Skimo Co

Atomic Backland UL 85 Ski

$699.95 From $599.95

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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.

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]
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
Compare to other Low-fat Skis

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Questions & Reviews

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 Riley W
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 Michael 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 Michael 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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Question from Shannon F
Hi, I have Scarpa F1s that I will be using with these skis. What is your binding recommendation? Speed Turn 2.0? Other? I have G3 ION 10s that I love, just looking for a slightly lighter set up for resort uphill (some rec division racing) and long backcountry tours.
Answer from Ian C
Hey Shannon, that sounds like a really fun combo you are building there. I've got some ideas in mind but the best way to start is by filling out our binding finder! That will collect some additional info about you, including desired features and release values, and we can custom recommend something for you from there.
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Question from Travis
So Atomic makes this UL and a “normal” version. How much differently do they ski? Any reason you don’t carry both?
Answer from Brett S
Thanks for reaching out, Travis! The main difference you'll notice between the two is that the non-UL version will have a bit more softness because of its construction. The UL, has a little more stiffnes, plenty of dampness and but is easier on the legs for those big days out. Since the UL doesn't suffer performance-wise, we just stuck with it. Please let us know if you have any other questions!
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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.
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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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Model: Backland UL 85 MPN: AA0027202

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