When it comes to the HOKA lineup, probably no trail shoe is as heavily debated as the Challenger ATR. It has gone from being their golden child and flagship trail shoe to something that was just a little off-putting, and then found its way back, but now has to compete with the likes of the Torrent, the Speedgoat, and the Stinson. We are always excited to see it and always interested in what HOKA will do with the next version so here we go with the Challenger ATR 6.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Versatile on and off-road runner living up to its ATR name.
- Made of more recycled materials than ever before.
- Weighs in at 9.8oz or 278g for a US Men’s 9, 8.1oz or 230g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 29mm of cushion (26mm for Women) and has a 5mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $130.00 USD and comes in 5 colors for Men and 3 for Women.
The Challenger ATR has always invoked a love-hate relationship around here and in the running community in general. It used to be the swiss army knife shoe in the HOKA lineup and if you were a Clifton road runner you knew you can switch to the Challenger when you hit the trails. That game has changed dramatically and some of their other shoes are clearly taking a lot of the airtime from the Challenger. That being said, it’s always a really great choice for the Pacific Northwest because it can handle inclement running conditions. So when we get a nasty storm and there is junk on the road or if you’re running from road to trail, then it’s a great option as it can handle all of it.
The Challenger ATR 6 visually looks pretty solid. It isn’t super aggressive and feels aesthetically more like a light hiker when we first saw it. It does still feel like a Challenger in many ways and by that, we mean not too aggressive and almost road like in its appearance. The upper and the interior, in particular, feels silky smooth against your skin which really relaxes your foot, especially over distance. It laces down quite nicely and the heel counter and achilles hold you in place securely. Everything is moderately cushioned, and it feels like just enough to be comfortable. One call-out would be just outside of the pinky toe, as that area has been drifting narrower on many HOKA shoes which is a bummer because what everyone loves about them is that nice wide toe box. Even some of their road shoes like the new Mach 4 have a wider toe box than the ATR 6.
On the trails or in the streets, don’t expect the Challenger to set any records. The shoe is simple in many ways just like it is versatile. There is plenty of cushion here to put on a ton of long slow easy miles and being under 10oz means if you want to pick up the pace a little bit you can, but note it just doesn’t feel like it has that pop to really go there, it takes work. It just feels like an easy-rolling shoe. The only other watch out here is that outsole. In order to save weight, they have progressively reduced the amount of rubber on the bottom of the shoe and that leads to the potential for trouble on really loose terrain. On firm pack trails, there is no issue whatsoever and you will be fine, but beware of it if things are going to feel loose at all. It also helps them from feeling incredibly nimble which is a bit of a bummer, but if that is the way you want to run, then we would recommend actually switching to something like the Torrent instead.
The Challenger ATR 6 stays true to what we have always expected from the Challengenger. It is a middle of the road trail shoe that does middle-of-the-road performance and provides middle-of-the-road comfort. That may sound trite, but in the end, it actually means it does its job and it does its job really well. It’s made to do a certain task and it performs that task admirably. HOKA also didn’t mess with it much in this case which means what you get is exactly what you expected.
The upper features an all-new REPREVE based recycled yarn in the engineered mesh. There are protected overlays for the toebox as well as at mid-foot which provide reinforcement and stability. It does feature a gusseted tongue, but it doesn’t really wrap around your foot, so it’s not a sock-like fit. Overall, it feels more breathable, and yet you remain protected from the elements. We do feel like the toebox is getting progressively narrower on the lateral side which is frustrating, so we’d like to see HOKA open that up a bit more.
The midsole is 29mm of compression-molded EVA (CMEVA) which sits right at the midpoint between cushioned and firm. It feels very much like the Clifton or another road shoe.
Given this is an ATR shoe this means it should work on multiple surfaces, so the outsole consists of exposed rubberized EVA just like the normal HOKA road shoes, but ads rubber across the forefoot and at the very end of the heel. This provides additional traction and grip without adding significant weight. The lugs on here are fairly light at 4mm and not particularly aggressive in their design.
Style & Aesthetics
On the styling side, it definitely feels like a Challenger ATR. It doesn’t look dramatically aggressive, yet still seems like it belongs on a trail. They offer five color choices for men and three for women, so there should be options that appeal to a broad variety. It is definitely not an aggressive looking shoe, and could really pass as a light hiker for quite a few people.
Thankfully, HOKA it did not mess with too much when they looked at the ATR 5 to design the 6. The shoe now feels very comfortably fit in the middle of the Hoka trail lineup sitting just above the Torrent and below the Stinson in terms of technicality and cushion. We do feel HOKA could open the toe box up a bit more again, all HOKA shoes seem to be getting progressively narrower. We also would warn people that if they are running on looser terrain to go with a more capably lugged shoe because you’re not going to get a lot of stability here when it gets messy and loose. That being said as an all-terrain vehicle, the Challenger ATR 6 performs really well and all of the updates were solid. We also love that they are going a bit more green with all of their shoes oh, so you can feel good about it as well.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.