Atomic Backland Ski Touring Boots — Review

Post by blogger | April 10, 2015      

Shop for Backland ski touring boots.

Elk Mountains, Colorado, Atomic Backland ski touring boots.

Elk Mountains, Colorado, Atomic Backland ski touring boots.

Meet the new Sheriff. His name is Atomic Backland, riding through town with both barrels blazing.

Atomic’s first real venture into the soul of the modern AT ski touring market is the Backland series of boots, four models. The flagship models being the Backland Carbon (stiffer tongue, heavier and firmer liner, carbon infused Grilamid lower and a stiff carbon cuff) and Backland Carbon Light (softer tongue, lighter liner, Grilamid only lower).

These boots are not a half baked product foisted upon us by a mainstream alpine company trying horn in on the now popular ski touring “AT” marketplace. Quite the opposite, the Backland series are a state-of-art product with the best design, technology and materials down to the last detail.

One of the more unique aspects of the Backland series is called MemoryFit. Both the shell and liner are heat moldable, creating a nearly custom fit for each individual. Lou has covered this process in previous posts (see link below) but suffice it to say, with the proper padding in place (toe caps, ankle pads, other specific trouble spots) it’s quite possible you can walk out of the store and into the backcountry with little or no boot fitting mods needed from that point on.

Equally impressive is the weight or lack thereof for these boots. The Carbon comes in at right around 5 pounds a pair, with the Carbon Light at approx 4.5lbs/pr. The obvious competitors in this weight and performance class are the Dynafit TLT6 Performance and the Scarpa F1 Evo. At this point, like any other ski boots, it comes down to personal preference and fit, though with MemoryFit Atomic might have created a whole new consideration to take into account. That being that nearly anyone can get a fit.

I feel the Backland series covers a broad spectrum of AT skiing. If uphill fitness at the ski area is your thing then these are right up your alley. Citizens class skimo racing? Then ready, set, go. Endurance events such as Pierra Menta or Elk Mt. Grand Traverse? Bring it on.

What about me? I like to skin up and ski classic descents. Perfect boot for that as well. The only categories not covered by the Backland boot models are the extreme ends of the spectrum, such as the dedicated ski mo racer willing to spend any amount to get down to the weightless racing machine, or the freeride huckmeister looking to drop that rad backcountry line at the highest speed, with the least amount of turns and biggest air possible, completed with a bump run.

For this review, I skied the Backland Carbon for two days on our local peaks, along with a short tour and some uphill fitness at the areas, coupled with various resort runs at our resorts here in the Aspen area.

The Backland Carbon sets a high bar for a lightweight, high performance touring boot. On the uphill I kept thinking these feel as much like a running shoe as a ski boot, what with a stride that resembles a natural walking motion. Like brand X, the tongue is removable for the up or can be swapped out for the softer tongue from the Carbon Light model if preferred.

Honestly, I find the whole tongue off-and-on thing a pain in the butt and just leave it in the entire time. That said, I did play with having the Backland top buckle loosely buckled and the power strap loosely strapped vs. the top buckle open, held by the catch and the power strap loosely strapped. In either case, the Backland Carbon affords an incredible range of motion though even more so with the top buckle open. So much so that on technical, steep, side-hill terrain having the top buckle loosely buckled provides a feeling of a bit more security. Another seemingly small but real factor in the uphill performance of the Backland is the high quality, near frictionless bushing and fitting securing the upper cuff to the lower. Noticeable. (Note that the cuff pivot is a threaded user-replaceable fastener system.)

My very first turns on the Backland were off a major peak, on skis I had never skied before. I thought, “This could be interesting.” The first few turns had a bit of wind effected snow, not ideal. Thankfully, what moments before were bedroom slippers on the way up immediately transformed into real ski boots on the down. My concerns of possibly being all over the place and out of control were replaced by the realization that I was in command. I was fully supported, able to steer my skis at will and make all of the subtle adjustments needed for effective skiing. Those first turns gave way to powder and I let the foot puppies run free. The Backlands were right there as the speed increased and I drove harder into the front of the boots. Lateral support was there as well, as I tipped and angulated.

The following day was powder heaven. Hidden stashes of north facing powder in the alpine. With the knowledge gained from the previous day I was able to up the performance using more of the lateral power and nuances of the Backland.

After my days in the backcountry combined with resort runs, I’ve now got an in-depth feel for the strengths and weaknesses of this boot. It is stiffer laterally then the forward flex. The rearward support, while more substantial than the forward flex, is not intended for Marcel Hirscher. In turn, it comes as no surprise that while capable of being driven from the front of the boot, the Backland Carbon performs best when skied with a more neutral stance (as is common with many of today’s lighter ski touring boots). Fore/aft movement can be used to its advantage but is best served subtle.

