Atomic Backland FR 109 ReviewJanuary 3, 2018
- Fun ski
- Maneuverable off-piste
- Handles a variety of conditions
- Not as energetic
- Prefers long turns – especially when carving
- Loses stability on firmer snow
- Did not win any single test classification
Atomic’s Backland FR 109 is a fun ski, with a significant amount of Float. It earned 8s across the board (out of a possible 10) in the Float classification, due in no small part to Atomic’s Powder Rocker design, with 30 percent rise in the front of the ski, 15 percent in the tail, and 55 percent camber underfoot. This ski is super maneuverable in off-piste conditions, especially powder, where that mix of rocker and lightweight design – thanks to a lightweight poplar core and “Carbon Backbone” insert – make each turn easy to initiate. Atomic also employs its proprietary HRZN Tech in the tips, a boat hull-like design it first introduced in its all-mountain Bentchetler models, for even more ease of accuracy in the crud and mank. All this surfy, lightweight-minded tech, creates a ski that is predictable, playful and capable of making quick fall-line turns as well as long GS arcs, provided you ski it almost exclusively off-piste.
We know it should almost go without saying that skis in the Powder Category should not be expected to do particularly on firm snow, but we also know that if you’re riding lifts anywhere outside of Japan, even on a great day your bound to hit some hardpack. With that said, the Backland FR 109 did get some of the lower scores in the Powder Category in the Hard Snow Pleasure classification, with 4s and the low end and on the high end a 6. All that off-piste ease of initiation and lightweight handling comes at a cost when you get back on the groomers, particularly because of the generous rocker in the 109’s tip. Buy this ski as the foundation for a backcountry-specific setup and you’ll be stoked, or keep it in your quiver for big days at your home hill or for your dream heli-trip.
In the Overall classifications, testers ranked the Atomic Backland FR 109 as high as an 8 (out of a possible 10) in their list of best skis in the Powder Category, and as low as a 5. The lightweight surfiness of this ski is magical when you get it into the right conditions, and also a little bit of a liability when you try to ski harder snow. The overall ease of initiation, however, makes the Backland 109 a ski that can be enjoyed by deep snow devotees while also vastly improving the big day experience for powder intermediates.
The Backland does offer some of the best Sluff-ability in the Powder Category. The mix of a substantial amount of tip rocker (see full review) and HRZN Tech does make it easy to porpoise through soft powder and heavy mank with the ability of a Coast Guard Cutter blasting through the white caps. Half the testers gave the ski a 10 in this classification, while the other half gave it 8s.
The Carbon Backbone, a lightweight carbon insert through the center of the Backland, along with the ski’s substantial surface, result in a ski that is calm and stable off-piste. It also is able to maintain that predictable feel and forgiveness in a variety of turn shapes.
As mentioned in the Full Review, the Backland offers superior Float. The ski received scores of 10 to 8 in this classification, with testers remarking on how easy it is to steer in mixed snow and powder conditions, with a maneuverability and playfulness that were among the tops in the test.
Hard Snow Pleasure
The Backland does not hold an edge well on hardpack, despite its ease of initiation and aforementioned nimbleness, and had some of the lowest Hard Snow scores in the Powder Category. We do strongly recommend the ski for backcountry-specific use, and for skiers who want a very fun soft snow ski to pull out whenever it gets deep.Continue Reading
Peter Kray- Publisher
Peter Kray is a co-founder of the Gear Institute, and a longtime specialist in the testing of skis, snowboards and outdoor equipment.