Who should buy the HOKA Challenger 7

If you are looking for a model that lets you transition smoothly from tarmac to single tracks, on your daily runs or ultras at a slow and moderate pace, the Challenger 7 is the shoe for you. Doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or an advanced runner, it’s really comfortable on almost any terrain, except for very technical trails only.

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Who should not buy it

Judging by the reviews it has garnered, you shouldn’t get it if you:

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HOKA Challenger 7 vs Challenger ATR 6

This new iteration is lighter, softer underfoot, 2mm taller, and has an improved lug pattern on the outsole. Overall, reviewers found the Challenger 7 to be a very worthy update.

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A great all-rounder

Those who tested the shoe found it perfect for daily training, long distances and recovery runs, As one of them said, it’s “at its best on light trails and performed surprisingly well on the roads."

It’s not adept only at running though. As the same tester shared, it feels “comfortable whether I’m out for a walk, hike or run.”

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HOKA Challenger 7 has an excellent upper

While testers suggested getting the wide version to those with larger feet, the upper proved to be, as one of them stated, “comfortable from the first step,” and also fairly breathable. 

As stated by another expert, the upper is “very well made, highly durable, and has a nice design.”

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Useful heel tab

The upper spots an extended heel pull that facilitates getting the foot in the shoe. Testers liked it:

  • “makes this shoe an absolute dream to slip on easily”
  • ”I just love it”
  • “such a great way of supporting the Achilles heel while running.”

Cushy and cozy 

Reviewers didn’t find the ride to be particularly exciting, but the rockered geometry added smoothness and enough responsiveness. 

Besides, the big amount of cushioning felt “soft and protective” and provided “total comfort underfoot.” 

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Sure footed even on wet

It’s not as aggressive as other HOKA trail shoes, but during tests, the outsole proved good on gravel, tarmac, hard-packed, and light trails, even when wet. As trail runners put it:

  • “it’s been very reliable”
  • “provides excellent traction”
  • “very effective on most terrain.”

Challenger 7 is a light trail shoe

The Challenger 7 weighs now 8.8oz (252g), well below the average for a trail running shoe (10.5oz or 298g).

A tester underlined that the shoe has indeed “an impressive weight-to-cushioning ratio.”

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No need to adjust the laces

No issues were reported with the laces. According to a tester, they are “simple but very effective at what they’re designed to do, which is ‘do up’, stay ‘done up’.”

A stable Challenger

With a fairly high stack, experts expected the shoe to wobble a little. Instead, a tester underlined that he didn’t have any issues, and this was confirmed by another seasoned trail runner, who said that “no stability or control is lost – I just love what they’ve done with it.” 

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Rocks are not a problem

No rock plate is needed in the Challenger 7. There’s “enough midsole protection to stop any spiky rocks on the trails from actually being felt,” is how a reviewer commented on this.

The same went for another expert, who reported that there’s “a tremendous amount of protection without feeling sluggish.” 

Challenger 7 needs better coverage underfoot

Testers underlined that the lugs are durable and effective, but that’s not the case with the rest of the outsole. It’s made of exposed foam, and after around 40 miles an expert noticed that it was ”already starting to get chewed up.”

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Trail
Weight: Men 8.9oz / Women 7.7oz
Drop: Men 5mm /
Arch support: Neutral
Forefoot height: Men 26mm /
Heel height: Men 31mm /
Collection: Hoka Challenger

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Author
Gabriele Zampieri
Gabriele Zampieri

Gabriele lives and runs in Italy and he knows the Alps inside out. No wonder given that he has 30+ via ferratas, 20+ trail races and 100+ hiking routes under his belt. And he willingly bivouacked more than 30 times in the middle of nowhere. He logs 25-45 miles per week with 1k-3k elevation gain and is now training for his first 100k race. Trails run through his veins but so does the Italian talkative side.