Considering above, two suggestions: I would like to see Atomic offer a third tongue that is yet stiffer still and include a rear spoiler that can be attached in combination with the power strap via the existing hole where the power strap currently screws in.

Let’s talk liners. Prior to this review, I had never used one of the thinner liners typical of the Backland or other brand models. Since the Intuition PowerWrap liner was sold, I’ve put them in every boot I have owned. I expected the thinner liner to be much colder but was pleasantly surprised to feel my feet generating heat whenever I moved. I suspect part of this can be attributed to the Backland “breathable” liner dispersing moisture better and staying drier than any liner I have used in the past. They also dry out much faster at the end of the day than any liner I have used previous. This is no doubt in part due to various areas of the liner being permeable. The liner is also designed to be hand washable to further reduce the funk factor so commonly associated with at least my boots, or so I’ve been told. (In truth, you can wash any boot liner, with care, by hand.)

So, the question: Will I swap this liner? Perhaps, but I was impressed how well these worked. After the Memory-fit process they’re perfectly integrated with the shell. Again, I found them warm, comfortable, and of course light enough themselves to keep overall weight down. Suggestion from myself and others with Backland experience, give the stock liners a good chance before going to the effort and expense of swapping.

Sizing the Backland series throws a bit of a wrinkle into the fabric. Typically I am in either a 25.5 or 26 depending on the manufacturer and model. In the case of another popular brand I use a 27 to accommodate the Intuition liner. Regardless, all of my boots fall into a BSL range of 294mm-299mm. In the case of the Backland I still use a 25.5 which is consistent with my other Atomic boot, but the BSL is an astounding 278mm. That’s the correct size, but I never thought I would see the day I was in that short of boot.

Atomic claims the interior dimensions of the Backland are essentially the same as all of their other boots but it’s the outside dimensions that are substantially different. Coupled with MemoryFit, this allows for an exact fit which clearly contributes to the performance and low weight of the boot. I also noticed how nimble the boot was when scrambling across a narrow rocky ridge, clearly due to the shorter BSL and lower weight.

The one issue I’m facing, regarding sole length, is that none of the bindings on any of my current skis adjust short enough to accommodate the Backland. Even if they did, I would be standing in an entirely different place on the ski which could alter the skis performance. Am I forced to remount the bindings putting another set of holes in an otherwise perfectly good pair of skis, assuming the new holes won’t be too close to the old ones to allow for the remount? Or, is this the opportunity to get that new pair of skis I have been lusting over that will match up perfectly to the Backland?

Yep, Atomic is in town. Backland. Low weight, superior walking efficiency, skiing performance and affordable price. Backland ski touring boots will go to fully available retail this coming fall.

See our other extensive Backland boot coverage.

(Guest blogger Bob Perlmutter and his wife Sue live in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, where Bob manages Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, a snowcat skiing operation. Bob has sought adventure skiing over the past thirty years, in the nearby Elk Mountains as well as locales around the world. He has owned 42 pairs of Intuition Power Wrap liners.)


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63 Responses to “Atomic Backland Ski Touring Boots — Review”

  1. Tuck April 10th, 2015 12:56 pm

    Heck of a review. Thanks.

    “In truth, you can wash any boot liner, with care, by hand.”

    I machine wash all my liners (Lange, Garmont (RIP), Intuition). Then use my boot dryer to dry the liner.

    Never had an an issue, but if you’ve got long laces, you might want to pin them down, as they’ll get pretty wound up otherwise.

    It also means I wash ’em more often.

    I know some folks have spacers taped to the liners, but I don’t. I wouldn’t machine wash if I did.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 April 10th, 2015 1:23 pm

    For a hand wash, just fill some sort of tub with soapy water, soak, move around, then rinse under the faucet. Dry quickly with a boot dryer or out in the sun/air. Works fine. Lou

  3. Jeremy C April 10th, 2015 1:38 pm

    Good point to mention the short BSL of these boots. I know that Dynafit boots are typically 10-13mm shorter that other boots of the same Mondo size, so it looks like Atomic have followed the same ‘short’ design. This difference would prevent me from using the Backland or Dynafit boots on any of my current binding/ski mounting positions.

    I assume that this shortening must be achieved by moving the toe pivots back, and the heel interface forward.

  4. Doug Hutchinson April 10th, 2015 2:36 pm

    Besides all the innovations listed, I am also excited about the relatively old school lean lock mechanism on the Backland. After all the problems with F1 EVOs this year and fiddling that sometimes happens with the TLT6 integrated buckle/cuff lock that I have seen (hard to find the hole in the cuff to lock, sometimes hard to release to walk mode, holes in ski pants for the buckle, inability to tour with the upper cuff tight, etc.); I welcome the external lean lock that Atomic went with. I ski Sportiva Spitfires (which BTW should always be listed in the same category as the TLT6 and F1s, but never get any press) which have a similar upper buckle/lean lock system as the TLT5/6 and I like it for quickness but would trade another second of time at a transition for all the benefits of a lean lock like on the Backland.

