Atomic Backland (Salomon MTN) Tech Binding — Old is New Again


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 29, 2015      

Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland binding mount template and dimensions, with a few brake measurements, link here. You’ll probably get the best printout using Adobe Acrobat, but in any case, the key is to play around with printer scaling if your printed template doesn’t physically match binding.

Backland heel in my opinion has more innovation than toe, uses the old style U-spring for both upward and side release.

Backland Tour ski binding heel in my opinion has more innovation than toe, uses the old style ‘Low-Tech” U-spring for both upward and side release. Spring is easily swapped on workbench to change release value setting but because only three springs are offered (women, men, expert), this is thus a binding for experienced skiers who value uphill performance over release characteristics — though it does have the basic release configuration of most tech bindings (side and up at the heel). Actual testing of the binding’s release characteristics indicates the springs are fairly close together in release values, so the average skier can probably get the tuned value they need, but smaller or large-aggressive skiers might not get what they need.

Guttenberg, Diesel, Jobs — Barthel? I’m not allowed to write that. No one else should either. So we won’t go there again. Suffice it to say one should continue to be amazed when one considers that the original 30 something year old tech binding system (Barthel) continues to be produced as a fresh new product by various companies, latest being Salomon-Atomic. (Salomon and Atomic are operated as separate companies by their umbrella owner Amer Sports, but cross-pollinate and may re-brand each other’s products.)

The binding at hand is the Salomon MTN, rebranded by Atomic as the “Backland Tour’ & “Backland Tour Light” to fit their “Backland” ski touring product line. I like Atomic’s full commitment to the light-efficient ski touring culture proved out with their beautiful Backland boot models, so for simplicity sake we’ll use the Atomic names for the binding. (Also, Salomon will only brand the boot length adjustable slightly heavier version of the binding, while Atomic will also sell a version that is not adjustable for boot length to keep their core ski touring employees happy.)

Train travel. I'm not very skilled but when it works it's nice.

Train travel. I’m not very skilled but when it works it’s nice. Luckily some words in German are easy to understand, and English translations are often provided.

Yesterday I enjoyed a relaxing several hours journey by train from the Innsbruck area of Austria east to Altenmarkt, where Atomic boasts one of the largest ski factories in the world. Altenmarkt is a good example of why and how European companies can have a huge advantage in the ski touring business. First, they’re in the midst of a culture where backcountry skiing and uphill skiing are ways of life. Hire a new employee, chances are she skis — and a good chance she tours. What is more, Atomic’s huge industrialized venue (3,000 pairs of skis a day!) is located in a mountain valley with resorts and ski touring peaks just a short distance away in nearly any direction. With enough snow, you’ll even find a nordic track a few feet from the factory doors. Testing gear? Not an issue. It almost tests itself.

So, with the double digit yearly growth in ski touring over the past decade or so, alpine companies such as Atomic can’t help but notice. Once they’re paying attention, they sometimes come in with both fists swinging to clear out a space on retail floors for a full-blown backcountry skiing product line.

Atomic Tracker binding has a sort of forbidden appeal to the uphiller in me, as in could I actually haul this thing on my feet -- am I man enough?

Atomic Tracker binding has a sort of forbidden appeal to the uphiller in me, as in could I actually haul this thing on my feet — am I man enough? Of course the reverse thinking is do you have the brains — and balls — to use a tech binding? Before, with Salomon and Atomic you didn’t have to choose, now you do.

The aluminum fist of the retail ski touring battle is a binding. You must have a frameless binding in your product line or you just look stupid. Sure, Salomon’s frame bindings (Atomic Tracker 16 & 13) are state of art, in that they’ll accept any of the three current boot sole norms (DIN Alpine, DIN Touring, WTR) — but man are they big klunky contraptions that appear stone-age when you’re used to elegant tech bindings.

Salomon is rumored to have had most of their binding engineering talent concentrating on the Tracker models and the new tech binding. It shows. Tracker is known to be a mature product, and my looksee at the tech binding revealed a quite nice iteration of, shall I say it once more at pain of death by milling machine, a Barthel? Check out some photos, and note that by order of the Atomic and Salomon PR bosses this binding is not to be spoken of nor sold in the United State or Canada. So I’ll apologize in advance for any confusion that causes. If you’re across the pond and want these, I’m sure any European retailer will be happy to ship — at around 600 grams doing so should be no problem.

I'm frequently not inspired by tech binding clones, but in this case the Backland is refined enough to merit some coverage.

I’m frequently not inspired by tech binding clones, but in this case the Backland is refined enough to merit some coverage. Besides the binding being quite light (296 grams for the adjustable, 236 for the fixed, per binding), you get a boot toe guide to make step-in easier, as indicated by red circle in photo, and wider 40 mm mount pattern. It’s questionable whether most skiers need to worry about how wide apart their binding screws are, and widening adds weight, but hey, wider skis, wider everything, right?

Step-in guide retracts when you're in the binding, as with other brands.

