It’s unlikely that Atomic management foresaw just how much its boot brand would come to depend on a modest line of recreational boots it launched some 15 years ago. Called Hawx, its unique feature was vent-like creases on both sides of the forefoot, perceived as a fit benefit but actually designed to improve energy transmission to the sole. The original Hawx came in only a single, 100mm last in a limited number of flexes for men and women. Atomic chose the aggressive commercial tactic of underpricing the Hawx line relative to market leaders; the Hawx 80, for example, retailed at $299, an irresistible cost/value relationship.
Once it had a toehold in the market, Atomic began to pile on the improvements. It enhanced the Hawx liners, changed the shell structure, added a narrow and a wide last and made the shells (and liners) heat-moldable just as this feature was gaining wide market acceptance. Of all the smart moves Atomic made to evolve Hawx into a brand unto itself, the wisest was to not just make narrower and wider Hawx originals (now called Prime), but to make the wide Magna a truly exceptional wide boot, with the widest aperture in a conventional shell, and likewise create a narrow boot, Ultra, that feels as close-fitting as a compression sock.
While we wouldn’t recommend it as a commercial strategy, a shop could limit its boot inventory to a full complement of Hawx. As long as its bootfitters took full advantage of all the fit and performance features found across the line, very few customers would leave its care unhappy or unshod.
The ubiquitous adjective applied to nearly every non-race boot in today’s market is “lightweight,” a trend Atomic spearheaded when it introduced Hawx Ultra 6 years ago. (Note to bootfitters: the upper cuff on the Ultras isn’t Grilamid anymore, but stretchable PU.) Four years ago, Gripwalk soles, now officially the norm, became standard issue across the Hawx collection.
Three years ago, the Hawx triad of Ultra, Prime and Magna underwent another universal switch, this time to a new inner boot, Mimic, so named for its easy adaptability to any foot shape. The heel and ankle areas are anatomically pre-shaped, creating an instant sense of accurate envelopment.
In 2021/22, the entire Hawx collection was again run through the makeover machinery. Every Hawx model now looks a little more chic, without changing its essential character. More substantial than their sexy, sculpted appearance was the debut of a customization system that includes foam injection around the ankle and three different tongue shapes, in addition to a Mimic liner that can be heat molded in about as much time as it took to read this paragraph.
This bundle of personalization features goes by the handle “Professional,” and is available on the Hawx Ultra 130, Hawx Prime 130 and Redster CS 130. All the 2021/22 Redsters switched to a new shell and cuff design that looked fast sitting still. The Redster CS series continues to be deserving our Dear Readers’ attention, for it delivers a race boot’s expected level of precision and support without the usual agonies associated with race boots.
For the 22/23 season, the wide-body (102mm) Hawx Magna collection is graced with two subtle, but important embellishments. First and foremost is the adoption of the Prolite shell design already deployed in the Hawx Ultra and Prime collections. Not only is the Prolite shell ethereally lightweight (for an Alpine ski boot), it takes the hassle out of entry and exit, a gift that keeps on giving. The second innovation also makes its presence known from the get-go: the elastic 3D Stretch Toe Box gives big feet more lebensraum for their plus-size tootsies. This nifty new toe box is also now standard issue in the 22/23 Prime collection.