Reviews Hoka Challenger ATR 2

Published on February 16, 2016

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2

The Challenger ATR 2 is the latest all-terrain offering from Hoka One One and, as we’re sure you’ll have worked out, it’s an update of last year’s original ATR. So what’s new and what makes the Hoka One One different?

Bigger is better?

We’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: Hoka is a Marmite brand, their oversized construction seems to be one of the most hotly debated topics amongst runners and the Challenger ATR 2 will prove no less divisive. At the heart of all Hoka shoes is the Metrarocker design; the curved outsole shape intended to smooth transition from heel strike to toe off (dedicated forefoot runners, look away now.) Combined with the oversize cushioning – promoted as 2.5-times the norm – this gives Hoka and, of course, the new Challenger ATR 2 that distinctive look and feel.

First impressions

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 is aesthetically very similar to its predecessor, although the grafted upper overlay, which helps give form, is slightly altered with greater emphasis across the back of the shoe.

Hoka Challenger ATR 2 The most significant and immediate change – one we can’t quite figure the reason for – is the addition of a far more substantial ‘quarter’ (the rear and sides of the upper that covers the heel.) Unlike other Hokas we’ve had on test over the years the Challenger ATR 2 incorporates a solid plastic frame that hugs the back of the heel; it undoubtedly adds some strength here, but we’ve never noticed a lack of support before and can’t honestly find anything specific to appreciate in its addition with this iteration.

Out on test

Personally we’ve always enjoyed the smooth, flowing ride that the Hoka Metrarocker delivers and nothing has changed here with the ATR 2 – out of the box the shoes feel responsive and naturally fast.

But what we have always really appreciated is the lack of weight. Despite their appearance Hokas are ridiculously light and that’s something that goes a long way; particularly when you intend to too. The Challenger ATR 2 comes in at 269g (538g pair, UK8.5) a slight up on the original ATR at 256g – we blame that plastic quarter cover – but not an increase that should really bother those looking for a lightweight all-terrain shoe.

Another slight change – again one that was barely perceivable on test, but worth noting – is that the Challenger ATR 2 sports a 4.5mm heel-to-toe drop compared to the ATR’s 5mm drop, with the newer iteration shaving the difference off via a reduction in heel height to 28.5mm. Personally RunningMonkey favours anything sub-5mm differential, so the Challenger ATR 2 certainly hits the sweet spot.

On early tests the ATR2 felt slightly constricted across the toe box (although on paper nothing appears to have changed with regards width fitting), but this bedded in after a few days of perseverance. Beyond that point the ATR 2 proved to be everything we had really hoped for: a comfortable, light, and responsive shoe. The no-sew, seamless construction works well, the padding across the Achilles is substantial without restricting the ankle and the removable foot-bed cradles well.

Hoka Challenger ATR 2Getting a grip

So, the Challenger ATR 2 is intended to be an all-terrain option, taking you: “from door to trail and back again.” So how’s the grip and does that make the ATR 2 a true jack-of-all-trades?

The grip, reasonable 4mm lugs, is unchanged from the original ATR. The spread and alignment is well judged for tackling off-road terrain of most stripes, whist responsive enough for hitting the pavements when needs be. If you’re looking to run truly technical terrain then the Speedgoat, with utterly aggressive grip, would still be the go-to Hoka for us, but the ATR 2 is definitely far more than a compromise shoe.

Whilst the likes of the Speedgoat are happy to put in a few miles on pavement, assuming you don’t mind the additional wear and tear to the lugs, Hoka’s road-specific shoes – the Clifton 2 – certainly don’t like mud; that makes the ATR 2 the obvious choice of you’re likely to be mixing up your terrain.

Hoka Challenger ATR 2Purchase details

The Hoka One One ATR 2 are available in men’s colour options dark blue/neon green, grey/citrus (neon yellow) and the very psychedelic grey/’empire yellow’. In women’s the options are: dark blue/light yellow and a truly dazzling aqua and fuchsia combo. They retail at £100, making them one of the cheapest options in the Hoka One One range.

Full details of the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 at hokaoneone.eu

Read the RunningMonkey review of the original Challenger ATR here.

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