Step-in guide retracts when you’re in the binding, as with other brands. While these do offer some benefit, we prefer to remove them. These would be difficult to redact but it could be done, easiest would just be some careful grinding.

Backland Tour Light heel in foreground has no fore/aft adjustment for boot length, difficult to mount but nice weight at 236 grams per binding. It only has a medium heel lift while the regular Backland Tour has a high lift.

Backland Tour Light heel in foreground has no fore/aft adjustment for boot length, difficult to mount but nice weight at 236 grams per binding. It only has a medium heel lift while the regular Backland Tour has a high lift.

It's interesting to watch how these companies attempt to do "positioning" within the touring market.  Normally in marketing and PR you don't mention the competition by name as you're just adding attention to their brand, but when you're new in the game all is fair. I thought this comparo was cool, though it should be taken as a general comparo since bindings tend to experience weight variations depending on the time of year.

It’s interesting to watch how these companies attempt to do “positioning” within the touring market. Normally in marketing and PR you don’t mention the competition by name as you’re just adding attention to their brand, but when you’re new in the game all is fair. I thought this comparo was cool, though it should be taken as a general comparo since bindings tend to experience weight variations depending on the time of year.

In my opinion a heel-flat-on-ski mode or at least something close to that is essential for ski touring, and Backland has it.

In my opinion a heel-flat-on-ski mode or at least something close to that is essential for ski touring, and Backland has it.

Specs:
Boot adjustment length for Backland Tour, 30 mm.
Weight, Backland Tour, 280 grams per binding with screws (verified).
Weight, Backland Tour Light, 236 grams per binding (not verified).
Toe screw pattern width, 40 mm.
Brakes, none, leash included (leash hook doubles as spacer or binding heel gap adjustment. Nice.)
Crampons, none OEM, accepts all major brand compatible crampons.
Hand test of boot/pin action at toe, pass.

Stack height and ramp angles:
Tour: toe pin center to topsheet is 3.00cm. Heel pin center to topsheet is 4.00cm
Tour Light: same toe as Tour, heel pin center to topsheet is 3.50cm
Those are relaxed ramp angles, see our ramp angles post for comparo chart.

Summary: Flip lifters are nice, has heel-flat-on-ski mode, wide 40 mm mount pattern, overall simplicity and light weight. Upon close examination, one has to wonder if these are actually made by ATK. Will facilitate Atomic and Salomon package deals, and may force binding prices lower due to abundance of options and supply which this and the overall plethora of tech bindings are creating. Coupled spring in heel regulates both torsional and upward release, but no fine-tuning of release settings, just three options for spring swaps at heel to create release values, no certainty about release setting numbers but we’re certain the “expert” spring goes to eleven. Atomic doesn’t care to compare to DIN due to legal issues. We will test. Appears overall to be a nice version of the early Low-Tech binding with the U-spring heel release mechanism.

Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland binding mount template, with a few brake dimensions, link here.



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Comments

80 Responses to “Atomic Backland (Salomon MTN) Tech Binding — Old is New Again”

  1. Greg Louie January 29th, 2015 9:55 am

    Thanks for the scoop, Lou. Everyone at Amer in North America suddenly starts to mumble incoherently when you ask about these bindings.

    Make mine “light” and “expert” . . .

  2. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2015 10:04 am

    Greg, yeah, this thing of not introducing it in North America was weird. Old Obewhanskinoobie went global years ago, WildSnow sometimes has more traffic from Europe than North America, and the youngsters in the marketing departments are still thinking continental borders? Life is always strange. LOu

  3. Peter January 29th, 2015 12:28 pm

    Of course it will be interesting to see where they slot in for price. I’m already drooling, but I’ll wait until the alpha testers have their way with it. Light boots, light bindings, wide skis: It’s the future. Shame that there are few on this side of the world that understand…

  4. TimZ January 29th, 2015 12:52 pm

    Is the heel of the non adjustable mount pattern 40 x 40?

    To me this is definitely interesting. I don’t need to change my RV once I set it, so light weight with a fixed(but swappable) RV is great to me.

    I’m glad to see some detailed and hands on pics

  5. Charlie Hagedorn January 29th, 2015 1:37 pm

    North American legal realities and expectations may have scared off Solomon/Atomic. There’s a much deeper European tradition of skiing on the original Barthel designs.

    Solomon’s last experiment with pintech products went badly [1]. I can imagine that they could be gunshy about introducing a new tech-binding product in the North American market.

    [1]: https://www.wildsnow.com/2888/salomon-quest-tech-fittings-failure/

  6. Erik Erikson January 29th, 2015 1:41 pm

    Sorry about going off-topic, but Altenmarkt.. at least, Lou, you´re in an area I know very well and live quite close to. Good conditions now concerning the amount of snow (even better a little to the north) but quite dangerous at the moment (avalanchewise).
    Hope there are people who take you somewhere touring in the area, there are great options. If not, just email me I´ll sure have some tipps for you or could maybe even show you some places.
    Anyway, enjoy your trip furthermore.

