Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 Review

I ditched my hiking boots for trail runners a long time ago. Though some hiking boot die-hards still tout the benefits of ankle support and stability, many thru-hikers and backpackers prefer the added agility and weight savings of trail runners. I’m not going to get all the way down this rabbit hole, but needless to say, I’m one of the latter.

Since making the switch to trail runners, I’ve found low-drop shoes the best for my hiking style. I also tend to get gnarly bottom-of-the-heel blisters (IYKYK) when carrying weight, so extra cushion is always a plus. I was initially hesitant to test out a pair of Hokas, due to a strong disliking for an ultra-plushy model of road runners a few years ago.

However, I’ve found that Hoka’s newest iteration of their Challenger model, the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6, has just the right amount of plush. These shoes are extremely comfortable, yet I’m able to feel confident in every step.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 At a Glance

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 straight out of the box. And they were never this clean again 🙂

  • MSRP: $130.00
  • Weight: 8.1 oz
  • Sizes: 5 – 12 regular & wide (women’s)
  • Heel to Toe Drop: 5.00 mm
  • Cushion: Balanced
  • Stability: Neutral
  • Recommended Use: Trail running + hiking

Circumstances of Review

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6

It’s kind of hard to get action shots of just the shoes.

In roughly two months, I’ve put 250+ miles of trail under these shoes (lucky me, I know). They’ve taken me hiking, trail running, backpacking, and even snowshoeing. After one road run, I can solidly confirm that these have no place on the pavement. So throughout this review, these assessments were made based on a variety of trail terrains.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 Features

Again 95% me + nature, 5% shoes.

  • Sustainability. The new itineration of Hoka’s Challenger model features major sustainability upgrades. Their proprietary Unifi REPREVE recycled yarn comes from post-consumer waste plastic. They use this fabric in the shoe’s mesh. Also, the poly laces are recycled.
  • Gusseted tongue. This helps the shoe from to your foot more securely, as well as keep excess debris and snow from falling down your ankle. For trail runners, the gusseted tongue really helps lighten the shade of that infamous dirt ring around your ankle.
  • Toe rand. This provides extra support and protection in the front of the shoe. So far, I’ve suffered no lost or bruised toenails despite some brutal descents.
  • CMEVA foam midsole. This is designed for stability and impact absorption while keeping weight low. These are in the “neutral” category for Hoka’s models in terms of stability, so they’re best for moving quickly and with confidence.
  • Zonal construction on the outsole. The Challengers are designed specifically for versatility. The rubber placement on the outsole optimizes grip on a variety of surfaces. Furthermore, the 4mm lugs on the bottom provide an extra bit of traction for slippery rock or snow. The cushion on this shoe is in the middle of the spectrum for Hoka’s models.

Durability

hoka one one challenger atr6

Finally, an action shot close-up.

These sweet kicks have taken me through a serious variety of terrain. From my final days in the San Diego desert to the beginnings of Utah winter, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with their versatility. I’ve used them roughly three times a week for the past couple of months, and there is not yet any visible wear or tear on the shoes.

I’ve been on a few shorter backpacking trips with these shoes, but nothing with over 15 miles/day. Big mileage is usually where I run into issues with heel blisters and shoes blowing out quickly, so unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to fully test that. But, even with a heavy winter pack, I didn’t experience any of the side fabric wearing I see when I backpack with my Timps.

Comfort

I define comfort as “do I feel like my feet are going to fall off by the time I get back to the parking lot, or do I finish the hike with a smile on my face?” Four years ago, I put on a pair of Hoka road runners and thought I had stepped onto a cloud. They were SO comfortable, but I absolutely hated running in them. If you’ve had a similar experience with any of Hoka’s plushy shoes, these Challengers are the antidote. While they are still comfy enough for a long trail run or a full day of hiking, I don’t get the feeling that I’m on a pair of stilts.

I have yet to take these on a multi-day trip where I’m pushing big mileage. However, I took these on a 20 mile/3 day loop in Stanislaus National Forest and didn’t think about my feet once. Also, at the end of an 18-mile day-hike in Yosemite, I was similarly pleased. Though I definitely move quicker in Altras, I’ve come to truly appreciate the extra bit of comfort built into these shoes. I’ve also noticed a significant reduction in discomfort felt in my knees during descents.

Fit

Overall, I’m fairly pleased with how these fit. However, the only feature I wish these shoes had is a wider toe box. My feet have gotten accustomed to Altra’s foot-shaped fit, and my little piggies are feeling a bit cramped. The only places I’ve gotten blisters (so far) in these shoes have been the side of my big toes. I tend to over-pronate when I run, so without the extra space comes a bit of discomfort. Or, I guess I could just work on my running form.

