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Hands-on Gear Review
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 - Women's Review
Cons: Less stable on technical terrain, absorbent material
Bottom line: Run 20 miles and make it feel like 10; this Top Pick for Comfort is comfortable and plush with a stable design.
The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 sports a super plush and protective midsole that will have you tackling miles without a second thought. Synonymous with other maximalist shoes, the Challenger ATR 3 boasts 28 mm of fantastically soft cushion for all day comfort. The forefoot is wider than previous iterations making it feel more sensitive and stable. Not only that, but this shoe continues to be one of the lightest shoes tested. The outsole has changed a bit as well incorporating 4 mm lugs that bite the trail. With the changes to its midsole and fit this year, we are proud to announce that the HOKA Challenger ATR 3 has won our Top Pick for Comfort. Take it everywhere! Ranging from long dirt roads to high mountain trails. Your muscles and joints will thank you.
RELATED REVIEW: Best Trail Running Shoes for Women of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 is one of the lightest and most stable of the maximalist shoe options. It stands out for its lightweight design, great traction, and soft cushioned midsole. The changes to this year's model has made it more comfortable, versatile, and stable, earning our Top Pick for Comfort award.
The HOKA Challenger ATR 3 is a little different than its predecessor. Here are the main differences.
Earning an eight out of ten in this category, the extra cushion provides great underfoot protection. This shoe does not have a rock plate, so most of the protection comes in the way of just straight up cushion, which protects well on the trail.
We love the hard toe cap that protects from unsuspecting stubs on the trail in addition to its breathable upper that keeps particulates out. In general, this shoe is not very water resistant but does wick well during a light rainstorm. That said, it will get wet when trudging through rivers or streams. If you're looking for a shoe that scored top points for its water-resistant overlays, be sure to check out the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX - Women's. Or if you want a shoe that is completely impenetrable to debris, be sure to check out the Salomon Speedcross 4.
Scoring a six out of ten for traction, we thought this shoe had an average level of traction when comparing the outsole to other shoes. It does well on most surfaces including everything from buffed out singletrack to technical scree fields. This year, the outsole was adapted to increase the smoothness of transitions from heel to toe. In addition, the outsole features 4mm lugs made of podular rubber.
While this shoe performed well in most conditions, we would recommend longer lugs found in trail runners like the Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's (Our Top Pick) and Salming Elements for soft, sloppy surfaces like mud and clay. Other than that, take it anywhere you please!
Keep in mind that if you've never worn a maximalist shoe, it does take awhile to get used to. If you're an ankle roller, check out a more stable option like the La Sportiva Bushido or our Best Buy winner the Saucony Peregrine 7.
This year, the Challenger ATR 3 was adapted using a more intricate 3D print design that seems to be more flexible and supportive than the previous model. In addition, the fit is a little wider that gives this shoe a lower stack height: width ratio than previous versions. Of all the maximalist models, this is by far the most stable. However, when comparing the stability of it to other shoes, we find that it sits on the lower end of average, earning a five out of ten. With 28mm of stack height in the heel, it's hard to be super stable without an incredibly wide construct. That said, we still thought it did a good job over most technical terrain to include rutted roads and scree fields.
Comfort & Fit
The Challenger ATR 3 provides an ample amount of comfort in the way of soft cushioning. As a result, it earned a perfect ten in this category. Not only is the underfoot midsole comfortable but so are the overlays and fit. Many of our testers commented that after 10 - 15 mile runs, they felt that the extra shock absorbance of the shoe actually made their muscles and joints feel less sore and achy. While this seems to be the trend with the maximalist shoe category, we think this is a huge benefit for those looking for a little extra cushioning and comfort.
This year's models boast a wider toe box that accommodates not only narrow feet, but medium to wide feet a like. The heel cup fits fantastically with little to no slip while the size is true to fit. Overall, this shoe is best for those seeking out maximal comfort all day long!
For the amount of cushioning, we are so impressed by how lightweight this shoe is! Weighing in at just 8.80 oz (dry) this is the second lightest shoe next to the Nike Terra Kiger 4 - Women's.
As a result, it earned a nine out of ten in this category. While the shoe is light, it does absorb quite a bit of water when wet (4.45 oz in our tests). That said, it dries quickly both on trail in motion, and just sitting out in the open air. We'd be happy to say this is the best lightweight maximalist shoe option in this particular review.
Earning five out of ten in this category, we found that sensitivity was a little below average when comparing this shoe to other contenders. If you are looking for an ultra-sensitive shoe, check out other low profile shoe options like the Salming Elements or La Sportiva Bushido instead. The Bushido boasts both protection and sensitivity while the Salming Elements boast intense sensitivity and flexibility.
The applications? Endless! While it's not the prettiest piece of footwear to wear out on the town, we feel that it's capable of tackling any kind of trail. We also think it's a great crossover option. With its cushioned midsole and lightweight design, we recommend it for any and all distances.
For a measly $130, you get an ultra-cushioned and high-performing trail shoe. In other words - a lot of bang for your buck. HOKA ONE ONE has notoriously sold ultra cushioned for ultra expensive prices. Loyal customers have shelled out up to $170 per pair! In comparison to these extraordinary prices, $130 is a fantastic value for a maximalist shoe. Plus, it's our Top Pick for Comfort. However, if you're in the market for the best-valued shoe in this review, be sure to check out our Best Buy award winner, the Saucony Peregrine 7 - Women's.
The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 performs well over all types of terrain. Wear them for your nightly run or at your next race. For only $130, this is one of the cheapest maximalist options you'll find on the market and it's our Top Pick for Comfort!
— Amber King
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