In this paper, a backoff mechanism, Exponential Linear Backoff Algorithm (ELBA), is proposed to improve system performance over contention-based wireless networks. In the ELBA, the variation of contention window size is combined both exponentially and linearly, dependent on the network load, as indicated by the number of consecutive collisions. In the ELBA, a threshold is set to determine the network load. If the contention window size is smaller than the threshold, a light network load, the contention window is tuned exponentially. Conversely, if the contention window size is larger than the threshold, a heavy network load, the contention window size is tuned linearly. The numerical results show that the ELBA provides a better system throughput and collision rate in both light and heavy network loads than the related backoff schemes, including binary exponential backoff (BEB), exponential increase exponential decrease (EIED) and linear increase linear decrease (LILD).