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Photo credit: Hokaoneone.com

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4 review


Last updated: 25-Mar-19

By Dan Stinton

I'm sandwiched between two Hoka'thletes. This is my new coined phrase for those runners who just love HOKAS. It’s that time during an ultra when you begin questioning your own sanity - you know the time, somewhere beyond a marathon but with still an awful long way to go.

Inevitably, as is common during these things, I've made some new ultra friends and we've been happily chatting away about all things running for the last 30 minutes or so. My mind drifts as I wonder what to eat next but I am half-listening to the conversation going on between my new buddies:
Hoka'thlete #1: "I love my Hokas, once I tried them I knew I'd never run in anything else!"

Hoka'thlete #2: "Yes they're amazing! A revolution in running shoes. I wouldn't be without mine!"

Hoka'thlete #1: "Hokas oh lovely Hokas"

Hoka'thlete #2: "Mmmm Hokas"
I spotted their eyes dart briefly towards my clearly inadequately clad feet and I feel a ripple of embarrassment - why wasn’t I wearing HOKAS!

Sometime after that I ordered a pair of Speedgoats to see what the fuss was all about. I picked my usual size (9.5) but really struggled to even get them on as my shovel-like feet just couldn't cram in. I exchanged them for another half size up and again it was an incredible struggle to get them on and I knew I wouldn't be able to run in them so I sent them back, promptly forgot all about them and went running in the hills instead.

Many months later and I’m eagerly opening the box of a brand-new pair of HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR4s. Remembering my previous experience, I’d opted for a full size above usual (10.5) to ensure a good fit.

First impressions count and these shoes do look good, if a little quirky, with the bright yellow edged sole looking characteristically large and chunky. The upper is a simple style, attractive light blue dual-mesh emblazoned with the HOKA logo along the side. The HOKA website states a 31mm heel, 26mm forefoot and a 5mm heel-toe offset with 4mm lugs. 

Examining the sole, the lugs are closely spaced towards the heel with a wider spread towards the front. There are larger lugs at the midsole, presumably part of the “meta-rocker” design which is meant to promote “an efficient, smooth roll from initial impact to toe-off”. 

They look good, they fit width-wise even if a little large generally, and the sales pitch sounds interesting but, of course, the proof is in the running!



  • Dual-layer mesh
  • Oversize EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning
  • 4mm lugs
  • Available around £100

Pros: What’s good about the HOKA ONE ONE CHALLENGER ATR 4

After a couple of runs I thought I might be ending up on the other side of the HOKA fence; I felt some uncomfortable pressure on my arch and the thick sole felt much harder than I expected. Whilst running a steep descent, I felt like I was being thrown down the hill due to the thickness of the sole, and my feet just generally ached a little after running.

Undeterred, I embarked on a 22-miler with friends. Throughout the run I fended off multiple jokes about having mattresses on my feet, and being the volunteer who had to test out how deep the puddles were, but over the longer distance I started to warm to them, and the soles seemed to be breaking in, or my feet were getting used to the different style. The sole does seem to “roll” nicely as your foot hits the ground and lifts off.

Terrain wise, they’re a bit of an all-rounder. I can comfortably run on road and most types of trail with the cushioning almost disguising some more subtle types of trail, but the lugs just aren’t big enough for the big muddy running I often seem to be immersed in. However, I was running in these during the recent storm in the UK dubbed “The Beast from the East”, and they performed well in the snow with very limited slipping.


Cons: What’s not so good about the HOKA ONE ONE CHALLENGER ATR 4

As I indicated in the intro to this review, HOKAS generally do seem to have a loyal fan base, and I can see why. However, they won’t be to everyone’s taste and initially I wasn’t overly impressed but the more I ran in them, the more I liked them. 

Any type of serious mud, and you may be struggling compared to others designed for that type of terrain. The uppers perform well, and whilst comfortable, they seemed a little less rigid with a bit less toe protection than some of my favourites. As I had opted for a larger size, they worked well with my wide feet, but in general were probably slightly too big in other areas although that can be a benefit on long runs.

Sizing seems a little off, so if purchased online you may end up returning if the size doesn’t suit, but I’d say certainly go bigger than your usual running shoe size.



“I used to be indecisive but now …. I’m not so sure” as someone once said…..  I feel the same, but as I find myself reaching for the ATR4’s more and more often, clearly I must like them. 

I’d planned to do an ultra in them to conclude the testing, but unfortunately it got cancelled due to weather conditions, but I am confident they would have got me round without any issues. I’m used to thinner soled, slightly more sturdy and closer-fit trainers that make me “feel” the trail, and with the thicker soles on the Challenger ATR4 these feel unlike many other running shoes.

The Challenger ATR4 are certainly worth a try, especially if you already use HOKAS and know that they suit you. They’ll clearly suit runners who like a fair bit of cushioning on their feet, but if you’re a minimalist then clearly they won’t be to your taste. Just be careful though, you may end up as a purist Hoka’thlete!!

Design 7/10
Features 8/10
Performance 9/10
Value 8/10
Total  8/10

Other trail shoes you may want to consider:
Salomon Sense Ride
inov-8 Roclite 305
Hoka Speedgoat 2

All images Dan Stinton except when stated.

