The Hoka Challenger ATR 3 is a very comfortable trail…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110
The Hoka Challenger ATR 3 is a very comfortable trail shoe that probably has the greatest amount of cushion available in a trail shoe next to possibly hiking in a pair of Crocs.
- Significant amount of cushion
- Breathes well, but lets in a minimal amount of trail dust
- Wide toe box
- Durability of the sole may not be as long as other trail shoes
The older I get the more sensitive my feet seem to be and I find that I have a much more enjoyable time if my boots/shoes are lighter and have more cushion. If I intend to go off trail or need to wear crampons I'll always wear a hiking or mountaineering boot, but for all my hiking on regular trails I have switched to wearing trail runners.
For the last year and a half I have been wearing New Balance Leadville 3's and have been pretty happy, but still was looking for a shoe that had a little more cushion and decided to try a pair of Hoka Challenger ATR 3's. I had actually tried on some of the other Hoka models that were more along the lines of a hiking shoe, but the toe area always seemed to narrow. Where I tried on the Hoka Challenger ATR 3's there was plenty of toe room, so I picked up a pair.
The Hokas are pretty light with my size 11's weighing 21.7 ounces for the pair. I wear Dirty Girl gaiters with my trail shoes and you can see in the photo above the self adhesive backed Velcro I attached to the heel of each shoe that has stayed attached for about six months now and I haven't had any issues with it wanting to peel off the material used in the heel area of the Hokas.
The number one feature I like about the Hokas is the cushion of the sole, which is significant. It may not be for everyone, but I really like it and find that my feet really hold up well after a long day of hiking, even with a pack.
To give you an idea of how thick the soles of the Hokas are, I have included the picture below so you can get a comparison of the Hokas next to my New Balance Leadville 3's.
One area where the Hoka Challenger ATR 3's may not be all that robust is with the sole.
Only about 50 percent of the sole of the Hoka's has a more durable rubber (the orange and blue areas) and the rest of the sole is the same foam type material that the midsole is composed of. So while that may help keep the shoe nice and light, it may also cut down on the durability and traction compared to other shoes.
The one area where I don't have a perfect fit with the Hokas is in the heel area. The Hoka Challenger ATR 3's have a slightly wider heel than other shoes I own and while it hasn't been an issue with the Wrightsocks I wear, they do feel sightly looser than I would like.
The insoles of the Hokas are pretty typical, but provide good support for my feet.
When I fist got the Hokas I had to end up trimming the rim of the heel cup of the insoles as there was excess flash that created a ridge around my heel that made them uncomfortable, but I trimmed the flash off and they have been ok since then.
Out on the trail the Hokas have been great. While the Hoka Challenger ATR 3's don't have a toe plate like other trail shoes, the thickness of the sole gives the same protection and I didn't have any issues on the rocky section of the trails during a section hike down on the JMT earlier this year.
While I didn't have to hike any great distance on snow with my Hokas, I didn't have any issues with the sections I did hike on with my Hokas, which were all low angle sections with a well trodden path.
As I stated earlier, the one thing I did notice with the Hoka Challenger ATR 3's is that while they breathed well and kept my feet cool, they didn't allow near as much trail dust in through the fabric in the toe area of the shoes compared to what I have experienced previously with my New Balance Leadville 3's.
Overall I really like my Hoka Challenger ATR 3's and wouldn't have any problem recommending these shoes to anyone looking for a super comfortable pair of trail shoes for general hiking or longer backpacking trips on established trails like the JMT.