Cushioned and responsive, the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is a staple in the ultra running community. It 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 trail runner with an arsenal of uses. We deem it eligible for any distance, whether it's your first mile or your hundredth.Editor's Note: The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 review was updated on March 6, 2022, with information added to make product comparisons easier and tips on what shoe we would purchase.
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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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, a long day of standing, 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, they state this is a 5mm drop shoe. 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 love its highly cushioned nature.
The traction makes it quite versatile for many uses. It features a zonal design that pools islands of lugs together, with separations marked by canals of space. 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 isn't the best option for running in snow or heavy mud, with poor mud shed in our tests. Clay-based particulates seem to glomp into the canals, decreasing traction.
This shoe 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 like the Dynafit Feline SL, 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.
The outsole is large and thick, which doesn't translate well to underfoot feeling. As the midsole is loaded with cushioning, heel strikers can expect to feel next to nothing underfoot. 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. Let's explore what's new.
The most significant change to the Challenger ATR 6 is the introduction of a new and broader 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, translating 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 received 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. Remember that the socks you wear can affect how a shoe fits, so be sure to bring along your favorite pair when trying on sneakers.
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. We noticed our heel lifting out of the heel cup (we didn't have this issue in the past model) primarily 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 past iterations but 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.
Should You Buy the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6?
If you seek a maximally cushioned trial shoe 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 excellent stability for the height. It is one of the top shoes in the ultrarunning community, designed for taking on long distances.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
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. That said, if you're not specifically looking for lots of cushioning, other options have better performance for a few bucks less. The Hoka Torrent 2 has some of the same features we like but scores much higher overall.
— Amber King
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