  5. Pete Anzalone April 10th, 2015 5:57 pm

    Great, well-written review, but that photo is really something!

  6. Lou Dawson 2 April 10th, 2015 6:07 pm

    Yeah yeah, I need to throw a few boot photos in there, who cares about ski tracks. Lou

  7. See April 10th, 2015 7:59 pm

    Welcome to the old school…

  8. See April 10th, 2015 9:14 pm
  9. Bob Perlmutter April 10th, 2015 9:15 pm

    Pete, you are the Ansel Adams of IPhone photography. Doug, regarding the lean lock mechanism, it is solid and simple. That’s a good thing. Just note that it is spring loaded and will clamp your fingers like a lobster with it’s claws. Once you are aware it is easy to avoid when switching modes.

  10. Chris Cawley April 10th, 2015 11:10 pm

    Everybody wants to know: are they just plain BETTER than TLT5/6?

  11. Thomas April 10th, 2015 11:30 pm

    I got a chance to ski these a couple times this winter. We had them at our shop in Steamboat so I skinned the mountain on 2 different skis. They were a great pairing with Dynafit PDGs and also drove some Salomon Q105s impressively. I took the tongue out on both climbs and felt like I was in my skate boots. Getting the tongue out and back in was easy w a twist and pull/push motion. Once the tongue is in and the boot buckled they offered great downhill performance. I was surprised how well they drove the 105s on hard dawn patrol groomers. The boots were skied off the shelf without the molding process. I did witness the boots getting cooked and saw a Fred Flinstone footed coworker think they were the best boot fit ever. As a side note, I owned Scarpa Evos briefly this winter. Nice idea but I am good with taking care of the walk/ski mode and the Atomic has a bomber heel throw. My Evos had multiple mods and manipulations to get them to fit and when I returned them they needed more. Lastly, it appears Atomic has spent some time figuring out this boot which is nice cause Scarpa had me beta testing their revolutionary product without me knowing it. But I did get another pair of Mastrales with my refund so Scarpa has that going for them. The Atomics are definitely on my want/need list.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 April 11th, 2015 3:10 am

    Maestrale RS is still all-time, Backland appears terrific, and Dynafit TLT is still beautiful, La Sportiva is there for you as well… with Scott bringing it home by providing the venerable “Garmont” fit. As always, the boot that fits the best is the best boot.

  13. john doyle April 11th, 2015 7:19 am

    As intriguing as the new ‘Backland’ boots sound , I am also wondering what is this ‘major peak’ Bob writes about…..?

  14. M Mayer April 11th, 2015 8:39 am

    I was able to buy a pair of these boots last week through the fantastic folks (thanks Sam T) at Bootdoctors in Telluride after seeing Lou’s earlier reports. I have a wide and flat forefoot and have had a lot of trouble fitting in other brands. I have only skinned/skied them twice so far, and only on the ski area, but my initial impression is that they are going to be great. Out of the heat molding process they were immediately comfortable, and have less hot spots that my heavily punched and used La Sportiva Spectres. If you have a weird foot, these really may be the best answer for you (until someone comes up with a custom 3D printed boot).

    Regarding the short BSL, I also needed to remount as I was able to drop a full shell size from the Specters. Totally worth it to me.

  15. David April 11th, 2015 8:51 am

    Atomic sounds great …
    ski-in is so much

    enjoy lot the last time i did

  16. Lou Dawson 2 April 11th, 2015 12:49 pm

    Doyle, just some editing for our international readership. Just Ski Hayden.

  17. Greg Louie April 11th, 2015 2:10 pm

    “As always, the boot that fits the best is the best boot.”

    With light touring boots, the one that fits best straight out of the box sometimes is not the best answer – there simply aren’t as many options as in alpine boots, and many experienced skiers look at weight and features first and then find a skilled bootfitter to make it bearable – as evidence, look at the variety of foot shapes wandering around in TLT5 and 6 shells.

    Atomic’s made a big step toward lessening the need for the “skill” component with the Memory Fit process, and the Backland Carbon with revised liner should be very much on a performance par with the TLT6P.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 April 11th, 2015 5:18 pm

    Greg, it’s true that a lot of skiers try to force a boot they like to fit their feet. I’ve done it myself. But that’s not the “best” boot in my opinion, that is unless one can really get a good fit with some mods. In that case, I’d agree with you.

    My trite little saying was just to make a point.


  19. See April 11th, 2015 7:43 pm

    What happens if you use the Memory Fit process on a boot other than the Backland?

