A Very Deep Dive on Ski Boots, Part 7: Atomic’s 21/22 Lineup (Ep.165)

Atomic global ski boot product manager, Matt Manser, is back on Blister's GEAR:30 podcast to discuss Atomic's 2021-2022 ski boot lineup; their "professional" series of boots, the Redster Clubsport series, professional dual strap, and more
Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 Professional

Matt Manser and I go deep on Atomic’s new 21/22 lineup; ski boot design and construction in general; the “Frodo Pro”; “Complete Tech” vs. “Hybrid Tech”; Immanuel Kant; Omar Little; and to offer his take on Bode Miller’s recent GEAR:30 thoughts on ski boots.

TOPICS & TIMES:

  • Manser on Bode Miller on ski boots (8:24)
  • Atomic ski boots range walkthrough (17:42)
  • Redster Ti & STi (21:44)
  • Redster Club Sport (30:02)
  • Hawx Ultra vs Redster Club Sport (44:25)
  • Atomic’s Mimic Liner & Professional Dualstrap (49:27)
  • Atomic’s Professional Series (53:01)
  • Hawx Ultra XTD & Prime XTD (1:08:10)
  • Hawx Prime XTD “CT” vs “HT” (1:23:32)
  • Crazy thing about tech inserts (1:30:19)
  • What We’re Celebrating (1:47:58)

RELATED LINKS:

37 comments on “A Very Deep Dive on Ski Boots, Part 7: Atomic’s 21/22 Lineup (Ep.165)”

  1. Always great to learn from Matt!
    I sure wish Atomic sold their liners online or were easier to obtain so I could purchase a Mimic liner and take to a bootfitter appointment. Shops never have them in stock, they’re backordered, or they push the Intuition instead.

    I have the Ultra XTD 120 with regular Platinum liner and tempted to just buy a set of regular Hawx Ultra boots with a Mimic liner and just swap the liner between boots.

    I’d love to hear Matt’s thoughts and differences on the newest Mimic Ultra liner versus Mimic Ultra XTD liner in an XTD boot for less than 50/50 touring. I hate messing with that Shift AFD to use a different boot while in the resort.

    How about a Mimic XTD Prime liner in a regular XTD Ultra boot? Those seem to be available online.

    Thanks!

    • Hey Mike, A Hawx Prime liner won’t play well with an Ultra shell – it’s going to take up too much space and wrinkle on you, which won’t feel so good. What would work is the other plan: putting a Hawx Ultra Mimic liner into an Hawx Ultra XTD. Cheers, Matt

  2. Listening to the podcast and I had to comment on who would use a Redster Ti as an all mtn boot. I would, as I have an extremely narrow foot (size 13) and I am a big guy. The boot fits me and has the burliness I like. I am also a race coach, so Matt has it on point. And to go a little further, when I tried on the Ti and the CS boots, I wound up choosing the CS due to comfort reasons. Loving it.

  3. Great breakdown as ever, kind of like the two old dudes from the Muppets heckling each other..but over boots…powered by whiskey.

  4. When I joined Blister a couple of years ago, I probably would’ve found 7+ hours of two guys podcasting discussions on ski boots excessive. Having now listened to 7+ hours of two guys podcasting on ski boots, there’s still so much I want to know. Great info and podcast! And, boot discussions with you guys drinking whiskey is more entertaining than boot discussions sans whiskey.

  5. Once again I am thoroughly entertained by these two. @onenerdykid’s knowledge is impressive! I do have a concern similar to what was asked above. Is there any reason that a Hawx Prime 120 shell from the 2020 season would be incompatible with either the new professional dual strap or the professional mimic liner made for the Hawx?

    Ideally I’d start out with the Prime and upgrade that way but it seems like that wouldn’t be necessarily the best route. My forefoot measures 104mm and I have high insteps. I’ve never measured them but I always have pressure across the top of the boot.

    • Thanks, Tharmor – your scenario is exactly why we created the aftermarket solutions in terms of liners & power straps – you’ve got a 2020 shell that’s already fitted for you and/or with lots of life left in it and that will definitely work the new Mimic Professional liner and Professional Dual Strap. Not only will you gain some space above your instep (because the liner will be tailor made to your foot’s dimensions inside the shell) but you can also swap out the stock Medium Volume tongue for a High Volume tongue down the road if you need more space over your high instep.

  6. Matt- feeling torn between the Atomic Prime XTD 120 and 130. The extra features of the 130 (Platinum liner, strap) and lower weight are compelling. However at 5’9″ and 165 lbs the 130 flex might be pushing the upper limit what my ideal flex would be. I’m strong, but not a former racer. Are there options to easily drop the flex of the 130 down like some other Atomic boots, or is that something that requires a professional boot fitter to have a real go at cutting it down in select places?