  7. SteveR January 29th, 2015 2:06 pm

    How does the lateral mechanism release work?

  8. SteveR January 29th, 2015 2:07 pm

    * lateral release mechanism

  9. Dimitri January 29th, 2015 2:35 pm

    little off topic, but i’ve just ordered a set of PHK fly 12’s at a steal of a price, does anyone have any experience with these binders? I’ve found little to no info on the net apart from the ‘unboxing’ process and from the PHKsnow website. Has anyone spent any time on them?

    I’ve seen them in the flesh and they appear expertly made. I was told that Italian company make spare parts for helicopters as their main gig. I’ve been skiing Plums for about 5 seasons and love them, the FLY 12’s are lighter and I just couldn’t’ resist at that price… any further info would be appreciated 🙂

  10. Rick January 29th, 2015 3:23 pm

    All this orange bling has me seriously considering resurrecting my old trusty/muscular 184 Atomic 10EX’s …

    😛

  11. Scott Nelson January 29th, 2015 3:30 pm

    Thanks for the post Lou. I like how simple the whole binding looks. Less parts to do the same thing, pretty cool. Be interesting to see how they ski.

  12. Dan Powers January 29th, 2015 4:42 pm

    Hope this doesn’t derail the thread, but your description of the labor force and mountain environment there sounds much like here in Teton Valley. I wonder what other advantages they have that help them attract such companies? I’m sure the long history of skiing and making equipment is part of it. Perhaps a labor force that not only skis but has the requisite technical skills?

  13. Ryan January 29th, 2015 4:58 pm

    I sure hope the prices come down and do so significantly.

  14. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2015 5:27 pm

    Steve, like most other tech bindings, heel unit rotates. Lou

  15. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2015 5:31 pm

    Dan, come on, Wyoming is cows, Austria has a couple of 3 axis milling machines in every village, plus a population density a quantum leap more, plus a road system that’s 60 times as dense. Wyoming is cool, but you’re not going to put a 3,000 ski-a-day factory in Jackson. And yes Jackson skiing is cool as well, but multiply it by 50 and you get just one side valley of the Alps. Lou

  16. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2015 6:07 pm

    Ryan, I’m not sure about prices. Thing is that innovation and improvement are expensive, For example Dynafit TLT 5 and 6 project cost a ton of money, broke new ground. Atomic boot and binding are nice, but they’re not breaking new ground, just incremental changes and improvements. If all this stuff drives prices down, innovation will slow down as well and a wasteland will be left after the battle. These boots and bindings are basically 30 year or older designs, I was hoping for something new, eventually, but if price wars start then forget that idea. Lou

  17. UpSki Kevin January 29th, 2015 9:24 pm

    that’s a really sharp looking binding. performance in simplicity – less is better. I like it!

  18. Erik Erikson January 29th, 2015 9:57 pm

    The orange / black color-combination of the new Atomic products reminds me very much of the traditional colors in KTM, an also Austrian moutainbike (and mainly motorbike) company. For example http://www.ktm-bikes.at/bikes/hardtail.html?action=bike_details&bike_id=204544&cHash=a01d9a9ef1432b3497d3b7afdd2eabc3
    It´s so close that I even wonder if they have some cooperation running.

    And Dan,in Austria its really all about skiing, mostly racing. Literally EVERY race is broadcasted in the main TV-station and a main TV-event. We always lose in the also popular soccer but console ourselves by having the best ski-racers 😉

  19. Greg Louie January 29th, 2015 10:06 pm

    Wait until you see the colors of the new TLT6P . . .

  20. Erik Erikson January 29th, 2015 10:33 pm

    … let me guess; Not white and green 😉

  21. Mark Worley January 29th, 2015 11:08 pm

    Not available in North America? I can perhaps see why, but can hope they will be down the road.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2015 1:30 am

    Greg and Erik, my bad for not adding photo of the new TLT6 design to my previous Dynafit posts. Shows how their freeride koolaid mix addled my brain, I heard they’re selling that stuff on the street (grin).

    TLT6-P for 2015-2016 sheds the eye burning colors, adds gigantic logo. We like the colors, could do without the logo. This is pretty much the same boot as last year. Small improvements  and changes are being marketed as '2.0' such as buckles that are said to work better. Biggest change is probably a slightly relaxed last in the forefoot area that could make the boot warmer and easier to fit. TLT6-P for 2015-2016 sheds the eye burning colors, adds gigantic logo. We like the colors, the logo should be smaller for the vast majority of non-sponsored skiers. This is pretty much the same boot as last year. Small improvements and changes are being marketed as ‘2.0’ such as buckles that are said to work better. Biggest change is probably a slightly relaxed last in the forefoot area that could make the boot warmer and easier to fit. The excellent quick-release power strap is a welcome improvement.