  20. Bob Perlmutter April 11th, 2015 11:41 pm

    The Backland molding process is not applicable to just any boot. It involves a proprietary additive to the carbon and Grilamid that allows for the shell to be heat moldable. Sorry for the “major peak” reference. That was not my doing as Lou already indicated. That wording was added in the editing process. I’ll get to the million dollar question of Backland vs. TLT6 when it is not so late and I have more time to do justice to the answer. Let’s start with taking the TLT5 out of the equation because the TLT6 is vastly superior to the TLT5. More later.

  21. Greg Louie April 12th, 2015 7:25 am

    See, I’ve put many brands/models of boots, including many alpine boots and most Dynafit Grilamid boots – in the MemoryFit/Custom Shell oven and the results vary (default is 8-10 minutes at 235-240 F.)

    Shells that aren’t “intended” to be heat molded still can gain forefoot and instep volume (everything settles in, with hardware moving to the far limits of holes, etc.) but the molding may not be as precise or stay put as well.

    As with other forms of shell modification, every plastic is different – very stout boots and Pebax shells tend to resist this technique. Try this at your own risk, of course.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 April 12th, 2015 8:15 am

    Greg, I guess mileage varies on this one… My take, with much work on heating and molding boots, don’t even bother with Pebax, but you could get some results with PU. Problem is that any twisting or other distortion of the sole will result in tech fittings going out of alignment. Much better to just punch individual spots in the shell if at all possible. All, if you try this stuff, you’ll need a very accurate convection oven. Otherwise don’t even consider it. Lou

  23. powbanger April 12th, 2015 11:42 am

    The shell mod conversation comes down to which plastic you are using. In order for Atomic/Salomon to use their “memory fit/custom shell” technology the plastic is engineered to be malleable at lower temps than other plastics used in AT/Alpine boots. This allows the bootfitter to heat the shell up and use your own foot in the liner as a plug to mold the shell around. It’s a pretty cool process which has allowed Atomic to be the first fully custom fit AT boot on the market (IMO) It’s interesting Amer didn’t use this plastic in the new Salomon AT boot.
    Pebax/Grilamid uses more nylon in the plastic which makes is lighter but it likes to bounce back to the original shape it came out of the boot mold as. It also does not like to be ground so punching the shell with heat and pressure is the only way to go. It takes a fairly specific recipe (correct heat, length of time in press) but you can get punches to stick with these plastics.
    Plastics used in some alpine boots tend to be more rigid as the forces put on them can be greater than those put on AT boots. Before you rip me a new one, I understand there are exceptions to my opinion. There is a reason however that you don’t see pebex/grilamid/memroy fit/PU types of low temp types of plastics on the very high end of alpine boots. It’s not that plastics are proprietary it’s that low temp plastics tend to have less rebound or life to them as PE plastic.
    A skilled bootfitter will be able to “Heat” mold any boot. It’s just how they do it and their ability to make these mods stick while not changing angles in tech fittings. This is very hard to do in any boot as the metal in tech fittings heats differently than the plastic around it. This is why it is worth paying the extra $ to find and support the skilled bootfittlers in your town.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 April 12th, 2015 11:52 am

    All good points Powbanger! Thanks for dropping by! Lou

  25. Ted D April 12th, 2015 4:24 pm

    I’m pretty sure the Alpine Memory Fit/ Custom Shell uses two plastics- one low temp and the sole, boot lugs, and side struts higher temp. Twin Frame in Salomon jargon. This allows the important parts not to warp at low temps. I’d expect the Backland boots to use this same tech.

  26. Greg Louie April 12th, 2015 8:01 pm

    @powbanger: You can’t lump Pebax and Grilamid together when it comes to potential for punching. Pebax shells I’ve punched range from really horrible to pretty bad to modify, with tons of memory. It’s often best to leave a Pebax shell on the punch overnight if you can, and you’ll still lose much of the punch fairly quickly. As you say, many are horrible to grind as well, creating molten rivers of plastic that need to be shaved off afterwards.

    On the other hand, Grilamids shells I’ve worked on (Dynafit, La Sportiva and Atomic) punch easily at lower heat and tend to hold the new shape very well. I’m wondering how the new Pebax+ Dynafit shells are going to be to work on.

  27. See April 12th, 2015 8:09 pm

    Very interesting and makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of making plaster castings of my feet to make fitting moldable footwear easier (my experience has been that feet are too soft to make good plugs). If I needed new boots, I’d give the Backlands a try. They look like nice boots and I would really like to experience the fitting process.

  28. Greg Louie April 12th, 2015 8:14 pm

    See, it’s common practice to “pad” problem areas of the foot for heat molding shells and liners with 1/8″ or even thicker foam to push those areas out a bit more.

  29. See April 12th, 2015 8:18 pm

    Understood. But I still think “padding” a solid plug with something equally stiff would work better.

