2017 Brand Profile
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). The debut of Hawx Ultra has sidelined the Redster Pro series in the U.S. market, as two 98mm-lasted performance boots is one too many, especially as the pure-race Redsters remain an option for the narrow foot in search of elite performance. (The Redster Pro remains in the global collection so it will appear in other markets in 2016/17.)
As a bootfitter, I’m relieved to report that Live Fit lives, albeit reduced to 100 and 80 flex iterations. The Live Fit panels in the forefoot really work to 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.
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.