  23. Erik Erikson January 30th, 2015 2:21 am

    Thanx for the pic Lou, looks quite aggressive…Some will totally like the design, some totally not I guess.
    Really interesting for me personally is the fit / last, since I have very narrow feet. TLT 5 (yes,FIVE) is the first shoe that I got a proper fit in (though I still have to use a quite fat Zzero liner and wear two pairs of socks). So I hope the TLTs will not get wider and wider over time

  24. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2015 2:59 am

    Erik, if it got wider it’s on the order of a millimeter or two, nothing that can’t simply be taken care of with some boot fitting skills, and it sounds like they left the ankle area the same. I’ve got skinny ankles and norma forefoot, so the new fit will probably be better or me. The endless marketing of how ski boots fit out of the box is a source of endless amusement, considering all human feet are different. Lou

  25. Erik Erikson January 30th, 2015 3:07 am

    Lou, unfortunately I do not have that boot fitting skills and it is very hard to find bootfitters in Austria / Salzburg (which you could check by yourself since you are in Altenmarkt right now) 😉
    This topic was already discussed in another post, there were not many ideas where you could find a bootfitter here…

  26. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2015 3:29 am

    Ok, point taken, good heat-mold liners should take care of 99% of the problems. ‘best, Lou

  27. Shaun January 30th, 2015 8:29 am

    Did the tlt6 add any room on top of the foot above the arch? I tried the version from two years ago and wanted to fall in love with them after reading all the mind blowing reviews and feeling how light they are. It was the most painful boot that I have ever come across. It felt like a plaster cast that would be really comfortable if the cast was from your foot but hurt like hell when you’re foot resembles Ogre that mated with a grizzly bear compared to the tiny Cinderella like form of the tlt6. We have a very experienced boot footer but he couldn’t touch it because of the pinch point being on top of the boot.

  28. Greg Louie January 30th, 2015 9:14 am

    @Shaun: The Backland Carbon may be what you’re looking for, especially if you try the same nominal size you would wear in the TLT6. It’s substantially higher volume in the midfoot and heel and quite a bit taller in the instep. I sized down from a 27.5 to a 26.5 with the Backland and it’s still more comfortable over the instep.

    FWIW, I’ve had success heating the entire shell of the TLT6P and padding the instep just like you would with a Custom Shell boot, then buckling up and letting it cool (Dynafit doesn’t say you can do this, but it works). You may as well start with a boot that fits better out of the box, though, and Atomic officially endorses heating the shell.

  29. JCoates January 30th, 2015 10:02 am

    Greg Louie, Lou, or anyone else who has some experience in this:
    What’s your recipe for heating up the TLT6? What templates and for how long? I’ve got an fancy oven where I can adjust the tempature by single degrees and I’m getting ready to do that on my new PDG’s. Any suggestions? What tempature do the pro atomic heaters run at? Thanks for any advice and yes…I realize this voids the warranty and if I screw then up it’s my own fault.

  30. giovanni January 30th, 2015 10:35 am

    VIPEC 12 for ever….

  31. Greg Louie January 30th, 2015 11:00 am

    What I’ve done is heat the shells for 10 minutes in a standard Custom Fit Salomon oven (around 235-240 F.) with liners out, pad the instep area or just the medial cuneiform bump with 1/8″ foam, buckle the boot up tight and let it cool while having the skier stand on a hard flat surface.

    None of this is acknowledged or condoned by Salewa, but it’s worked for a number of people to generally increase volume and/or instep height. I’ve done it with both TLT6 and Vulcan/Mercury shells.

  32. Greg Louie January 30th, 2015 11:00 am

    PS I usually cut out the elastic and vinyl from the top of the liner, too.

  33. Greg Louie January 30th, 2015 11:04 am

    Actually it’s usually the intermediate cuneiform that’s the culprit.

  34. JCoates January 30th, 2015 11:23 am

    Awesome. Thanks Greg Louie!

  35. SteveR January 30th, 2015 12:11 pm

    @ Lou,

    Thanks for the earlier reply. My question about the lateral release mechanism was as to how one spring could regulate both the lateral and vertical release?

    I’m guessing that the single spring is a coiled spring (like the one used on a Dynafit Radical), rather than a race binding style U Spring?

    I vaguely remember reading an article by Fritz Barthel (published here on Wild Snow) where he mentioned a Dynafit prototype heel that never reached production, which also used a single spring to regulate both vertical and lateral release.

    Not terribly important I know, but my inner engineering geek wants to know.

  36. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2015 2:52 pm
  37. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2015 10:54 pm

    J, when you bake remember that the glues in the liner can become soft, be careful what you yank on when you’re putting your foot in the boot. Also know that the temperature used with a blower stack in a shop is sometimes a bit higher than you’d use in an oven, but there is indeed a temperature range that puffs up the liners, it doesn’t have to be exact to one degree. Lou

  38. Greg Louie January 30th, 2015 11:49 pm

    Lou, I’m talking about baking the shells, not the liners (though I usually put the liners on the heat stacks at the same time).

    But your comment on being careful of the pull straps when the glue is hot is a good one, it’s easy to pull out the pull loops on many liners when they are hot (one reason many companies specify stacks rather than oven so the upper cuff doesn’t get so hot).

