pull the tongue off. I’ve tried all kinds of strategies, and finally settled on completely unclipping all of the buckles and pulling really hard straight up. The first time I did this, I had to pull so hard I thought I might break something, and it hasn’t gotten much easier over a few weeks of using them. There may be some trick that I’m not aware of, but it’s enough of an issue that it discourages me from removing them for short hikes, where I wouldn’t have thought twice about it with the Dynafit removable tongue models. I may ultimately take a dremel to that tab to mellow it out a little bit; it seems unnecessarily bulky and obtrusive.
NEXT: Pivot, Walk / Ski Mechanism, Etc.