Skimo Co

Atomic Backland UL 85 Ski

$749.95 $524.97

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As is often the case in the skimo world, we get excited about the little things. So when we heard that the redesigned Atomic Backland UL 85 was 10% lighter and made in hard-to-find lengths, we got pretty excited. Integrating several of their proprietary technologies, the witches and warlocks at Atomic were able to shave grams from an already light model. This while maintaining the intuitive, stable feel that the Backland series is known for. In its second generation, this version of the Backland UL 85 has the Atomic HRZN spoon-shaped tip that was first introduced on the Bent Chetler and has now spread to the farthest corners of the Atomic freeride line. This improves steering and float simultaneously. The tips of course still have a race-notch to streamline skin attachment, which is a huge plus for efficient transitions. Carbon fiber sheets sit above and below the Ultra Light Woodcore, making a sandwich that offers a snappy ride without compromising on stability. We used the word 'workhorse' to describe the previous model of this ski, and it still applies. Now, the Backland UL 85 is just a slightly leaner workhorse that skis even better.

  • Atomic's Cap Sidewall transfers power to the edge, while keeping things light for long approaches and big days.
  • The Carbon Powered laminates and Ultra Light Woodcore combine for a powerful downhill ride, especially for a ski this light.
  • True to typical Backland UL form, this updated 85 is stable and predictable, providing a reliable ride across the board.
  • The 15% rocker, 117mm-wide tip [172cm] provide a stable, steady ride even in heavy, choppy, or just plain bad snow.
  • The Tech Tips make for seamless skin attachment, perfect for tight transitions and windy peaks.
  • HRZN spoon-shaped tip slices right through snow and won’t hook up on crust.

Update 2019/20: Atomic has updated the topsheet for a sleek look.

Update 2022/23: Updated top sheet for your viewing pleasure, same construction for your skiing pleasure.

Lengths (cm) 158, 165, 172, 179
convert to ounces
925g [158]
980g [165]
1035g [172]
1105g [179]
Weight (pair) 1850g [158]
1960g [165]
2070g [172]
2210g [179]
Sidecut   115-85-103.5 [158]
116-85-104.5 [165]
117-85-105.5 [172]
118-85-106.5 [179]
Turn Radius   15m [158]
16m [165]
17m [172]
18m [179]
Skin Fix   Tip notch, flat notched tail
Specs Verified Yes
Profile   15% rocker, 85% camber
Shape   Directional Shape with HRZN Tech Tips
Construction   Cap Sidewall
Core   Ultra Light Woodcore
Skimo Co Says
Usage Backcountry touring, ski mountaineering
Notes Stable and reliable; comes in hard-to-find lengths
Bottom Line A versatile, compliant, reference point for classic ski touring
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Questions & Reviews

Wes (used product a few times)
Got the previous version in 2020. Skied it maybe 30 or 40 times - enjoyed it while it lasted. Then the wood core split in half while descending. No rocks or previous damage. Friend had durability issues as well.
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Question from Steen
Hi team. I have the Atomic UL 85 and I wanted to ask your opinion on this ski in terms of bringing a 10 kg backpack.
I am 180cm/72kg and with a 10kg backpack I sometimes find the skis are bending a lot in heavy wet snow which brings my weight even more forward and causing crashes if I carry speed.
Is it my skistyle causing this issue or is the UL85 not particarly suitable for "heavy" loads?
I have the ski in 177cm (the one below 180cm..)
Many thanks for input!
Answer from Jeff
Steen, could be you. But skiing in heavy wet snow would more likely be the culprit. It is seldom consistent and when hitting a "thick spot" tends to feel like suddenly hitting the brakes. If that is conditions you find yourself in a lot, maybe a wider and stiffer ski will help.
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Question from Lucy
Hi, i'm just getting into the skimo racing world.
what is the difference between Backland UL and backland W.. does it make a big difference for racing?
Answer from Lrow
Hi Lucy,

Profile wise, it's very similar, but in its construction the 85UL is lighter and carries less weight in the pair of skis than the regular 85W's. They both use the ultralight wood core construction, but all the special nooks and crannies of the inside makes the 85UL more similar to the 65UL race skis in its weight while trying to give it its float and stability comparable to the women's 85.
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Stephen C (used product a few times)
Pros: lightweight, tip notch, impressively stable at speed for doing resort laps, not a "demanding" ski in terms of stance
Cons: really not damp at all even compared to other lightweight skis I've used, not super maneuverable

I think this is a great resort uphilling ski but for actual backcountry skiing with ungroomed and inconsistent snow I personally prefer something more damp and/or maneuverable, at least near where I live in Seattle.
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Question from Ben
Hi there!! Pretty basic question - not seeing any short people here.