  39. Greg Louie January 31st, 2015 12:01 am

    . . . this technique may not work so well for next year’s boots if Dynafit switches all the shells to Pebax+ as I’ve been led to believe they will. The current crop of Grilamid boots are responsive to relatively low heat and respond well to molding/punching at less than 250 F.

  40. Bruce Parker February 1st, 2015 10:21 am

    Looks like Dynafit is still using the same old quick wearing cuff pivot. Am I correct? I’ve always thought this was the weak link in an otherwise great boot.

  41. Lou Dawson 2 February 1st, 2015 10:31 am

    Unknown until we see true retail boots next fall. Perhaps by that time they’ll take a hint from Atomic and use bushing type cuff pivots, the ones on the Atomic are quite nice as far as I could tell, though I doubt even those are as good as the B&D Ultimate.

  42. Curtis Cunningham April 28th, 2015 10:51 pm

    If these aren’t available for purchase in North America, where might one purchase a pair of the Backland Tech bindings?

  43. Bruno Schull October 8th, 2015 2:00 pm

    Forgive me, for I have sinned, or, I may be about to sin.

    I recently bought a pair of G3 Carbon Synapse 101 skis…and I might mount them up with…FRAME BINDINGS!

    I hope that does not get me banned forever from Wildsnow.

    I am commenting to this post, because it is the last one I remember where the high wizard, Lou, specifically mentioned frame bindings.

    I have skied with pin bindings, but, basically, I just don’t think I ski enough to develop the comfort and fluency to use pin bindings safely and naturally. Frame bindings are just so easy and practical. Yes, of course, they are heavy. But the confidence they give me might be worth it.

    I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of frame vs. pin bindings. Instead, I want to ask you about the new generation of Diamir frame bindings.

    I have lots of experience with the old “Experience” bindings…the design with with straight metal center bar that extends all the way to the toe, the crampons that clip on with metal tabs under the toe, and the pivot point forward.

    As far as I can tell, the new bindings have several notable features.

    1) The pivot point is shifted backward and has a sliding eccentric action to make the stride more natural. Does that work? Can you feel it? Is the extra weight and potential breakage worth the effect?

    -Low friction sliding plate under toe to help with release. This seems like great idea. Any problems?

    -New center bar/toe mounting structure. This necessitates new and heavier crampons that clip on with a plastic tab. I liked the old crampons, and it’s annoying to have to use heavy bindings and heavy crampons, but perhaps the new design is stiffer laterally?

    -I’m not interested in the high-end Freeride Pro, but just out of curiosity, do the plastic rails at the heel actually help with side to side play? The plastic pieces at the toe seem merely cosmetic.

    -At the other end of the range, does anybody have any experience with the Scout? It has a new toe piece, pivot, and mount configuration, perhaps one or two seasons old. I am curious about the Scout, because it is the lightest binding in the range. Does it work? Does it break?

    -Last, do all the bindings have a wide mounting pattern, or just the high end Freeride Pro? Any problems or concerns mounting these bindings?

    OK, thank you, and if anybody has any experience with these bindings, of if you would like to save me from frame binding purgatory, I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Bruno

  44. JCoates October 8th, 2015 3:58 pm

    Please, please, please do not do this!!!

    The only benefit of frame bindings is that they are easier to get into. That’s it. Period.

    Bruno, you can do this. Don’t make us have an intervention.

  45. Justin October 24th, 2015 9:11 am

    The Backland Tour Bindings appear to be in stock on Telemark-Pyrenees.com. Who’s going to be brave and buy a pair and give a full report?

  46. Lou Dawson 2 October 24th, 2015 9:56 am

    Hi Justin, I can get some, wasn’t particularly excited about them, but I’ll take one for the team (grin). ‘best, Lou

  47. Lou Dawson 2 October 24th, 2015 10:00 am

    I wonder how Bruno is doing. Bruno, you are welcome here even if you use frame bindings.

  48. Justin October 24th, 2015 10:04 am

    Atta boy Lou! They dont look like anything revolutionary, but are lighter than Dynafit Radicals with the same functions (flat plus 2 riser positions). It appears the heel riser piece can rotate independently of the entire heel piece, if that makes sense… I guess strength/durability of the heel risers would be the big question

  49. Bruno Schull October 24th, 2015 2:54 pm

    Hello, Bruno here, the frame binding outcast.

    Yes, JCoates, you may need to stage an intervention.

    Just today I was researching the ski reinforcement plate patterns in my skis, and wondering if they were compatible with Diamir Scout bindings (it seems they are compatibile).

    I also had a chance to check out the new Diamir Frame bindings, and answer some of my own questions above.