    • Hey Josh, If you are looking at the 21/22 Hawx Prime XTD 120, then it does come with a Mimic Gold liner this year (the 20/21 model year did not). This liner still has the heat moldable Mimic material in the ankle/heel area, heat moldable plastic tongue and heat moldable plastic cuff, but it has a slightly softer handshake in terms of its foot hold. Softening/stiffening walk-mode boots can be tricky/difficult, as they are not built in the same way as normal alpine boots are (there are no screws in the rear spine to add/remove to adjust flex, and cutting away shell material can lead to issues). For a guy your size, I would guess that the 120 would be sufficient for you but it’s hard to say without watching you flex the boot. Also, take into consideration that the plastic will slightly stiffen once frozen (not as much as a traditional PU boot, but it will slightly happen a bit).

  7. I skied the 20/21 Hawx Ultra XTD 130 with the Mimic Liner last season. I never got the liner molded, partially because the ski shops local to me that sold Atomic boots were unfamiliar with Mimic material. They assumed it was just another eva foam heat moldable liner. Its sounds like a cool technology but not easy to take advantage of.

    • Launching a new product/technology during a pandemic is never an easy task… lots of safety & logistical issues last year (and even still) which made it difficult to get every shop up to speed on the latest and greatest. We created a lot of training aids and have clinic-ed more & more shops since restrictions have eased up/ended. I would hope that most of the dealers are now up to speed on regular Mimic and they are currently getting the training on the new Mimic Professional stuff.

  8. Hey Matt @onenerdykid –

    I’m trying to decide between boots or at least feel confident in the decision I make and hoping you can help me!

    CS130 vs Hawx Ultra 130

    I’ve had the Ultra for 4 years. I cracked the shell in one and got last years with Mimic through warranty.

    I’m 6’4′, 210lbs, athletic build, strong skier. Last year’s Ultra completely blows out when I turn a Volkl Mantra for example on piste.

    I ski in the mountain west on skis like the Mantra and the Volkl Revolt 121. I hike peaks and ridge lines (5 – 30min), ski bumps both hard and fast and slow and slarvy, ski groomers setting a deep edge, ski big open bowls with a sort of aggressive playful approach.

    I’ve never been in a boot as substantial as the CS130, it would be a new and exciting experience and up my performance. A still much lighter Ultra with more reinforcements is appealing.

    I understand the tradeoffs in theory. I guess I’d ask if based on my profile there is an obvious choice? And I know you mentioned FWT athletes and yourself bouncing back and forth. If you were my size skiing as outlined above, would you take the weight penalty of the CS on hiking/traversing/side stepping/hopping around the mountain or take the penalties of the Ultra vs CS?

    Thank you sir!!!

    • I’m not Matt, but given everything you’ve said (and given that I’ve skied both boots) if you’re the sort that wants to ski a Mantra hard but is noticing the boot bellowing out … go CS. Yes, a lighter boot is nice for walking uphill. But the “reinforced” Ultra still is not the same as the CS.

      Curious to see if Matt disagrees with me. But seems to me that you already know the answer to your question.

      • Hi Julian, As much as Statler doesn’t want to agree with Waldorf, I’m with Jonathan here. I think a guy your size, skiing the skis you mentioned, short hikes, etc. you will appreciate the substance and power of a Redster CS when (no pun intended) weighed against its weight penalty. Given what you’ve said, I think you are a great candidate for the Redster CS 130.

    • You might hate me, but obviously god hates you. :)

      (Also sounds like you should pray that Manser gets the ‘Frodo Pro’ built)

  9. Hey Matt. Really dig these discussions with Jonathan and your in-depth product knowledge. I have the Professional Series Liner on order through my shop and am stoked! I intend to put these in my Salomon X/Pro 130’s for better front-of-ankle heel hold down. My forefoot is about 102-104mm and my Salomon’s shells fit well.

    The new Hawx Ultra has my high interest but am concerned with forefoot width in the 96mm last. Can the Ultra be punched & stretched to around a 103 or 104mm width??

    Thanks guys! Go Blister!

    • Hi Crags, glad you are enjoying our ranting ;) The Mimic Professional liner will be a great way to achieve what you’re looking for in the X/Pro. As for the Hawx Ultra, what size is your foot? Remember a Hawx Ultra is “98”mm but only on size 26/26.5. As you go down in size, the last width decreases by 2mm per size and as you go up in size, the last width increases by 2mm per size. So if you are a 28/28.5, then an Ultra will be 102mm wide in that size- just something to be aware of. In terms of gaining width, it is really easy to make a boot 5-8mm wider. It’s a little bit harder to gain space vertically, in the instep area (there are some good tricks that boot-fitters know, but be aware that your instep usually tends to be the more difficult area to fix in a low-volume boot).

