Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 Review

Fans of the Challenger ATR 5 will be happy to note few substantial changes to the newest version.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 Review

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is a perfect hybrid shoe for those looking to mix things up between the road and the trail. As far as wide trail running shoes go, the ATR 6 is one of the most versatile.

The new, durable yet flexible Unifi Repreve yarn upper is made from post-consumer waste plastic. A massive win for the planet!

The Challenger ATR 6 steals the show on dirt roads and smooth trail terrain. It is fast and responsive enough to allow you to push yourself on quicker runs or blast through shorter races on smooth terrain, but it's still cushioned enough for those long-haul days.

Overall, an excellent shoe for door-to-trail use with maximum cushion for ultra-distance events on minimally technical terrain.

Stats

  • Manufacturer: Hoka One One
  • Official Weight: 9.8oz/279g (Men US9)
  • Heel and forefoot stack height: 29mm (5mm drop)
  • Shoe Class: Road to Trail Hybrid

What We Liked vs. What We Didn't Like

Pros:

  1. Upper - Compared to previous versions, one of the most substantial changes to the Challenger ATR 6 is its new upper. Made of Unifi Repreve yarn derived from post-consumer waste plastic, the dual mesh material is both supple and durable. It's always great to see companies that respect the planet, and it's no surprise that Hoka is one of them.
  2. Comfort - The combination of the new upper and the plush CMEVA midsole make this shoe extremely comfortable right out of the box. The Challenger's soft foam provides enough cushion to save your legs over long distances and on hard-packed surfaces.
  3. Versatility - The Challenger ATR 6, marketed by Hoka as a hybrid shoe, truly is a "Jack of all trades." Perfect for those runs where you may be transitioning between road and trail, the ATR 6 provides a combination of responsiveness and protection that make a variety of terrains extremely accessible.
  4. Fit - Going hand-in-hand with comfort, fit is arguably the most essential feature to consider when choosing a running shoe. The Challenger ATR 6 fits true to size, and a wide version is available to those with wider-than-average feet. The secure, precisely fitting upper in combination with its well-padded heel collar and no-slip semi-gusseted tongue keeps your feet locked in on sloping or slanted surfaces.  
  5. Aesthetics - The newly designed upper lends a sleek and toned-down look to the ATR 6 that can sometimes be hard to find in Hoka trail shoes.

Cons

  1. Lack of traction - As far as trail shoes go, the ATR 6 does not handle well on overly-technical terrain. Being a hybrid shoe, this is to be expected, but be warned. It is essential to consider the type of trails you plan to log most of your miles on.
  2. Best for average feet - Although a wide version of the ATR 6 is available, its narrow toe box is not ideal for those with wider than average feet.
  3. Lack of ground-feel - Plush and comfortable, the thick midsole does a great job protecting your feet and legs but reduces your ability to really connect your feet with the trail.
  4. Not super responsive on technical terrain - The trade-off between comfort and speed continues, as the ATR 6 is not the most responsive shoe, especially in challenging terrain. Cushy can become mushy at times, and whether or not you love this shoe really depends on the type of terrain in which you plan to run.
  5. Lives in the in-between zone - Hybrid shoes are fantastic for those rare, perfectly-groomed, hard-packed cruiser trails, but struggle to satisfy the needs of hard-core trail runners and speedy roadsters alike. The ATR 6 is no different. A bit clunky on the roads (for a road shoe) and not quite tough enough on trails (for a trail shoe), a Jack of all trades can become a master of none.

Fit and Comfort (Score 9.5/10)

Upper - As mentioned above, the ATR 6's post-consumer waste Unifi Repreve yarn upper is one of the most significant improvements to the shoe from the previous versions. 

Not only is the upper more durable than earlier iterations of the shoe, but it's also softer and more pliable. 

The dual mesh material is quite breathable, as far as trail shoes go, but does not drain well. This could be a problem if you foresee creek crossings or rainy days in your trail-running future.

Toebox - As far as trail running shoes go, the ATR 6 does have a fairly narrow toebox. Runners who prefer a bit more room for their foot to spread out may find this to be a problem. 

However, a wide option is available and might be your best bet if you have wider than average feet or if you anticipate your feet swelling and spreading over an ultradistance event.

Midfoot - In the ATR 6, you will find excellent protection all-around. The secure heel and midfoot hold will leave you feeling extremely confident on moderately technical trails.

Lacing - In contrast with the supple new upper, the recycled poly laces of the ATR 6 are rather stiff. 

Depending on your preferences, you may or may not enjoy this feature of the shoe. The laces are not easy to maneuver. 

Once tied, you will find that if you like a bit more wiggle room in your shoe, this probably won't be your favorite feature of this shoe. 

It may take a while before you find the tightness that works for you, but once you find your happy medium, your foot will stay put. Even untied, these laces are very reluctant to wiggle.

Heel lock - The ATR 6 is equipped with a very well-padded, stiff heel collar. Your heel will stay locked-in and protected at all times. 

A heel loop is also included to help with removal, which I personally love, as I tend to avoid tying and untying my shoes at all costs. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), it seems like the rigid lacing system on this shoe would prevent me from keeping up my bad habits.

