DiscontinuedUpdate: Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR
Neutral / cushion / high arch
Shoes for runners who do not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with normal, high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.
Stability / overpronation / normal arch
Shoes for runners who need mild to moderate arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a low arch. See the best stability shoes.
Motion control / severe overpronation / flat feet
Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.
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Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.
Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.
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If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.
WeightMen: 9.5ozWomen: 7.8oz
Heel to toe dropMen: 5mmWomen: 5mm
The height difference from the heel to the forefoot, also known as heel drop, toe spring, heel to toe spring or simply drop.
There are many opinions about what a good heel drop is. We do not recommend any in particular. Lean more in this video.
Heel heightMen: 29mmWomen: 29mm
Forefoot heightMen: 24mmWomen: 24mm
WidthMen: StandardWomen: Standard
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83 / 100 based on 23 expert reviews
Hoka Challenger ATR2 – One shoe to rule them all
There is a lot of hype about Hoka shoes. Supposedly they are good for the feet and great for longer runs.
With me not being featherweight, they seemed like the perfect solution for the longer runs. After spending a lot of time checking out the Hoka range I have decided to try the Challenger ATR 2 first because, in theory, they should be good for mixed surfaces.
The Brand New ATR 2 Out of the Box
When looking at the whole Hoka range, many of them look strange and clumsy.
These are better looking than the majority of their models, although far from the "fast and furious" design like some other brands use. But most of the runners care more about their feet than shoe design, so it doesn't matter so much how they look, right?
After reading online about Hokas, I was afraid that they could be too narrow for my wide feet, so I went a half size up. Still, they were a bit tight on my feet.
But people also claimed that they adjust to feet somewhat and become more comfortable after 30-40km and that has proven to be true. After 30 plus km, they felt perfect on my feet.
Shoes do have thick soles, but soles are not soft and squishy as could be expected. They are quite firm and responsive.
Note that I did have to use heel lock lashing system to avoid sliding of the heel because of going a half size up. So if you experience a similar issue, that could be a solution. Fortunately, laces are long enough for that (which cannot be said for all shoe models).
Sole & Durability
The grip does not look impressive and in practice, it is not really suited for wet and muddy trails, although it can hold adequately.
Durability of the sole is excellent. After 200km of mixed terrain (probably close to 50% asphalt), the sole looks almost like new. Compared with some other trail shoes used on mixed surfaces, after 200km with my 90kg, this is impressive.
ATR 2 Outsole after 200km
For comparison, below is Salomon Speedcross after less than 200km of trails, almost without asphalt.
Lugs on front and heel were worn to less than 50%. So now you can see why I am impressed with these Hokas!
Salomon Speedcross Outsole after less than 200km
Some people have complained to me regarding the upper and I have seen their shoes.
The part where the shoe bends and little toe meets the shoe, it gets torn after 100-150km or so. Fortunately, mine don't have such issue and still look good, without any visible damages.
If you are worried, the ATR 3 model has redesigned that part of the upper and that should not be a possible issue anymore. As you can see in the photo below, they still look almost like new, even after few washing.
Challenger ATR 2 still looks brand new after a few washings
Mainly I have used them for mixed surface workouts, with up to 50% asphalt surface. They have good grip for moderate trails, but even more importantly they are good on asphalt too.
Few times I have used them on 100% asphalt workouts and they felt great on my feet. Comfort level on hard surfaces is not reduced and there is no loud noise when running on such surfaces like with some trail shoes.
The drop is 4.5mm. It should be easy transition even if you are used to slightly bigger drop. I was used to running with a 6mm drop, so no adaptation was needed.
The last workout was 36km of mountain trail with various terrain, a few kilometers of which was asphalt. My legs did hurt a bit after such workout but my feet were ok without any pains or blisters.
In some other shoes, there would definitely be issues with my feet. I still remember the pains in my feet after 35-42km runs in few other shoes.
Unlike some squishy Adidas shoes, due to the sole firmness and responsiveness, I think these shoes are quite good for racing too, not just for long workouts.
You cannot expect racing performance on the asphalt like with real specialized road racing shoes, but they are noticeably better than your average trail shoe. If you want to see them in action, check out this great video of Hawks and Miller racing at 50 miles.
Stability on the trails is very good, even better than some other shoes which have thinner sole. They are not the most stable shoes ever, but considering the sole thickness, they are more than good.
