Shoe Review: Hoka Challenger ATR 4

The fourth edition of this comfortably cushioned trail runner is the best yet

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4

Price: $130

Specs: 5mm heel-toe offset; 31mm (heel), 26mm (forefoot)

Weight: 9.0 oz (men’s size 9), 7.4 oz. (women’s size 7)

The Scoop: A lightweight, amply cushioned trail runner, the Challenger ATR 4 is built for long-haul comfort with a plush interior, thick, soft midsole and enough traction to tackle a wide range of mild to moderate trails.The foam in the midsole is fairly neutral, not overly responsive and not marshmallowy soft either. It’s continued to evolve through the years and the minor changes with each revision have improved this shoe quite a bit. A new two-layer mesh and internal heel counter have increased the structure and support the shoe offers, while an updated, more reinforced toe-cap improves protection.

Who’s It Best For: Any runner who runs off-road could really like this shoe. It offers all of the comfort and easy-flexing functionality of a thickly cushioned road running shoe, but it has enough trail-specific features to allow it to handle the rigors of long runs on a variety of surfaces. More experienced trail runners and ultrarunners will appreciate it as one of several shoes in their quiver, while new trail runners will appreciate the comfort, quick-turnover and basic trail protection necessary for the trails. The widebody footprint of this shoe provides offers stability for runners not as accustomed to running in shoes with a high stack height (31mm off the ground in the heel).

Plus: The lightweight construction of this shoe make it the ideal choice for a variety of trail races. Although it doesn’t have a low-to-the-ground agile feeling for very fast racing over short distances, our wear-testers agreed that this shoe was perfect for multi-hour runs and races from 10K to ultra-distance events on mild to moderate trails.

Minus: Although versatile, this shoe thrives much more on mild to moderate trails than it does on very rocky, technical trails. The only protection between sharp rocks and roots on the trails is the thickness of the midsole and small sections of outsole rubber. That’s enough protection most of the time, but it definitely becomes more of a prevalent issue on gnarlier terrain. The exposed foam on the outsole holds up well on milder trails, but it gets pretty torn up and starts to deteriorate with a lot of miles on more rugged trails.

Brian Metzler

Brian Metzler is the Content Director of MotivRunning.com. He was the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, a senior editor for Running Times and the editor in chief of Competitor. He’s wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of running shoes, raced every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, has finished three Ironman triathlons and enjoys the quirky sport of pack burro racing.