When Atomic’s parent company, Amer Sports, acquired Salomon from adidas, it forged a perfect marriage of skiing nobility. Salomon would benefit from Atomic’s acknowledged artisanship in race skis and Atomic would gain instant access to much better boot and binding designs.
The union continues to be a happy and procreative one. Atomic reaped the rewards of its synergy with Salomon 2 years ago when its Memory Fit system borrowed a concept or two from Salomon’s Custom Shell technology. Memory Fit is now standard on all Redster, Hawx and Backland models.
The Memory Fit process puts Atomic on a technical par with Salomon for in-store custom fitting, and the sustained success of Redster athletes like Marcel Hirscher and Michaela Shiffrin attest to unassailable technical bona fides. In other words, Atomic has arrived as a clicking-on-all-cylinders boot supplier, a worthy pretender to Salomon’s throne.
With the arrival in 2017 of Hawx Ultra, Atomic now has a single shell and liner concept spanning all fit possibilities, from narrow to ultra-wide. In addition to a narrow (98mm) last, Hawx Ultra adds reinforcement to the spine with Energy Backbone, an enhancement unbestowed upon Hawx Prime (100mm last) or Hawx Magma (102mm).
A longtime godsend for the high-volume foot, Live Fit still lives, in 100 and 80 flex iterations for men and 90 and 70 flexes for women. The Live Fit panels in the forefoot effectively alleviate pressure across wide metatarsals, and the voluminous fit from the aperture to the toes is a blessing for skiers with Sequoias for calves.
The limitation of Live Fit is that its 2-buckle construction puts more emphasis on convenience than performance. The 4-buckle Hawx Magma series, also a 102mm last, is meant to contain the same, magnificent hoof, but with a traditional shell and cuff that don’t dilute performance. There’s no doubt the Magma delivers superior snow feel and more accurate envelopment, and its probably easier for most hefty hooves to slip on and off.
Most boot reviews focus on 130-flex models as they usually represent the top of the recreational line and embody all the most deluxe features, but most skiers shouldn’t be in a 130. The trick is finding a softer flexing boot (that’s also perforce less expensive) that doesn’t diminish the fit and steering properties of the top model. The Hawx Ultra, Prime and Magna series retain a high cost/value relationship from their top price point to the bottom.
The big news at Atomic for 2018 is the renewal of its flagship series, represented by two new families of Redsters: World Cup (92mm last), with flexes ranging from 110 to 170 (not a typo), and Club Sport (96mm), in 110 and 130 flexes. If you’re not certain you belong in the World Cup boot, you don’t. The out-of-the-box fit of the Redster Club Sport 130 is plenty snug enough for 90% of all narrow feet.
In all its incarnations, the Redster is a super close-fitting shell that feels sprayed on. The flex indices are accurate, meaning they aren’t meant to enhance your self-esteem but to guide model selection. As if to underscore their race credentials, all the 2018 Redsters are elevated 3mm inside the shell to the maximum height allowed by FIS. The extra leverage makes an already insanely responsive shell feel even quicker to the edge.
If you’re wondering why Marcel and Michaela are the best skiers in the world, it may not be because of their boots, but one thing’s for certain: they sure aren’t holding them back.