2018-2019 Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120

Cy Whitling reviews the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 for Blister Gear Review.
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120

2018-2019 Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120

Stated Flex Rating: 120

Stated Last Width: 98 mm – 104 mm (can expand ~6 mm in the forefoot)

Size Tested: 26.5 / 302 mm Boot Sole Length

Stated Range of Motion: 54º

Stated Weight (26.5): 1470 g

Blister’s Measured Weight:

  • Shells & Boot Boards, no Liners: 1157 & 1161 g
  • Liners (no spoilers, no footbeds): 419 & 417 g
  • Total Weight per Boot: 1576 & 1578 g

Tech Inserts: Dynafit-Certified

Liner: Hand-Washable Memory Fit 3D Liner

Shell Material:

  • Cuff: PU
  • Shoe / Clog: Grilamid

Sole: Rockered, Rubber, non-replaceable Walk-to-Ride Sole

Binding Compatibility:

  • All pin-style / “tech” bindings (e.g., Dynafit, Marker Kingpin, etc.)
  • All WTR (Walk-to-Ride) bindings
  • Any binding that accepts an ISO 9523 sole (Salomon Warden; Marker Duke/Griffon ID, etc)

MSRP: $799

Days Tested (updated): 18

Test Locations: Teton Pass, WY, Galena Peak, ID.

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 17/18 Hawx Ultra XTD 120, which was not changed for 18/19.]


Atomic’s Hawx Ultra XTD line of boots has been in the making for a while.

For the 16/17 season, Atomic introduced the Hawx Ultra alpine ski boot, which updated their classic Hawx line with a much lighter construction. Jonathan Ellsworth reviewed those last year and was impressed.

For 17/18, Atomic is now taking the lightweight construction of the Hawx dedicated-inbounds boot and making a touring version. The XTD (“Extended”) edition of the Hawx Ultra lineup features a walk mode reminiscent of the very good mechanism found on the Atomic Backland that controls 54° degrees of range of motion (ROM).

Jonathan Ellsworth has been skiing the Hawx Ultra XTD 130 (the 130-flex version of this boot) and is comparing it to boots like the Salomon MTN Lab. You can see his Flash Review here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been skiing the 120-flex version of the Hawx Ultra XTD through the end of my touring season, and have been comparing it to lighter, softer-flexing boots like the Salomon MTN Explore, La Sportiva Spectre 2.0, and  Roxa R3 130.


We’ve said this many times, but it still bears repeating: the best way to make sure any boot will work with your foot is to go in and try it on with a good boot fitter. That said, I can offer some general comments about the Hawx Ultra XTD 120 and Atomic’s Memory Fit process.

(For reference, here’s a bit about my feet: I have a high-volume foot. I have a high arch and instep, and generally require a sixth toe punch, and have bulgy ankles.)

Out of the box, the Hawx Ultra XTD 120 did not fit me very well, which wasn’t very surprising. My toes felt squished, and my instep was crushed a little.

But Atomic claims that the last of the Ultra XTD can expand up to 6 mm using their Memory Fit process, so I took the boots into the shop to get baked. The Memory Fit process is pretty quick and easy. Both the shells and liners get baked, and we added padding on my instep and around my toes to get extra room in those problem areas.

Cy Whitling reviews the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 for Blister Gear Review.
Cy Whitling in the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120, Grand Targhee, WY. (photo by Braxton Coffin)

After they were molded, the boots felt great — as in, this is the best fit I’ve ever had in a touring boot. The last expanded to accommodate my wide forefoot, and my heel and ankle felt locked in without being crunched.

I’m a huge fan of the Memory Fit process, and while Jonathan Ellsworth had a better out-of-the-box fit with his Ultra XTD 130 than I did, he is also impressed by how well the process works.

Buckles and Powerstrap

The Hawx Ultra XTD uses four light alpine-style buckles with a sliding keeper at the most open position to hold the buckles when walking. I found that they were easy to use, and haven’t had any durability issues so far.

It is worth noting that Atomic says you have to unbuckle the cuff of the boot to access the ROM. Most touring boots require this anyway, so I didn’t find this to be inconvenient at all. Those used to the Salomon MTN Lab and MTN Explore’s two buckles may find their transitions taking a little longer, but I found that, for my foot at least, the four buckles on the XTD really helped me dial in my fit to be snug but not uncomfortable.

The power strap is a generic velcro number, but it seems more robustly constructed than the MTN Explore’s, which fell apart very quickly.

Walk Mode

The walk mode on the Ultra XTD looks very similar to the one found on the Atomic Backland, and that’s a very good thing. It’s simple, reliable, easy to use with gloves on, and gives the user the option to choose from two forward lean options (15° and 17°) via a flip chip. So far neither Jonathan nor I have had any issues with the walk mode, and I don’t expect any. It’s simple and seems pretty bomb-, ice-, and fool-proof.

