Shoe Review: HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6
The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 brings cushion to the trail, like the Clifton bolted to all-terrain tires.
HOKA built the lightweight Challenger for versatility: The 4 mm lugs on the outsole increase grip when you head off-road, but they’re organized in clusters to make for smooth on-road performance.
Whether you’re hitting hard-packed single track or running a few miles on pavement on your way to the trailhead, the updated Challenger ATR 6 will keep you comfortable and confident.
Fleet Feet runners tested the new HOKA Challenger ATR 6 to check out how it feels on and off road, and to see how it lives up to the Challenger name. Here’s what they thought.
HOKA Challenger ATR 6
8.1 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)
Wide sizing available?
Plush Feel, Snug Fit
Like many HOKA running shoes, the Challenger ATR 6 packs plenty of cushioning around your foot.
The Challenger feels plush the second you step in, and that’s not only due to the cushy midsole beneath your foot.
HOKA sewed a ring of padding around the heel collar, which creates a soft and pleasantly snug fit. On top, designers also included a padded tongue to help cushion the pressure of the laces, and they connected the tongue to mesh panels inside the shoe for a snug, bootie-like fit.
The mesh inside the shoe is smooth all the way around the toe box, so there aren’t any bothersome seams to get in the way or create hot spots. A reinforced toe boosts the shoe’s durability and adds protection.
Reviewers had mixed experiences with the width. One runner says the width was perfect for her feet, but two others say it runs slightly narrow. For runners with wider feet, HOKA makes the new Challenger ATR 6 in wide sizing.
Other than feeling a little narrow, reviewers praised the Challenger’s fit. An internal heel counter feels very secure and prevents your foot from slipping up and down, and the midfoot locks your foot in place.
The Challenger does everything well, making it work for experienced trail runners and new runners alike.
“If you’re a newbie trail runner, I highly recommend this model for its comfort and versatility,” a reviewer says.
Versatile Performance for All Surfaces
What stands out about the Challenger ATR 6 is its performance on the road and on the trail.
HOKA mixed on-road and off-road performance by using a rubber outsole studded with 4mm lugs. The lugs beneath the Challenger are grouped closer together than on shoes like the Torrent 2 and the Speedgoat 4, which creates a smoother ride on pavement.
But the lugs also add a more aggressive touch than the smooth outsoles on HOKA’s road shoes, like the Clifton 7. The textured outsole gives you better grip on dirt than its road-oriented counterparts.
While the Challenger isn’t created for the most rugged or technical trail adventures, it is well suited for easy and moderate trails.
“It’s approachable and versatile,” one reviewer says. “It’s my go-to shoe if I’m running on western trails where things are typically more dry-packed or places where I have to transition a lot between road and trail.”
One reviewer who has raced the Challenger on 50Ks and 50-milers says she loves the shoe for its soft and lightweight feel. She says it feels well cushioned without soaking up too much of the feeling of the ground beneath her feet.
The underfoot feel paired with its substantial footprint feels very confident on the trail, too.
“The other great thing about this shoe is that the wide platform creates a really stable base, so I feel confident bombing down steep hills and navigating tough terrain,” she says.
HOKA Challenger ATR 5 vs. Challenger ATR 6
The biggest changes to the Challenger are aesthetic.
When you compare the Challenger ATR 5 and Challenger ATR 6 side by side, you’ll see a new upper. The outgoing model had a two-layer upper with an open, fish-net style mesh on top, while the incoming version has a much tighter weave for the top layer.
Another difference is the lacing system. While both versions use a very standard setup, the eyelets on the Challenger ATR 5 included loops of string to help lock down the fit; the 6 dropped the loops but included a thicker strap around the midfoot to give you a more secure feel.
HOKA tweaked the outsole design slightly, but it maintains the same 4mm deep lugs, which means the hybrid road-trail performance remains unchanged.
The shape and padding around the heel collar is very similar between models, and both shoes have a reinforced toe for durability and protection.
The HOKA Challenger ATR 6 is comfortable and versatile, making it a great shoe for mixed-use running.
Thanks to its plush underfoot feel and closely spaced 4 mm lugs, the new Challenger rides smoothly on pavement and grips confidently on trails. The versatility makes it a great travel shoe, according to one tester.
“It’s a really excellent travel shoe since I often run both road and trail and rarely want to take two pairs of shoes with me when I’m on the road,” she says.
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.