Expert Review: Atomic Hawx Ultra 120 S Ski Boots · 2020Published on 10/11/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the ski boots, which I purchased with my own money in May 2020.
All photos by Davis Stryer
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the ski boots, which I purchased with my own money in May 2020.
The Atomic Hawx Ultra 120 S is an incredibly versatile and lightweight boot designed for aggressive skiers looking to drive their skis hard. They have a deep and conformed heel pocket that can accommodate very narrow heels that many other boots are unable to do.
About the boots I own
- Model: 2020 Atomic Hawx Ultra 120 S
- Size: 26.5 (300mm)
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 140 lbs
- Street shoe size: 10
- Experience: 15 years of skiing
- When I bought these: May of 2020
- Days Tested: ~80
- Skis: Nordica Enforcer 104 Free and K2 Reckoner 102
- Bindings: Tyrolia Attack 13
- Where I've used it: Snoqualmie Pass, Crystal Mountain, Stevens Pass, WA; Big White, Whistler, BC; Mt Bachelor, OR; Aspen, CO; Bridger Bowl, MT; Deer Valley, Solitude, Snowbird, UT.
- Terrain: Groomers, powder, crud, steeps, trees, moguls, ice, and basically everywhere on the mountain.
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was looking for a versatile all-mountain boot that could accommodate my very narrow feet. I wanted something that had lots of room for customization to make the best fit possible.
Why I chose this gear
Once I initially tried on the boots, I found that my heel was locked in significantly more than several others I had tried. I was open to any options that fit me properly, and the Hawx stood out. I also tried Tecnica Mach1 LVs and Nordica Promachines; both of which had odd pressure points in my foot and didn’t hold my heel down, even in their narrow models.
What I love about it
- Accuracy of Claimed Stiffness: The stiffness is very accurate. In a 120, as a lighter person, they have a very proper flex and are what I’d expect.
- Accuracy of Claimed Fit: Atomic accurately advertises the Hawx Ultra as their narrow, aggressive boot. They have a narrow 98mm last and a small heel pocket.
- Comfort: I have absolutely no complaints about comfort in these boots. I am using a rather small size for my foot and they snugly fit but don’t push on any points. Out of the box they fit quite well; and once I put a custom footbed in and molded the shell and liner, they were even better.
- Flex: The boots have a very predictable flex, and utilizes Atomic’s True Flex additive to allow for an accurate flex at varying outdoor temperatures. When I lean deep into the boots they still support my weight quite well and don’t collapse on themselves, and I feel they flex in the right spots.
- Weight: At only 1700g a boot, they are one of the lightest resort boots out there. Atomic uses Prolite construction which starts the shell at a thin material, then builds out thickness and reinforcements where needed to cut weight. They feel very lightweight on my feet compared to past boots I have owned, and cause no issues when hiking in them up steep terrain.
- Resort: Resort is where these boots shine the most. I spend, by far, the most time inside the resort when skiing with my Hawxs, and they perform about as well as I could want. They don’t give out when driving my skis hard down groomers, and are very predictable to use. There isn’t any terrain inside the resort on which I wouldn't take these.
- Adjustability: The flex index can be adjusted +/- 10 points from 120, and the boots forward lean can be adjusted to 13, 15, and 17 degrees with simple tools. The buckles themselves all adjust individually and are very easy to crank on. The power strap could be thicker and heavier, but it serves its purpose.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Ease of use: When it is really cold out (below ~20f), these boots can be a pain to get on. With such a narrow overall cuff and boot itself, there isn’t much space to wiggle my feet into them, so I have to pull the tongue all the way forward almost out of the shell. Once they are on they are very easy to buckle down, but getting to that point can be a difficult and painful process on occasion.
- Park: I don’t ski much park myself at all, but I don’t think these would be an ideal boot in the park. They have a predictable flex, but are still very aggressive and won’t comfort one’s shins into a landing like a boot from Full Tilt may. They are more than capable, but for park skiers looking for a dedicated boot, there are many better options.
- Grip: The boots have very firm soles that don’t have much grip at all on firm surfaces. On snow they grip quite well, but if it's icy they easily slip. Atomic sells gripwalk soles separately, which will drastically increase grip; but with the basic DIN soles, they aren’t the best.
- Durability: The paint coating on most of the buckles is chipping, exposing bare metal. The metal isn’t rusting, but it easily gets nicked and can get very sharp as the paint gives the buckles a smooth finish. The soles have also worn down fairly quickly, and I may need to replace them after a couple seasons of use. Definitely avoid walking on rough surfaces and pavement with these.
Favorite moment with this gear
Thinking of a favorite moment in these things is tough as I basically take them everywhere I ski. The best moment I have ever had in them was at Alpental, WA, in December. The mountain got over two feet one evening and nonstop snowfall during the following day. Who doesn’t love bottomless powder!
Value for the money vs. other options
These boots have a relatively average price compared to similar options, such as the Tecnica Mach1’s. They all run around ~$700 MSRP, so the Hawx are a very similar value to any other options out there. If a skier doesn’t need a full 120 flex, lower flex options such as the Hawx Ultra 110 S exist as well, and price down ~$50 per flex level. Essentially all similar boots from other brands are priced at the exact price of the Hawx, so the value is about as good as can be.
The Atomic Hawx Ultra 120 S are a great option for advanced and expert skiers looking for a narrow boot that can fit small heels. They are a great all-mountain option that skiers can take anywhere they want, and the boots will perform as expected. The end goal is to find a boot that fits properly, and these will fit a lot of feet that other boots won’t.