I'm 5'5", male, inexperienced, and anticipate skiing pretty conservatively with a focus on longer travel with heavier packs. What length would make sense?
Answer from Niko M
Hi Ben! With your focuses in mind and considering generalized sizing recommendations, the 158cm would likely be the best fit. This length will provide you with enough stability and performance to enjoy the downhill while still promoting uphill efficiency for the longer outings. The 165cm would also likely fit, however having more ski under your feet would require slightly more effort and management for the up, and at your current level of experience, possibly the downhill as well. Thanks!
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Question from jackson
Wondering if you have any insights on the differences between these and the Backland 86 SL?
Answer from jbo
Hi Jackson, the SL construction is a bit different. It uses fiberglass laminate whereas the UL series uses carbon fiber for better ski performance at a lighter weight. Additionally, the construction methods and material sourcing on the SL series were altered for a lower environmental impact. In our testing, we felt the SL skis were somewhat lifeless in comparison to the ULs.

In the case of the 86 vs 85, the 86 has a bit wider tip and tail and a corresponding shorter turn radius. It also has the squared-off "Horizon 3D" tip (also found on the new 95) which I can't say makes any difference.
Answer from Ben
According to their website, the sidecut is identical between the 86 SL and 85 UL, is that not the case in reality?
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Alfredo A (downright abused product)
Bought this ski at skimo a couple of seasons ago and love it just as much now as day 1, if not more.

While I spend the vast majority of my time on the 65UL, I now break these out for big powder days in the backcountry, heinous mixed snow conditions, and recovery skiing. What I love about them is their poppy maneuverability, playfulness, and light weight all while remaining highly durable.

In fact, at only a handful of grams heavier than the 78UL, the amount of skiability afforded by this ski at such low weight cost means you can still manage huge days even if you're used to the weightlessness of a race setup. Recommended!
Comment on this review:

Question from Ryan
I'm 5'10 160lbs and normally ski a 172 at the resort. I was looking at this ski as a spring ski. My current backcountry ski is a ZAG UBAC 95 170. In the spring I ski this with an Atomic Backland Carbon (too much ski for this boot) I was debating between the 165 and the 158 lengths. I often bump my tails on rocks when stepping down with the 170s. I also don't ride very aggressively in the backcountry. Any thoughts?

Thank you,
Answer from jbo
Hi Ryan, I wouldn't go shorter than 165 at your size. This ski in that length would be better paired with the Backland Carbons than the UBACs. Depending on your pack, you could try reducing the pack's tail loop diameter for the skinnier ski which can help with the tail bumps (noting there's a tradeoff between bumping your tails and catching more overhead branches, hah).
Answer from Michael P
Thanks jbo,

In our navy days we had a beers cheers that went something like, Tops to Bottoms in the Butts no Babies. I hear ya on the conundrum of hanging the skis too low you're scraping and too high you're catching. What would be the downfall on a shorter ski?
Answer from jbo
Hi Ryan, some wisdom in there! The shorter length would be a little less stable when driving your skis and it would be harder to keep your tips up in soft or slushy snow. It's also nice to have a good amount of edge on steep firm slopes.
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Question from Daniel
6'2 170-180 lbs, experienced, lower expert skier maybe (there are better skiers), 50 days a year. Currently on a do-it-all rig (Käste TX103 in a 181 w / Tectons) for lift served off piste and touring. Works to a point. Looking for something complementary for super long days, late spring/early summer, night tours on trails during winter, hut to hut. For kick turns, I top out at approx. 180 due to bad flexibility and short legs. I need something that climbs great and skis safely/ in style. How would the Backland 85 in a 172 sound fit my bill? Enough ski? Thanks in advance!
Answer from Gabriel I
Hi Daniel, at your height and weight you could go for either the 172 or 179. Either would be great for long days and traverses. The 172 would afford you some extra maneuverability that it sounds like you would appreciate, I don't think it would necessarily be too short!
Answer from Tjaard B
Daniël, I have the 179cm size. Straight tip to tail length is a bit less.
I am 6’5”, 175 lbs, intermediate, slow skier.
Since these are my shortest skis, and I am a bit taller than you, I find them super easy to kickturn (helped by their very low weight).
I would not want to go shorter. In variable, grabby spring snow, there just isn’t that much ski out in front if you hit a slow patch, that stops you in your tracks (and I keep them well waxed).
Similarly, if I get backseat, it is easy to start loosing grip in the tails. This is totally a technique issue on my part, but I feel the shorter size would have an even smaller ‘sweet spot’ for balance.
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Question from Tom Liby
How do the UL85's compare to the Salomon mtn Pro 86 skis?
Answer from Gabriel I
Hi Tom, the Backland UL 85 is ~150g lighter than the Salomon MTN Pro 86 size for size. Given that weight difference and its construction, the MTN Pro 86 will ski damper. The UL 85 is stiffer, and will give you more energy and edge hold out of your turns, whereas the MTN Pro 86 will ski more playfully, enabling slashy turns as needed.
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Question from John Schultz
I have an aging pair of Atomic Backland 95. Love the way they ski. I'm interested in getting a pair of 85's to go along with them. The first carbon fiber skis I tried were some BD Carbon Aspects that were nice and supple. Then I tried some Volkl VTA88 lite which were much too stiff for my personal tastes. How does the stiffness of Backland 85UL compare to the stiffness of the Backland 95 (not UL) or either of the other skis I mention?
Answer from Emmett I

