Expert Review: Atomic Backland/Salomon MTN
This review is my own honest opinion of the ski bindings, which I bought with my own money in November 2017.
About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the ski bindings, which I bought with my own money in November 2017.
The Atomic Backland/Salomon MTN is my all-time favorite tech binding for advanced to expert skiers. I use it on all my favorite skis and if enough had been in stock, it would be on every ski in my quiver.
About the gear
- Model: 2018 Atomic Backland/Salomon MTN binding
- Height: 5’ 10”
- Weight: 170 lbs
- Preferred DIN range: 10 to 12
- Experience: 18 years
- When I bought these: November 2017
- Days tested: 60
- Boots: Hoji Pro Tour
- Boot Size: 28/28.5
- Skis: Blizzard Zero G 105
- Where I’ve used it: Colorado backcountry
- Terrain: Powder, trees, pillows, couloirs, ski mountaineering
How it performs
What I was looking for
I bought the Atomic Backland binding because I was looking for a lightweight, simple, and efficient binding exclusively for backcountry skiing. I needed something robust enough to put on a powder ski, but I wanted to go with a low-tech binding to save as much weight as possible.
Why I chose this gear
The biggest draw of the Atomic Backland/Salomon MTN was its simplicity. Its toe piece is typical of most pin bindings, but there are almost no moving parts in the heel. The vertical and lateral release are changed by swapping the U spring, so there are no extra screws or springs to wear out. I really like the way the heel risers are fixed to the center post and don’t rotate with the heel pins. It makes them feel really stiff and efficient without the squishy feel that I get with other bindings.
What I love about it
- Downhill Performance: I love the way these bindings ski. My background is entirely backcountry, so I like the feel of a pretty rigid tech binding. I can really feel the snow surface with these, and they’re quick to respond.
- Uphill Performance: Besides a skimo race binding, this is the best uphill binding I’ve ever used. The heel risers are on an internal post that does not pivot with the heel piece, so there’s no chance of the heel rotating into ski mode, and there’s no squishy feeling when I’m using the risers. I can also transition by just flipping the low riser over the pins, so there’s no need to rotate the heel piece unless I really want a flat mode.
- Durability: With very few moving parts on the bindings, there’s not much on these to wear out. The heel pins on any U-spring binding wear a little faster as they slide on the boot insert rather than roll, but I have not noticed any significant wear with regular use. The U spring is easily replaceable, so this has not been a concern.
- Power Transfer: The Backland has good power transfer due to its rigidity. I currently have the binding mounted on at least six pairs of skis ranging from 85 to 148 millimeters underfoot and have felt like there is plenty of power transfer.
- Other: The heel risers give me the option of rotating the pins to have a flat mode or just flipping the risers down over the pins. I love this feature, as it makes the up-to-down transition as quick as flipping up the low heel riser.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Release Reliability: Releasability is the sacrifice I make with these bindings. They come with three interchangeable U springs for the heel, but they cannot be set to a numbered release value. I ski the medium spring for most of the winter and use the stiff spring on my spring skis when I’m skiing more consequential terrain. That said, I have never pre-released from these bindings, and they have released smoothly the few times that I have wanted them to in a crash.
Favorite moment with this gear
The most memorable day I had was skiing a line that doesn’t see much attention in the Colorado Front Range. We were expecting to ski a steep open face but were surprised to see a steeper option in a tight couloir. We skied the couloir with some fresh snow and surprisingly good powder on the apron, climbed back up our descent to exit, and skied another couloir in corn on the way back to the car.
Value for the money vs. other options
I also considered the Marker Alpinist for this application. It’s a little less expensive and still lightweight. Switching from the low to high heel riser on the Alpinist involves turning the heel piece 180 degrees by hand and flipping a riser, so I ultimately decided on the Backland for ease of use.
The Atomic Backland is a low-tech binding that can still charge. It lets me get the most out of any lightweight touring ski and can even transform a heavier ski into an uphill machine. If I had been able to get my hands on more of these, they would be on every pair of skis I own.