  30. powbanger April 12th, 2015 10:32 pm

    See, you’re looking at a whole new level of custom boot fitting, and there is at least one company doing it today. They take a laser scan of your leg and foot from the calf down, CNC a wood plug from the laser scan, and depending on what you want to pay you can have different levels of custom fit ranging from just a boot and liner, to boot, custom foam liner, custom footbed. They start with shells from various manufactures and customize from there. You’re looking at $1200 – $2500 for a boot though.
    Greg, you just need the right recipe for Pebex. More heat and 24hr in the press did the trick for me. I lump them together because they are similar types of plastics. Pebex has a higher nylon content I believe, which makes it harder to work with.

  31. Greg Louie April 12th, 2015 11:14 pm

    powbanger, it depends on which Pebax boot you’re talking about.

    BD Factor and Quadrant or Salomon Quest Max BC don’t respond well regardless of how much heat or time you throw at them.

    Regular orange Maestrale works pretty well with moderate heat and left for a few hours.

    White Maestrale RS (Pebax Rnew) works pretty well with medium heat and left on the punch for 30 minutes or so. Like I said, not all Pebax is created equal.

  32. Bob Perlmutter April 12th, 2015 11:48 pm

    Please note that I didn’t say the plastics in the Backland were proprietary but they use a proprietary additive to the plastics. Hence, why these plastics that are commonly used throughout the industry are not all capable of being heat moldable. The Atomic rep noted a difference between the MemoryFit/Custom Shell chemistry despite the same parent company which to be honest, I don’t recall.

    Now for the million dollar question, Backland vs. TLT6? All ski boots, like everything in life, have their pluses and minuses. If one is good or better than the other, it doesn’t mean the other is bad. Just not quite as good. The Backland is better on the up. The walking motion is more natural and more efficient. While I have never had problems with the locking mechanism on the TLT6, I prefer the solid simplicity of the Backland. I like the buckle system on the Backland better. The lower buckle cable system functions like two buckles and the placement locks the heel in more securely. The moisture dispersion and quick drying of the Backland liner is a real asset.
    Fit is a critical factor. Certainly if you get a good fit from the TLT6 then MemoryFit is a mute point. That said, I think MemoryFit on the Backland will allow a greater number of people to accomplish a good fit without the need for any or minimal modification with less effort involved.
    Regarding the downhill performance, the lateral stiffness of the two boots is virtually the same. The forward flex of the TLT6 Performance with the stiffer tongue is a bit firmer than the Backland. Thus, my suggestion that Atomic make one more tongue that is stiffer still. In the end, I will be flying the orange and black of the Backland not just for Halloween but next winter as well.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 April 13th, 2015 4:20 am

    What’s helpful here is that Bob is skiing both Backland Carbon and TLT6-P, I’m doing the same thing. Lot’s of people are doing this, actually, as Atomic seeded out a whole size run of “samples” to launch Backland on the world. Smart of them. Classic “positioning.”

    I’d agree with Bob that the TLT6-P is stiffer in forward flex. The reason, you can see from direct observation of both boots, is that the Backland cuff does the old buldge to the sides more than the stiffer TLT6-P carbon cuff. This in my opinion is the result of two things: The Dynafit cuff is somewhat stiffer, but the Dynafit Ultralock system results in a very stiff “spine.”

    As for walk modes, it does amaze me that the Backland in general has an even more ergonomic walk mode than TLT6, but when the cuff buckle is loosened on the TLT6 you end up with a walk mode that’s quite similar. The difference is that the Backland has a very free cuff even with the upper buckle snugged up. This is because it does not have the “rear internal tongue” that the Dynafit Ultralock system requires.

    Above comparo is for both boots without tongue. I ski them both that way. Throw the removable tongues in and it’s a whole other story based on how stiff the tongues are. As Bob points out.

    As both of us have alluded to, the HUGE difference in TLT6 and Backland is the fit. If you want a narrow lasted performance fit you’ll want to go for TLT6 first, perhaps with a bit of punching, and see how it feels on the carpet. If you’ve been having problems with boot fitting in general, Backland may well be the solution.

    One other thing. Unlike Bob, I did not get an ideal fit with the stock Backland liner. It just doesn’t fill up around my ultra skinny ankles and does not have pronounced “L-pads” to form an ankle cup. I could compensate with boot fitter foam addition, L-pads and such, but I instead opted for the simplicity of just stuffing another liner in there. The fit I have now is perfect. Yesterday, nearly 9 hours in the boots and nary a whimper.

    Liner issues will be easy to figure out in the shop, most people will probably be perfectly happy with the stock Backland liners.

    The breathable liners are interesting… More later on those.

    At this point, without tongues, TLT6-P skis downhill slightly better for me, Backland goes up a little easier.

