Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3
Billed as the Clifton for the trail the Hoka One One Challenger 3 went through some changes in 2017 that will be carried into the Challenger 4 in 2018. Although it’s maximum in it’s cushion it’s rather nimble in it’s ride. If you are feeling beat up by all the trail running you are doing the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3 or now ATR 4 may be just what your legs need.
Hoka One One introduced the Challenger four years ago as an answer to the Clifton that had introduced a few months before that. The going sentiment was that if you liked the Clifton on the road you would like the Challenger on the Trail. For the first two versions they stayed with the mindset that the soft trail provides the cushion. They kept the Challenger rather firm letting the trail give under the weight. In theory that makes sense.
For version 3 they veered off that path. While the rest of the industry is building shoes that are both soft and lively Hoka One One was building shoes that were either soft or firm. In 2017 they came out with a new midsole compound that they hoped would keep them up with the industry. One that was soft yet had some kick to in. Instead of sticking to the firm feel of the oringal Challenger, Hoke One One put their new foam in the Challenger 3.
- Lightwieght Feel – with that much foam it’s hard to imagine the shoe is going to feel light. It does. Part of that is the weight at under 9 oz in a men’s size 9 and part of that is the midsole that feels alive.
- Lively Feel – The new midsole feels really good under foot. Some diehard Challenger runners probably don’t like it because it feels too soft. Personally though, I think its’ better.
- The visual – Ok that should not be too important right. I just really like the way they make the shoe look lower to the ground.
- Heel Fit – I had to use the runner’s lace to keep the heel lock. I think if you have to do that, you shouldn’t buy the shoe. There is no need to force yourself into that situation. There are plenty of good trail shoes on the market. Find one with better heel fit.
- General Fit – I had to buy a 1/2 larger to fit my foot. That’s different than the Challenger 2. I know why that happens in shoe making and it simply shouldn’t happen.
- A tie at 3rd – Ortholite – Trail shoes should not have Ortholite sock liners. The sock liner in a trail shoe should be firm and balanced. Ortholite are soft and are not very balanced. Tongue Length – the tongue is too short on the Challenger 3. It needs 5-6mm more height. That’s not a great deal but it makes a huge difference.
Overall I think if you like the Challenger you’ll like this one. It’s softer but that shouldn’t scare you. The Hoka One One Challenger remains one of the most used trail shoes on the market. If you are shopping for a new trail shoe it’s worth trying on to compare to other shoes.