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In a Nutshell
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 115 BOA W GW is a resort-oriented women’s ski boot with hiking capabilities. We found it to be a powerful boot, good for long days inbounds but with features that make it not bad for touring either.
Size Skied: 24.5
Stated Flex: 115
Binding Compatibility: GripWalk, Pin Bindings
Stated ROM: 54°
Forward Lean: 13-17°
Stated last width (24.5): 94 mm
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 115 BOA W GW is available now.
In his review of the stiffer 130 flex version of this same boot, Cy Whitling gave us an in-depth look at the updates to this year’s boot, but here’s a quick rundown. This is Atomic’s inbounds boot with walking capabilities, made for people with low volume feet. It has the new H+i1 BOA, a full PU (polyurethane) shell for better performance, a Grip Walk sole, a highly-moldable Mimic Platinum liner, and the option to swap out the walk mode for a static Gnar Bar if you want to get rid of the play from the walk mode (which I found imperceptible).
I’ll try to break down the alphabet soup naming convention of the Hawx Ultra XTD 115 BOA W GW. Hawx is Atomic’s family of two-piece boots; Ultra means narrow last; XTD indicates a walk mode and tech fittings; 115 is the flex; BOA refers to the cable and winch system on the lower shell; W means it’s designed for women, with a softer flex and lower cuff; and GW means it’s compatible with GripWalk bindings.
The “Ultra” part of this boot’s name indicates that it is designed for people with narrow feet. It has a 94 mm last in a size 24, and Atomic is not making Hawx XTD BOA boots in the wider “Prime” last yet, so if your feet need more room to breathe but you want a BOA boot, consider looking at the K2 Mindbender 115 BOA, a comparable hybrid boot that claims a last that can expand to 104 mm with heat molding. (We haven’t spent time in K2’s women’s Mindbender yet, so stay tuned.)
The 115 version of the Hawx goes down to a size 22, but if you are a strong skier with small feet looking for a really stiff boot, the Hawx Ultra XTD 130 BOA GW is available in the same size; I can think of several petite former ski racers who will really appreciate the breadth of Atomic’s size run.
My feet are on the narrow side with an average instep height, so I was quite content in the Hawx 115, and in a size 24.5 the boot was uniformly snug but not too constricting. (I wear street shoes in a size 40 or 9, and my preferred ski boot size does not jibe with Atomic’s size chart, so here’s yet another recommendation to shop local and try boots on before you buy them!)
The shell is heat moldable with Atomic’s Memory Fit process, but I was happy enough with the fit to leave it stock. I did take the boot to my local bootfitter for a liner heat mold, and to get a read on how the Mimic liner behaved, since Atomic claims that it has material in the toe, heel, and tongue that will perfectly conform to your foot upon heating. The first bake went well, giving my toes a little more space and my heels a really solid pocket, and this boot has been comfortable even when I’m skiing bell to bell at the hill.
The BOA adds the unique and pleasant sensation of getting a full-foot hug. There are no lower shell buckles to be ratcheted down through a day of skiing until the top of your foot cries in pain. Instead, the cables evenly tighten the entire shell, leaving no pressure points, and the entire system can be released with a single pop of the dial, which is great for quick adjustments or switching to après mode once it’s time to grab a drink.
At first the Hawx 115 seemed particularly tricky to get on and off, even for an overlap boot. This is partly because the tongue is only affixed to the liner by a strip of Velcro, so if you’re used to getting your two-piece boots off by yarding on the tongue, that won’t get you anywhere. My bootfitter, who had a lot of experience with Atomic boots, gave me a couple of good recommendations: do everything in your power to make sure your boots are warm when you put them on, and pull the shell upper and tongue away towards the outside of your foot when you’re stepping in or pulling out; that 45° angle will give you more space to work your foot into or out of the liner.
I’m sure people who spent their formative years battling race boots will have plenty of opinions about that, but this advice is what worked for me.
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 115 BOA W GW is a great downhill ski boot. It feels like it has good suspension and drives skis really well in all kinds of conditions. I found myself nodding when I read Cy’s review of the 130 version of this boot: it’s a point-and-shoot crossover that lets me forget I’m wearing it.
I did several short tours in the Hawx 115 and I was pleasantly surprised. I would describe its uphill performance as inoffensive (more on that below), and the experience of plowing through variable snow and chunder on a couple backcountry descents made it worth schlepping those boots uphill.
I was talking to a friend, one of those afore-mentioned petite former ski racers who is also a frequent snowmobile-powered skier, about the Atomic Hawx, and it felt like our conversation really encapsulated the character of the boot. She asked me how I was liking it, and I said it was the burliest overlap resort boot I had used in some time. She laughed and said it was her go-to touring boot, since it was the daintiest, lowest flex boot she would deign to ski in. It’s worth mentioning that she was talking about the previous generation of Hawx; this iteration has gained some weight in addition to the BOA, meaning it trends even more toward the resort side of things, but it’s still a boot that will make strong skiers happy in the backcountry if they’re doing short tours or sled laps.
That lower flex number did mean that at the end of long days banging out resort laps, when my legs were tired and the snow was more chopped up, the Hawx 115 didn’t offer quite the level of support that my laziness demanded. But that is, as we say at Powder, a Julia problem, not a boot problem.
The Hawx 115 is definitely not the lightweight, fiddle-free touring boot with a huge range of motion that I’m used to. The 54° ROM and stiff cuff meant I wasn’t able to use finesse when sidehill skinning and had to rely on my high risers for every climb.
Transitions were inevitably a little slower with the Hawx than with a dedicated touring boot, but it does have details that show the designers put a lot of thought into transitions, ensuring it’s not the most fiddly boot out there. These details include a cam buckle power strap for quick and easy loosening and tightening; upper buckles with a gate so they don’t flop off when loosened; the afore-mentioned speedy BOA dial release; and a sturdy walk/ski mechanism with a pull tab that’s easy to use with gloves on.
If you’re planning to spend more of your time skinning than riding lifts, there are hybrid boots on the market that are more backcountry-flavored than the Hawx, but you’ll be trading some downhill performance for less weight and a bigger ROM.
What would a perfect day on this boot look like?
The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 115 BOA W GW is the epitome of a resort-focused hybrid boot, so the perfect day means getting up early to get a good spot in line when the lifts start spinning, charging powder all morning, and then grabbing your sidecountry pack for some out-of-bounds hiking to get more untouched turns after the resort is tracked out.