2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109

Cy Whitling reviews the Atomic Backland FR for Blister Gear Review.

Backland FR 109

Ski: 2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109, 189 cm

Available Lengths: 175, 182, 189 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 185.7 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (182 cm): 1850 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (189 cm): 1970 & 1979 grams

Stated Dimensions: 135-109-125 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 134-109-124

Stated Sidecut Radius: 19.5 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 76 mm / 45 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~5-6 mm

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -8.5 cm from center; 84.4 cm from tail


Ski: 2017-2018 Atomic Backland FR 109, 182 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 180.3 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 1850 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1808 & 1835 grams

Stated Dimensions: 134-109-124 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133-108.5-123 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 18.5 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 77 mm / 41 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -9.05 cm from center; 81.1 cm from tail

Total Days Skied: 18

Test Locations: Cameron Pass & Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; Mt Bachelor, OR; Teton Backcountry, WY; Rogers Pass, British Columbia


For the 15/16 season, the Atomic Backland FR 109 replaced the popular Automatic 109 and the ski received several updates — most notably, the addition of Atomic’s HRZN Tech in the tip (but not the tail).

HRZN has been present in the Atomic Bent Chetler for a few years, and it is also now featured in the Backland FR 117 and 109, but not in any of the narrower Backland skis.

So what is HRZN tech? It’s basically a boat-hulled section of “horizontal” rocker that is present at the edges of the tip of the ski, ahead of its widest point. Several companies are using similar technology; DPS does something similar with their “Spoon” skis, and Armada’s new ARV 116 features similar tips and tails. In theory, this sort of design is supposed to help the ski surf in soft snow more easily and reduce edge catch in the tip without sacrificing firm snow stability.

At 1970 grams per ski in the 189 cm length, the Backland FR 109 is light enough to be considered for 50/50 use, and Atomic acknowledges this. They state: “Mount some Tracker bindings and MultiFit Powder Rocker Skins on this low-weight powder performer and it works great as a Freeride Touring ski, too.”

So how does the Backland FR compare to skis like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Icelantic Nomad 105 Lite, Salomon QST 106, or Kitten Factory All Mountain?


Jonathan Ellsworth describes the flex pattern of the 182 cm Backland FR 109 as follows:

Tips: 7-7.5
Shovels: 8-9
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 9
Tails: 8-7.5

The tails are definitely stiffer than the tips, and the skis’ flex ramps up smoothly underfoot. That smoothness is a stark contrast to the 16/17 Rossignol Soul 7 HD which feels similar to the Backland FR 109 in the tips, but the Soul 7 HD gets very stiff very quickly underfoot.


The Backland’s shape looks very similar to the old Automatic 109. In fact, they have exactly the same stated dimensions. And that seems like a very good thing. The Automatic 109 was popular with a lot of skiers for good reason — it had a good blend of stability and maneuverability, and it was playful while still performing fairly in variable conditions. There was enough tip and tail taper to keep the ski from grabbing, but that taper didn’t feel overdone.

Rocker Profile

Atomic says the Backland 109 has “pronounced camber underfoot with….Powder Rocker that’s big in the tip and smaller in the tail” and that’s a pretty apt description, with emphasis on the “pronounced camber.” The Backland FR 109 has significantly more camber underfoot than the Icelantic Nomad 105 or Kitten Factory All Mountain, and has a similar amount to the Rossignol Soul 7 HD. The tip rocker also looks very similar to the Soul 7 HD’s.

The tail rocker of the Backland FR 109 is minimal; it looks almost more like a turned-up twin tail than a “rockered” tail.

A Few Questions

All of this combines to make what appears to be a fairly traditional recipe for a capable and versatile 50/50 ski, or a light all-mountain ski. But before we get it on snow, here are a few questions we’re looking to answer:

(1) Given that the Backland 109 is lighter than the Automatic 109 it replaces, how similar or different is the new ski’s performance in variable conditions?

(2) Does the HRZN Tech in the tips produce a noticeable difference in feel over the Automatic’s traditionally rockered tips?

(3) How does the Backland 109 compare to the current crop of intuitive and forgiving all-mountain skis?

(4) Is the Backland 109 more suited to inbounds use? Or 50/50 inbounds/touring use?

Bottom Line (For Now)

By the numbers, Atomic has created a ski with a lot of potential to be versatile and forgiving, that could appeal to a wide range of skiers. So we’re excited to get it on snow and report back on its performance.


Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Backland FR 109 for our notes on its initial on-snow performance.


NEXT: The Full Review


  1. Blister Member
    Perkin March 22, 2017 Reply

    Looking forward to your comments on these. Am 6′, 165 lbs, directional skier mostly Lake Tahoe looking to replace an OG 185 cm Cochise with something a little less demanding and more playful. Liked the QST 106 in the 188 length (demo bindings on the line), except felt a little too much tail especially in the bumps and deeper mank. Also considering the SN 108 which am very interested to try based on your descriptions here as well as the 100eight. The new Blizzard Rustler 10 looks interesting as well. Love to hear your thoughts on any of these!

  2. DB Cooper March 23, 2017 Reply

    I use the Backland 109 inbounds in Utah. Love the ski. Very nimble in tight spots and feels great charging down an open face. I use it as part of a 2-ski quiver: the Backland for 6+ inches and an Enforcer 93 for everything else and it works like a charm!

    • davide December 7, 2017 Reply

      Hi.. Where did you mount the bindings? I installed them factory recommended, but I have the doubt that maybe it is better to mount them -1 or -2. What do you think about it? P.s. I mounted market tour 12. Thanks

  3. DB Cooper March 23, 2017 Reply

    Forgot to add that as a bigger guy (6’3″, 215), I find this ski plenty stable.

  4. Blister Member
    Perkin March 23, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the feedback, what length are you on? Guessing the 189?

    • DB Cooper March 23, 2017 Reply


  5. Mat April 28, 2017 Reply

    How does this compare to the automatic? And any thoughts on the 117?

  6. Jason October 21, 2017 Reply

    is your Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 185.7 cm
    for the 189 or 182? Is it measuring shorter or longer than stated?

  7. Dave K.L. October 23, 2017 Reply

    Has anyone skied the Backland 102? I haven’t seen many good reviews on that ski, but it seems to be the perfect dimensions for typical Colorado resort skiing…

    • Matus Kuchyna October 27, 2017 Reply

      I am about to test my Backland 102 skis this weekend. I will let you know how they ski. My previous skis were Volkl Nunataqs.

      • Dave K.L. October 29, 2017 Reply

        Looking forward to hearing how they ski. I’m 190lbs, a bit worried they might be too soft.

        • Matus Kuchyna November 1, 2017 Reply

          Dave, I spent 3 days on Atomic Backland FR 102 16/17, 188cm long. I am 181cm/83kg (naked). The skis are definitely not soft. I could ski the groomers (not too icy ones), powder… The ski turns easily and is playful. I liked it very much. But, I ski in Scarpa F1 shoes and I think that I can ski. For me this is one quiver ski.

  8. DB Cooper October 27, 2017 Reply

    when is the full blister review of the 109 coming? the preview was posted on march 20…

    • petermck November 25, 2017 Reply

      Looking forward to the full review.

  9. mark horn January 7, 2018 Reply

    love the 102 light and quick great for backcountry

  10. Blister Member
    Michael February 2, 2018 Reply

    Any idea when the full blister review of the 109 is coming? I’d love to get thoughts on this ski as a backcountry one ski quiver…


  11. Andy February 9, 2018 Reply

    At some point i’d love to see you guys more globally address “pivotyness” or “slarvability” or whatever you want to call it as it relates to construction and shape. I often think of flat cambered skis as super pivoty based on my experience with Katanas, Scouts and old Megawatts. That shape clearly does this. However, once things get cambered, knowing how loose a ski will be is a total crapshoot, and it’s not reliably covered in reviews.

    I see this ski’s camber and think: not going to be very slarvy. You say here they’re “easy to throw sideways” but is that a slarve turn, or is is that the rocker and light weight just provides less resistance to a more forceful motion?

    The OG Squad 7 was awesomely pivoty, and had a ton of camber. The OG pure carbon DPS W112 was similarly shaped (less camber, more sidecut), and didn’t pivot worth shit. The ZeroG 95 has pretty minimal camber and rocker and didn’t pivot at all for me (super locked in) even after an aggro detune.

    The ability to slide turns and slarve is super important to me in the BC, but it’s hard to know without demoing what ski will do this reliably aside from the few rocker-flat-rocker models out there, especially when a demo tune might be off.

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