    The boots are similar enough to the point where fit will decide. Choosing one over the other is not going to subtract hours from your up time, or cause you to suddenly get letters from ski photographers asking to film your amazing technique.

    Oh, and we do need to give kudos to Atomic for a pretty amazing freshman effort here. Mainly, Backland seems to be holding up and not breaking. Nice trend in ski touring gear.


  34. Arnie April 13th, 2015 6:13 am

    I went with taking a cast of my foot and making a custom boot stretcher to fit the tlt5. Taking the cast was really straightforward and the Grilamid (on the tlt5) was a cinch to work with. I ‘ve a new pair of tlt6 to fit(my endless winter summer project)

  35. Greg Louie April 13th, 2015 1:55 pm

    I’ve also been skiing both the TLT6P and the Backland Carbon this season, and both Bob’s and Lou’s comments are spot on, but as far as I know all the Backland Carbon testing to date has been with the prototype liner (should be similar to the liner they use in the Carbon Light).

    Though I haven’t tried it yet, the production liner is rumored to be thicker, a bit taller, and with a stiffer tongue.

    Now what to do with the four pairs of pants I’ve cut holes in for Dynafit upper buckles . . .

  36. See April 13th, 2015 6:45 pm

    Arnie, did you use resin impregnated socks (like STS) and plaster to make your custom stretcher?

    Greg, I don’t know about Factors or Quest, but the Quadrants have so much volume, I can easily imagine how full boot baking would be a mess. I’m guessing the Memory fit type process works best with close fitting shells.

    Powbanger, that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard about the custom last ski boots, but ultra-light boots like Gignoux don’t seem that different in construction from custom ice or in-line skate boots (like Bonts) which are made from a casting of the skater’s foot. If Arnie’s looking for an even bigger project, I’d like to suggest that he make some custom carbon boots (and then do a guest post for Wildsnow about it).

  37. Lou Dawson 2 April 13th, 2015 7:04 pm

    Greg, I received production liners last week. They’re definitely better (a few more millimeters of thick around ankle, and a noticeably better tongue). They still didn’t quite fill up around my chicken ankles but I think they’ll help most people achieve a very nice fit. Kudos to Atomic for risking tight “shop fit” for getting a perfect fit once the molding is done. Lou

  38. Bob Perlmutter April 13th, 2015 9:23 pm

    Greg is absolutely correct regarding the changes on the Backland liner for the final production run as validated by Lou. Powbanger, the custom boot you reference is a company called Ertlrenz. They are available at Gorsuch in Aspen and presumably other Gorsuch locations as well. Needless to say, the price is not a barrier to entry for many who visit or live in Aspen so they are not uncommon on the slopes here. I’m off tomorrow on what will be my longest tour to date on the Backland and will report back soon.

  39. Arnie April 15th, 2015 12:42 pm

    @See used alginate to make the negative, basically it sets quick and I’ve used it before. The sts sock system looks pretty easy though. The positive I cast in a hard plaster made up with a polymer added to the water to further strengthen. The stretcher was bought off ebay and is like a mini screw jack. Cut the cast piece and used the custom shapes to push the boot out. A bit of trial and error right boot ok first go left boot took three.
    I did back in the day make a carbon cuff for my f1s!

  40. See April 15th, 2015 6:17 pm

    Very cool Arnie. Thanks for the explanation. I expect your device works really well and saves time in the long run.

    Lately, I’ve gone back to just jamming a piece of wood (sculpted to the right shape) into the boot and hitting it with a heat gun. But this probably wouldn’t work for boots that aren’t pretty close to fitting out of the box.

  41. Arnie April 16th, 2015 12:47 am

    No probs See. My mark1 was a wooden form and wedges. I’m rubbish at carving so a cast seemed easier. A screw was for more control (ie turn screw three times get 3mm of movement)
    I think what Atomic have done is pretty cool. Just not sure how radically it can change the shape of the shell (for those of us with unhelpful feet) . A squashy foot inside squashy liner. The formula for a well fitting boot is pretty complex though so I look forward to trying it.

  42. stephen April 16th, 2015 11:17 am

    Lou, just FYI the link to more coverage behaves weirdly on Android, and is unusable. (Maybe Android is broken too as font sizes in the comment boxes are all over the place.) Interesting stuff! 🙂

  43. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2015 11:52 am

    Hi Stephen, thanks for the heads up on that! Looks like it’s a problem with Google’s CSS, I’ll fool around with it. Lou

  44. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2015 4:23 pm

    Stephen, it took a while but I cleaned up the mobile site SERP page. on Android.. it’s not perfect but the tap targets are at least there and not too jumbled… I’ll work on it more this summer. Thanks again for pointing out the problem. Lou

  45. Brian Lindahl April 28th, 2015 8:12 pm

    I’ve owned the TLT5Ps (locked out the metatarsal flex), skied the TLT6Ps and now own the Atomic Backland Carbons.