Liner (Including the Differences Between the Ultra XTD 120 and XTD 130)

Atomic decided to tweak the stock liner of the XTD 120 for production, so the boot I’ve been testing came with the XTD 130’s liner. That liner is similar to the Intuition Pro Tour liner and is fully moldable, with a cutout in the heel for more forward flexibility.

For production, the Ultra XTD 120 will get a heavier, stiffer, more alpine-style liner with a plastic tongue and a traditional plastic wrap around the calf area. It will still have the touring cutout in the cuff, but the liner should ski better, and will make more sense for skiers that are spending a decent amount of their time in this boot skiing inbounds.

Point is, for those of you planning to use the Ultra XTD as both an inbounds and touring boot, there might be reason here to opt for the XTD 120 as opposed to the XTD 130. The XTD 130 is really positioned to be more of a very-light-weight-focused, dedicated-touring boot. So we’ll see (and you can now read on for my updates on the XTD 120’s new stock liner).

But for now, I’ll weigh in on how the lighter XTD 130 liner I have now walks and skis, which should be similar to how the boot would perform when used with an Intuition Pro Tour or a similar liner.

NEXT: Touring, Downhill Performance, Etc.

26 comments on “2018-2019 Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120”

  1. I currently own the Hawx Ultra 130 alpine boot and love them! Do you think I could buy the Hawx Ultra XTD 130 and swap liners as your suggesting for the best of both worlds? Do you think that could work?

    • The short answer is Yes, John, it could definitely work.

      There’s no guarantee once you start switching liners and shells that the result will be perfect for *your* particular feet. But I know people who have done exactly what you are asking about, and they’ve gotten great results. So it is most definitely worth a try.

      If you go this route, please let us know how it goes!

  2. So glad to see reviews of both the 120 and 130 here! I’m a little more inclined to go with the 120 for the flex characteristics of the shell, and looks like the shell weights between the 120 and 130 are near-negligible.

    Sounds like the design is great and solid, but is there anything you see getting changed after the first production year?

  3. I want a very downhill oriented, but light touring boot (and I have very narrow foot), so the 130 Hawx XTD seems perfect. But when I tried them on, the flex didn’t seem very progressive and I found the end of the flex. The liner of the 120 XTD seems to be more up my alley. Any way that you know of to get the 130 Hawx XTD shell but with the 120 Hawx XTD liner?

    Also, is the 130 Hawx liner the same as the 120 Hawx XTD liner?


    • Intuition and others sell aftermarket liners, so you could get one from them in the style you desire. (For example if you have skinny ankles like me, the alpine wrap liners will add a lot of stiffenness and shock absorption).

  4. Hi all…. so I am deciding between Atomic and Roxa. I am a female who does not “charge” or muscle my way but finesse my way through my turns in the back country or in resort. These days I ski 60% in bounds and do 1/2 – 3/4 days in the back country. Will be moving to more back country days this winter. Ideally want ONE boot to do both.

    Thank you in advance!

  5. How much stiffer is the 130 with the same liner?
    As a big guy 6’3″ 200lbs who skis 80% BC I am leaning towards the 130 and picking up a set of inbounds liners at some point, does that seem like a reasonable approach or could I get away with the 120?

  6. This is a great review. It is quite likely I will purchase your recommended setup. One caveat I read is that the sole is non replaceable. Is this an issue? I tend to wear the soles out long before the boot. Thanks!

  7. @CyWhitling & @JonathanEllsworth – Seriously scratching my head: why on earth would Atomic spec their *second* stiffest 120-flex touring boot w/ a stiffer liner than the 130 version? You guys take that decision in stride, but it makes zero sense to me: if I want a beefier shell, I want a liner substantial enough that I can comfortably drive it. Am I missing something here?

  8. Any thoughts on the 100-flex boot? Do you know if the liner is similar?
    Not sure I need/can handle a 120-flex boot (my own Salomon Quest Max 130 are killing me – too stiff)!

  9. How would you compare this boot to the new scarpa mastrale, both in terms of uphill and downhill performance, and in terms of the 130 liner vs production liner. Thanks!

  10. Really enjoyed this review, and at the store I really liked the feel of the 120 liner, but….I have to say I’m puzzled about these boots….I used the XTD 120 with the 120 liner for a light touring day, about 16km or 10 miles on fairly gentle terrain (this was my second time out, first time was a short day on piste and enjoyed their flex/stiffness level on easy and expert icy runs. Flowing this we added some padding to the liner however to help keep it more in place, as the heel pocket didn’t feel solid). On the way up touring, after an hour, I could feel blisters developing. I stopped to protect the areas. In the cold, I found it very, very difficult to take the boots out and put them back on. By the end of the day, I had about 6 blisters and two broken toe nails. One toe is swollen, black and now infected. Ironically, I never felt a ‘hitting’ type pressure in the front! The store wants to try another heat mold, I suppose expand it, but wonder if this boot is really meant to primarily ski in the resort, going down, or if it can be used as a real touring uphill boot…or maybe it’s just not right for my feet, I do have ‘difficult’ wide feet…or maybe I’m doing something else wrong. Any thoughts if after such damage I should even consider another try? Should I replace the liner? (5 days later I still limp, can only wear running shoes, and still can’t feel the top of my now dark red, black and white toe…and no, doc says it’s not a frost bite).

