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Shoe Of The Week: Hoka One One Challenger ATR

The Challenger ATR is a lightweight maximalist trail running shoe similar to the Clifton road running shoe.

The Challenger ATR is a lightweight maximalist trail running shoe similar to the Clifton road running shoe.

Hoka One One released the Challenger ATR recently (exclusively at REI stores until Feb. 15) and it has many of the game-changing qualities of the brand’s recent road shoe models. Although this shoe has been touted as a trail version of Hoka’s award-winning Clifton road running shoe that hit stores last summer, it has a slightly firmer, more durable foam than its road-shoe cousin. The Challenger is super light and fairly nimble and quite stable for such a well-cushioned trail shoe, especially compared to other Hoka shoes. Like all Hoka shoes, the Challenger was designed with a “rockered” profile that helps produce a bit of a rolling sensation no matter where the shoe hits the ground. That design, combined with the thick two-layer midsole and a slight heel-toe drop (5mm), results in a semi-soft, semi-ambiguous and very enjoyable ride. (The thicker foam is a tradeoff for a better proprioceptive connection with the ground, so the agility of this shoe really depends on the agility of the runner.)

The low-profile outsole tread offers modest traction, but it makes this shoe ideal for long runs on mild to moderate terrain (semi-technical trails, dirt paths, gravel roads, etc.) and less ideal for running on steep, gnarly terrain with technical features and loose debris or sloppy, wet and muddy trails. Also, the outsole rubber covers about two-thirds of the bottom of the shoe, which means there’s a lot of exposed midsole foam that comes in contact with the ground. The minimally designed, no-sew upper and lacing system provided a locked-down fit at the midfoot/arch area of the foot, but most wear-testers were perplexed at the roominess of the forefoot fit. (Almost all of our testers preferred wearing a half-size smaller than their normal size. Be sure to try on your typical size and a half size smaller before purchasing.)

Our wear-testers who were able to dial in a good fit and understood a maximally cushioned ride raved about this shoe as a high-mileage trainer and long-distance trail racer.

This shoe is for you if … You’re looking for a lightweight, maximally cushioned shoe that offers a comfortable ride on milder to moderate terrain.

Price: $130
Weights: 8.6 oz (men’s size 9), 7.4 oz (women’s size 7)
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm; 29mm (heel), 24mm (forefoot) for men; 28mm (heel), 23mm (forefoot) for women
More info: HokaOneOne.com and REI.com

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