Atomic changed the name, but not the singular purpose. The Backland UL 78 is a ski mountaineering weapon. The ski is capable of slicing and dicing on hard snow, while remaining playful in soft snow due to the lightly rockered tip. The double-carbon construction is reliable on the steeps and the ultra-light wood core helps you get it done. The Backland UL series features the same Step-Down sidewall that proved durable in the Ultimate line of mountaineering skis. The tip has been redesigned to help it cut through rough patches, but otherwise the ski remains a workhorse. The Backland UL 78 is a safe bet when you’re skiing not-so-safe lines.
- 15% rocker in the AT 2.0 tip makes skiing powder and mank more of a joy than a pain.
- Two fiber inserts make the ski Carbon Powered which improves torsional stiffness.
- Multi-wood core offers the lightness of Paulownia with the strength of Poplar.
- Step-down sidewall is thicker underfoot where you might expect most impacts.
Update 2019/20: A graphics update on the top sheet hints at features to come. Ski remains the same.
Update 2020/21: Atomic released a new ski under the name "Backland UL 78", which you can find here.
|Lengths (cm)||157, 163, 169, 175|
|Weight (pair)||1890g 
||Tip notch, flat recessed tail|
||15% rocker, 85% camber|
||Round tip, steep-ish sidecut, flat tail|
||Step down sidewall w/ carbon laminates|
||Karuba + Poplar|
|Skimo Co Says|
|Usage||Endurance touring, ski mountaineering|
|Notes||New tip shape for better slicing performance|
|Bottom Line||Endurance touring at its best|
|Compare to other Low-fat Skis|
Questions & Reviews
I'm not the most experienced skier and my goal is to have long, enjoyable days in the mountains. My previous skis are longer and skinnier with a more traditional racing shape. They got the job done and were speedy and capable, but I really had to work my legs off on the downhill.
The Atomics make skiing downhill feel easy. I'm comfortably linking turns on terrain I wouldn't have touched a year ago. I think that they are perhaps not as fast as the longer skis on certain terrain like smooth downhills and skating road, but I'll take it. It's awesome to not be scared and exhausted when things get steeper.
(Caveat: I mounted the Atomics with race bindings that provide a neutral ramp angle compared to the +13mm of my long skis. I think this compliments the ski in reducing strain on my legs.)
In summary: They punch well above their weight, hold a fantastic edge, allow for varied turn shapes, and are forgettable when you carry them on your pack!
A couple more details: I'm 5-10, $1.65 and went with the 169, which is a little shorter than my normal lightweight Spring/Summer set-up (Current K2 Wayback 88 in 174cm). Mounted them with a Ski Trab Gara Titan Race binding, currently skied with Fischer Travers.
I used these throughout this late spring and summer here in the PNW on the usual trade routes and some lesser known hike-to marathons and was simply blown away by how well they skied for a ski weighing only ~1kg and coming in shorter than my usual ski length. They were effortless to bring around on steep terrain and held a great edge. The turned up tail seems to really help here. Skied plenty of funky snow types as well and while they get kicked around a bit as they are a smaller ski, they do so in "dare I say" a highly predictable and manageable way. But also when cruising down relaxed slopes and hero corn, they were still a pretty energetic and fun ski that allowed me to vary turn shape and how hard i drove them from the tip. With a heavy pack, I'd probably be happy to size up, but even at 169 it wasn't exhausting, especially when realizing how fun they were to ski when the terrain was steeper. Obviously haven't had them in soft/unconsolidated, and would imagine they are much less effective, but with the reasonable rocker in the tip, I'm sure i could do it, but personally I prefer a long wide board when our wet/heavy comes back.
Full endorsement for PNW mountaineering season!
The 78 UL is part of my new setup, still waiting to taste it in deep.
It feels solid, I'd say a very good "classic" lightweight all mountain Atomic (around 1070 grams on 169) , moderate 1/6th tip rocker, quite stiff, with very uniform flex from tip to tail. Tip and tail very slightly higher than others, easy round tail. Full front and rear mounting boxes for all kind of bindings (wide or smallish).
I was looking for a ski for our "extreme" conditions (most times hard and iced snow).
The only thing I dislike are the graphics! Too dark and loud. I`d say the graphic designer hasn`t worked much on it... :D
Hopefully you like the new hot red color...
Thanks in advance!
I would have rated these 4.5 stars but I have recently switched to Movement Big Fish X so I am comparing to those -
it is a very similar on paper (174cm and 116-78-97) but the slight differences add up for me (a bit lighter, flowing better in deeper snow). See my review on that page.
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