About the writer: Dan is a Peak District based runner who said he’d never take up cycling and has bought three bikes in the last 4 months. He likes nothing more than running into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was at All Hail the Trail.

Have you used the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4 running shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.

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Product Rating


Image Mask

“The sole does seem to “roll” nicely as your foot hits the ground and lifts off”

Where to buy

HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 ATR running shoes for women View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 ATR running shoes for men View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 ATR running shoes for women View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 ATR running shoes for men View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 ATR running shoes for men View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4 running shoes View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4 for women View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4 View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4 for women View deal
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4 for men View deal

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Review Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4 review

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09:40 24-03-19

These shoes are amazing for a 100 mile trail ultra. I wore non hoka shoes in the past and my feet were mangled at the end but the cushioning & support from the ATR Challenger made my runs more pleasurable and they done a total of 260 miles before wear & tear started to show. The only down side is the price but they are worth it.

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11:40 17-01-19

The Challenger ATR 4's are my first pair of Hoka's. I bought them mainly because I wanted to try another brand of road/trail shoe, and Hoka One One were a re*****ble brand.
PRO's - I find that the look of the shoe is appealing. They are light and well cushioned. I like the lugs but haven't had the pleasure of running in muddy slippery conditions to test them. I ran 24km's straight along trail and over a mountain and they handled the terrain fairly well. However they got a bit hot on base of foot and I got a few blisters on end of toes and sore Achilles heal caused by the thinner heal padding I think.
CON's - It takes a while to get used of the meta rocker base, you kind of don't feel in total control at first, especially if you make sharp turns on a trail run. The laces are ok but I find they are very stretchy at first and require multiple attempts at getting the tightness to support the foot. The heal padding is thinner than I am used to, and although the shoe hugs the foot nicely and is very comfortable while walking or doing a slow jog it does give me a sore Achilles after a long trail run or even if I do some track work. I also get some blisters because they do get a bit hot, it might be due to the dual layer construction. I have broken them in during a hot summer so this is a contributing factor.

Overall I like the shoe, it looks good, it is light, has good grip so far, although due to the meta rocker it can be hard negotiating sharp turns. It does get hot and so sweaty as well, so I have gotten blisters and after only a months use, they kinda lost that new shoe smell after only wearing them maybe 15 times. I would probably upgrade to the Speedgoat 3 if I was going to invest in another pair of Hoka's but I will enjoy these ones for the next 12 months. I'll put in a full season of trail events before making final decision, I may even revert back to Mizuno next time as I had no real issue with them at all except for the weight of the shoe.

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06:14 04-11-18

The Challenger ATR4 were my first Hoka's, as the first I'd tried on that fit in the toe box without having to go up a size. They are very cushy, and have a moderate rocker action on toe off which can make the foot transition feel more forced at toe-off.
After 300 miles they are showing little sign of wear, with only expected wear down on the outsole. I'm impressed with the dual layer upper - it looks like new - though it can be a little irritating over the toes where the inner mesh can bow inwards rubbing the top of the toes.
I'll certainly be getting another pair in the near future

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01:19 17-09-18

Love my ATR 4. As much as I loved the slightly softer outsole on the ATR 3, the uppers were horrendous, and just fell apart. Only got 100km on mine so far. I think the uppers are a massive improvement and Hoka are catching up with other brands by using tougher materials, but still keeping the wight down.

I don't use the ATR 4 in the mountains (Snowdonia, North Wales) as they are not designed for that, but on lower-level trails. They do very well on technical terrain but are poor on anything muddy or sloping grass; Hoka would do well to add maybe 1mm to the lugs. But then again, I have the Torrents if I want more grip.

Definitely firmer than the ATR 3, but not massively so. Very pleased with mine.

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04:22 02-07-18

Ran the Highland Fling in the ATR4s end of April.

Pros: Super comfortable the whole 53-miles. Perfect grip and feet very happy at the end.

Cons: They ripped and have been returned. (Just behind where the little toe is) Have since bought the Hoka Torrents instead as Hokas has added plastic covering on the shoe (I assume to make sure they don't rip).

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07:55 01-04-18

Jumped on the Hoka band wagon with the Clifton 3. Loved the cushioning in that shoe and still do. Also got the ATR 3 and now recently bought the ATR 4.

If you are moving from the ATR 3 to the 4, this is what I noticed...

- It's lighter!
- The upper is snug and comfortable, more sock like which I personally feel is great.
- The thread and lugs are pretty much the same, so works well on both road and trail.
- The meta rocker works well once you are accustomed to it.

- The underfoot foam material is harder, much harder. Hopefully will get softer with time (only done about 80 KM in them so far).
- The tongue is thinner. Not a major cons, but got discomfort and had to adjust.
- My right shoe's sock liner feels like it's got bump in it. (I.e like you haven't put the sock on properly. You get used to it and I don't get any blisters, but my left shoe doesn't have it. May have to return it as it may be a small production fault..)

Currently giving them a 3 star, will review again once more broken in.