Deep Dive: Atomic Backland 107

Sam Shaheen & Luke Koppa review the Atomic Backland 107 for BLISTER
Luke Koppa on the Atomic Backland 107, Crested Butte, CO.

If you haven’t already, check out our Full Review of the Backland 107 for more on that ski. Here, we’re comparing it to several other skis in its class.

Atomic Backland 107, 182 cm (18/19–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 136.3-107.4-123.5 mm
Stated Radius: 18.5 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1643 & 1663 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 56 mm / 5 mm / 19 mm
Measured Length: 181.4 cm
Measured Mount Point: -9.2 cm / 81.5 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 175, 182, 189 cm
Core Construction: Karuba/Poplar + Carbon Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate

Blizzard Zero G 105, 188 cm (19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 133.3-104.3-119.2 mm
Stated Radius: 24 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1606 & 1641 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 71 mm / 3 mm / 25 mm
Measured Length: 185.2 cm
Measured Mount Point: -9.2 cm / 83.4 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188 cm
Core Construction: Paulownia + Carbon Fiber Laminate

Sam Shaheen: The Backland 107 vs. Blizzard Zero G 105 comparison is the most relevant in this Deep Dive as the two skis have a lot of similarities. Both come in at a very similar weight, width, and most importantly, both skis are quite strong and respond best to forward, driving stances.

I think the 188 cm Zero G 105 is a bit more demanding than the 182 cm Backland 107. It’s hard to say how they would compare in more similar lengths though (say, a 180 cm Zero G vs a 182 cm Backland 107). The Zero G is distinctly stiffer throughout the length of the ski than the Backland though the Zero G does have a bit more tip and tail rocker and the Zero G’s tail is slightly easier to release from a turn. I suspect that these skis would feel similarly demanding in more apples-to-apples lengths.

I think the decision between these two skis really comes down to what snow conditions you’re looking to prioritize. The more powder you’re going to be skiing, the more I’d lean towards the Backland 107 and its surfier feel in soft conditions. And the more firm conditions you’ll be skiing, the more I’d lean toward the Zero G 105 and its stiffer flex pattern and slightly more secure edge hold.

K2 Wayback 106, 179 cm (18/19–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 136.0-105.4-123.4 mm
Stated Radius: 22 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1476 & 1490 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 58 mm / ~ 2 mm / 18 mm
Measured Length: 178.6 cm
Measured Mount Point: -13.0 cm / 76.2 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 172, 179, 186 cm
Core Construction: paulownia + partial titanal layer + carbon stringers + fiberglass laminate

Sam: These skis don’t have a lot of similarities. The Wayback 106 is much easier to ski in every regard. It is easier to throw sideways, has a bigger sweet spot, has a softer and more forgiving tail, and a rocker profile that makes it looser and easier.

I think most backcountry skiers are going to get along better with the K2 Wayback 106 than the Backland 107. The Wayback 106 is still one of my top recommended touring skis because it is so intuitive.

But if you want a strong ski and the Wayback sounds too soft, go Backland 107. If you want an easy ski, go Wayback 106.

Black Diamond Helio 105, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 133.5-105-118 mm
Stated Radius: 22 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1547 & 1551 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 55 mm / ~3 mm / 11 mm
Measured Length: 185.5 cm
Measured Mount Point: -8.75 cm / 84.0 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 165, 175, 185 cm
Core Construction: balsa/flax + carbon laminate

Luke Koppa: I figured these skis would be similar, and they are in some regards, but I think the Backland 107’s stronger-feeling tail makes this decision pretty easy.

Overall, the Helio 105 feels like a much more forgiving ski. It has a bigger sweet spot, is not as quick to punish you if you get backseat, and is easier to pivot (especially from a centered stance). The Backland 107 is more stable at speed, a bit more damp, and feels slightly more solid on edge on firm snow. In deep conditions, both offer a fun, surfy feel, but the Helio translates that to other conditions, whereas the Backland 107 feels less surfy and more powerful the shallower the snow is.