  11. Hello,

    How would you compare the downhill performance of this against the Salomon QST Pro 130? I just bought the Blister Winter Guide, and there Salomon has been placed to the Alpine / Touring category, and Atomic to the touring category. I am quite lightweight skier (72kg, 177cm), and doesn’t ski aggressively. I ski around 50/50 inbound and off-piste, but as I am skinning up only 5% of total time, the downhill performance counts more. Atomic is way better in other ways than Salomon, but if it is much worse in downhill, then I will probably have to head for the Salomon.

  12. What would you recommend between this and the Lange Free Tour 130, assuming they both fit me?

    I probably ski 50/50 resort and touring, but have a couple of bigger multi day touring trips planned.

    I’m after a one boot quiver.

  13. Just wondering if you guys have run into any issues using the hawx xtd boot with STH2 16 WTR bindings – I just mounted some skis with them and it doesn’t seem like there is enough toe height adjustment to create the necessary 0.5mm gap between the boot sole and afd pad… but both the boot and binding are labelled “wtr” so they should work. I’ve contacted atomic and haven’t heard anything, but i’m curious if my experience is isolated or if you guys have run into something similar.

    • Did you ever hear anything about this? I have the same issue with the Marker Jester ID. Not enough toe height for mounting. These are fine for my touring skis but looking for something on my resort skis.

      • The 2019 XTD has a WTR sole. Only bindings that are WTR compatible – e.g. Salomon Warden that has enough front toe adjustment. Unfortunately, my experience with Marker bindings has been really bad. The Marker Jester ID does not work with WTR. It’s a pretty screwed situation. I had to replace 3 pairs of Marker bindings because of this and Marker was less than helpful or even forthcoming about the situation. The entire WTR / Gripwalk standard thing has been a complete cluster. Don’t quote me on this, but my understanding is that Marker / Dalbello’s GripWalk standard won out and next years boots will mostly be migrating to Gripwalk. e.g. The 2020 Atomic XTD 130 has a GripWalk sole.

  14. I have a couple of pairs of Salomon STH2 13 WTR bindings and have the same issue with the toe not adjusting as high as it should for my Hawx XTD’s. If you put some rearward pressure on the boot, there will be a slight gap, so I decided to just use them. I did have instance where I hit a chunk of ice at high speed and the binding released like it should. So I think its not ideal but workable.

  15. Great review. I recently tried on a bunch of boots, and I really liked the feel of the Atomic Hawx 120. The size 29.5 felt good, much tighter than the generally loose and sloppy boots I am used to, but surprisingly comfortable. Except in two places. Over my prominent bunions (metatarsal bump?) and in front of my big toe. Standing up straight, my toe crunches against the front of the liner. Moderately flexing the boot, my big toe does not touch the front of the boot. Other than that…great fit? My questions:

    1) How much can I expect the Atomic memory fit to stretch? By baking the shells and liners, can I expect to gain appreciable width? What about length? Can the memory fit process make the boots longer, if only a little bit?

    2) If the memory fit process can not make the boots longer, is there any way to do a punch just for my big toe? I expect a punch on the side of the boot for my bunion would be no problem, but what about right at the front of the boot?

    Advice appreciated….

  16. As always, great rewievs. Is about to buy new boots and due to kids I doesnt want several boots, no place and all money goes to the kids snowboard addiction :). Do want a boot for most downhill (inbounds groomers) use but do want to be able to tour with it. Have tried every boot existing and the only one that really fits my feet (an seriously it fits like nothing like I experienced before, so good) is the Atomic hawx Xtd 120. But after reading blisters review and buyers guide where you place the the XTD (even the 120) as a pure touring boot I get really hesitant.

    in what sense do you think the alternatives from Lange (,XT freetour) Head (Kore), Technica (cochise) etc would work better then the XTD 120 for downhill use? just standing in a shop its really hard to say anything about flex when atomics truflex makes the boots behave much like it would when its cold and langes or Technicas feels really soft forward flex wise

    I also wonder if Atomic have made changes to the 120 version as the stated weight is 200g heavier then the version blister made the review on.

  17. I like the idea with the Intuition Pro Tour Liner. Which volume version (I assume medium or high) should I take if the stock liner from the xtd120 fits me perfect?

  18. Just happened to crack the upper boot piece close to the inner ankle pivot

    You guys think this is normal after skiing approx 60 days in these boots

  19. I absolutely love the performance of my Hawx XTD 120 boots but find them almost impossible to get my foot into them past the arch unless they are warmed up next to a heater before attempting to put them on. I actually bought a heated boot bag to keep them pliable enough during the drive to the trailhead. Has anyone else noticed this? Any tips?

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