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Hoka One One Challenger 7 review

10 expert score
0 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 07th April by Henry Howard Ultra runner and certified running coach.
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Hoka One One Challenger 7 Verdict

The Hoka Challenger ATR 7 is lighter while maintaining the same cushioning, propulsion and comfort that the brand is known for. Those who loved previous versions of the Challenger will love this one even more. Runners looking for an even lighter trail shoe for moderate terrain will also find comfort and satisfaction with the Challenger 7.

The pros

  • Extremely versatile shoe, good for paved and natural surfaces.
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Lighter than previous versions
  • Brings energy and stability

The cons

  • May not work for toe strikers
  • Not a great option for technical terrain


Rating breakdown

Comfort
10
Build quality
9.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
9.0
Landing
9.0
Transition
9.0
Toe-off
9.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
9.0
Value / Price
8.0

Facts / Specs

Model
Challenger 7
Previous model
Type
Weight
8.9 oz (252 g)
MSRP
$145.00

Heel
mm.
Toe
mm.
Heel drop
5 mm.
Carbon plate
No plate

Size/Fit

Sizing
True to size
Heel fit
Tight
Midfoot fit
Normal
Toebox fit
Tight

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Balanced/plush
Amount of cushioning
Highly cushioned
Stability
Some stability
Flexibility
Medium

Trail specs

Rockplate
Not present
Traction
Average Traction
Water resitance
Adequate

Best for these distances

Regular training  
Long, slow training runs  
Speedwork on flat surfaces  
Short trail races (up to half marathons)
Marathon and 50k trail races  
Ultra distances, 50 miles and greater  

Best for these terrains

Moderate trails  
Technical trails  
Rocky areas
Muddy areas
Through creeks and streams  
Through snowy or icy sections
Dirt trails  
Paved trails  
Through grassy sections  

Who should buy the Hoka One One Challenger 7 ?

The Hoka Challenger ATR 7 is a solid option for many runners, including those new to Hokas, runners seeking options for up to moderate terrain, and those training for races that offer a mix of paved, dirt and/or grassy trails.

Who should not buy the Hoka One One Challenger 7 ?

If the vast majority of your runs are in technical terrain, skip the Challenger. While these shoes are an excellent option for mild to moderate trails, there are options much more suitable for technical running. Scroll down to the conclusion for one option.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Introduction

The Challenger is possibly one of Hoka’s most popular trail shoes and one of Running Shoes Guru’s favorite for a few years now. It is meant to be run both on trails and on the road.

Straight out of the box, I knew something was different with these Hokas. It did not take me long to realize that Hoka worked its magic again.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Impressions

Picture of Hoka Challenger 7

As I held the Challengers in my hands, I could tell the weight was scaled back from the previous version. Hoka cut the weight from 9.6 to 8.9 ounces (size 10), while increasing the cushioning. The 5 mm drop (31mm heel, 26 mm front) remains the same.

The Challenger 7 is the product of a thorough redesign that kept what Hoka fans love about this model. The upper is different, now with a piece of engineered mesh that wraps from heel to heel.

Hoka also added a soft new foam to increase the stack height for a plusher feel and bulked up the rubber to the sole. The enhancements don’t stop there. Hoka also reimagined the bottom of the shoe. The Challenger 7 has smaller, tightly spaced lugs in the center with larger, more aggressive lugs on the outside.

 These combine to improve the security of the footing on dirty, muddy or average technical terrain.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Protection

Picture of Hoka Challenger 7

The improved lugs give a bit of a boost to the shoes’ protection. But still I would not recommend the Challengers for rocky or rooty terrain.

While I did not experience issues with protection during my 50-plus miles of testing, all of my miles were on what I would consider very basic trails. For those who regularly adventure into areas where trails are more challenging, there may be better options for your feet.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Durability

As with previous Hoka Challengers, there are no indications of breaking down after more than 50 miles.

I’ve run a couple of 100-mile races on crushed gravel surfaces in Hoka Challengers. And the shoes have performed well. While I won’t be doing the 100-mile version of that race this year, I know the seventh iteration would handle the race and course without an issue, just like its predecessors.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Responsiveness & speed

If you have the need for speed and responsiveness, the Hoka Challenger 7 is among the best options available for trail runners. The shoes are very responsive and energetic on basically any terrain, giving you the green light to pump up the volume on the flat sections and downhills.  

In the seventh edition, the much lighter shoes will add to your speed without sacrificing on durability, comfort or even cushioning. In fact, some of the trail races I do could be attempted in a road shoe due to their course. The Challenger offers the best of both worlds for these events: the speed associated with many road shoes with the security of a lug system to get you through any minor obstacles.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Comfort and fit

My belief is that the Challenger’s midsole has slightly increased its firmness through each version. It’s not uncomfortably firm, just a tad more than the previous model. It still gives off a springy vibe, regardless of whether you are plodding down a gravel path, or doing a speed interval on a dirt trail.

I’ve always found the fit to be spot-on in Challengers. But if previous versions have felt off for you, then follow your previous experience and order a size up or down as you have previously.

Hoka One One Challenger 7 Conclusions

Whenever a brand remakes a popular model, it risks losing some of its supporters. For fans of previous Hoka Challengers, this new model will surely be pleasing. The seventh version offers new construction,
materials and colors.

Runners will first notice the drop in weight then relish the cushioning they rely on. The shoe performs best as a road-to-trail option, or for easy to moderate adventures on dirt, grass or gravel paths. It’s responsive enough to keep you moving and can handle basic mud and water hazards.

Here is how the new Challengers compare with some other popular models:

  • Hoka Speedgoat 5: This is a completely surface dependent decision. For technical trails, go for the Speedgoat. For road and up to moderate trails, the Challenger should work better. 
  • Hoka Zinal: Billed as Hoka’s “fast and light” trail shoe, the Zinal pales in comparison when it comes to cushioning. The Zinal is a racer, up to half marathon on moderate trails or grass while the Challenger is for longer distances.
  • Nike Pegasus Trail 4: Like the Challenger, the Pegasus Trail 4 is meant for tame trails, grassy courses and gravel paths. The Pegasus has a high drop, less cushion and a traditional ride. The Challenger is lighter, more responsive and gripper. The vote here goes to the Challengers.

 

 

How does the Challenger 7 compare?

Nike React Pegasus Trail 4
Hoka One One Challenger 7
Brooks Cascadia 16
Expert score
8
10
7
User score
Best price
Retail price
US$139.95
US$145
US$130
Shoe type
Weight
10.4 oz
8.9 oz
11.1 oz
Heel Drop
10 mm
5 mm
8 mm
Recommended for
Moderate trails, through snowy or icy sections, dirt trails, paved trails, through grassy sections
Moderate trails, technical trails, through creeks and streams, dirt trails, paved trails, through grassy sections
Moderate trails, through creeks and streams, dirt trails, through grassy sections
Cushioning type
balanced/plush
balanced/plush
balanced
Cushioning amount
Highly cushioned
Highly cushioned
Medium cushioning
Flexibility
medium
medium
rigid
Stability
some stability
some stability
very stable
Sizing
buy half size smaller
true to size
true to size

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Hoka One One at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.
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Reviewed by Henry

This review was written by Henry Howard on 07th April.
Henry Howard has come a long way since a teacher called him "molasses" during a fifth-grade track and field event. Now living and running in Indiana, he has completed more than a dozen marathons and is a regular age-grouper in shorter distances.

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