Reviews

The Hoka Challenger ATR 5 is a great trail running…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $130

Summary

The Hoka Challenger ATR 5 is a great trail running shoe that can double as a nice backpacking shoe for people looking for a nice comfortable shoe with plenty of room in the toe box and that's also available in wide sizes.

Pros

  • Plenty of cushion
  • Good durability
  • Dry fast
  • Make an old pair of feet feel young again!

Cons

  • No rock plate
  • Could use a gripper sole

I am home based in Washington state but make regular trips to California to visit family and when I do I always try to squeeze in a backpacking or fishing trip to the east side of the Sierras. In Washington I generally wear a lightweight hiking or mountaineering boot for most of my backcountry trips, but down in California I have gone to only wearing trail runners as trails like the JMT are well maintained and at least from my perspective are very conducive to using trail runners.

This is my second pair of Hokas that I have purchased for backpacking as they really have allowed my old feet (I'm 61) to go pain- and blister-free on week-long trips with a pack in the 25- to 30-pound range.

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I purchased the Hoka Challenger ATR 5's because they first and foremost had the cushion I was looking for in the sole, came in wide widths, and also had a nice roomy toe box that fit my feet well.

Under most trail conditions the Hoka Challenger ATR 5's performed great, but the one area where they could be better is with the sole. While I have always found the sole more than adequate for most of my outings, it is not as grippy as what is available on other trail runners. Hoka does make other shoes with Vibram soles, but those don't always come in wide widths or have as roomy a toe box as the Challenger ATR 5's. The Challenger ATR 5's also don't have a rock plate, but I have never found this to be an issue as the thick soles do a great job when hiking over rocky terrain.

Even in the summer you can run into snow on most of the higher passes in the Sierras and for the most part the Hoka Challengers do an adequate job as there is usually a well worn path and steps that allow you to safely travel with trekking poles and when it gets a little more dicey I'll slip on a pair of Hillsound Trail Crampons.

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During a trip this summer I had to cross a log in the picture below over Bear Creek in the southern Sierras and I was a little concerned as the far end of the log was damp and I wasn't all that crazy about crossing a damp log over a pretty significant creek in trail runners.

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Since I had my Hillsound Trail Crampons with me I just put them on and they made the trip across the log that much more secure.

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Most of the time when I am backpacking and come up to a creek crossing I'll pull off my Hokas and put on a pair of water shoes to wade across the creek, but this summer I ended up doing a number of wet crossings in my Hoka Challenger ATR 5's and found that the shoes drained very well and dried quickly. 

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From a durability standpoint the Hoka Challenger ATR 5's have held up very well and the outer mesh material used is significantly better then the material used on a previous pair of Hoka Challenger ATR 3's that cracked and tore where the shoe flexes in the toe box after extended use.

Overall I really like the Hoka Challenger ATR 5's as a backpacking shoe and also as an everyday shoe and would recommend them to anyone looking for a nice comfortable trail runner that also comes in wide sizes. I wish Hoka would have more models available in wide sizes and I am considering at least trying on a pair of their Kaha hiking shoes to see if I can find a Hoka I would be happy using both here in Washington and down in California.

Experience

I have been using these shoes for the last seven months both as a trail runner on backpacking trips and as an everyday shoe. I have owned other trail runners by Hoka and other manufacturers in the past in addition to owning a number of backpacking and mountaineering boots since the 1970s.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review, Mike!


11 days ago

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