Midsole - With the same stack height as previous iterations of the shoe, Hoka's Compression-Molded EVA midsole will feel very similar to the ATR 5. Predictably, this thick foam gives the shoe a very plush and cushioned feel, similar to that of many Hoka One One trail running shoes. An early-stage meta rocker makes the shoe quite responsive on roads and hard-packed trails. While saving your legs on long hauls over hard-packed surfaces, the plush midsole also reduces ground feel and doesn't feel quite as responsive as you might like on a technical or rocky trail.

Outsole (Score 7/10)

Traction - As far as Hoka trail shoes go, the Challenger ATR 6 provides less traction than some of its siblings. The ATR 6 shines on moderately technical trails, bike paths, and dirt roads. When running in the snow, mud, slick rock, or loose gravel, it may be best to choose a shoe more specifically designed for such purposes. Links are provided at the end of this article for such shoes.

Lug size - If you plan to stick to dirt roads, bike paths, and moderately technical trails in fair weather, the traction provided by the ATR 6's closely spaced, 4mm lugs should be just fine. Due to its smaller lug size, this hybrid shoe fares well on roads and doesn't feel clunky on hard-packed dirt trails. Use caution on technical or slippery terrain.

Directional pattern - The tread on the ATR 6 features a lug pattern that makes it easy and efficient to transition between trail and pavement.

Rock plate - Due to the thickness of the plush CMEVA midsole, the Challenger ATR 6 has no need for a rock plate. Your foot remains protected from minor rocks and roots on the trail, but use caution on extremely rocky and technical trails.

Toe bumper - The Challenger ATR 6 has a medium-thick toe bumper. As a hybrid trail-road shoe, the bumper is barely noticeable on dirt roads and smooth trails and offers ample protection on moderate terrain.

Ride (Score 8.5/10)

Stability - The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is an incredibly stable shoe. 

A combination of a securely fitting upper, a stiff heel counter, and a rigid lacing system keeps your foot in place while running. 

These features contribute to an increase in lateral stability when compared to previous versions of the shoe and allow for fearless, focused downhill running, my personal favorite.

Overall, this shoe provides a smooth, cushioned ride for those spending a lot of time on well-groomed trails, dirt roads, or a road and trail combination. 

The plush midsole saves your legs on long descents on hard-packed surfaces. The ATR 6 transitions smoothly between dirt and pavement but remains a bit unstable on rocky, technical, or slippery terrain.

Weight - This shoe has gained a bit of weight as it made the transition from 5 to 6. 

The Hoka Challenger ATR 5 weighed 9.4oz, while the ATR 6 clocks in at 9.8oz. This is a negligible difference for most runners, and if you liked the ATR 5, you will continue to enjoy this line of shoes. 

However, it is interesting to note that this shoe did gain weight, while most shoes tend to lose weight as they grow up.

Value (Score 9/10)

Durability - Overall, a very durable shoe, the ATR 6 begins to take on some visible wear after about 40 miles, depending on the terrain in which you generally run. 

If you run on more technical, rocky trails, you may notice that the exposed foam on the outsole will begin to look a bit ragged. Don't worry. 

This scruffiness does not affect the overall performance of the shoe. The new upper is quite durable as well.

At $130, this shoe is a great value when you consider its versatility and durability. If you are rotating it among a few different shoe options, you will find it lasting easily 450-500 miles.

Fit and comfort (35%) = 9.5
Outsole (25%) = 7
Ride (20%) = 8.5
Value (20%) = 9
Overall score (Score 8.5 /10)

Conclusion

If you're a runner who spends time switching it up between roads and trails, perhaps running from your home to a trailhead (and back again), then this shoe might be perfect for you. 

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is extremely comfortable, provides just enough protection, and is a great value. If you’re interested, you can buy it here for $130. 

Use caution, however, and make sure to note that Hoka is marketing the Challenger ATR 6 as a hybrid shoe. It is not designed for use on overly technical terrain. 

If you're looking for a shoe that is a little less cushy, a bit more responsive, or handles better in gnarly conditions, check out the recommendations below.

Looking for a more trail-focused shoe?

Try: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 

More cushioned than many trail shoes, the Speedgoat 4 is not an ideal choice for speedwork or shorter runs and races. However, over technical terrain, the Speedgoat's Vibram Megagrip outsole and 5mm lugs ensure that you maintain control. The new model is made with a breathable, mud-repelling mesh upper that will keep your feet comfortable on rainy days or through creek crossings.

Looking for a wider option?

Try: Topo Athletic Ultraventure Trail Shoe

Flatter and wider than the ATR 6, the anatomically shaped toebox of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure gives wider than average feet room to spread out. These versatile trail shoes are especially great for long efforts when your feet tend to flatten and swell. The Vibram outsole and 6mm lugs make it grippy over challenging terrain. Simple and effective, the Ultraventure has found an ideal balance between being cushioned and light and responsive, allowing for various runs across different distances and speeds.

Looking for something similar to the ATR 6?

Try: Hoka One One Evo Mafate 2

Firmer than the Speedgoat but still exceptionally cushioned, the Evo Mafate is a bit heavier and more durable than the ATR 6 and can withstand the challenges of more technical trail running. Like the ATR 6, the Mafate 2 has an incredibly stable, redesigned upper. You won't get a lot of ground feel with this shoe, but its protective, thick midsole keeps your legs fresh over long distances on the trail.