Atomic just introduced the next generation of its HAWX ULTRA (98mm last) and HAWX PRIME (100mm last) XTD BOA GW ski boots. These crossover boots aim to be a do-all ski boot for all-mountain skiing and freeride touring.
These boots drive a ski with the power and precision of an alpine boot, but they’re also comfortable touring. With the buckles open and the heel level in tour mode, the boots have 54 degrees of cuff rotation to make every lap a great lap.
In short: The Atomic HAWX ULTRA BOA (tested) is a versatile downhill-focused ski boot that also tours quite well. With good range of motion and reasonable weight, it is quite capable on the skin track. It’s a good option for those who want one boot to do everything, with an emphasis on downhill performance.
- Last 98mm
- Flex 130
- Weight 1,831 g (4.03 lbs.)
- Sizes 24.5-29.5
- Best for Advanced to expert downhill skiers who want one boot for inbounds and touring use
- Strong downhill performance
- Infinitely adjustable forefoot
- Good touring range of motion
- Heavy for a touring boot
Atomic HAWX ULTRA (and PRIME) XTD BOA GW Review
The Hawx ULTRA and PRIME XTD boots have been a cornerstone of the Atomic line for several years. As we tested the ULTRA model, we’ll refer only to that going forward. But the PRIME is a nearly identical boot, so keep that in mind.
This year’s HAWX ULTRA has notable material and technical updates. The most immediately obvious is a BOA Fit System that replaces the lower two buckles.
While it seems every new boot for 23/24 has BOA, it’s still worth explaining. The system has three parts that are all integrated into the boot shell: a micro-adjustable dial for multidirectional tightening and loosening, a super-strong, lightweight stainless steel cable, and heavy-duty, low-friction lace guides.
By turning the oversized dial, skiers can draw in the overlapping medial and lateral of the forefoot of the boot for a snug fit. As your foot changes during the course of the day, it’s easy to fine-tune the forefoot tightness with bidirectional micro-adjustments of the BOA knob for a more relaxed fit uphill or a tighter fit downhill — even with gloves on and with cold fingers.
It’s Not Just the BOA That’s New
The HAWX ULTRA XTD has reinforcements in the lower shell and upper cuff that make the boot 25% more stable than its predecessor, according to the brand. It weighs around 1,800 g. The updated Free/Lock 4.5 ski/walk mechanism affords 54 degrees of rotation to keep skiers efficient when uphill skinning. Full rubber GripWalk soles are compatible with a wide range of alpine and touring bindings. They’re also easier to talk in than alpine soles.
Atomic’s Mimic liner, which is anatomically pre-shaped and heat-moldable, was thinner than the liner in my go-to alpine boot, Technica’s Mach 1 MV 120. Though it was thinner, it had Thinsulate so it was still warm. It molded perfectly to my foot, and it was comfortable climbing thanks to an Achilles flex zone. Ripping powdery arcs down the Blackcomb front side and in the Vermont backcountry, I forgot about my boots and lost myself in the turns, which is the ultimate compliment to any piece of gear.
Atomic positions the 98mm last HAWX ULTRA XTD for narrow feet, and the HAWX PRIME XTD (100mm last) for medium to wider feet. As a skier with a wide foot, I found that the BOA lacing made this boot more forgiving width-wise. I heat-molded the liner, but I didn’t need any shell work, which I do on many boots I test.
Thanks to BOA, the forefoot securely wrapped my foot, giving the boot a precise fit. As the liner heated up on warmer ski days, I could dial in the BOA without crushing my foot or having to fiddle with the buckles to get the right pressure.
Atomic Hawx Prime XTD 130: What I Loved
I tested Atomic’s Hawx ULTRA XTD 130. The flex was perfectly progressive. There was no collapse point when I pressured the front of the boot and skied aggressively.
The BOA system did its job. In fact, after skiing a boot with BOA-adjusted lowers, I am hopeful that BOA may also introduce a dial-fit system for upper ski boot buckles. The boot was fun to ski in. I didn’t feel like I was compromising performance at the resort for the boots’ ability to tour. The Hawx ULTRA XTD is powerful and it made even 120mm underfoot skis easy to control.
Touring in the Crested Butte backcountry, it was light enough that I never got left behind. And even in steep terrain, I felt like I had plenty of rotation to follow a technical skin track complete with lots of kick turns. Mostly, I loved having a boot that I could travel with and ski at home with when the day included a variety of pursuits — from frontside to backside.
Atomic did a fantastic job of replacing what are traditionally the lower two buckles of this boot with a single-strand BOA tightening system. It worked seamlessly. In 15 days of skiing this boot, I never kicked it off or had any issue with the burly dial. Atomic says that if a skier does kick the BOA dial off the boot, it snaps back into place.
While it’s not the easiest boot to get into. It’s also not the hardest. I had the best luck getting this boot on and off with the cuff in tour mode. Big webbing loops on the tongue and back of the calf helped me wriggle in. I also pulled apart the overlapping plastic over the forefoot and ankle to get in and out.
The 302 boot sole length for a 26.5 was in range with other boots, so I was able to adjust both touring skis and alpine skis I already own to fit this boot.
What I Didn’t
My main frustration with this boot came from the upper two buckles. When I clicked them open for touring, the wire would move into a tighter-than-I-wanted position on the buckle, so I had to work it back to the setting I wanted when I transitioned from tour mode to ski mode, which wasted time. The clip that overlays the buckle did not keep the buckle wire in position.
It’s important to securely Velcro the boot liner tongue into position before you ski and to be aware of tugging too hard on the tongue when putting them on. One of the first days I skied these boots, I had top-of-foot pain. It was a user error. The tongue had been pulled out too far and it was overlapping the body of the liner uncomfortably. But I didn’t figure it out until I came inside and took my boot off.
The price will make this boot a deal-breaker for some. At $950 a pair, these boots cost more than most Atomics skis. Worth it? For some, yes, but not for everyone.
The new HAWX ULTRA XTD 130 BOA in size 26.5 weighs 1,791 g per boot. The last version without the BOA weighed around 1,550 g per boot. But it didn’t tour as well. While it’s heavier than its predecessor, the weight of the new boot isn’t out of line with other crossover boots like Tecnica’s Cochise. It’s also just barely heavier than its fixed-cuff sister boot, Atomic’s Hawx Ultra.
The 2024 Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD BOA and Hawx Prime Ultra XTD BOA are available in 130 unisex and 115 women’s versions. The boot also comes without the BOA at a lower price point.
For the skier who wants one boot for resort and side-country or backcountry skiing, Atomic’s HAWX ULTRA XTD and HAWX PRIME XTD have the stiffness and power to drive a big ski in deep snow, but they’re light enough with good enough cuff rotation that you won’t be hating life touring. Would uphills be faster with a lighter boot? Sure. Would downhills be as much fun? No way.