    The sliding pivot on the Eagle and the Freeride Pro is not really an eccentric pivot, i.e., it does not change its position as you lift your heel. Rather, because they moved the pivot point back, for a more natural stride, the front of the binding now contacts the ski at far less than 90 degrees–a potential safety problem, as Lou describes elsewhere on this site. To resolve this issue, as soon as the toe contacts the ski, or comes close (I could not tell which) the pivot moves under spring tension, allowing the binding to continue to rotate forward to 90 degrees under spring tension. I guess this helps make sure the binding does not pull out of the ski, and protects the skier. I’m not sure that moving pivot point back for a more natural stride is worth the added complexity/weight of a sliding spring pivot set up, but, hey, it’s a frame binding, so who’s counting?

    The low friction release plates under the toes are great. They look much better than many alpine bindings.

    The new centerbar/toe structure does indeed seem stronger and stiffer than the old set up, but you do need new, and heavier, crampons.

    Some of the extra plastic on the Freeride Pro does appear to be cosmetic, but the long rails which support the centerbar from flexing side-to-side look as if they would definitely add a great deal of lateral strength and stability. For powerful skiers it would appear to be a big advantage.

    I like the Scout. The pivot point is not in the new and improved position, but it’s simpler and the lightest binding in the range. I am wary about the toe piece, but I think that’s just a irrational prejudice against plastic–the construction looks solid, and the mounting holes are much wider than old versions, so I think it will be strong, and I have not heard of any failures.

    Why in the world do I want frame bindings?

    Simplicity, peace of mind, confidence. Easy step in, intuitive operation, safe and smooth release, considerable elasticity, nice ramp angle, flat on heel mode, easy to change height or switch between modes with pole, built-in brakes….

    I know that you can find most of all of these features in pin bindings (G3 Ion or the Dynafit Superlite 2.0 come close) but I am not convinced.

    Here is a parody of my concerns with pin bindings:

    Can I get my foot in? Damn, try again. OK, it worked. But is my foot locked securely? Did I work the lever and clear all the snow? Am I going up or down? Where does the lever need to be? Now the heel. I’m standing on two metal tabs in the back. Is it too stiff? Is it not stiff enough? Will it pre-release? Will it not release at all? Am I balancing on my toes or is my foot flat? Is there any elasticity in the system? Will these bindings help me ski better (I have more problems on the down than on the up). What about brakes? Are they locked? Did they suddenly deploy? Are they stuck in the down or up position? And so on.

    Basically, as I said above, I just don’t have the experience, and don’t ski enough each winter, to resolve these questions, and make using pin bindings second nature. In contrast, I have been using frame bindings for years with no problems. I think I am wiling to pay the price in weight on the way up for the ease of use and performance on the way down.

    Also, I have to say, when you consider the weight of binding + brakes + crampons, Diamir bindings, like the Scout, are lighter than Salomon or Marker frame bindings, close to or lighter than various Dynafit Beast bindings, depending on the model, and only a little heavier than the Marker Kingpin. Once you go big (Beast/Kingpin) I have a hard time understanding why anyone would choose a pin binding over a good frame binding like a Diamir. It seems that these super gnarly radical DIN certified pin bindings are really forcing the limits of this technology, and maybe the better solution has been here all along–frame bindings. What do people think? Why would you choose a Beast or a Kingpin over an equivalent weight (or lighter) frame binding?

    Nonetheless, I did check out some of the new pin bindings recently. Here are some thoughts.

    I want to love the new Vipecs. The new trigger for the toe pins looks incredibly weak–the metal piece is fine, but there is a very thin plastic flap on top, which looks like it’s just waiting to break. Also, I think the way that the adjustable pin problem was solved is poor…not a real solution. There has to be a better way.

    I also want to love the G3 Ion, but the way that the rear housing interfaces with the ski brake looks weird to me…not intuitive, and potentially weak, with a thin ridge of plastic. But this is the binding I would but if I decide to go pin bindings.

    I did not see the new Superlite 2.0. It looks great in pictures, but I want to play with it, and see how the brake interacts with the housing, before I make a decision.

    OK, that’s all. I would love to hear more thoughts about frame bindings, even if you all tell me I’m crazy.

    Bruno

  50. SlabbyD January 14th, 2016 11:09 am

    The winter wears on….Has anyone actually used the Atomic Backland binding or heard any reports on durability/compatibility? Looking at a new setup and I keep coming back to this binding as hitting all the neccesary points. The heel elevator setup appears to be the best design going at the weight. And the price at TP is right as well. Something like a 3 oz penalty compared to the Superlight 2.0 or the ATK Race but presumably stronger (steel) toe wings and built in adjustabilty. Anyone?

  51. ratatouille January 14th, 2016 2:04 pm

    I have the Salomon MTN which are identical to the Atomic Backland — they’re just a different colour, I haven’t clocked sufficient hours on the binding yet to say anything about durability. First impressions are excellent though and I’ll happily report my findings in a few days. Compared to the Superlight 2.0, the MTN/Backland has real heel-flat-on-ski mode with ample space between boot and heel piece. Adjustabilty is limited to three different heel pins (springs) that ship with the bindings. The MTN/Backland is not as “superlight”: Superlight 2.0 ~360g vs. ~595g MTN/Backland (pair).