Perhaps that is due to the width of the sole and relatively firm compound used. Rocks and roots are definitely not an issue if you step on something and front toe protection is adequate for moderate trails.
Hoka Challenger ATR 2 are designed to be versatile and I must say that this shoe is a 100% success in my eyes.
They are so good that I got one pair extra for the future and I know few people who have 2-3 spare pairs of them. You can use them freely on asphalt and trails, without worrying about excessive wear or reduced performance.
New Model ATR 3 has only small differences compared to ATR 2, for example, they have redesigned the upper on the spot where it tears for some people, so I will definitely get ATR 3 too as soon as I stumble upon a good deal.
As for now, I will enjoy this good pair of shoes!
The Hoka Challenger ATR 2 in action
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Hoka Challenger ATR2 VS. Altra Olympus 2.0
So right here, we have a face off of two of some of the best maximalist trail shoes in the market.
On one side Altra Olympus 2.0.
Hoka is primarily famous due to the thick sole and is responsible for all the hype about maximalist shoes.
Altra is more oriented towards natural foot shape shoes (involving wide toebox) with zero drop approach, most of their shoes do have thick sole but are not maximalistic to the Hoka degree.
Both of these shoes are very versatile, usable on asphalt and not really suited for hardcore terrain, so I have decided to compare them as direct competitors in my eyes.
I have used them during several consecutive weekends for long trail runs (30+ km / 1000+ m elevation) on mixed terrain, changing the shoes every weekend.
There are separate reviews written by me for both of those shoes if you want to read about them in more detail.
Take in consideration that I have 90+ kg, so if you have 20-30kg less, then your experience with those shoes will probably be different.
Hokas do look somewhat better and faster (especially in a variant with yellow-red gradient sole), while duckface design of Altras is probably not appealing for majority of the people. But we are not judging for Miss Universe, so looks are secondary in this battle.
Hokas have 26-31mm stack height (front to back), while Altras have 32mm stack height.
I got Hokas before Altras, expecting them to be like Adidas Glide Boost on steroids. Well, that did not happen. They do have quite firm (but elastic) sole. Comfort level was somewhat lacking at first, but they got better after 30km or so, they did stretch and mold to the feet to some degree. However for my 90+ kg soles are a bit too stiff for the really long runs.
When I got Altras and put them on my feet, I was in heaven. They really are like walking on clouds. If they made identical shoe but with asphalt soles without trail grip, I would buy them ASAP for walking around.
They are by far most comfortable shoes I have ever tried, Adidas Glide Boost (as a cushy example) are noticeably inferior to them. I do have Altra Paradigm, while they are very comfortable, they are not THAT comfortable as Olympus.
Wide toe box is really good, your toes will be happy when not cramped in usual tight-front shoes, with which you must go 1 or even 2 sizes up to ensure they are not too tight.
On long runs with 25+ km feet and legs feel better and less achy in Altras.
So for the comfort level Altras win.
Sole & Durability
Both of those shoes have endured the first 200km without noticeable damages and with soles looking almost like new, so I would say that they are satisfactory in that aspect.
Hokas did a lot more asphalt with lugs still practically as new so their performance is somewhat better. I did not experience tear of the material in Hokas near the pinky finger like some runners did. Perhaps Hoka did improve the construction without visible changes for the later batches of manufacturing.
Anyway, both of them seem durable enough.
Both of them have a similar approach with harder and softer components on the sole. Fortunately even softer part is good for now.
For comparison, with approximately same mileage.
While they are less comfortable, I think you can be faster in these Hokas.
On few of my standard runs, I was somewhat slower in Altras. Probably due to the thick and soft sole in Altras which absorbs some energy, also there is zero drop which is (to me) slightly more difficult on climbs.
With Hokas up to 20-25 km distance probably there is no contest. But with Altras causing fewer leg issues on long runs I am quite sure they would prove to be winners on 35-40+ km long runs, at least for me.
Please note that your experience may vary, because of my weight which is over average for the runner. If you are lightweight then there is no such impact on legs while running and Hokas are probably a better choice, especially for racing.
Both of these shoes work well on asphalt and concrete, so don't be afraid to use them on runs and races involving a mix of trails and hard surfaces.
In my experience sole of Hokas is better for the hard surfaces. Lugs are almost not felt (and heard!) while running.
Altras are louder on asphalt, but unlike most of trail shoes they are still comfortable and you can run without issues. Although I doubt that sole will be as durable as Hokas if used on a lot of hard surfaces.