      • Thanks Matt – rant on! I wear a 26.5, so guessing I’d need to stretch the shell 5-6mm in the forefoot. I do have high arches (2nd buckle area) – in this area, does the Ultra shell close appreciably “lower” over the foot than the Prime?

        Where are the foam reservoirs in the Professional Liner?
        Does injected foam end up under the 3rd buckle area of the liner or is a higher volume tongue the best way to provide fit in this area of the boot?

        Lastly, are new molds having the new Ultra shell & cuff design planned for the Hawx Prime? Thanks!

  10. I’ve been skiing the Club Sport for the last two seasons and have found it to be exceptional. Very responsive with little give in the clog under the maximum pressure I can generate for my strength and 165lb. weight. It’s an all day boot and only required one fit session and some latter grinding under heavy summer snowfield conditions. Fantastic performance boot but you are on the hook to use its power as that is where the suspension in it starts to work.

  11. Thinking about how difficult it is to accurately represent the inside of the boot with the industry established width measurement of the last in millimeters.
    Would it be a good idea to instead of last width, represent the measurement for the inside of the boot in volume? Sort of like how backpacks are measured in liters? Maybe the volume measurement would represent a better idea for the space inside of the boot and how much work you would need to do with your boot fitter or the out of the box feel. It could potentially even give you a better idea of instep height, heel, toe box and possibly even how big the boot is at the calf.
    So if we make the comparison with backpacks, and take 20L packs as an example, there are many 20L packs that are intended for different purposes (similar to the range of boots that Atomic offers for a certain last width), but this still gives you a good idea of how it might be different to a 30L backpack.

    I understand that industry standards are probably not going away, for example flex ratings.
    If volume measurements for boots even make sense, I think it would be very interesting for boot manufacturers to include it in their specs as again, if it makes sense, it could serve as a better comparison between different boots and different brands.

    • Hi Ricky, Head does this and to be honest I never found it that helpful because it never told me anything about the fit. It was just another measurement that I had to figure out how it related to the boot. For example (and I’m not throwing shade at Head here, just using them to demonstrate a point), they list on their website their 96mm boot as having a 1800cc volume and their 98mm boot as having a 1800cc volume. Same volume, different fits. While it may be true, it doesn’t really help me understand the difference between them. So for us, in addition to labeling our Hawx Ultra “98mm”, we also call it Narrow Fit (Prime is 100mm/Medium Fit and Magna is 102mm/Wide Fit). In my opinion, while this is also imperfect, I think it gets us a little closer to an accurate description (or expectation) of the fit than a volume measurement.

      It’s around topics like this that I get very jealous of the bike industry. It’s easy to measure stack, reach, chainstay length or head tube angle. We can’t really do a lot of that in the boot world.

      • I see your point and have to agree.

        I guess nothing substitutes actually trying and seeing things in person, including bikes! And this is where Blister and the many conversations like this one are so valuable, in helping to narrow down all the different options out there.

        Thank you, Matt

  12. There is no more trace of @onenerdykid on Instagram and other than his posts to questions posed in this thread (and those of other sites) I’m worried that his girlfriend might have taken him offline both in the figurative and the literal sense. At what point should we be concerned for his life? And at what point should Jonathan go into witness protection?

    • No need to worry, I’m not being held captive nor have I mysteriously vanished. Just taking a break from the ‘gram for a bit. I started doing it last year and I think I’ll do it for a bit every year. I’ll be back soon enough.

      Jonathan should still be worried though. He’s not in the clear yet.

