Ski touring has been growing in popularity around the world, not just since the start of the pandemic. The number of people going for human-powered vertical meters has increased dramatically, both on-piste and in the backcountry. For ski tourers there are various motives for attaching skins to their skis.
According to a study carried out by manufacturer Atomic among 5,000 respondents, connecting with nature and finding adventure are the main reasons for going on ski tour. In addition, health and social aspects are also mentioned as a motivation for skiing without lift access.
In the recent past, three different groups of alpine tourers have emerged from this: firstly, fast & light tourers who want to max out their fitness on the mountain and climb fast; secondly, freeride tourers who mainly use the ascent to reach remote terrain and ski down untracked faces; and thirdly, the largest group of all-round tourers who want to experience nature and adventure both uphill and downhill.
In Austria alone, the number of touring skiers has doubled in the last ten years, according to the Austrian Alpine Club ÖAV. This is partly due to the fact that access has become easier with skiers skinning up in the vicinity of marked trails. At the same time, more and more skiers are also looking for new experiences out-of-bounds and in the backcountry. Classic ski tours, high alpine ski mountaineering, ski touring competitions or freeriding, whatever touring skiers go for, they all have distinct needs and priorities.
With its Backland series Atomic offers a comprehensive collection for all these winter sports enthusiasts. The Austrian ski manufacturer has increasingly positioned itself as a touring specialist with a range that covers all three areas: Fast & Light Touring, All-round Touring and Freeride Touring.
Fast & Light: built for endurance
Atomic’s Fast & Light category is aimed at skiers who thrive on the ascent or live for long mountain traverses. For this type, going uphill is as important, or maybe more important, than going downhill. They need equipment that is streamlined, lightweight and reliable. For some, a few extra grams are a make or break proposition. It is with these thoughts in mind that Atomic has developed the Backland UL family. With widths from 65mm-85mm, Backland UL skis serve the ascent and descent with weight and performance in mind. They also feature purpose-made touring skins and the weight-conscious Backland Pure, a touring specific pin binding. BCT ULTRA QRS poles and the Backland Ultimate touring boot complete the hard goods offering.
All-round: built for adventure
Atomic defines the All-round Touring category as half-way between the full uphill focus of the Backland UL family and the downhill focus of the Freeride Touring family. The All-round Touring range is just right for skiers who want to spend long days in the mountains but aren’t focusing on FKTs or neck-deep powder. The goal is a good mix of comfort and performance in all situations.
The Backland Carbon boot has a carbon fiber construction that offers strength, responsiveness and, most importantly, freedom of movement. Atomic bills the boot as the star of the Backland family. With features like Frictionless Pivot and the Free/Lock 4.0 system, Atomic has taken pains to make sure the Backland Carbon Boot is well equipped for the skin tracks, while offering downhill performance on par with the freeride-oriented Hawx Prime 110 S.
Skis like the Backland 85 retain the weight-conscious construction of the Backland UL family, with a little more platform underfoot for variable snow and an increased focus on the descent. HRZN Tech in the tip, an all-mountain rocker profile and a carbon backbone all work together to reduce weight and maintain performance in a variety of conditions. The Backland Tour pin binding watches its weight but is a bit more robust than its uphill-focused sibling from the Ski Running family. The BCT Mountaineering Carbon SQS pole is adjustable and lightweight. Hybrid Skin 85s round out the Backcountry Adventure ski platform. These skins find a balance between traction and glide on the skin track.
The Backland 80 PT is a brand-new ski specially developed for on-piste touring. It is the ideal ski for skinning up on prepared trails and offers optimal skiability for all newcomers to ski touring. That’s because the Backland PT 80 combines the low weight of a touring ski with the stability of a front side (on-piste) ski.
The All-round Touring family also includes a comprehensive soft goods and protection offering. The Atomic Backland 22+ backpack has the volume to carry your essentials for a day in the mountains, along with the technical features today’s backcountry skiers expect. The Backland Infinium pants and jackets are available in thoughtfully considered designs for both men and women. The All-round Touring range also includes the Count XTD helmet and Count 360° goggles, ensuring robust protection and lightweight performance. While the All-round Touring range is well suited for skiers chasing summits and descents, it’s equally at home enjoying a simple tour in the mountains with friends.
Freeride Touring: big lines and first descents
The final category in the Atomic Backcountry range is Freeride Touring. This equipment is for skiers who live for the descent but don’t want to haul unnecessary weight up the skin track. The skis feature more width for deep-snow performance. The Backland 107 ski also features Atomic’s innovative HRZN Tech on the shovel for lift in deep, light snow. When paired with the Shift 13 MNC binding, skiers can enjoy the uphill convenience of a pin binding and the downhill performance of an alpine binding. The cut-to-fit Atomic Multifit skin can handle steep ridgelines and skin tracks. Adjustable Backland FR SQS poles and the Hawx Prime XTD 130 CT GW boot complete the Freeride Touring family’s hard goods offering. Atomic also offers a full complement of soft goods and protection: the Revent 3L GTX jacket and pants combo matches the Four AMID PRO helmet and Four Q HD goggles. The final piece of this range is the Allmountain 18 pack. The Freeride Touring family is aimed squarely at skiers who love fast descents, deep snow, and adventurous lines.