The intended use of the next generation Challenger ATR remains the same: easy and moderate trails, and runs with mixed pavement and dirt. But multiple changes have been made to its construction and features.
The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 retails for $130 and will be available exclusively from REI on December 1, 2018. Distribution will be more widespread after the New Year.
Historically, the Challenger ATR was a trail version of the popular Clifton road trainer: it had the same chassis as the Clifton 1, 2, and 3 (my review of the Clifton 2), but featured a firmer midsole, trail-worthy outsole, and more durable and secure upper.
Starting with the fifth generation, the Challenger will have its own fit system. The standard fit will be similar to the Challenger ATR 4 (my review). It will also be available in wide sizes: EE for men’s, and D for women’s. With some “wide” models, the manufacturer simply increases the interior volume. But Hoka had to create dedicated lasts for the standard and wide sizes, so that the foot sits properly in the cradle-like Active Frame.
The outsole has been redesigned, with more and larger lugs. This should result in improved wear-resistance and grip. The proprietary rubber is unchanged.
To offset the increased stiffness of the new outsole and to preserve smoothness from landing to toe-off, Hoka reduced the density of the midsole foam. It also dropped the shoe by 2 mm, so stack heights are now 29 mm and 24 mm at the heel and forefoot, respectively, for a 5 mm drop. The Challenger ATR 4 was 31/26.
The upper is still made of a two-layer mesh, for a combination of breathability and debris-resistance, and overlays still wrap around the midfoot. Some rigidity has been extracted from the upper: the U-bar (i.e. lace eyelets) is more flexible, and the TPU toe cap no longer has a “point” that created an unnatural crease across the toebox of the Challenger ATR 4.
The Challenger ATR 5 appears to have slightly more padding in the heel cup and tongue.
Its weight is now 9.4 oz (266 g) for men’s 9, and 7.7 oz (218 g) for women’s size 7.