2014-2015 Atomic Hawx 2.0 120

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 for Blister Gear Review

Atomic Hawx 2.0 120

2014-2015 Atomic Hawx 2.0 120

Stated Flex Rating: 120

Stated Last Width: 100mm

Blister’s Measured Weight:

• Shells, no liners: 1593 & 1591 grams

• Liners, no footbeds: 393 & 394 grams

Available Sizes: 24.5 – 31.5

Size Tested: 25.5 / 295mm Boot Sole Length

Test Locations: Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand; Taos Ski Valley

Days Tested: ~35

The original Atomic Hawx 120 was purportedly one of the best-selling, medium-width ski boots in the world. So while we didn’t have a chance to ski the initial version of the Hawx 120, we were interested to check out the latest iteration of it—version 2.0.

As I’ve said before, my only objectives in a boot review are to (1) locate the boot, and (2) help you decide whether you ought to head to the best boot fitter in your area to figure out with him or her if the boot I’m reviewing would be a good fit for you. That’s really it, and those are still my primary aims here.

Atomic has this to say about the Hawx 2.0 120:

“Like its super-popular predecessor, our new Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 is a super sporty all-mountain ski boot with a stiff flex. The legendary Hawx medium fit hasn’t changed. But we’ve added Memory Fit, so you can get a completely personalized shell, cuff and liner in minutes. In addition, with new Power Shift you can adjust your forward lean and crank your flex index to 130 to fully suit you. And we’ve introduced revolutionary Sole Flex to the sole of the boot for enhanced balance, underfoot feel and control. The light, re-engineered Gold liner now features 3M™ Thinsulate™ Platinum Insulation to keep your feet warm and responsive in even the coldest, dampest conditions. Finished with a lighter build and optional WTR Grip Pads for easier walking, the Hawx 2.0 120 is a very capable custom boot for strong all-mountain skiers.”

For the most part, I’m just going to evaluate a number of these claims, in order, and make a lot of comparisons to another boot in this category, the Salomon X Pro 120.

Stiff Flex?

I’d call this a solid 120 flex boot. It is a bit stiffer fore/aft than the Salomon X Pro 120, and also a bit stiffer laterally, I’d say.

Coming from stiffer 130-rated boots like the Atomic Redster Pro and the Nordica Patron Pro, I actually liked how easy it was to initiate the flex of the X Pro 120—it felt very forgiving, especially when skiing very fast in bumped-up terrain in very cold weather, when those stiffer boots felt even stiffer and more punishing.

The flex of the Hawx 2.0 120 feels like a nice middle ground to me between the X Pro 120 and the Redster Pro / Patron Pro.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth in the Atomic Hawx 2.0 120, Broken River Ski Area, New Zealand.

And now on the days when I switch back to the X Pro 120, I have to adjust a bit to their softer flex, which feels a bit more squishy compared to the Hawx 2.0 120. (Once I make the adjustment, however, I still like both boots and have continued to use them both to drive and review a wide range of skis.)

I suspect that lighter skiers (say, 150 lbs. or less?) or those who don’t care too much about really driving their skis might prefer the softer-flexing X Pro 120, while heavier skiers or those who are looking to get all over their shovels will appreciate the flex pattern of the Hawx 2.0 120.

But the bigger difference between the Hawx 2.0 120 and the Salomon X Pro 120 has to do with how they fit.

Fit / Sizing the Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 / My Feet

Like the Salomon X-Pro 120, the customary selling point of the Hawx 120 was that it was a terrific option for people who have wide feet, and that remains true of the Hawx 2.0 120.

Both the X Pro 120 and the Hawx 2.0 120 are “medium-width” boots, but the Hawx 2.0 is a higher volume boot overall—in the heel pocket, instep height, and forefoot width.

I don’t happen to have particularly high-volume feet, and I like a pretty snug (some might say “very snug”), performance-oriented fit.

My left foot is 27cm long, my right foot is 27.5cm long, and here’s how The Boot Doctors’ Charlie Bradley assessed my feet: C-width, narrow heel. High arch / High instep (on a scale of 1-10, Charlie called it an 8 or 9). Fairly stable, solid platform. Prominent melili. A bit of pronation. A good amount of ankle range of motion (aka, “dorsiflexion”).

According to the charts, I ought to be in a size 27.5 boot, but I have always dropped down to a size 26.5 to get more of a “performance” fit rather than a “comfort” fit.

But in the case of the Hawx 2.0 120 (and the Salomon X Pro 120), I dropped down to a 25.5. Why?

The Hawx 2.0 120 is a 100mm-lasted boot, and like the X Pro 120, it runs big—and is higher volume than the X Pro 120.

Most of the time, in narrower (~97/98mm lasted), lower-volume boots, I only drop down one size. I wear a size 26.5 Atomic Redster Pro, 26.5 Nordica Patron Pro, 26.5 K2 Pinnacle 130, and Lange RX. So to achieve a similarly snug fit, I ended up dropping down two sizes in both the X Pro 120 and Hawx 2.0 120 rather than one.

I am definitely not pushing you to do the same, but I achieved very good fit results doing this with the X Pro 120’s moldable shell, since it gives you the ability to begin with a very small boot, then expand the shell to contour to your foot and provide a very snug, comfortable, performance fit.

