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Skimo Co

Atomic Backland UL 85 Ski


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As is so often the case in the skimo world, we get really 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 through the core to the edge, all while keeping things light for long approaches and big days.
  • The Carbon Powered laminates and Ultra Light Woodcore combine to give an incredibly 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.

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]
Dimensions   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

Adam L (downright abused product)
All around meets mountaineering!
I picked these skis up as a spring ski and have surprised myself with how often they come out throughout the entire winter. They handle everything from hardpack to powder with ease. I’m 145lbs and ski the 172’s, but have also skied the 179’s and would say the longer skis handle high speeds and deep snow a bit better. That said, having the shorter length is nice for kick-turns, tight spots and putting them on my pack.
Comment on this review:

Question from Anders
Did they remove the skin attachment notch in the tail in this years model? At least it's not visible in the pictures if you compare it to last years model.

Do you have any information how these skis compare to BD cirque 84?
Answer from Zak M
Hey Anders, the current generation of Backland UL 85 does in fact have a tail notch for the skins. Overall the Backland UL 85 will be a touch more of a versatile ski in variable snow conditions with a slightly shorter turning radius and overall weight. Both are similar skis in some aspects but the UL 85 will ski a bit more confident through a greater variety of snow conditions.
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Question from Josh
Been looking at these skis as well as Voile Objectives, and Blizzard Zero G 85s. I'm 6' 155lb. Decent skier, but def not an expert. Already have a fatter ski with the Shift binding, but want something lighter. Planning to use both for the uphill track at the resort as well as longer tours and mountaineering. Would you rec any of these 3 (or another ski) for this usage?
Answer from Julieana
Hey Josh, the Atomic Backland UL 85 is a very versatile mountaineering ski that will be fairly easy to ski and will also hold an edge nicely and perform well in more technical ski mountaineering lines. the Voile Objective will perform similarly, though it will be a little softer and will ski better in soft conditions but will be a little less aggressive in techy lines or firmer snow conditions. The Blizzard Zero G 85 is going to be a much stiffer ski that will perform extremely aggressively but will be much less playful and will require more effort to control or get it to float. I personally think the Atomic Backland UL 85 is a great and versatile choice in this category of ski.
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Question from Chris G
Hey, I'm 6', 155 lbs. I ski mostly on Navis Freebirds that are 184. I'm looking at these skis for something lightweight but more practical/versatile than a skinny rando ski. Mostly for long tours, spring couloirs, and Rainier/Bolivia volcanoes. Think I should go with 179's or do you have any good arguments for or against going shorter with 172's? Thanks!
Answer from TSB
Hey Chris, solid choice with the Backland 85! If you are committed to skiing longer boards, you may find the 179cm more like what you're used to. That said, the 172 would be more than enough ski for most of those consolidated-snow missions such as skiing volcanoes. With a mountaineering ski, a little less length pays dividends for making lots of kick-turns, easy hop-turning on steep terrain, and putting a ski on/taking it off your pack a bunch of times over the course of the day. Since you wouldn't be hitting lots of fresh snow, the reduced float of a shorter ski shouldn't be a problem.
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Question from Casper
How do these rank on a durability scale compared to Movement Alptracks 89 and the Blizzard Zero G 85?
Answer from TSB
Hey Casper, that's a good question. The Backland 85 might take a slight durability edge over the Movement or Blizzard offerings as it has a bit more wood in the core, which dampens potential impacts against rocks or other obstacles, and maintains consistent strength through all kinds of demanding skiing. We've also seen excellent durability on the Zero G series. If you're looking for the most durable mid-fat skis in the business look no further than the apparently indestructible Ski Trab Magico and Mistico.
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Question from Robert K
Are these skis compatible with Fritschi Xenic bindings? Or is mounting area too narrow for the toe pattern?
Answer from TSB
Hey Robert, the Xenic should pair nicely with the Backland 85! The mounting plate is more than wide enough to accommodate the toe piece. Leave it to the Swiss to design a binding that works well with a midfat ski. :-)
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Question from Kenji K
Just got a pair of 85UL-172. These are supposed to weigh 1040+-30g, but mine are 1100/1125. The same scale shows 1340g for Mtn Explore 95-169 (~1380g), so the numbers should be close. Anybody else found them substantially heavier? I know the differences are small, but I was strongly considering Hyper Vector BC which is "listed" ~1160g for 95-171.
Answer from Jeff
Kenji, I weighed 3 pair and averaged to get our 1035g/ 172cm. There are variations and I can't explain.
Answer from jbo
Hi Kenji, we weigh our skis so have confidence in the weights for skis in our inventory (if you see Specs Verified = Yes). We're happy to exchange on our dime if the weight doesn't meet your expectations (I don't see an order from you though?).
Answer from Kenji K
Sorry, they are from a local store, but I did get a pair of Trab bindings from you to go on these skis. The store had another pair about 100g lighter and swapped w/ mine. Thanks!
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Question from Paul Magnus Calabro
I'm looking for an all-arounder ski... I've got some fatter powder planks and a race setup, but nothing in the middle.
This ski seems like it'd fit the bill: mid-fat, tight turning radius, pretty damn light... I'd probably use it as my daily driver, but would also want to use it for ski mountaineering / tight couloirs. I'm 5'6", 130 lbs, and tend to like shorter skis so was thinking of going for the 158s. Also I'm a crap skier.
What do you guys think, is this ski (with some light boots and mounted with a set of race bindings) a decent way to go?
Also, I noticed using the 'compare' tool that you guys don't list 'ski mountaineering' as one of the uses, and was just wondering why not? Is there a reason you wouldn't recommend it for ski mountaineering objectives?
Answer from TSB
Hey Paul Magnus, I would say the Backland 85 would be an excellent choice given everything you're saying about yourself and your skiing! You might find the 165cm a little better in deep snow if these will be your all-around ski, although the 158cm functions better as a mountaineering weapon, and would still float nicely in the soft stuff. And yes, we do love these skis for steep skiing off of summits and traversing the high hills! The Usage listing is mainly gesturing to the way that the Backland 85 is designed for and excels in everyday applications, not just on cold and chossy north faces. Hard to go wrong with these zebra rippers!
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Model: Backland UL 85 MPN: AA0027202

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