Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Superior cushioning and protection, stable landing platform, wide and regular fit options, nice cross over performance
Cons: A little narrow at the toes, not very sensitive, rubber isn't super sticky
Manufacturer: HOKA ONE ONE
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Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 - Women's
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$179.95 at Backcountry
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|$103.73 at REI|
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|Pros||Superior cushioning and protection, stable landing platform, wide and regular fit options, nice cross over performance||Superior comfort, light on foot, protective cushioning, stable architecture, breathable upper||Well cushioned midsole, excellent traction, good stability, excellent at everything including long distances, high value||Excellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsole||Sticky traction, protective, rainbow design is fun, great value, all surface capabilities|
|Cons||A little narrow at the toes, not very sensitive, rubber isn't super sticky||Lace pocket is difficult to use, tight collar can bite into the ankle||Stack height takes some getting used to||Higher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavement||Less stable than most, harder midsole is less comfortable, narrower fit|
|Bottom Line||A well-cushioned trail runner that balances stability so you can throw down the miles in comfort||Our favorite shoe offers a well-balanced ride with one of the stickiest and most confidence-inspiring outsoles we've ever seen||With a comfortable and responsive midsole and enough room in the forefoot for toe wiggle, you'll be happy running mile after mile||An aggressive trail shoe that is built for steep, technical, and sloppy trails||This rainbow contender has the ability to tackle all kinds of trail with excellent protection and sticky traction|
|Rating Categories||Hoka One One Challe...||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo...||Salomon Speedcross 5||Merrell Antora 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Comfort And Fit (15%)|
|Specs||Hoka One One Challe...||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo...||Salomon Speedcross 5||Merrell Antora 2|
|Measured Weight (per shoe, size 9)||8.9 oz||9.8 oz||8.6 oz||10.7 oz||9.6 oz|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||5 mm||8.6 mm||5 mm||10 mm||8.5 mm|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||Not disclosed||26.8 mm, 18.2 mm||Not disclosed||35 mm, 25 mm||28.5 mm, 20 mm|
|Upper||Textile mesh (Unifi REPREVE recycled yarn in collar and primary mesh)||Textile/synthetic||Engineered mesh||Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays||Mesh and TPU|
|Midsole||CMEVA foam||Energy Cell, polyurethane foam||EVA||Injected EVA||EVA|
|Outsole||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Contragrip||Vibram TC5+ rubber sole|
|Rock Plate?||None||Not disclosed||None||Yes||Yes|
|Wide Version Available?||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
|Sizes Available||5 - 12||4 - 13||6 - 11||5 - 12||5 - 11|
Our Analysis and Test Results
What's New With the Challenger 6
We researched and inspected the differences between this model and the previous iteration. How is the ATR 6 different from the 5?
- Use of recycled materials in the upper and tongue mesh
- Different TPU reinforcement design on the toe and through the body
- Updated lacing eyelets
- Longer relative length
- Wider landing platform for enhanced stability
- Updated toe box shape that feels more tapered at the tip
- Updated lug placement
- Updated collar above the outsole
- Lower weight
The Hoka Challenger ATR 6 is a versatile trail runner that seems to do well over most types of terrain. It stands out for its loaded midsole with exceptional cushioning and protection with a 5mm heel-to-toe drop. While it's not our first choice for ultra rocky surfaces, the newest iteration features better stability than we've seen before, making it the most stable Hoka we have tested. Wear it for your next training run, while standing all day, or running for hours.
Hoka One One is known for its uber plush outsoles that offer lots of foot protection for long distances. The outsole on the Challenger ATR 6 is composed of solid CMEVA foam that is responsive and firmer than ever. The midsole isn't nearly as squishy as it once was, offering a protective ride that isn't as bouncy.
While Hoka does not disclose the stack height of its shoes, we measured the amount of cushioning in the thickest part (under the impact point of the heel) and the forefoot. While difficult to measure, we noted about 25mm of underfoot cushioning in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot. However, Hoka says this is a 5mm drop shoe, so our measurements can't be correct. That said, there is a lot more cushioning in the heel than there is in the forefoot.
On the trail, this foamy construction swallows up and spits out obstructions, while the platform remains flat, and your foot, untouched. We tested it while running over rocky and wet trails in Colorado through the winter and spring. Overall, it boasts a large amount of foot protection, which is one of the many reasons we choose it as a favorite for its highly cushioned nature.
