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:

30 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.

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