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Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 Review

This light alpine ski boot is an all-mountain performer that won't weigh you down.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $700 List | $699.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stiff but forgiving flex, highly customizable, easy to walk in
Cons:  Narrow last, can be hard to exit
Manufacturer:   Atomic
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 12, 2018
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Our Verdict

The Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 is a new ski boot model that came out last season, and we have anxiously been waiting to try it out on the slopes. This boot is capable of driving big skis in a wide range of conditions, like many of the burly alpine boots we have reviewed, but the Hawx Ultra 130 turned heads and garnered attention for its high performance and low weight. Fully featured, with a heat moldable shell and liner, this boot is an excellent option for those that despise the heavy and clunky boots they've been silently suffering with, for those with lower volume feet, and for the skier who might find themselves wishing for a stiffer boot that can deliver better performance. While incredibly light, these boots do not have a walk mode, so we would still recommend a model such as the Technica Cochise 130 for those doing a lot of hiking to in-bounds or sidecountry ski objectives for comfort in the boot pack.

Product Updates

Atomic released the new version of the Hawx Ultra 130 this year, the Hawx Ultra 130 S. See below for a comparison of the boots.

November 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Hawx Ultra 130 S vs. the Hawx Ultra 130


The Hawx Ultra 130 S replaces the Hawx Ultra 130 we previously tested. The new version has updated buckles and a new Power Shift mechanism to adjust the forward lean angle. The fit and price of the boot remain unchanged, but the graphics and colors have changed slightly. See the new version below in the first photo, followed up by the version we tested. 


Here is a summary of the updates:
  • New Buckles — The buckle on the lower part of the boot has been amended, intending to be easier to handle and more effective at closing the overlap on the lower part of the shell.
  • Power Shift — This version of the boot features Power Shift made from magnesium, Atomic's mechanism for adjusting the flex and forward lean to 13°, 15° (which is standard), or 17°. The *S* in the name of the boot refers to the Power Shift, so any Atomic boot with an S in the model name utilizes Power Shift.
  • Graphics/Color Updates — This boot is now available in White/Red (shown in the first photo above), or a Green/Dark Blue combo.

Since we haven't tested the S version of the Hawx Ultra 130 yet, the remainder of this review refers only to the previous version.

Hands-On Review of the Hawx Ultra 130


The Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 has a last width of 98mm, making it the narrowest lasted boot that we reviewed this season. While other models like the Lange RX 120 and Technica Mach 1 are available in different volumes, the Atomic boot line only comes in one size. Skiers with narrow feet will appreciate this close-fitting model, but those with slightly wider feet should not despair!

The Hawx Ultra 130 was a lot of fun to ski  with a comfortable fit and stellar performance.
The Hawx Ultra 130 was a lot of fun to ski, with a comfortable fit and stellar performance.

Comfort


The Atomic Memory Fit shell and liner are heat moldable and can be expanded up to 6mm. The cuff of the boot is quite tight, and our lead tester had to swap out the stock footbeds, which are of good quality, for a pair of thinner ones that gave more room across the top of the foot. We also noticed that it was easier to walk around in these boots, thanks to a shorter than average boot sole length.

The Hawx Ultra 130 is a comfortable boot for walking thanks to its shorter boot sole length.
The Hawx Ultra 130 is a comfortable boot for walking thanks to its shorter boot sole length.

Sliding into the boot is quite easy thanks to a smooth inner that the Memory Fit Platinum liner provides, yet removing the foot from the boot is a bit more of a challenge, as the overlapping Grilamid cuff wraps tightly around the top of the foot. This is great when skiing, as mentioned below, less so when you are trying to kick your boots off and slip into a warm pair of winter boots and get to après ski!

Performance


The Hawx Ultra 130 was one of the top performing boots in the review. As one of four 130-rated alpine boots we featured, one would be tempted to think that they all offer the same stiffness and performance. This is not the case. We felt that this boot could handle most conditions admirably, and it was easy to enjoy long fall line descents down steep, chalky chutes that required tight turns and finesse, but these lightweight boots are not in the same category as a high-performance beast like the Technica Mach 1. Chopped up leftovers, at high speed, were a problem for the Hawx Ultra 130, whose lack of heft sometimes allowed it to be overpowered by the terrain. Most skiers will likely be hard pressed to notice, especially those who have typically worn softer flex boots.

These boots handled most snow conditions with ease.
These boots handled most snow conditions with ease.

In general, we found this boot to be a more approachable 130 flex boot, more akin to the Salomon X-Pro 120, which is something that lighter weight skiers will appreciate as well.

Features


This four-buckle boot is equipped with all of the features we would hope to see on a high-end ski boot. The forward lean is adjustable with three different settings (13, 15 and 17 degrees), the canting is adjustable, and the boot board can be removed and shaped. The Memory Fit liner is, of course, able to be custom fitted, but Atomic has made the shell of the boot also easily moldable so that a custom fit is ensured. We did not mold these to our feet as the fit was already quite good without additional boot fitting work; however, we would recommend taking the extra time to ensure the best fit possible. The standard power strap included works well, and we liked it better than that found on the Technica Mach 1.

Durability


The weight savings that Atomic achieved was in large part due to the type of plastic used on the boots, as well as the thickness of the shell walls. Thin, stiff plastic tends not to have the greatest track record when it comes to durability, but we did not experience any issues even though we were skiing these boots hard during frigid, early winter conditions. The soles showed a normal amount of wear for the use they received, and once worn out are easily replaceable.

Warmth


The Hawx Ultra 130 uses a Memory Fit Platinum liner that uses Thinsulate material as additional insulation. This thin liner shaves weight and reduces bulk, but does not provide a lot of warmth. We wore ultra-thin merino wool socks to test these boots, and our feet got pretty cold during test sessions when 15-20 degree temperatures were the daytime highs. The Salomon X-Pro 120 and Lange RX 120 boots were much warmer on cold days, or for those who have cold sensitive feet.

We found this boot to be average in terms of warmth  if this boot fits tightly you might find it colder.
We found this boot to be average in terms of warmth, if this boot fits tightly you might find it colder.

Best Applications


This lightweight alpine boot is going to appeal most to lighter weight skiers who are often outmatched by a stiff boot, and for those who want to shave some weight off their feet. We found a few instances where a bigger, more aggressive boot would offer better ski performance, but overall the Hawx is an excellent choice for those who are seeking a more responsive boot than they have previously been accustomed to, without being overwhelmed.

Intermediate and expert skiers will be able to appreciate the soft 130 flex offered by these boots.
Intermediate and expert skiers will be able to appreciate the soft 130 flex offered by these boots.

Value


With a retail price of $700, the Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 is reasonably priced for the features and performance it offers. The Salomon and Lange models are $100 cheaper but offer fewer features. The Hawx is also the same price as other high performing boots like the Mach 1 and Cochise 130 Pro.

Conclusion


Skiers looking to get into a stiffer, more responsive boot than they have worn in the past, but who don't want the extra bulk and weight that come with a race boot should consider the Hawx Ultra 130, an approachable, yet performance-oriented boot that is highly customizable.


Ryan Huetter