The Backland 85 ULs are a hair softer, and less damp than the Backland 95s. I'd say these are also similar stiffness and less damp/more energetic than the Carbon Aspects.
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Ben (used product a few times)
15 days or so on these skis now and my first impression is that they are very playful and softer than other lightweight skis I've used. This is great in most conditions, but on hard pack they do have some trouble carving/holding an edge but I haven't skied something in this category that can very well. Fast and light on the up, still floats enough to be fun in powder. Overall a very versatile ski that I see myself using almost every day outside of really deep powder and resort laps. I am 5' 8" and got the 165 length which doesn't feel nearly as short as I thought it would.
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Question from Hamid H
I bought these skis from you earlier this Summer and only now I am getting around to installing my ATK bindings on them. Can you confirm if the solid line under the word FACTORY is Atomics' recommended boot center mark (See attached photo)?

Drilling into brand new skis is always stressful and I don't want to assume anything. Thanks.
Answer from jbo
Hi Hamid, yes that is correct. Just close your eyes and drill!
Answer from Hamid H
LOL. Will do. Thank you!
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Question from Will
I've heard some noise that you guys recommend mounting these at +1... can you back that up here? The tails feel pretty short at boot center. Thank you!
Answer from bruno wick
Hi Will,

A few people here at the shop have mounted them +1 and think they are a really fun ski with that mount point!
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Question from Solomon
Former skier, current split boarder, looking to get a pair of skis for fitness laps in the north cascades and spring volcano skiing/long traverses(tired of all the splitboard transitions!)

6'3" 200lbs and often carrying a heavy pack. Wondering if the 179 would be the right length or if you'd have any other ski recommendations in the same category?

Appreciate the help!
Answer from Jeff
Solomon, For you, yes, the 179cm would be the best size.
A stiffer, more powerful ski would maybe be better. In Related products right above, the Blacklight Pro or Zero G 85 would be two.
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Question from Erik H
Looking for a versatile lightweight big day kind of ski. Would I go shorter like 165cm for this application? I’m 5’8” 145 pounds. Normally ski ~175 cm length with a waist around 105mm.
Answer from eric
Erik-Good question, I think it depends on your boot and goals with the ski. If you are using a beefier boot or want to do lots of vert for a big day then go longer. If you are skiing a lightweight boot or race boot and the big day is a traverse style ski more than vert go to the shorter length. Generally, you would err shorter but you kind of fall in between the lengths of this ski.
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Question from Heiko K
I am looking for a ski for ski mountaineering and my terrain typically has everything - easy powder or corn, packed heavy, crud, crust, sometimes couloirs with soft or hard snow. I'm 6'2", don't have a scale but about 165 pounds I think (very slim body). I'm advanced with decades of experience, but my downhill skiing style is rather slow and controlled, playful, tight turns, not fast carving, although I like to charge harder in difficult snow as needed to make turns. I traditionally skied shorter skies (most of my life 175cm, 65mm width) for more agility, so I'm probably looking at 172cm length, correct? As for ski width, I understand there is a tradeoff between easier turns and better edge control in steep couloirs (along with less weight), vs. better float in soft snow. For my objectives, what is overall the better ski width - Backland UL 78 or Backland UL 85?
Also, I saw the Voile Objective on your site, which are in between (82mm) and softer. Do you think they are a good option for me? Do the Voile have a discernible advantage in soft snow, or a discernible disadvantage in hard snow, in real life i.e. not just in theory? Do the ca. 100g additional weight of the Voile over the Atomic Backlands give me anything in return? Tough decisions. Thanks for your help.
Answer from Will McD
Hi Michael, the Backland UL 85 is an impressively versatile ski, especially for its weight. I had the same ski myself and found it very nimble and adaptable to different conditions. It should be an excellent choice for the type of skiing you're looking at as it can tackle some pretty gnarly conditions. For length: you could go with the 172 or the 179, though I think you'll enjoy the agility of the 172. While the 78 is a great ski, I think you'll appreciate the added width of the 85 for fresh snow and good conditions days and it will still perform on the less-than-ideal snow that you've described.