    I agree that the walk mode on the Atomics is noticeably better, and that the TLT6Ps (and 5Ps) ski better. However, the liner is the major weak point in the Atomics – it’s short, extremely flimsy and thin.

    I started using an Intuition ProTour liner in the Atomics almost immediately (40g more) and it brings the ski performance of the Atomic Backland up to and perhaps beyond the TLT6Ps. It skis WAY better with this liner. Make sure you put the powerstrap on top of the LINER.

    I also think the plastic tongue shape is a weak point in the boot. It isn’t well shaped to the shape of a human shin and the forward lean of the boot, and, thus, doesn’t make full contact appropriately. The Intuition ProTour liner also makes up for this drawback – the stiffness of the liner tongue hiding the minimal contact point of the plastic tongue (giving you full contact) – again, if you use the powerstrap on the LINER.

    I found the molding process to be extremely well dialed. I wasn’t able to tolerate much longer than 60 minutes in the boot prior to heat-molding the plastic. Afterwards, it fits better than any other boot I’ve had. FWIW, I had the molding done at Larry’s in Boulder.

  46. Bryson Duncan October 1st, 2015 10:07 am

    i determined the rear throw in the back of the boot could be used like the Scrapa Alien 1.0 closure system. Have you heard anyone modifying the boot to be able to lock the top buckle with a flip of the throw? Do you guys have any ideas on the best way to make it happen?

  47. Lou Dawson 2 October 1st, 2015 10:24 am

    Bryson, part of the reason you don’t see certain cuff lock systems used with different brands is patent issues. That doesn’t mean you can’t modify or retrofit. I’d guess Backland is ripe for mods, as are many boots. Our favorite cuff lock system is still the Dynafit Ultra Lock. Lou

  48. Fred Porter October 15th, 2015 2:14 pm

    How is the flex of the Backland compared to the TLT5P in terms of progressiveness? My TLT5Ps are stiff enough but I wish they were more progressive. The independent cuff lock and the moldability of the Backland are really attractive.

  49. Lou Dawson 2 October 15th, 2015 2:23 pm

    Hi Fred, with all due respect, that’s like asking what the fuel economy is for a one-ton gasser 1984 Chevrolet. Actually, bad analogy (grin).

    Seriously, neither boot has any sort of “progressive” flex. Both are tongue boots, any flex is created by the boot bulging and/or collapsing. Backland is easier to fit for many people, Dynafit skis stiffer as it doesn’t bulge as much during forward flex. We all wish they had made the carbon fiber “yoke” on the Backland just a hair stronger.

    If you want more flex than TLT6 yes, Backland will do it, but it’s not progressive, it’s simply the result of the boot bulging at the cuff pivots. Carpet test in a shop and you’ll see what I mean.

    No disrespect to Backland, it’s an excellent boot, but what is, is.


  50. Greg Louie October 16th, 2015 12:23 am

    The differences between the new Pebax-shelled TLT6P CL and the Backland Carbon are much smaller than with the previous generation Dynafits. The black and orange TLT6P fits roomier pretty much everywhere, most noticeably in the midfoot and over the instep – hard to believe it was achieved just by switching liners, but it could be. The CL liner, though, has almost no rearward support so the new TLT6P loses the “taller & stiffer” advantage it enjoyed last year with the CR liner. Weights are nearly identical (I get 1122 g for the 26.5 Backland Carbon and 1119 g for the 26.5 TLT6P) and I fit in the 26/26.5 shell in the new one (I own the 27.5 green TLT6P). The new Dynafit looks very sharp, but the $250 price differential will be hard to ignore.

  51. Phil November 25th, 2015 2:21 pm

    Looks like the Backland is shipped with the split tongue (softer) and the Backland Carbon with the stiffer tongue (not both tongues). Do you know if it will be possible to buy a different tongue from Atomic separately?

    The tongues aren’t as easy to slot in and out as the TLTs. Both due to the lower buckle design and the holding plastic ‘plug’. Perhaps it gets easier with time…

    Related to ordering things from Atomic, my one durability concern on the boot at this point is the ‘cable guide’ for the buckle on the lower shell. It looks like it could easily be scuffed and perhaps damaged by a ski edge. The nice thing is (like many things on the boot) that it is easily replaceable. Can that part be sourced from Atomic? It may be nice to have a spare for a long trip… I’m not familiar with Atomic as a distributor, so I don’t know how easy it will be to get parts. Any knowledge on that out there?

  52. Chris November 30th, 2015 11:54 am

    Good to hear the positive responses on the fit. Like a previous commenter I’ve got a low, relatively wide foot, and throw in low skinny ankles and bow-legs and things get real fun. Just curious about a couple things…regarding bow-legs, do you get any (even small amounts) of cuff angle change with the heat molding?