These shoes run true to size (for trail runners). I always go a half-size up for active shoes, to allow for swollen feet. I wear a size eight in Altras, Brooks, On Clouds, and an eight fit me perfectly for the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6.

Pros

hoka one one challenger atr6

I’ve trusted these shoes on many adventures in various terrains. So far, they’ve impressed me.

  • Versatility. Now that I’m a Utahan, I need gear that is suitable for a variety of conditions. These easily transition from dirt to rock to snow, and I’ve started selecting these for pretty much whatever my days off hold.
  • Low drop. Most traditional running shoes have between a 6 mm and 12 mm drop. Because I’ve been wearing Altras for the past year, I was nervous to transition back from a zero drop. I’ve hardly noticed a difference in agility with these 5 mm drop shoes.
  • Durability. The Challengers have zero signs of wear and tear (besides dirt) after a considerable amount of activity. Though I haven’t put them to this test yet, I hypothesize these would be on the upper-end of mileage you can push on a thru-hike.
  • Weight. There’s little to no difference in the weight of these shoes vs. other competitive trail runners. Though they still feel too heavy for road runners, I prefer running in these to my Altra Lone Peaks.

Cons

  • Narrow(er) toe box. These definitely aren’t the narrowest shoes I’ve worn, but I would still prefer a bit more space. My big toe enjoys its freedom.
  • Lack of traction. Sure, these have been great in a bit of snow on flat trails. But, my bruised bee-hind would tell you differently about how they handle snowy descents without microspikes. Similar shoes with more traction would be better for icy or excessively slippery terrain.

Overall Impressions

hoka one one challenger atr6

Pls ignore face, and look at these glorious shoes (and also Half Dome).

I’m looking forward to trying more of Hoka’s models throughout the winter. I’m thinking of investing in the Gore-tex version of the Hoka One One Challenger ATR6 to support more snowy trail runs. Overall, I liked these shoes way more than I had anticipated. Because of my previous negative experience with Hokas and my love for Altras, I was hesitant to try this swap. However, as a beginning trail runner, these have been perfect.

For long backpacking trips, I still prefer the wide toe box that Altra features, but I see myself sticking with Hoka for trail running. Their prices are on-par with many comparable models.

Shop the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6

Comparable Shoes

Altra Lone Peak 4.5

  • MSRP: $120.00
  • Weight: 8.7 oz
  • Drop: 0 mm

Topo Ultraventure Pro 

  • MSRP: $145.00
  • Weight: 8.2 oz
  • Drop: 5 mm

Read our review of the Ultraventure Pro.

Brooks Caldera 4 

  • MSRP: $140.00
  • Weight: 8.9 oz
  • Drop: 4 mm

Read our review of the Caldera 4.

La Sportiva Jackal

  • MSRP: $140.00
  • Weight: 10.5 oz
  • Drop: 7 mm

This product was donated for the purpose of review.

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Comments 7

  • Avatar
    Owen Eigenbrot : Dec 8th

    Hi Katie, thanks for the review. I picked up a pair of the ATR 5’s to try after hearing that they’d be available in wide sizes. Not quite like the Altra’s I love, but pretty close.

    I agree pretty much with everything you said about the ATR 6’s, but I’m wondering if you would help me understand something. When you say that these “have no place on the pavement,” what exactly do you mean? I’ve always used my trail shoes on the road, mostly because I don’t want to own another pair of shoes specifically for this purpose. What am I missing out on?

    I appreciate any wisdom that you can offer. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Katie Kommer : Dec 8th

      Owen – TOTALLY a personal thing!!! I fell in love with road running love before trail running, and my feet have gotten super used to lightweight shoes. I wear the Altra Escalantes for road runs, because they are SO lightweight. Whenever I wear my trail shoes, they feel like clogs when I’m trying to be speedy.

      I totally should have clarified that in my review, it’s merely a personal preference! Performance wise, they’ll do just fine on the road 🙂

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Owen Eigenbrot : Dec 8th

        Oh, okay cool. That’s pretty simple. Thanks for clarifying. I came from the other direction, boots, so trail runners already feel super light to me. Maybe I should take it a step further!

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Chris Armstrong : Dec 10th

    Love these shoes. I use them as my normal walking around town shoes (when not rocking the crocs). I looked at these to hike in as well. But due to the toe box size I’m going with the Altra 4.5s. These will be my back up. Best of luck out there.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Dee "OneSpeed" : Mar 3rd

    I’ve been wearing the ATR’s since 2015. Very happy with them, especially since they offer them in wide which is great on lengthy thru-hikes. They last on average of 500 miles, depending on terrain.

    Reply

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