  13. Hi Matt @OneNerdykid…………I really appreciate your insightful advice and delightful podcast series with Jonathan. It is so interesting and informative and one of the best things on the Interwebs………….you’re spot on that it’s hard to get the right boot fit over the internet. But I live in Los Angeles (the largest city in America) and amazingly, no one in the entire city has any of your high end Atomic race boots in stock. They just don’t carry them, ever. And surprisingly neither do any of the ski shops at Bear Mountain or Mammoth Mountain, 2 of the major ski resorts in California. So I found it virtually impossible to go in and try different boot models and sizes on before buying them to get the best fit between the World Cup model (which Atomic no longer makes with a 92 mm narrow last – now it’s the Team Issue at 95mm) and the Club Sport model. I have very narrow feet and ended up buying the Club Sport 130’s a few months ago in a 26.5, which is what multiple Atomic certified shops here in town measured my feet as on the Mondo scale. But when I received the boots and was up training with the U.S. ski team this May at Mammoth, my feet were swimming in them and it turns out I need a size 25.5 boot. I got this information and advice from the experts at Footloose in Mammoth who spent days trying to make these boots fit for me (they have fitted Bode Miller and many other top racers and really know their stuff) and they finally said it can’t be done and I need 25.5’s. The 26.5 Club Sport Atomic boots I have are brand new and I’ve only skied in them 7 days. Now I’m stuck with boots that don’t fit and are extremely painful and I find it very difficult and uncomfortable to properly arc GS turns in them on firm icy slopes, which is what I typically do (I’m an ex racer and former ESF ski instructor in France and Switzerland). It also took months for the bone bruises on my feet to heal from trying to gut it out, since there were no other options available at that point after having driven a thousand miles to try and test them out. Now that I know after finally wearing these that I need 25.5 boots, my question is will the new mimic professional foam injected liner also reduce volume in a 25.5 boot? My narrow last is 91 and the narrow last of the 25.5 Atomic Club Sport is 94 (2 mm less than the 26.5’s I bought), so If I get a 25.5 boot, I still need to reduce approximately 3 mm inside the boot to get a tight fit. Will the new foam injection Mimic liner do that? And how much of the liner gets foam injected………does the foam cover the tuberosity of the metatarsal bone and also extend over and around the entire length of the Metatarsal bones to the Head, or is it just around the ankles and heel? I love Atomic equipment but I have been extremely frustrated and very disappointed by this recent experience with your boots. Will Atomic exchange these for me to a size 25.5 professional series given what’s transpired? Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated Matt. And as always, thank you for your help and guidance!!!

  14. Matt manser if you could build a hawx ultra xtd with same exact plastics and build as the rester cs that would be amazing. I love the xtd but the suspension is just not good enough, I think there’s a hole to be filled here. Pretty cool to see companies coming around to the idea of building heavy PU touring boots, think atomic is a bit behind in this category.

    • Hey, Kyle – I’m currently in Austria sitting next to Matt – we’re about to record another podcast – and he says, Message received.

  15. As others said, great review, particularly interested in the comparison between the CS and Ultra. One area that wasn’t touched (or I missed) is the difference between the Mimic Platinum Liner and the Mimic World Cup liner that these two use. Can’t seem to find that info anywhere (particularly the World Cup Liner) and it would a great help in making a choice between the two. Curious about the fit, amount of moldable material and warmth of each, etc. I’m leaning toward the Redster CS (have been in either a CS or Raptor for years), but as I get older, sad to say I’m concerned about the comfort level/warmth of the World Cup Liner for all day Rec skiing with my flat, skinny feet. Again, great discussion and thanks for your insight.

    • Hey Paulie (I just said that in my best Goodfellas voice) – In terms of moldability, I would put both boots at the same level. In terms of customization, I would give the Mimic World Cup the upper hand. Let me explain. With “moldability” both liners have a heat moldable Mimic material in the ankle/heel area, heat moldable plastic cuff, a heat moldable plastic tongue, and lots of heat moldable foam next-to-skin. This means both will shape to your body extremely well. But where the Mimic World Cup liner has the upper hand is that it utilizes our V3 Tongue System allowing you to swap out the stock (High Volume Fit) tongue for either the Medium Volume Fit or the Low Volume Fit depending on your needs. Jonathan has the stock HV-fit tongue in his CS boots but I chose to swap out to the MV-fit tongue because my foot is lower volume than his. The Mimic World Cup liner has the potential to be more customizable but you may not need it depending on your foot/leg and how they interact with the shell.

      In terms of warmth, I don’t think I would give a huge/noticeable advantage to either. I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to cold feet and I don’t think I’m warmer in my Hawx Ultra than in my Redster CS. I can ski all day in each and on those days when I’m frozen so is usually everyone else and it’s time for a hot chocolate/cappuccino/scotch anyway.

  16. In discussing the choice between Redster CS and Hawx Ultra, I’m surprised Matt didn’t mention forward lean. The Hawx Ultra has 13-17 degrees of forward lean, while the Redster CS has 16-18 degrees of forward lean. Is that somewhat significant or just splitting hairs? Obviously a more upright boot seems a better fit for more all-mountain freestyle use, while a more forward leaning boot seems better for an on-piste racing stance.

    • Ahh, I see now that Jonathan and Matt discussed forward lean on episode 88 (Boot Deep Dive part 4). Really useful insights from that conversation.

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