Our wear-test team absolutely loved this shoe. Why? It’s all of the things you want in an off-road running shoe with enough trail-specific features to keep your feet protected. The Challenger ATR is amazingly light, quite nimble and very stable for such a well-cushioned trail shoe. It has a very similar makeup to Hoka’s award-winning Clifton road running shoe and our wear-testers raved about the Challenger’s featherweight, well-cushioned ride and a similar game-changing vibe as the Clifton. But our test crew also appreciated that the midsole foam felt slightly firmer and seemed considerably more durable than its road-shoe cousin. Wear-testers who were comfortable with maximally cushioned shoes and were able to dial in a good fit raved about this shoe as a smooth-riding, high-mileage trainer, as well as a long-distance racer.
Fit: The minimally designed, no-sew upper and lacing system provide a locked-down fit in the heel and mid-foot, but most wear-testers remarked at the roominess of the forefoot fit. Almost all testers preferred wearing a half-size smaller than their normal size.
Feel: Like all Hoka shoes, the Challenger has a “rockered” profile that helps produce a bit of a rolling sensation no matter how or where the shoe strikes the ground. That design, combined with the thick two-layer midsole and a slight heel-toe drop, results in a semi-soft and very enjoyable feel on smooth and semi-technical terrain.
Ride: The low-profile outsole tread offers modest traction, but it makes this shoe ideal for long runs on mild to moderate trails and less ideal for running on steep, gnarly terrain with technical features and loose debris or sloppy mud.
“This is a responsive shoe. Though a bit bulky in feel due to the design it is fairly nimble on technical terrain. I found it to be much more responsive than I expected.” — Jim Conaghan
“I love the super lightweight aspect, plus the proper support they offer. I feel energized when I’m running over rough terrain. I think they are very nimble with the amount of cushioning they offer; a good balance.” — Amy Allison
“This shoe continues the Hoka tradition—it is luxuriously absorbent yet does not lose touch with terrain. It feels better anchored to the ground than previous Hokas.” — Jorge Latre
“Amazingly light for such a robust-looking shoe. The feel beneath your feet is a blend of both soft and firm.” — Todd Phillips
“It’s a pretty smooth shoe. Even though it’s a trail shoe, it’s really best on smooth trails and gravel/dirt roads.” — Jennifer Fawcett
This is the shoe for you if … You want a lightweight, maximally cushioned, high-mileage trainer for smooth to moderate trails.
Weights: 8.6 oz. (men’s), 7.4 oz. (women’s)
Offset: 5mm; 29mm (heel), 24mm (forefoot) for men; 28mm (heel), 23mm (forefoot) for women