If you’ve tried the Helio 105 and found it to be too loose or too soft, the Backland 107 definitely warrants a close look. But if you’re looking for a forgiving, easy-going backcountry ski for a variety of conditions, the Helio 105 offers much of the versatility of the Backland 107 in a more accessible package.

Moment Wildcat Tour 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 134.5-107.7-127.1 mm
Stated Radius: 22 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1692 & 1715 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 72 mm / 5-6 mm / 65 mm
Measured Length: 180.5 cm
Measured Mount Point: -7.05 cm / 83.2 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 174, 184, 190 cm
Core Construction: paulownia/ash + carbon stringers + fiberglass laminate

Sam: The thing that really stands out to me to differentiate these skis in the stance. The Wildcat Tour 108 is very happy from both a neutral and forward stance. It feels much more versatile in that sense. I think both skis can also be skied similarly hard (the Wildcat Tour 108 is no noodle).

If I was skiing a lot of consequential terrain, I would appreciate the added effective edge and edge hold of the Backland 107, but for an everyday touring ski, I think the Wildcat Tour 108 is more versatile and generally more fun ski. If you have a very traditional ski style, then the Backland 107 might be better, but I think most people will prefer the Wildcat Tour 108, and you’ll definitely be better on the Wildcat Tour 108 if you want to ski centered, ski switch, and / or take a more playful approach to the backcountry.

Line Vision 108, 183 cm (19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 140.1-107.5-126.8 mm
Stated Radius: 19.5 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1605 & 1630 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 69 mm / ~3 mm / 41 mm
Measured Length: 181.5 cm
Measured Mount Point: -5.95 cm / 84.8 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 175, 183, 189 cm
Core Construction: paulownia/maple + carbon, aramid, & fiberglass laminate

Luke: Not much similarity here. The Vision 108 is so much more forgiving and playful than the Backland 107, whereas the Backland 107 feels much more directional, can be pushed a bit harder through the shovels, and feels a bit more secure on edge. In deep snow, the two are pretty fun and surfy skis, but the Backland 107 demands a more forward stance, whereas the Vision 108 lets you play in pow from a centered or forward stance.

Like the Wildcat Tour 108, the Vision 108 is a much better option for those who want to ski with more of a centered stance, appreciate a more forgiving ski, and / or who want a playful touring ski. The Backland 107 is a better option for those who worry that the Vision 108’s mount point is too far forward, that it’s too soft, or that it has too much tip and tail rocker. I.e., if the Vision 108 sounds like it’s too playful or easy-going for your liking, the Backland 107 is worth a look.

Amplid Facelift 108, 189 cm (17/18–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 134.3-107.8-126.5 mm
Stated Radius: 18 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1752 & 1771 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 51 mm / ~6 mm / 33 mm
Measured Length: 187.8 cm
Measured Mount Point:
“All-Mountain”: -2.5 cm / 91.4 cm from tail
“Freeride”: -4.5 cm / 89.4 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 176, 184, 189
Core Construction: paulownia/balsa/birch + carbon laminate

Luke: While both of these skis feel strong, the mount point on the Facelift 108 should be the deciding factor. The Facelift 108 feels like a freestyle ski — it wants to be skied centered, it feels great in the air, and it’s not a ski that encourages a very directional, driving-the-shovels style.

The Backland 107 is basically the opposite. It demands a forward stance and wants to be pushed hard through its shovels. So I’d just look at the mount points and see which seems more in line with your skiing.

4FRNT Raven, 184 cm (16/17–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 121-103.5-112 mm
Stated Radius: 29 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1745 & 1747 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 67 mm / 0 mm / 22 mm
Measured Length: 182.8 cm
Measured Mount Point: -6 cm / 86 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 177, 184, 190 cm
Core Construction: aspen + maple underfoot + carbon stringers + fiberglass laminate

Luke: These skis don’t feel very similar. Both are pretty stable for their weight, though the Raven feels a bit more damp and composed in most conditions apart from very firm, smooth snow (where the Backland 107 feels more solid on edge).