The traction makes it quite versatile for a number of uses. It features a zonal design that pools islands of lugs together, with separations marked by canals of space. In general, the outsole looks very wide and flat, with lots of surface area. While Hoka claims the lugs are 4mm in length, we measured the individual lugs to be closer to 2mm. The islands themselves are about 4mm deep. The rubber compound is soft and sticky, offering the best performance on traditional trails and roads.
The larger "paddle" style design makes the ATR 6 excellent for cross over to roads, in addition to taking on softer surfaces like sand. The lugs themselves are a little smaller, so this shoe doesn't do the best in heavy mud or snow, with poor mud shed in our tests. Clay-based particulates seem to glomp into the canals, decreasing traction.
This shoe really is built for trails and roads, making it a good option for those that don't like to venture into trailless terrain. It has nice transitions from heel to toe (if you are a heel striker) with traction sufficient to bite into steep and rocky trails. On super slippery or steep surfaces, we did notice a little more slip than other contenders, simply because the lugs aren't super long.
Unfortunately, one of the trade-offs for a maximally cushioned shoe is sensitivity. This shoe earns a low score in this category given its chosen design. If you are looking for an intimate experience with the trail, we suggest looking elsewhere.
The outsole is large and thick, which doesn't translate well to underfoot feeling. For heel strikers, expect to feel next to nothing underfoot, as the midsole is loaded with cushioning. For the forefoot strikers, you can still feel some rocks and roots, but you won't feel the impact of either. Overall, not very sensitive, which might be a plus for some.
In the past, we have always given the Challenger ATR model (and other Hoka designs) lower marks in this category. The newest iteration has seen a complete redesign, which we are happy to report feels more stable than past iterations. It feels somewhat similar to other models with stacks of cushioning underfoot. So let's explore what's new.
The biggest change to the Challenger ATR 6 is the introduction of a new and wider landing platform in both the heel and forefoot. Additionally, the outsole looks a bit wider and slopes outwards. When your foot hits the ground, the shoe compresses, flattening out the platform making the landing surface wider. This translates to better overall stability.
We tested it out while sidestepping on steeper terrain, running over rocky surfaces, and observing if we felt too elevated or tall. Overall, performance was about average, making this design better than ever when it comes to stability. While we wouldn't recommend it for trailless tundra or extra rocky runs, it does well on moderately technical surfaces and roads.
Comfort and Fit
After handing the ATR 6 to our testers, we were given feedback that varied from person to person. One thing we could all agree upon is that it's built to take on the miles. Many of our testers appreciate the underfoot cushioning that had less impact on their bodies while logging the miles. This shoe comes in wide and regular options. We tested the regular width.
The toe box offers more width at the widest part of the foot, with a tapered shape that differs significantly from the previous version. Our testers felt like their toes were being a little squished at the tip-top of the shoe. It has a 5mm heel-to-toe drop with the heel having more cushion than in the forefoot. As a result, it's a good choice for both heel and toe strikes.
However, we think the fit is a tad bit sloppy. When running, we noticed our heel lifting out of the heel cup (we didn't have this issue in the past model) mostly because there is more width around the arch. On the steeper downhills, we noticed our foot sliding forward. That said, when we tightened the lacing system we were able to lock our foot in to minimize the "toe bump" we experienced, but it never felt completely locked in.
Overall, since our main editor has a regular to wide foot and likes a little toe splay, she prefers this fit to that of past iterations but also doesn't mind a boaty feel. Our narrow-footed testers felt like the fit was a bit sloppy, while our wide-footed testers thought the narrowing at the toe box squished toes. While we like the fit overall, it may or may not work for you. Luckily, it does come in a wide option. For the days when long distances are on your schedule, this shoe offers enough comfort and protection to keep you going and going. It's no wonder it's one of the top choices in the ultra-running community.
We weighed a size 9 shoe at just 8.9 oz. While it is stacked with cushioning, Hoka has found a way to keep this one surprisingly light. On foot, the Challenger ATR 6 doesn't feel bulky, but it doesn't feel streamlined either. A good one for long distances, it has a fantastic protection-to-weight ratio. We are impressed at its lower weight for the size.
This shoe comes at a standard price for most high-end trail runners. If you are seeking a maximal design with lots of cushion, there aren't really any other contenders with this performance for the price. Overall, we think it's a good value for its niche. That said, if you're not specifically looking for lots of cushioning, there are other options that have better performance for a few bucks less.
If you are seeking a maximally cushioned contender with loads of protection, the Hoka Challenger ATR 6 is our top recommendation. The newest iteration is completely transformed with a slightly different fit and great stability for the height. This is one of the top shoes in the ultrarunning community, designed for taking on long distances.
— Amber King
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