Summary

We spent 6.3 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

7 reasons to buy

  • A few users mentioned that the Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR is a lightweight trail running shoe.
  • Some runners admired the roomy toe box of the Challenger ATR 5; they said it gave their toes more freedom to move.
  • One user with plantar fasciitis expressed his satisfaction because the shoe helped with the pain.
  • A couple of wearers admired the shoe’s arch support; they said the arch support is as great as the previous version.
  • The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 fits well, said one review.
  • Several runners liked the shoe’s cushioning; it gave them a well-cushioned running experience.
  • According to a few reviews, feels good on concrete even if it is advertised as a trail running shoe.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Some users were unhappy with the Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR because it feels too stiff.
  • One disappointed user mentioned that the tongue for the shoe causes discomfort.
  • One runner developed blisters after a few long runs.

Bottom line

The Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR gained positive reviews from various trail runners who were impressed with its lightweight design, great arch support, and roomy toe box. Many users also enjoyed the shoe’s not-so-firm cushioning. Although some have issues with the tongue, and for it being too stiff, the Challenger ATR 5 is a running shoe most buyers considered to be worth the purchase.

Facts

Rankings

A top rated Trail running shoe
Top 4% most popular running shoes
Better rated than the previous version Hoka One One Challenger 4 ATR

Expert Reviews

89 / 100 based on 15 expert reviews

  • 95 / 100 |

    Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR: All-terrain challenge accepted

    More photos

    What’s the 5th Iteration of the Hoka One One Challenger All Terrain (ATR) about? I bought these shoes to tackle some trails and log in some miles over the winter months.

    So I was looking for a well-cushioned shoe providing me with some stability, comfort, and traction on wet and muddy surfaces and allow a smooth transition from city pavement to the trails. 

     

     

    Basically, I was looking for an All-Terrain shoe that holds up fine against the winter(y) environment. Therefore, my decision brought me to the Challenger instead of the Speedgoat or the Torrent.

    So after hitting 100 km, I thought it is time to share my first experiences on the shoe and how it is holding up to my expectations. 

    The upper

    Nice durable, all-terrain suited mesh upper, which needed a short break-in run but didn’t leave me with much complaining after that. I am really enjoying it withstanding muddy trails and wet conditions, nothing too exciting, but it gets the job done. 

     

    The midsole

    Known for higher stack height, the Challenger ATR 5 fits just in the well-cushioned Hoka One One line.

    It is extremely lightweight and creates and enjoyable ride for longer distances at different surfaces. So far, there is no downside with the cushioning of the midsole, feels great since the first run.

    I expect to get many 100k more out of them. 

     

    The outsole

    The rubber distribution with small lugs is supposed to be situated where most runners need it.

    To shave some weight, the midsole foam in the middle of the foot is directly opposed to the surface, which doesn’t look like a big deal at first. However, these parts are the first I see noticeable abrasion and tear after 100 km.

    I totally understand why Hoka is doing it; I would’ve just wished for a tiny bit more rubber under the midfoot. Besides that, the outsole holds up well and feels great on easy trails and wet surfaces. 

     

    Shoe quality 

    Staying with the outsole, the traction it provides is really enjoyable. Since I am accustomed to run on pavement and through cities, I didn’t use trail shoes too frequently in the past.

    Compared to road shoes, these provide perfect traction for those muddy wet surfaces in the forest and still feel good on the way to get there.

    I really like the traction of the shoe, and despite the exposed midsole material on the outsole of the shoe, it appears durable and stable.

    Additionally, the cushioning really helps during longer runs. I took them for a 25k run – uphill, downhill, pavement, forest, sand, cobblestones, and didn’t experience any major issues. 

    The overall performance of the shoe is absolutely great, along with the comfort and fit. Although the shoe is already marketed as a wider shoe in the regular size, I still went for the wide version, and I am glad I did.

    With my feet being used to have some more space coming from mostly running in Altra, I enjoy the room the shoe gives me, especially for the longer runs while still being stable due to the well-structured upper and good traction.

    Lengthwise they fit true to size for me (10.5 US in all my Hoka so far).

    Small downsides are responsiveness and flexibility, but this is nothing more but a disclaimer because I didn’t buy the shoes to have a race-like experience.

    I surely tried them out and looked at how they feel with faster paces (4 min/km – 6:30/mile); of course, they can do it, but other shoes feel a lot nicer.

    For me, doing a lot of low heart rate miles over the winter, they work perfectly. 

    Dislikes?

    After all the praise I gave Hoka One One for the Challenger ATR 5, here are some minor concerns or dislikes.

    First impression and the first run, I just thought, “that’s a lot of shoe beneath your foot.” So my feet just needed a little time to adjust to the new experience.