  52. ratatouille January 14th, 2016 2:27 pm

    I forgot: the 595g of the MTN/Backland include the crampon mount point (option with the Superlight 2.0) and ~3cm fore aft adjustment.

  53. SlabbyD January 14th, 2016 3:20 pm

    Thanks. It’s closest competitor seems to be the ATK Race with adjustment plates and extra tall riser. You save 80g and spend ~$150 more. But it doesn’t have the nice flip heel risers rather than twist. So many choices……

  54. Lou Dawson 2 January 15th, 2016 12:49 am

    If the Atomic/Salomon tech binding holds up, I’d deem it excellent. Somewhat of a joke they chose to not distribute in North America. But hey, we all still ski tour on Marker Dukes and Day Wreckers, right? Lou

  55. Lou Dawson 2 January 15th, 2016 12:57 am

    Slabby, did you see my unboxing review from when I got a pair? I’ve indeed been using them, and they continue to work fine. I’ve not used them enough for a durability test, however.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/18574/atomic-salomon-backland-binding/

    Lou

  56. TimZ January 15th, 2016 8:51 am

    Slabby, ATK has a flippy riser for the RT. See AL04 part number. They work well for me.

  57. justin January 17th, 2016 10:15 am

    A couple questions for those with them – Do the heel risers snap over nicely, like the spring loaded feel with verticals or do you have to push them over most/all the way like it seems you have to do with the Ions?

    It looks like the heel risers rotate independently of the heel piece, is that right? Does that seem like it will be durable?

    Where did you get them and did they come with a mounting template?

    Thanks!

  58. ratatouille January 17th, 2016 1:26 pm

    Justin, the heel risers don’t snap over as nicely as I would like. That’s so far my only (very minor) complaint. Maybe the “snap” will improve with use but right now I often have to push the risers down because they don’t flip over all the way into position.

    The risers actually don’t rotate at all: the part with the heel pin rotates below it instead. Very neat solution.

    They don’t come with a mounting template. I was able to borrow a jig from them temporarily.

  59. Justin January 19th, 2016 11:09 am

    Hmmm. Lou, are your heel risers the same (lacking the nice spring loaded flip of the radicals)?

  60. Schalene Shelly February 14th, 2016 2:40 pm

    I have a pair of the Atomic Backland womens boots and the Dynafit FT 12’s from last year. I am way too pitched forward on my skis and skiing on tippy toes, not that efficient. Could you guide me as to what shims I could use for my bindings to create a neutral stance-please!!

  61. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2016 4:52 pm

    Hi Shelly, it’s not necesarly the boots, but keep an eye on how much thickness there is behind your calf area, as that can drive you more forward than you’re used to. We do shim up all our Radical Dynafit toes for less ramp. I like a fairly minimal shim of about 1/8 inch. Contact B&D ski gear, and order screws with the shims. Be sure to epoxy. http://www.bndskigear.com/

    Also look at what type of skis and the mounting position. Some skis these days have a fairly forward mounting position and you need a quite neutral ramp to ride that without feeling too far forward.

    Can you compare to another setup that feels good? Sometimes that’s the best way to ID what you want to mod.

    Lou

  62. Vitaliy June 25th, 2016 1:25 am

    Hi, Lou. Do you know gap length between boot and heel? I bought used ones without leash and want to remount them. It seems like 2mm?

  63. Pablo September 15th, 2016 2:19 am

    Vitaliy, heel gap on Atomic backland binding is 4mm.
    I have a Salomon MTN binding and it comes with a 4mm gauge.

  64. Vitaliy October 25th, 2016 1:30 am

    Thanks Pablo. I really like their minimalistic design. Changed my Dynafit Deanli with Vipecs on Salomon MTN 95 with MTN bindigns. Better charger.

  65. ratatouille October 25th, 2016 2:53 am

    My only issue with the Salomon MTN binding: The slot to attach the crampons have a nonsensical notch on top. This can cause crampons to block in the lifted position if they slide left or right within the attachment. The Atomic backland version (which is almost identical, but only almost) doesn’t have this silly notch.

  66. Lou Dawson 2 January 19th, 2017 6:22 pm

    I made a Backland Mountain mounting template.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry-ski-pdfs/atomic-salomon-backland-mtn.pdf

    Let me know if it needs fine tuning. It’s not the final version.

    To use, draw axial center line on ski, print several templates, separate heel and toe parts of template, line up with center line, use boot to locate binding parts so you’re standing on ski where you prefer.

    Lou

  67. slcpunk February 21st, 2017 10:10 am

    can all mode changes be made easily using pole tip? i can’t see how rotation is accomplished via pole from the pictures.

  68. Lou Dawson 2 February 21st, 2017 10:34 am

    Hi SLC, nope, you flip the flipper for lift and rotate the binding by hand to change between downhill and uphill. Lou

  69. slcpunk February 21st, 2017 12:53 pm

    Thanks, much appreciated.