Comparing the UL 85 to the Objective, both skies are a lot of fun in soft snow, with the Objective giving you a nice "pop back" between turns that translates to a more surfy feeling in loose snow. On hardpack, the Objective will be damper but the Backland will deliver better edge hold and power transmission thanks to the partial sidewall (particularly on steeper terrain). For your usage, I would lean towards the Backland but I think you would be very happy with either ski.
Answer from Heiko K
Thanks Will, appreciate your advice! It looks like the UL 85 is a good ski, but it looks like Atomic forgot to give it some color! Skiing should be fun but it's all black ;) Thanks again for your help!
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Will (used product regularly)
These things are great. A dream on the uphill, super light for an 85mm waist ski, kick turn well, break trail reasonably well, sidehill well -- I have basically no complaints. The downhill is compromised if you're used to heavier skis but my understanding is they're better than most in their weight class. They're good enough for me except in the worst snow conditions where my friends on beefier skis are struggling, too. Bought for ski mountaineering missions and they seem perfect for that job so far! My first time taking them out was Eldorado Peak, a 50 classic! I also hit 51mph on them coming down the Palmer glacier on Hood. Not bad for carbon weenie sticks. I went almost 10cm shorter than what I usually ski and that seemed about the right length.
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Zach W (used product a few times)
I've skied a ton of skis in this general category (Alp Tracks 89-169; Trab Maximo 171; Zero G 95-171; Blacklight 88-172; BD Cirque 78-169) but never the Backland 85 UL. However, I skied the Backland 78-163 for a full season as my only ski and really liked it, so I've wanted to get on these for a while. Fortunately, I had a chance to ski a friend's pair in 172 recently. I only skied these for a few hours, so take it with a grain of salt. I'm 5'8", 150 lbs, self-taught but expert skier.

In short, these skis feel exactly like you'd think they would based on paper. Like other Atomic skis, they are good skis, but they don't have the special dampness of Ski Trab, Movement, or Aski (which is totally fine!!). Like other thin Backland skis, they are easy to ski, make a variety of turn shapes, have a huge sweet spot, etc. They are softer & less demanding than a Zero G or Trab ski but also probably not as uber-high-performing as those skis on the top end/when ripping. On my 78, I found that the HRZN tip was real tech and not just marketing material - it actually does help in soft snow (unfortunately I had no such snow during my demo).

Overall, such a fun ski. They are just so easy to ski while also being kg-weight. I think for any intermediate skier, or even expert skiers who don't want to always "be on," these are absolute dynamite. Can't go wrong.

The one thing I would prefer Atomic would be to increase the turn radii of their skis to a consistent 18m or so. 17 is a bit short for my preferences; I would absolutely get a 163 length in the 85 or 78, but at a 15-16m radius it's unskiable at high speeds.
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Question from Bryce
I'm 6'2, 195 lbs. Looking for a light ski for late winter/spring mountaineering objectives on Vancouver Island bc. Poor snow in tight situations on the approach and decent. I was thinking the 163cm length for ease of packing, and maneuverability through the trees etc. Too small? I ski for mountain objectives, not turns. I'm a poopy skier who just uses skis to get places on snow. Will be pairing (for now) with a scarpa F1 and plum oazo 8 bindings. Thanks!
Answer from eric
Bryce-You could use the Backland 85 in that length as an approach ski to climb. But if you are looking for some skiing ability too with your height and weight, then I would suggest the 170 length.
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Model: Backland UL 85 MPN: AA0027202

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