I won’t lie, the later part of 2020 has been, well, hard… Between the pandemic, Black Lives movement, and now the West coast fires, it’s tough to feel optimistic about much of anything. Acknowledging my immense privilege and being the ski addict that I am, one of the rewarding distractions that I have found is…gear!
Now’s the time to start gearing up for the season, and if you’ve been procrastinating on doing proper research about what ski boot may fit your foot best, what ski length is right for you, which Lou Dawson mod you can try in your garage; you’re in the right place. Let’s get the conversation started with a first look at Atomic’s Hawx Ultra XTD 115 ski boot, a resort/touring hybrid option with some new shiny features for 2021.
New for 2021: The Atomic Mimic 3D liner
– More shaped around ankle/heel, tongue and calf areas.
– Parts of the liner are made with a layer of heat-moldable stiff plastic material. The stiffness around those areas helps the liner shape to your leg during molding.
– Mimic Liners can be reheated 4-5 times
– Due to a different liner structure, the heat molding process will differ a bit from other boots, Atomic suggests using a special mimic “sock” during the molding process. Liners will be placed in a sock and then in the oven for 5 minutes to warm. Then the liner is placed back into the boot (Mimic sock remains on), after 2 minutes of having the boot on your feet, cooling packs should be placed around the boots for another 5 minutes.
The shell in this boot can also be molded for those looking for a slightly wider fit. I opted not to do this until I see how the boots feel after a few ski days. It’s important to note that molding the shell is a good way to add volume, but not to get a more snug fit.
The boot features a women’s specific cuff, which a bit wider, allowing more room as well as a shorter cuff height. I highlight this since I often don’t have the best fit around my calfs (they are larger than average) but I was happy with this specific fit.
Easy to tighten power strap (no more velcro).
Easy to flick ski/walk mode lever.
-The liner feels like a warm, soft slipper. I love toasty feet.
-My feet are wider and I usually go for boots with a wider toe box. With that said, so far wearing the boots during the heat mold and just around the house, I have not felt any immediate pressure points.
-This is one of the few boots that is offered in really small sizes (22/22.5) which is good news for women with smaller feet. I have heard that this boot specifically has worked well for some women who had trouble finding a boot that is small enough and fit well.
-Atomic Hawx Ultra comes in various flex options in case 115 is too stiff (95).
-For those who are looking for a wider fit, check out the Atomic Hawx Prime.
I’m looking forward to spending more time in this boot outside my home once snow starts falling again. Since I got these boots right before all the shelter-in-place orders, I may or may not have spent some time skinning on my lawn with these on. (No… there was no snow at my house, in case you were wondering). If winter won’t come soon enough, you may find me skinning down the sidewalk.
Wishing that everyone in the backcountry community is staying safe, healthy and happy as 2020 continues to startle us.
Weight: 1488 grams (confirmed) size 25.5
Last width: 98mm
Walk mode range of motion: 54 degrees
Forward Lean: 13 (Default), but can be adjusted to 15
Sole: Tech Gripwalk Pads
Binding Compatibility: Gripwalk Compatible alpine bindings, tech bindings and other AT bindings
Next week we will be running our version of a gear guide, WildSnow Favorites, so stay tuned for more gear talk, top picks and tips.
WildSnow Girl, Julia Dubinina, is a weekend warrior chasing snow in winter and sun in summer. A lover of long tours and steep skin tracks, she explores the Pacific Northwest and beyond. When she is not out adventuring, she is working away at her corporate desk job for a software company to make her next adventure happen.