  70. Malcolm Jolley March 18th, 2017 11:41 am

    Need to mount a pair of Atomic- Salomon Backland Tour MTN (Tech ) bindings. do you know where I can find a paper templete? Per your beta I know they have not released these in the N American market. Any help would be great. Thanks MJ

  71. Lou Dawson 2 March 18th, 2017 2:39 pm

    Malcolm, I made a template a while ago and linked from some of our Backland posts. Here is the link: I guess I need to do a FAQ for that binding so people can find the template. Sigh, the work never ends! (smile)

    Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland binding mount template, with a few brake dimension, link here.

  72. Rudi September 18th, 2017 9:56 am

    I understand the “Tour Lite” wont be available in NA this year. Anybody know of a shop selling them online?

  73. Clayton December 7th, 2017 10:43 am

    Can you update the template with the pin line on the front mounts?

  74. Robm January 7th, 2018 2:22 pm

    +1 on the toe mount pin line for Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland binding mount template.

  75. Ruk March 22nd, 2018 10:05 am

    Hi Wildsnow. Anyone heard of the Atomic/Salomon MTN binding not being compatible with the Dynafit TLT5 boot? According to the german shop Sport-Conrad, the binding is not compatible with TLT5 nor Scarpa F1 boots …

  76. Lou Dawson 2 March 22nd, 2018 10:54 am

    Ruk, I just happen to be working this morning on a pair of MTN-Backland here in my studio, and my TLT5 boots are a meter away. I’ve skied the TLT 5 with the binding no problem, and I just grabbed the boots and did a bench test, no problem. I don’t appreciate shops just coming up with these takes, without providing specific information on what does not function correctly. Could you please find out from them what exactly they claim malfunctions?

    I don’t have an F1 boot here to test, but again would wonder what exactly is the problem.

    Thanks, Lou

    Lou

  77. Ruk March 23rd, 2018 7:34 am

    According to Sport Conrad “the nose on the front of this shoe (ie TLT5) is too short” … Didn’t ask about the Scarpa F1 as I don’t ski it. But it’s mentioned on their website that the Scarpa F1 is not compatible with the mtn binding:

    https://www.sport-conrad.com/en/products/salomon/mtn-incl-80mm-stoppers.html

    Best,
    Ruk

  78. Lou Dawson 2 March 23rd, 2018 8:03 am

    Ruk, that’s a clear as mud (smile), but in my own evaluations yes, the front of the TLT5 boot, the absolute front, the front of the “lip” that forms the somewhat standard “shelf” or “duckbill” is too short to use the boot toe locator feature of bindings that have such a feature, for example G3 and Backland-MTN. This is an unnecessary binding feature with mixed usefulness, as once your boot toe is worn or perhaps has some ice, the locator doesn’t work anyway, and experienced tech binding users don’t need it…

    As for other incompatibility according to Conrad, yes, using a bellowed boot (telemark type boot or yes the TLT-5) should be called “incompatible” with any tech binding though such boots can be made to function to varying degrees, depending on what compromises one chooses to accept, and exactly what boot. For example, the TLT-5 has very limited bellows action and has been used for years now in various tech bindings, I’d use it with Backland-MTN with no worries, in my opinion.

    Also important, Scarpa confuses with them calling their early bellowed boot an “F1” while also naming their current flagship touring boot an “F1.”

    Lastly, as there are no real industry standards that all tech bindings adhere to, any binding/boot combination must be workbench evaluated for things such as sole rubber jamming against binding toe unit, lack of lateral release due to defective toe fittings, and so forth. Come to think of it, these evaluations would be necessary even if we had clear manufacturing standards, as with alpine bindings…

    Lou

  79. Lou Dawson 2 May 15th, 2018 10:28 am

    Hey everyone, due to some appreciated user feedback I updated the Atomic-Salomon Backland-MTN binding mounting template this morning, took some work. A couple of dimensions were slightly off due to my working with pre-retail stuff.

    link here. You’ll probably get the best printout using Adobe Acrobat, but in any case, the key is to play around with printer scaling if your printed template doesn’t physically match binding.

  80. Evan Mitchell August 25th, 2018 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the write up, as a fan of flatter ramp angles and high heel lifters, I just got a set of the Backland bindings in the mail. The heel pieces actually feel lighter in hand than the toes! My plan was to setup a pair of light 155cm by 90-100mm wide planks that both my wife and I can enjoy. She will use them for lightweight winter hikes, and I will love them for longer hauls to steep spring descents. I need a few more cm of bsl range to pull it off and had hoped to employ quiver killer inserts to achieve two toe piece mounting positions. The mfg of my selected ski stated that a fiberglass reinforced zones hold binding screws, the recent Paulownia core construction is not insert friendly, and that using inserts can void the warranty. I heard some success stories with inserts in blizzard’s zero g construction. Does anybody have bad experiences with inserts failing in the latest lightweight ski constructions? Should I consider trading my bindings for Hagan core rentals?





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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