    I just want to let you guys know, don’t get discouraged if the shoe doesn’t appear perfect after the first couple of miles.

    The only issue I am having so far is breathability. The overall, the breathability is good; the mesh upper keeps the foot well-aerated in most areas, but one.

    The tongue is well padded, lacing is fine, comfort is great, but the tongue area on my foot is merely breathable at all.

    Since it doesn’t bother too much during the winter, I wonder how this looks when it’s getting warmer outside. On the other hand, I bought the shoes for colder conditions so I probably won’t be running in them too much when temperatures are rising.

    Last thought: I would love Hoka to swap the inner part rubber extension to the outer part of the foot, then the shoe is close to perfect. 

    Overall 

    The Challenger ATR 5 by Hoka One One really unites the needs of a recreational city-based runner who likes to try out trails but still needs a few kilometers to get there.

    It totally suits my needs - provides traction, durability, and cushioning throughout different surfaces and distances with almost no points to complain.

    Overall, the shoes really held up to my expectations. They truly give you the freedom to challenge all terrains (in all conditions). 

  • 75 / 100 |

    Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR: A good compromise between lightness and cushioning

    More photos

    My experience as a trail runner has taught me that very often the most widely distributed products are not always the best. Usually, you will find pleasant surprises in those that are less publicized and little known. But, this requires careful study and probable disappointments.

    For this reason, I have recently decided to rely on a brand that meets a great consensus in the field of trail running, namely Hoka One One.

     

     

    This year, I completely entrusted myself to this brand (except for a trial—more out of curiosity than conviction—of the Columbia Montrail Fluidflex FKT 2, recalling the excellent racing season in the Fluidflex 8-10 years ago).

    I do not like maximalist shoes, so I welcomed with great pleasure the unusual attempt made by Hoka. I first bought the Speed Instinct 2 then the Torrents, which I also reviewed.

    • Heel-to-toe drop: 5.0 mm
    • Stack height: 31 mm (heel), 26 mm (forefoot)

    Stated features

    • Dual-layer mesh
    • Textured TPU toe reinforcement
    • Internal heel counter
    • EVA midsole provides signature HOKA ONE ONE® cushioning
    • Outsole 4mm lugs
    • Podular outsole design
    • 100% Vegan

    After a small injury, like many runners, I did not give time to recover. I decided to run with a taller and stiffer shoe and bought the Speedgoat 3, which was heavy and allowed little agility.

    So I decided to try a shoe that is still maximalist but lighter and softer: the Challenger 5 ATR.

    First impressions

    As usual, the care of the packaging is perfect with the very useful rigid cardboard forms necessary to put away the shoe after every use to avoid deformations.

     

     

    I have love at first sight for yellow and the black, so my Torrent and the Challenger 5 ATR have color combinations that reflect my soul.

    The shoes are beautiful! Aesthetically, these are the most successful of the Hoka line. It also has balanced cushioning that do not give a feeling of heaviness or too much delicacy.

    Fit

    The Challenger 5 ATR fits my feet well as the Speedgoat 3 and the Torrent. It is just in the same size.

    Before buying, I highly recommend trying the shoes first, even if it is from a brand that you have tried before. Even if the challenger fits similarly to Speedgoat 3, it has a wider toe box.

     

     

    Regardless, the dual-layer mesh of the midfoot helps to hold my foot snuggly in. Meanwhile, the heel cup should help stabilize the foot, but the height of the high pile works in the opposite direction.

    Drop

    Like the Challenger 4 ATR, the 5 ATR has the same heel to toe drop of 5 mm. I tend to appreciate this, or even a little lower, although the height of the Challenger 5 ATR stack seemed almost perfect.

    Weight

    With a measured weight of 266 grams per shoe, it is super light, especially considering the amount of cushion it offers.

    Upper

    The upper of the Challenger 5 ATR uses a double-layered mesh design. I liked the reinforcement on the toe of the upper. Compared to Hoka Speedgoat 3, this shoe looked much more breathable.

     

     

    I also take the Challenger 5 ATR across the river (see photos), and the weaved upper allows these shoes to dry quickly.

    Midsole and cushioning

    With a stack height of 26 mm in the forefoot, the Challenger 5 ATR is undoubtedly among the maximalist footwear. The excellent compromise with weight and design does not make it embarrassing.

    The midsole is really soft. This softness is reflected in a lateral and longitudinal collapse. This aspect certainly makes it preferable to use Speedgoat 3, which is much more rigid and safe on technical surfaces.

    The Speedgoat 3 is much more agile and faster on terrains with roots and rocks and regular path. The Challenger 5 ATR has provided just enough grip on a variety of surfaces.

