Maybe it’s the endorphins, or the cold air, or the sweet anticipation of skiing untracked pow. Backcountry skiing gets me in the mood to fall in love. I love this view! I love this day! I really love my skis!
That’s about how it went with me and the Atomic Backland FR 109 W. They first caught my eye in the chalky trees at Big Sky. But I didn’t seriously commit to them until about halfway up a powdery slope on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore, a backcountry zone with perfectly spaced old-growth trees and an otherworldly view of sky and water. The sparks were real (that sparkly pink and purple top sheet!) but my love for the Backland faded into a longterm commitment after they held up in tight places. Like when I was side-hilling a 40-degree bowl in the Eastern Sierra that had yet to transition from ice to corn.
Sixty-five percent of the Backland FR 109 W is camber underfoot, giving me the edge-hold I needed on the skin track. Turn around for the descent, and that’s when the rocker in the tip and tail came in handy, giving me peace of mind that I can hop in and out of turns easily—falling is the last thing I want to do when I’m skiing on tech bindings.
Speaking of tech bindings, the Backlands are as light as I’d ever want to go, clocking in at less than four pounds per ski. They’re not as uber-light as a skimo stick. But I’m a skier, not a mountaineer. And I need some matter to lean into. Some may not like the Backlands as an inbounds ski. Their lightweight construction translates to feeling every bump, rut, hit on the snow, which can be a problem at a ski resort. Atomic put carbon inserts to run the length of the ski. Still, the Backlands ski above the crud, rather than cut through it.
But the true destiny of the Backland is powder. HRZN Tech blends ABS sidewall construction with a rocker shovel in the tip that gives the ski more surface area. Which means the Backland and I will float on in the deep, deep snow all the way to the sunset. —Julie Brown