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Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 - Women's Review

A well-cushioned trail runner that balances stability so you can throw down the miles in comfort
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 - Women's
Photo: HOKA ONE ONE
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at Backcountry
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
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2021
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 17
  • Foot Protection - 25% 9
  • Traction - 20% 8
  • Sensitivity - 15% 3
  • Stability - 15% 5
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Weight - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Cushioned and responsive, the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is a staple in the ultra running community. This is the shoe to buy if you're looking for lots of underfoot cushioning in a protective package for traditional trails and roads. The new updates make it more stable than ever with a wide landing platform in the heel and forefoot, making it a favorite for long distances and comfortable miles. It is lightweight and comfortable, serving as an excellent cross-over option with an arsenal of uses. We deem it eligible for any distance, whether it's your first mile or your hundredth.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $129.95 at Backcountry
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$180 List
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Pros Superior cushioning and protection, stable landing platform, wide and regular fit options, nice cross over performanceSuperior comfort, light on foot, protective cushioning, stable architecture, breathable upperLight, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stableProtective, comfortable, wider toe box, excellent beefy traction for soft surfaces, huge valueSticky 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 stickyLace pocket is difficult to use, tight collar can bite into the ankleNarrow fit, runs small, rigid construction takes time to break-inNot ideal for roads, huge sizingLess 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 comfortOur favorite shoe offers a well-balanced ride with one of the stickiest and most confidence-inspiring outsoles we've ever seenStable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alikeA great all-around trail shoe with high value that's superb traction on soft surfacesThis 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 Dynafit Feline SL -... Salomon Supercross... Merrell Antora 2
Foot Protection (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Sensitivity (15%)
3.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Stability (15%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort And Fit (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (10%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Hoka One One Challe... Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Dynafit Feline SL -... Salomon Supercross... Merrell Antora 2
Measured Weight (per shoe, size 9) 8.9 oz 9.8 oz 9.8 oz 10.5 oz 9.6 oz
Heel-to-Toe Drop 5 mm 8.6 mm 8 mm 10 mm 8.5 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) Not disclosed 26.8 mm, 18.2 mm Not disclosed 29.3 mm, 19.3 mm 28.5 mm, 20 mm
Upper Textile mesh (Unifi REPREVE recycled yarn in collar and primary mesh) Textile/synthetic Mesh, continuous nylon Continuous ripstop nylon Mesh and TPU
Midsole CMEVA foam Energy Cell, polyurethane foam Feline SL midsole EVA Foam EVA
Outsole Rubber Rubber Sticky Pomoco Outer Contragrip TD Vibram TC5+ rubber sole
Rock Plate? None Not disclosed Not disclosed N/A Yes
Wide Version Available? Yes No No No Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 4 - 13 5 - 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 newly updated Challenger ATR 6 (right) is a bit different than...
The newly updated Challenger ATR 6 (right) is a bit different than the Challenger ATR 5 (left) in size and stability. We like the new changes, but the fit is a little tighter in the toes.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Performance Comparison


The Challenger ATR 6 is a well-cushioned ride that makes it feel...
The Challenger ATR 6 is a well-cushioned ride that makes it feel like you're running on responsive clouds.
Photo: Amber King

Foot Protection


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.

The upper is impervious to debris, protecting your foot while still...
The upper is impervious to debris, protecting your foot while still breathing well.
Photo: Amber King

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.

A look at the super thick midsole, the main component for protection.
A look at the super thick midsole, the main component for protection.
Photo: Amber King

Traction


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.

A look at the paddle-shaped design with islands of lugs that do well...
A look at the paddle-shaped design with islands of lugs that do well on trails and pavement too.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Sensitivity


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.

It's no surprise that this shoe isn't very sensitive with this thick...
It's no surprise that this shoe isn't very sensitive with this thick cushioning. Here, our main tester takes a jaunt in Durango with Riley, her pup.
Photo: Amber King

Stability


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.

The TPU overlays and wider platform help with stability in the...
The TPU overlays and wider platform help with stability in the newest update. This is one of the most stable Hoka One One shoes that we've tested.
Photo: Amber King

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.

A look at the overall fit. True to size, with a tapering toe box...
A look at the overall fit. True to size, with a tapering toe box that feels wide enough for longer distances.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Weight


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.

A look at the surprisingly low weight (for the size) on our scales.
A look at the surprisingly low weight (for the size) on our scales.
Photo: Amber King

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Enjoy transitioning from trails to bridges in the uber thick Hoka...
Enjoy transitioning from trails to bridges in the uber thick Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6, a great choice for longer endeavors.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King