     

     

    On clay, it offers its best side, but on roots and rocky terrain, you have to be very careful. Due to the design of the sole, the grip on wet rock and smooth mud are bad. The mud does not dry quickly.

    On the asphalt, the cushioning remains excellent, but the energy return is very low even on a treadmill. It is not the most precise shoe (no shoe so strongly cushioned), nor as efficient as a shoe on paved roads (just like most trail-oriented shoes).

    But, given its more maximalist design, I think the Challenger 5 ATR does a great job of balancing performance on a wide range of terrains and offers ample cushioning.

    After 200 km, the upper has expanded, but the midsole is not the same as when I pulled it out of the box. It is more compact now even after letting it rest after runs.

     

    Pros

    • Spacious toe-box
    • Aesthetics: a well-balanced shoe with good design and a wide mix of colors
    • Lightweight
    • Versatility

    Cons

    • Expensive—too expensive, and it is incomprehensible that there are price changes for the same model only for the new colors
    • The durability of the shoes after 100 km already shows signs of wear on the sole, not to mention the too-delicate upper. The photos show that both shoes have cuts and tears, perhaps due to deliberate perishability.
    • The cushioning has collapsed: I was thinking of using this shoe for longer runs, but I discovered that the cushioning collapses a little too prematurely.
    • Safety: I had two injuries during fast descents.
    • Grip: I know very well how terrible the wet hard rock for a road to trail shoes, but running there on the Challenger 5 ATR will be a bit like surfing on the waves of the sea.

    Conclusions and score

    The Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR remains a highly successful shoe from an aesthetic point of view. It has a good compromise between lightness and cushioning.

    It is very versatile that you'll be at ease in various situations. But, it is not suitable for specific conditions and terrain. They could be the only trail shoe you have, but useless if you're looking for excellence.

  • 98 / 100 | Road Trail Run | | Level 5 expert

    So far so good. Recommended for the trail runner looking for a simple, well executed shoe that is light and performs well on a variety of different terrain.

  • 98 / 100 | Road Trail Run | | Level 5 expert

    I find the Challenger ATR 5 to be a great long distance trainer/racer for those looking for maximal cushion in a lightweight and responsive package.

Become an expert

  • The 5th iteration of the Hoka One One Challenger ATR offers a light design and fast performance on a wide variety of surfaces. A few updates have been made to the new version to give runners smoother and more consistent ride.
  • One of the few updates is the new oversized EVA midsole. It provides the signature cushioning of the brand for a more satisfying running experience. It is lightweight and it aims to deliver smooth underfoot protection.
  • The CMEVA foam midsole is also new to this version. It aims to provide impact protection and stability to the foot.
  • The Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR uses the same rubber placement used by the previous version but it has a new outsole lug pattern for a reliable grip even on wet running conditions.
  • The Challenger ATR model is usually available in standard medium sizing, but the 5th version is the first version that is available in wide sizing.

The Challenger 5 ATR is available in standard sizing and the overall fit is very similar to the older version. The upper mesh hugs the foot comfortably and the wider toe-box allows the foot to splay. The women’s and men’s versions of the Challenger 5 ATR is available in both wide and medium width options.

In the outsole of the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 is the exposed midsole foam for better ground contact.  The rest of the outer unit features rubber compound materials that are strategically placed in high-wear areas for durability.

Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR features a podular design outsole which is meant to provide stability on uneven surfaces. Along with the podular design are the 4mm lugs that provide reliable grip on wet, soft, and hard surfaces.

Unlike the Asics Gel Venture 6, the Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR has a maximalist design. It gives maximum cushioning to a wide range of runners.

The shoe features an oversized EVA midsole foam which is designed to provide reliable underfoot cushioning. It delivers the notable Hoka One One cushioning without adding too much weight to the overall design of the shoe.

Along with the oversized EVA is the Compression Molder EVA foam or CMEVA foam. The primary purpose of the midsole foam is to absorb landing impact and provide the foot stability while running.

The Challenger ATR 5 is also equipped with an Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry. The rocker shape of the platform aims to provide runners a smoother transition through the gait cycle. This element is also present in the older version of the ATR 5.

The upper of the Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR uses a dual-mesh material. The same material is used in the older version, but the upper of the new Challenger ATR has been modified to give it a fresher look. The dual-mesh aims to deliver breathability, support, and durability.

A textured TPU toe reinforcement is also visible. It is designed to give added toe protection against sharp trail elements. It also offers durability to the upper unit.

The running shoe also features an internal heel counter. It holds the foot securely while running and it also offers support on all terrains.

The overlays in the midfoot of the Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR provides midfoot security and further enhances overall foot lockdown.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com