A little WildSnow weekend action for you faithful out there. Atomic made a big splash with their new ski touring offerings these past few seasons. Especially the Backland boot. Which is probably the easiest ski boot in existence for fitting to problem feet. And pretty good in general. This year they’re jumping on the “freeride touring” bandwagon, along with updates on the binding and a new touring boot.
Overview of what’s coming for 2016-2017:
– 2 brand new boot options (Backland Ultimate touring and Hawx freeride touring), and updates to existing models
– 1 brand new ski option, and updates to existing models (we’re waiting for solid info)
– New updates to the pin binding (the brake, as covered elsewhere here including our mods)
While I tend to think the best news is always in the lighter weight touring department, I’ll admit that Atomic appears to be onto something in Freeride Touring, with a new touring (tech binding compatible) version of their Hawx boot. This will be the Hawx Ultra XTD and a number of other related models (pronounce as “extended”): 130-120-100 flex options, 1420g / 26.5, 54° of cuff range of motion, Memory Fit, external lean lock machinery and more.
Atomic claims this offering will “tour better than any other 4-buckle or 1.5kg-ish option out there.” That might be a bit of hype, but this is indeed looking good. It’s like they reached that ultimate pinnacle of design perfection in adding cuff mobility and external lean lock to an already terrific overlap cuff alpine boot, only it’s quite light. (We’re still of the opinion that most backcountry skiers will be entirely happy with a 1 kilo boot of the dedicated ski touring persuasion, but then, we respect you hard chargers out there.)
The new lightweight offering from Atomic is Backland Ultimate (see PR photo above). I’m told that with the success of the Backland, it became obvious that the European market demands ultra lightweight versions of touring boots for travel with emphasis on speed, as well as resort uphilling. Atomic calls this category “Endurance Touring.” The Ultimate is said to use the Backland mold, only with a new liner, waterproofing to compensate for lack of tongue, lean-lock that’s a one-motion latching system and a few other goodies. The boot is said to come in at 750 grams for size 26.5 and is indeed made from the Memory Fit plastic we love to heat mold. I’m also told that Atomic will attempt to lower the stratospheric prices these types of boots tend to command, that’ll be appreciated most certainly.
Atomic PR, edited for brevity:
HAWX ULTRA XTD: ALL MOUNTAINS, ONE BOOT
Hawx has always been an all-mountain boot. But the line between all-mountain skiing and freeride touring is constantly blurring. So Atomic has created a new boot that works perfectly for both – Hawx Ultra XTD. It combines the legendary feel, skiing power and all-mountain capability of Hawx with the epic natural movement of Backland.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.