Hoka OneOne Challenger ATR General Info:
The hoka one one challenger ATR is an all new trail shoe that is built off of the popular clifton road shoe platform. The shoe looks almost identical to the clifton but has a more rugged appearance.
It is immediately noticeable that they used a more durable material in the upper. It has a higher quality look and feel to it than the clifton.
It looks like it was built to endure the more rough terrain of the trails. It still feels light, but the Challenger did gain some weight in the form of extra rubber on the outsole for grip, and the thicker material used for the upper.
This shoe is still very light but it doesn’t have that “wow” moment that the Clifton had when I first tried it on. Having loved the Clifton, I had big expectations for this
Hoka OneOne Challenger ATR Sole Info:
This shoe uses EVA foam material for the midsole that is similar to what is used in the Clifton and other hook shoes.
The material is a little bit firmer than the previously used CMEVA foam used in many previous Hoka models and seems to be a bit more durable.
It reminds me of the RMAT material that is used in the huaka, but it is not branded as RMAT so I am not positive if it is actually the same material or if it is different.
This foam definitely is more durable and holds up better than the material used in the Clifton. Whatever it is, It really shines in the Challenger and makes for some of the best foam I have run on in trail shoes.
When running on trails I prefer a decent amount of cushion but I also want some structure.
The shoe needs to be able to not bend or move all over the place when going over uneven terrain but it also needs to provide a cushioned and smooth ride.
I have found in trail shoes that some have big thick midsoles that are so firm you don’t really have much feel of the ground resulting in and unresponsive slog through the woods.
On the other end you have trail shoes that bend and roll along with the terrain. Some of that is okay, but what I really like is when a shoe finds the middle ground.
The EVA in this midsole does that. It is firm enough to maintain some structure while still providing a softer than usual ride for your foot.
It also does a fantastic job, as did the Clifton, of absorbing all of the little tiny rocks you step on while trail running. This kept my feet very happy.
It allows you to smoothly glide over sections of terrain in a way that you may not have been able to before. It does all of this while maintaining the responsiveness that the trails demand.
This shoe also has a high quality rubber outsole. The very center of the outsole is made up of exposed EVA. The rest is surrounded by harder rubber material with 4mm lugs everywhere.
The lugging pattern is aggressive, and it really shows when you get this shoe out on the trail. They had outstanding grip in every condition.
The time of year allowed me to test these shoes in a variety of conditions including mud, sleet, hail and snow. I was legitimately impressed by the shoes grip in these conditions.
Even on snow I felt comfortable enough to not really hold back too much. No yak tracks, no screws and these did great. When I tested the huaka by Hoka I thought they had great grip. These are better.
Hoka OneOne Challenger ATR Upper Info:
As mentioned previously, the upper Is almost identical to that of the Clifton. This means you get an upper that is very comfortable with a wider toe box.
The shoe provides a lot of room for your foot. It is wider than a standard running shoes upper. It’s not a huge difference but it is noticeable, and if you are someone with a more narrow foot I would suggest sizing down a half size in these.
I wear a 10, my foot is of average width and the size 10 shoe I tested felt noticeably roomier than other size 10 shoes that I test on a regular basis.
This is a feature I enjoy in an upper, especially the wide to box. I found no areas of irritation or hot spots. One major thing of note about this upper is the material they chose to use.
It is thin and breathable but Durable enough to take a good pounding while also keeping your foot protected. They also drain very well.
I soaked them multiple times early on in runs and they didn’t cause that squishy feeling for very long. This upper just looks and feels high quality.
They’ve also added a toe guard accross the front of the upper to provide some protection from the occasional misstep.
The high quality thicker laces are also a nice touch. Those familiar with the Clifton will see the challenger as a more refined version of that with some extra protection.
Hoka OneOne Challenger ATR Conclusions:
When I ran in the Clifton months ago, I remember my first thought being “I want a trail version of this shoe.” I prefer trails over road and proceeded to run my Clifton’s into the ground on all types of terrain.
All they were missing was the grip. For me that shoe was in its own tier, above any road shoe I had run in. Needless to say, given the excellence of the Clifton, my expectations for this shoe were high.
I expected the shoe to be top notch and that is what I found. It did gain some weight but for good reason. The lugs on this shoe and the reinforced upper are outstanding.
The shoe just feels smooth and efficient on the trail. It provides a nice soft ride while maintaining its structure and responsiveness.
As far as trail shoes go i can’t think of any that I have run in that are better. I really liked the Huaka and gave it a 5 star rating. The Challenger ATR blew that out of the water and I think raises the bar of how good a trail shoe can be.
We thank the nice people at Hoka OneOne for sending us a pair of Challenger ATR to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.