Among the Hoka lineup, there are a few shoes that feel like they have been there forever most notably, the Clifton and it’s trail counterpart the Challenger ATR. With the prior model, we really felt it deviated away from what made the Challenger platform great historically. It used to be more or less a clone of the Clifton just for the trail, but with the 4 it went in a different directions and a lot of people just weren’t happy with it. In fact in most stores in the Pacific Northwest, you saw the Speedgoat 2 replacing the Challenger ATR 4 on the shelf. The real question is, does the new Challenger ATR 5 hearken back to its roots or is it more of the same and does it stay in line with the 4. The answer is a weird bit of both, meaning while it has been improved, we would still give the title to the Speedgoat 3 if you were looking for a new Hoka trail shoe.
Evolution of the Hoka One One Challenger ATR
Thankfully, the upper has seen a slight redesign it from the 4 to the 4 because honestly the material choice on the 4, especially in certain colorways, just felt and looked plasticky. That wasn’t the case of course, but it sure felt that way. The upper uses a dual layer mesh and features a textured TPU toe overlay for durability. It also does feel a bit more like the Clifton 5 so this makes moving the between the two very easy.
There are actually no real changes to the mid from the 4 to the 5 from what we can tell, it feels very similar on your foot. It uses their CMEVA midsole technology and still features their meta-rocker design. It is lightweight and highly cushioned as always, but it just doesn’t seem to have that little bounce that we love in the Speedgoats.
Historically Hoka always stays away from significantly deep lugs on any of their trail shoes an the trend continues here as the ATR 5s only stand up around 4mm. The Challenger ATR 5 features a podular lug design which is designed to improve stability. Honestly, the outsole makes the shoe a very versatile mixed terrain runner meaning they work just as well on a nasty rainy wet road as they do on a hardpack trail.
Style & Aesthetics
The style of the shoe is very simple, the Challenger ATR platform has never looked super aggressive and visually the 5 again continues that trend. Sure it has some nice splashes of color from an accent perspective, but the visual profile is simplistic. This is very much a taste thing, but the ATR is all about durability and its tried and true design doesn’t get messed with all that much. It comes in 3 colors for men and women.
After many many runs in these because I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s starting to feel more like the Challenger ATR that I remember, so it’s not a bad shoe at all. It is definitely better than the ATR 4 definitely. I love running in Cliftons on the road and while the Challenger ATR platform feels like the natural trail extension to the Clifton, this doesn’t provide that same level of joy on the trail like it used to back with the 3s. The Speedgoats are definitely my favorite of the two.
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Again, let me reiterate, the shoe is still really solid. It has really solid cushioning, a nice wide platform, provides plenty of stability, and can be run over varying amounts of distance with little to no issues. It is not particularly aggressive, so weather conditions might see it suffer a bit, but it’ll work well for most of your trail experiences. I also think it does quite well as a road runner especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Our weather gets nasty in the late fall, winter, and early spring and sometimes you’re running in conditions that are less than optimal. Roads with branches and leaves it who knows what on the ground, and having a little extra grip without extra weight is a benefit. I honestly don’t mind running these on the road as well on occasion.
The bottom line is, the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 is a better shoe than its predecessor. It is getting closer to being what the ATR platform used to be, but it is not there yet. It has lost ground to the Speedgoats whuch are still a more fun and responsive shoe and would be our first pick. If you have a wider foot or even feel the Speedgoat is a little too bouncy or plush for you, then the Challenger ATR 5 might make more sense. It it’s still better than a lot of trail shoes out there, but we do miss when it was just a natural extension of the Clifton platform and when it felt a little faster.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 9.4oz (size 9)
- Drop: 5mm heel/toe
- Type: Neutral Trail (Cushioned)
- MSRP: $130.00
- Available: Now