The Atomic Backland 85 2020/21 remains largely unchanged from last year, so our 2019/20 review of the Atomic Backland 85, below, still stands.
While Atomic are best known for their range of downhill performance race skis, they're really excelling in the uphill as well.
The Atomic Backland touring skis have been designed specifically for lightweight access to non-lift accessed areas. An ultralight wood core reinforced with a carbon backbone keeps these skis light enough for long days touring across glaciers in the Alps and makes them ideal for multi-day outings like the Haute Route.
It's obvious that in recent years the skis have been reworked to improve attaching and detaching skins. The shape has been tweaked, with a notched tip that works with Atomic skins to allow for easier attaching and detaching - when you're cold at the top of a mountain and fiddling with skins every second counts! The Atomic skins are pre-cut to the shape of the skis which is a big bonus as they fit perfectly giving problem free grip on the snow when hiking uphill.
The major highlight of the Backland for me though is the light weight which means accessing non-lifted areas with a big backpack on and your skis strapped to them is much easier than with heavyweight downhill skis, the disadvantage of course is that if you're too quick your friends might ask you to carry the ropes and group equipment!
An 85mm waist width provides a good balance between float through powder and strong edge hold during traverses, as well as being quick edge to edge.
The Backland's small amount of rocker in the tip helps with floatation in powder without adversely affecting the ride on groomed pistes or icy morning hardpack snow. In cruddy or breakable crust snow you really want a heavy-duty set-up for dominating the terrain, and this is where the lightweight Backland's start to feel a bit flappy but you can't have everything. A 16m turn radius is great for off piste riding, short turns in steep couloirs and medium/long carves are all duly catered for.
Overall a good hybrid ski with efficiency uphill and good performance on the ski back down, just try to avoid the crud. The Backland's offer great value for money as well, being priced a smidge below the closest competitors but with comparable performance.