The shell of the X Pro 120 can only expand, so the idea here—if what you’re after is a high-performance fit—is to basically approach the heat moldable shell as if it was a plug race boot: it is relatively easy to create more space in a boot, but it is very difficult to make smaller a boot that is too big.

So I took the same approach with the Hawx 2.0 120, and dropped down two sizes.

Still, my advice to you is to at least consider dropping down one size from your measured size in either the X Pro 120 or the Hawx 2.0 120, especially if you are after a more snug, “performance” fit.

The Heat Molding Process (X Pro 120 vs. Hawx 2.0 120)

Before heat molding the Salomon X Pro 120 shells, my size 25.5s were intolerably tight to stand in for more than a few minutes. (Before molding, I had a shell fit of 1cm on the left foot, .5cm on the right foot.)

After baking them, however, the shells expanded where they needed to, leaving me with a very snug heel fitit’s the most snug heel / best heel retention of any boot I’ve ever skied. (If I wear a sock that is even slightly thicker than my Smartwool ultra-thin Ph.D socks, my heels will feel sore by the end of the day. In my book, this is perfect.)

The overall fit is tight but perfect, and I have a very secure fit around the instep. I typically don’t even bother to buckle the lower two buckles of the shoe, because the fit is already so snug.

Due to a bony prominence (cuneiform exostosis) I have on both insteps, I did, however, need to go back and reheat the boots with a pad over my instep to create more space. It worked, leaving me with a highly customized, performance fit.

Before heat molding the Hawx 2.0 120, the boots weren’t intolerable. As I’ve said, these are wide, higher-volume boot to begin with.

Atomic states that the Hawx shells only need to be cooked for 5 minutes, while the X Pro 120’s protocol is to cook the shells for 15 minutes. But while the Hawx 2.0 is already higher volume to start, after the molding process, I noticed a lot more movement / expansion in the X Pro 120—especially with respect to the length of the shell. The X Pro 120 pushed out, the Hawx 2.0, not so much.

Still, while I should go back and punch out the big toes on the Hawx 2.0, I have otherwise achieved a nice fit in these boots, in part by using a thicker Sidas footbed that was custom made for me by Leith Rhodes at Gnomes Alpine Sports in Darfield, New Zealand.

When I’ve swapped in my regular, custom-molded instaprint footbeds (made by our reviewer and senior bootfitter at The Boot Doctors in Taos, Charlie Bradley), I have far too much room in the lower of the Hawx 2.0, because the instaprint footbeds are (1) much thinner, and (2) have a less pronounced arch than my Sidas footbeds.

Apologies for all of this boring detail. The two points here are that (1) I have been able to achieve a very good fit in the Hawx 2.0, and those folks with higher-volume feet than me won’t need to downsize as much as I did. And (2) I would not count on this shell stretching as much as either the Salomon X Pro 120 or any of the Fischer Vacuum boots.

 

NEXT: Adjustable Forward Lean & On-Snow Performance

4 Comments

  1. Terry March 9, 2015 Reply

    Blister folks…you rock!
    I don’t know how I’ve not come across your site before but I love the in-depth analysis you provide in all of the reviews I’ve read. Then again, I should have been sleeping three hours ago but the exceptional site you’ve created and the amazing information have now kept me up past 3AM and I need to work in the morning, so if my job suffers tomorrow I’m blaming you! I hope you’re cool with that? Regardless, I am now set on acquiring some Atomic 2.0 Hawk 120’s and some Vantage Theory’s to enjoy at Taos for the last month of the season and beyond.
    In addition, I’ve added New Zealand to my shredding bucket list! Wow, nice photography!
    Keep up the outstanding work.
    Terry

  2. Ivan November 12, 2015 Reply

    Can You please tell me is it moldable toe box of the shell, can it be forward expand for 2 mm ?

    My foot measure is 279-280 mm. When I try size 28 I have cc.3 mm free space in the toe box of the liner and too much free space in upper shell ( top 2 buckles ).
    So size 28 is comfort and when I try size 27,5 I feel very snug and I like it, top 2 buckles of upper shell area is perfect, only problem is toe box. I am a afraid that I am missing 2-3 mm in the toe box of the shell.
    Btw, when I have try only liner my toe is touching front of toe box. ( barely , but touching )

    Can You please help me with advice what size is better for me for all day skiing off and powder ?

    Thank You a lot in advance !

    Best regards,
    Ivan

  3. Marcus January 4, 2016 Reply

    Thanx Jonathan for the excellent review!

    I am by no means a skier on your level, but I have gotten to the point where I realise my need for tighter fitting boots. So a reasonably competent salesman in my town claims my feet (which like yours are rather low volume ones) require size 26.5 if not 26.0.

    On the other hand, I today got my hands on a pair of last years Hawx 2.0 120 for a good price of size 26.5… and now I find that according to your review I am probably missing out the best part, i.e. having a truly perfect fit by heat molding the boots. Wish I had read your review earlier…

    Would you have any advice to share? My choice is probably either to return the boots and aim for something else or then to keep them unable to achieve a truly perfect fit (but maybe it’s still worth it, I’m not sure).

    Thanks again and best regards,
    Marcus

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