But the Raven’s reverse-camber profile, tapered shape, longer sidecut radius, and more forward mount all make for a ski that feels very, very different on-snow feel. The Raven is much more forgiving, more accepting of a centered stance, much looser and easier to pivot, and more playful overall. Those who appreciate a strong, flat tail, the bite of camber underfoot, and / or a more traditional mount point will almost certainly prefer the Backland 107, while those who want to ski more centered and surf and turn easily in all conditions will prefer the Raven.

G3 FINDr 102, 179 cm (19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 132.0-100.9-119.3 mm
Stated Radius: 22.6 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1489 & 1545 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 60 mm / 2 mm / 15 mm
Measured Length: 177.5 cm
Measured Mount Point: -10.65 cm / 78.1 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 164, 169, 174, 179, 184, 189 cm
Core Construction: aspen + carbon laminate

Sam: Both of these skis feel rather traditional and they both feel rather strong. The big difference is in how demanding they are. The FINDr 102 is distinctly less demanding than the Backland 107 but it still has a strong enough tail to be very confidence inspiring in steep terrain and firm snow. And on firm, steep snow, the FINDr 102 feels a bit more solid on edge, while the Backland 107 is surfier in soft snow.

The added width of the Backland 107 makes it the clear winner in powder and the added weight makes it the clear winner in terms of damping / suspension. The FINDr 102 has the upper hand in steep terrain but I’ve had trouble with both skis in variable snow. The FINDr 102 felt a bit too eager to turn, while the Backland 107’s punishing tail was the issue.

The more you want a pow ski, go Backland 107. The more you want a mountaineering / firm-snow ski, go FINDr 102.

Renoun Citadel 106, 185 cm (18/19–19/20)
Measured Dimensions: 135.5-105.1-125.0 mm
Stated Radius: 19.5 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1642 & 1651 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 56 mm / ~3 mm / 22 mm
Measured Length: 182.7 cm
Measured Mount Point: -5.25 cm / 86.1 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 178, 185, 191 cm
Core Construction: aspen + 12 channels of HDT + carbon laminate

Sam: The Citadel 106 is a unique ski. It’s very light and playful, but the more you push it, the stiffer and more damp it gets due to its unique HDT construction.

It is much, much more forgiving than the Backland 107 but definitely has a better suspension in variable snow. The Citadel is much more accepting of a centered stance, and feels surfier in everything but very deep snow. I would choose the Backland 107 on exposed lines and very deep snow (stronger & better edge hold), but the Citadel 106 gets the nod everywhere else for me.

Luke: Yep, these skis don’t remind me of each other whatsoever. The Citadel is so much more forgiving — it’s a very easy and playful ski. The Backland is much more demanding and punishing, though I think traditional skiers may prefer its more rearward mount point since you can drive its shovels harder than the Citadel.

The Citadel 106 is a very playful, easy, lightweight ski that’s light enough to tour on but that is surprisingly stable at high speeds. The Backland 107 is a demanding, but strong ski that rewards technically proficient skiers, but it’s not nearly as easy and playful at slower speeds as the Citadel 106.

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1 comment on “Deep Dive: Atomic Backland 107”

  1. I have the 18/19 Backland 107 and love them as dedicated touring ski. Have skied them in 3ft of pow as well as firm condittions. I first got hooked on this ski on long descents in the eastern Sierra on firm corn. They hold the turn and are really fun to carve. Then we were surprised at how good they were in 3 ft of snow in Revelstoke. The tip features described above makes them fun and surfy. My son is a ski racer (collegiate level) and is a much better skier than I am and also thinks they perform really well and can hold his aggressive turns. I am recommending this ski to my friends for a strong performing touring set up.

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