Both are best suited for mild trails, not involving a lot of mud and very rocky terrain. The grip on both is adequate, but for difficult terrain, there are much better shoes to be used (for Hokas that would definitely be Mafate Speed 2, for Altras maybe Lone Peaks, although I am unsure about how difficult terrain they could handle).
Hokas have a big advantage because they are significantly more stable and because of that they can handle terrain with rocks and roots better, without worrying that you will sprain your ankle.
Altras are very cushy and if you step wrongly then your ankle will turn to the side, possibly causing injury. They are very poor behaving on trails with side gradient, because they don't keep your feet stable enough.
So Hokas can definitely handle more difficult terrain then Altras. But still grip is lacking for really difficult trails, also they are not perfectly stable due to the stack height even with such firmness of the sole.
With Hokas I was never in a situation that my ankles were in danger, but with Altras there were few close calls. Fortunately, I tend to make smaller steps so there is time to react with other foot. If I was running with long hard steps like some people, I would be facing some problems. But still I must be more careful when going downhill, I cannot go "all-out" like in some other shoes.
In my opinion, it is better to not go off-trail, fell running or orienteering in Olympus.
But even considering possible dangers to my ankles, running in Altras is so much more pleasurable. They are my current first choice when I go to a pure trail (a moderate one), but Hokas are chosen when there is bound to be some hard surfaces or when the terrain is more difficult.
Toe protection is slightly better in Hokas, but nothing extra. However sole is firm and fat, so that reduces the toe bumping issues. Altras are softer in the front so same care is needed.
Beware that Altras have zero drop, so if you have achilles or calves issues, then be extra careful, start with very short distances and see how you feel in them.
If looking for the multi purpose shoe for various surfaces, Hokas probably come as close to optimal as possible. Obviously, no shoe can be perfect for all surfaces, but Hokas have good performance on all except really hardcore trails with a lot of mud and such.
Altras are somewhat less versatile, but also very usable on mixed surfaces. Maybe they are not so fast, but your legs will thank you after the race (if you don't sprain your ankle :D ).
Both of these have some distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Maybe it is best to compare them in a table:
While Altras, especially for long distances.
Unfortunately, lack of stability prevents me for taking them on more trails.
P.S. The new Hoka Challenger ATR3 are now out. As far as I managed to see and try in the shop, differences are mainly cosmetic, with revised upper design so that danger of tearing is now probably reduced.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
I don't think it's necessarily a different ride overall. There's just some issues I wish they would've improved upon, but didn't necessarily. It's still a solid shoe.
It feels great, it runs great. This is now my favorite Hoka One One shoe to date.
Updates to Hoka One One Challenger 2 ATR
- The midsole of the Hoka One One Challenger 2 ATR used an oversized EVA foam that is designed to provide reliable cushioning and added support without adding too much weight on the shoe.
- The upper of the shoe also used a closed air mesh upper that was designed to give protection to the foot while running on the trail while maintaining its comfort and breathability features. The shoe also comes with a reinforced heel and more padded tongue.
- The podular outsole design of the Challenger 2 ATR provides stability while running on uneven terrains and the 4-mm lugs delivers a reliable traction on varied terrains.
Hoka One One Challenger 2 ATR size and fit
The Challenger 2 ATR is true to its size. When it comes to fit, the 2nd version of the shoe was slightly improved. It has a more supportive fit throughout the midfoot area. It has a snug fit in the heel and a narrow toe box. It is available in medium D and B widths for both men’s and women’s versions respectively.
The outsole unit of the Hoka One One Challenger 2 ATR comes in a podular design that is specifically made to deliver an enhanced stability while running on uneven terrain. The 4mm rugged lugs are designed to deliver all-terrain traction.
The midsole make use of the oversized EVA foam that is designed to deliver an enhanced and softer cushioning and added support. The Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry is designed for a smoother ride and enhanced propulsion. This feature could also be found in the Hoka One One Bondi 6, which is a road running shoe.
The upper of the Hoka One One Challenger 2 ATR uses a closed mesh material that is designed to prevent debris from entering the shoe while running. It still remains breathable, keeping the feel well-ventilated even on hot conditions.
The no-sew speedframe design delivers a seamless environment for the foot to reduce the possibility of blistering and irritation.
The reinforced heel provides a secure locked down feel while the padded tongue gives added comfort. The synthetic support strapping is created to hold the foot in place while giving added support.