HOKA Challenger ATR 6 Review | Great All-Purpose Trail Shoe
A light & capable all-terrain trail shoe, with great cushioning, foot protection and a mid-width fit
Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 hiking shoes might be “just right.” That is, the HOKA Challenger ATR 6s may be the best all around shoe for many hikers and backpackers. First, the shoe is exceptionally light and comfortable, but without the enormous stack hight of some shoes. Its moderately lugged sole provides more than enough grip on muddy and loose trail while not sacrificing great performance for good footing on trail and firmer surfaces — the conditions encountered on most hikes and backpacking trips. And their medium width is not too wide and sloppy for technical trails, while not being too narrow and confining for good trails.
The Challenger ATR 6 seems to be a trail adaptation of Hoka’s wildly popular Clifton road running shoe and we think that’s a good thing! Hoka added a more aggressive trail sole the shoe, and made some durability tweaks — but without ruining the lightness and comfort of a great road running shoe. Note: If you don’t need the huge traction they provide in mud and other very loose terrain, deep lugs can be a liability on firmer and better footing. That is, a shallower lugged shoe is generally lighter, and provides better performance on good to OK trail and rock — more typical hiking and backpacking conditions. In fact, we’ve found a number or shallower tread “road-running” shoes make excellent trail shoes — being light, super comfortable, and providing more than adequate trail grip and durability.
Read our complete guide | Best Hiking Shoes
We tested the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 in a variety of conditions. A couple of AT section hikes in late fall and early winter-like conditions including early snow. And we’ve used it for our hiking and running training this fall. Here the shoe excels where we can run from our home on roads and then easily transition to trail running and hiking on our dirt and rock training trails
Key Specs | HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6
Design: Low-rise, cushioned trail running / hiking shoe. These specs are for the non-waterproof version
Features: Multi-purpose outsole (trail/road) with mid-depth lugs, cushioned sole with moderate stack in forefoot, 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
Weight: 9.6 ounces (Men’s 9) | 8.8 ounces (Women’s 8)
Type: Trail runner, low-rise hiking shoe
Stack Height Heel: 30mm (Men’s)
Stack Height Toe: 25mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
Outsole: Unspecified (zonal rubber placement)
Overview of the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6
The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 is the newest iteration of one of HOKA ONE ONE’s most popular trail shoes. Our best guess is that it’s an excellent trail adaptation of Hoka’s wildly popular Clifton road running shoe. Hoka added a more aggressive trail-oriented sole to the shoe and made some durability tweaks — but without ruing the lightness and comfort of a first-rate road running shoe. They only weigh 9.6 oz!
As such, the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 is a do-it-all shoe with a snug, secure fit, well-designed lugs for trail use, and the cushioning that HOKA shoes are known for (but not too much of it!). The cushioned midsole helps protect from the uneven, rocky ground. The shoes have a 5mm heel-to-toe drop. Fit is middle of the road — neither too wide nor too narrow. We feel they hit the sweet spot for foot comfort on a good trail without being too loose and sloppy for sections of more technical or off-trail travel. Even after long days on the AT we found they were still comfortable with sufficient toe/forefoot room.
Other Model Options
The Challenger ATR series also comes in a GoreTex version.
Stack Height Might be a bit Much for Some Hikers:
While being on the lower end of stack height in the HOKA trail-shoe line, this stack height might be a bit much for some hikers. They Challenger ATRs are definitely taller with slightly less “trail feel” than a lower stack height shoe like the Altra Lone Peak.
Not Zero Drop:
In general, we prefer zero-drop shoes and are definitely not fans of high-heeled shoes. That being said, the 5mm drop on the Challenger was barely noticeable and did not impact natural hiking stride.
Not Insanely Rugged:
While the durability of the Challenger ATR is good for an ultralight trail running shoe — it does not have the super thick long-wearing sole and large toe and heel counters of a heavier and more durable shoe. If you want a shoe with more durability you’ll likely need to pick one that is both heavier and more expensive.
No Rubber Outsole in Arch
As we said, the Challenger ATRs are “Best for most conditions” encountered by most hikers. But on very technical terrain the lack of rubber in the midsole could prove to be an issue if, in fact, you’d want to use that mid-sole area for traction. Again, a not often encountered situation and you’ll likely know if this is something that would like to come upon one of your trips.
Compared to the Competition
Shoes for hiking & Backpacking
The field of highly padded, mid-stack-height, trail running shoes is hugely competitive with many options. That being said Hoka was one of the fist to enter/create this category of trail shoe and they have a number of strong offerings including the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6. And again, we find that light, low top trail runners make the best shoes for backpacking and hiking.
Conclusion | HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6
The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 ‘s are a light & capable all-terrain trail shoe, with great cushioning, foot protection, and a mid-width fit. They perform well on both good trail, and more challenging and mucky conditions, and well as technical off-trail use. They have a balanced mid-volume fit. We feel they hit the sweet spot for foot comfort on a good trail without being too loose and sloppy for sections of more technical or off-trail travel. Even after long days on the AT we found they were still comfortable with sufficient toe/forefoot room. Their moderate 5mm heel to toe drop and moderate stack height will likely please most hikers. Finally, as if it needs to be said, they provide the comfort, shock absorption and foot protection/comfort that HOKA has made their reputation but in an incredibly light, 9.6 oz shoe.
Read our complete guide | Best Hiking Shoes