    Also, any thoughts on going with buying the light version to be able to do some gram-saving for long days/skimo, then swapping in stiffer tongues and some beefier liners (like pro tours) for days when you want more downhill performance? Would you be able to get (close to) the same stiffness at the non-light version, or are the shells between the two versions that much different in regards to flex?

    Thanks! Fantastic thread.

  53. Tyler January 14th, 2016 8:23 am

    I’ll looking to get a warmer liner in my backlands. I tried the pro tour (as mentioned above) and they are too bulky to fit in my boots. To remedy this I ordered a pair of low volume intuition liners (I assume they will be warmer than the stock liners) and am wondering if that’s the right move. Should I be keeping the medium volume pro tours and size up the boot?

    Awaiting your sage advice.

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

    Tyler, the only way you’ll get more warmth from a liner is to go to a liner that is less compressed while molding while still fitting your foot in such a way as to not be so tight it cuts off blood circulation, doing so requires some guesswork as to how much your existing liner is compressed vs what would happen with another liner. The difference is often minimal.

    The only true way to add warmth to a plastic ski boot is by adding volume for insulation. Either by punching out to a more custom and larger fit, or upsizing one shell size. You then pick a liner that’s thick enough and large enough to fill the added space.

    Pretty tricky, really. At least you have a boot that’s in my opinion of average or better warmth already. I have a lot of trouble keeping my feet warm in some of the lower volume boots, to the extent I use the aftermarket boot gloves quite often during Colorado winter. My Backlands are noticeably warmer.


  55. nate porter February 5th, 2016 5:02 pm

    @Brian Lindahl, or anyone else that has replaced the Atomic liner with something else- I’ve molded my Backland Carbons, been mostly happy with them, but cannot keep my feet warm. Did you simply mold an Intution Pro Tour for the shells that had been molded with the stock liner? Or did you remold the shells for the Intuition liner? Seems like since the Intuition is thicker, remolding the shells would be required. What worries me there is that the thicker liner will not allow the foot to push on the shell as much, resulting in less molding of the shell. Any info on replacing the stock Atomic liner would be much appreciated.

  56. Daleyo March 1st, 2016 12:50 pm

    Hello all! I’m looking for details regarding the performance differentiation between the Carbon and the Carbon Light. All information is helpful. Maybe these questions can serve as a base: Is the C noticeably stiffer than the CL? I’m wondering if there is a trade-off here between the weight savings of the CL and potentially better downhill performance of the C… Or is the downhill performance of CL good enough, thus making the choice to save weight clear? (Assume stock liner is replaced). Many thanks

  57. jim March 24th, 2016 12:06 pm

    The molding process by AMH in Anchorage is easy and resulted in a quick remarkably perfect fit for my wide flat difficult to fit feet. The process on a very soft hot boot even seems to curecant issues despite lack of mechanical cant adjustment. The wide heel shell molded in with the liner. The boot is remarka fir a tight heell in a narriw heel. The boot is comfortable and almost slipper like in walk mode. It is very stiff in ski mode. I may get tell softer tongue. Skinning is new experience with easy and large fore and aft motion. Great ski control on the down. Very very light.

  58. Tyler April 4th, 2016 2:28 pm

    Lost a fastener for my instep buckle during my last tour. I saw adhesive on the threads but it didn’t seem to hold. An additional application of loctite will be in my future.

  59. Lou Dawson 2 April 4th, 2016 3:48 pm

    Yeah, or perhaps even JBweld as thread locker…

  60. Witold April 4th, 2016 11:14 pm

    @ Daleyo
    I bought Backland Light few months ago. Later I decided to purchase stiffer tongues as in Backland Carbon (SKU: AE5014300 from . Did not try it on the snow /I have a summer here/ but carpet testing shows SIGNIFICANT difference in stiffness ,only by exchange of tongues. My idea is to benefit from the Backland Light low weight with tongues removed and stiffer setup with Backland Carbon downhill.

  61. Daniel March 1st, 2017 10:41 am

    Can someboy tell cuff height (say, at the side, measured internally from boot board) and maybe tongue height?

  62. sully January 7th, 2018 10:56 am

    i’m between shell sizes in the women’s version of this boot (23 is a tight performance fit, makes me nervous for touring, 24 is roomy, makes for cramped feet on the decent, allows for heel-lift). i’m not sure if the heat molding process dor the shell would tighten up the heel lock on the 24 and make it conform to my lower volume feet better, or if heat molding the 23 would make it a bit roomier/more comfortable for touring. i plan to heat mold either boot with the addition of a pro flex G liner from intuition. any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  63. Frame January 19th, 2018 2:24 am

    16/17 Backland on sale for half off at EllisB in the UK. Limited sizes, looks like they are clearing out the last of the stock.

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