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Trail Running Shoes • February 24, 2021

HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 Performance Review

hoka challenger atr 6

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.6 oz. (272 g) for a US M9 / 8.8 oz. (249 g) for a US W8
  • Classic HOKA cushion to conquer all terrain
  • Smooth trail-to-road-to-trail transition
  • The Clifton’s burly cousin that wears a lumberjack flannel

TAYLOR: If there’s a shoe out there that embodies the word “versatility,” I think the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 might be it. Its whole concept is based on its versatility to handle any conditions. From mountainous singletrack to city streets, it has the tools to conquer any terrain. This shoe certainly challenged (sorry, had to) my idea of what a shoe could be and what its limitations should be. With the Challenger ATR 6, those limitations are nonexistent.

ROBBE: Taylor took this bad boy to the mountains, while I took the GTX (GoreTex, waterproof) verson to some wintry Baltimore streets.

challenger atr 6

The Good

TAYLOR: I love this shoe. Leave it to HOKA to bring comfort and performance together to create a functional beast. The Challenger ATR 6 is the trail counterpart to the highly-praised Clifton series. That alone will sell many on this shoe, as both are max-cushioned neutral trainers. Of course, the Challenger is a little more fortified and in a different weight class (10.5 ounces for a men’s size 10.5), but for the most part, Clifton heads will find comfort in the similarities.

It’s so impressive how the Challenger ATR 6 performs on all different types of terrain, from gnarly trails to the streets. I had a similar feeling when I reviewed the Challenger Low GTX. The versatility of this shoe is pretty hard to come by in a trail shoe market that has become niche in some ways. 

The full-contact rubber outsole surely comes in clutch on this shoe. There are portions of exposed foam to keep the outsole lighter and rolling smoothly, but durability is not an issue.  If you’ve ever checked out the Stinson ATR 6, the outsole pattern is very similar. The 4 mm lugs are grippy enough for most any single track adventure and subtle enough for miles and miles of pavement with a seamless transition between each surface.

As for the typical high-stack midsole, it’s delightful. The Challenger ATR 6 is shedding a little of the chunky appearance without sacrificing cushion. A compression-molded EVA is not quite the sponge cake you’ll find in a Clifton but it offers a pillowy ride and solid protection. I mean, a 30-25 mm stack height should provide all that. HOKA just has a way of accomplishing that a little better than most. 

The midsole’s composition is a little denser, which is certainly appreciated for the trails. Add in the classic early-stage rockered forefoot and the Challenger ATR 6 even throws in a little sizzle into each step. 

I put a couple hundred miles in the Challenger Low GTX, and the whole time I wished for a better fitting upper that could actually handle more technical trails. Here’s that upper. The Challenger ATR 6 has a protective double-layered mesh that runs a little thicker and wraps the foot very nicely. Even with a more moderate base to accommodate those with wide feet, there wasn’t any problematic wiggle room to be found. One of the main differences was that an internal padded heel counter kept my foot comfortably locked in on any terrain. The overall fit has given me some real confidence in being able to push technical and downhill sections, something I’ve never had in a HOKA shoe before.

ROBBE: Taylor covered most of what you need, but what I enjoyed about this shoe was that it worked surprisingly well on the road. Now, I took it to some ice and snow, which was a mistake (more on that later). But as a road-to-trail shoe, this thing works.

The GoreTex performs as it should; despite sub-freezing temperatures and sleet/slush, my feet remained bone dry and toasty from the beginning to the end. As a HOKA shoe, you want cushion, which this has, but not so much that it feels unstable in any way. The actual feel is somewhat firm compared to say, the Speedgoat, which I like. It gives you a better ground feel than it’s high-stack brethren. And it’s a looker of a trail shoe – HOKA’s design has been on fire this last year, and this shoe follows that trend.

Shop Challenger 6 – Men Shop Challenger 6 – Women challenger atr 6

The Bad

TAYLOR: I don’t know what to say, I just don’t. For what this shoe is made for, it’s pretty flawless in my book. 

To be as nit-picky as possible, I’ll pull the dual-mesh upper into The Bad for no reason other than being on the warmer side. In these winter months, I had zero issues. There was some moisture build-up that was noticeable post-run, so long days of singletrack in the summer might be a little toasty.

ROBBE: I actually am not a fan of the outsole, at least for the technical/crazy-ass terrain out here on the East Coast. The 4 mm lugs are fine, but it’s just a standard rubber, not the Vibram MegaGrip you’ll find on beastlier models like the aforementioned Speedgoat. The exposed foam in the midfoot doesn’t help either. That said, it’s a road-to-trail shoe so that’s generally fine. Just don’t reach for this if you’re whiling away your running days on piles of rocks and roots. Of course, ice is ice, so unless you’re throwing some hex screws or Black Diamond traction spikes onto your shoe, it’s going to suck. Needless to say, in those city slicker conditions, the Challenger didn’t fare well. I took my Speedgoat Mid out for comparison and it fared better, thanks to that full-coverage MegaGrip outsole.

Shop Challenger 6 – Men Shop Challenger 6 – Women challenger atr 6

HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 Conclusion

TAYLOR: The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 does the road-to-trail thing better than any other shoe on the market. In fact, it does roads better than some road shoes and trails better than many trail shoes. It has a nice balance of cushion with a little bit of responsiveness, underfoot protection, and a dialed-in fit. I’m not often impressed with shoes anymore, but the Challenger ATR 6 is up there as a favorite for daily mileage.

ROBBE: Like Taylor said, this thing performs surprisingly well on the roads. If you live out West and like to mix it up, or if you run to your local trail every day, this is a shoe you should probably look at.

You can pick up the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Challenger 6 – Men Shop Challenger 6 – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Thierry Ung says:

    If you have to choose between Challenger ATR 6 and Stinson ATR 6 for door-to-road/trail (city run, flat trail, gravel, …), which one? Thanks!

    1. Taylor Bodin says:

      Hi Thierry! Both run road and trail very well. I would personally choose the Challenger because it’s simply more versatile. You can take it out on any terrain and be comfortable. One of the best door-to-trail options available

      – Taylor

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