Entering its third season, the Atomic Backland Carbon is unchanged, but still a force to be reckoned with. With 74 degrees of cuff rotation in walk-mode and a feather-like 1160 grams, the boot stands out as one of the best options for long days in the mountains.
But what really sets it apart is the fact that when locked down into ski mode, the Backland Carbon still skis like an aggressive boot. The hike-and-ski combination alone makes it a worthy consideration for any backcountry skier looking for a better way to move through the hills.
Power is provided by a carbon-reinforced spine along with a Grilamid lower shell. Utilizing a booster strap and two buckles (the lower one attached to a cable that wraps the forefoot), the minimalist design is easy to work with and provides a range of customization for a good fit. The tongue can be removed on the skin track for even better tourability, but after two solid winters in this boot, I've used that feature maybe three times; I've found that removing the tongue places too much pressure on my ankles, especially while side-hilling on an icy skin track.
Atomic gives the Backland Carbon a narrow profile, though in my experience, the boot offers more room in the toe box than a similar boot like Dynafit's TLT7.
The burly rockered sole gives a secure connection between my often-tired legs and slippery rocks, and it's also crampon-compatible for those extra-spicy missions.
The liner leaves something to be desired. It's lightweight and squishy, and to put the boot on I have to place my foot in the liner first, then stick liner and foot into the boot at the same time--a bit of a hassle in frigid parking lots. But even that's not enough to dampen spirits about this boot, one of the best lightweight touring boots on the market. -Matt Hansen