The Challenger ATR 4 is up for review! We are looking closely at this creation and examining all of the elements. For those who are familiar with the Clifton model, by Hoka One One, this is that model with a bit of grit. Furthermore, with 4-millimeter lugs, this is a trail-ready pair. Add in a bit of flashiness with color contrasting and this pair just might make the bid for the top of the hill, so to speak. And if not, we are going to find out one way or another! Will they make it or break it on the way to the rocky bank, per se? Will they stand up to the scrutiny or be left on the trail to waste away in the runner’s wake? Let’s find out!
As long as you pick the right color tones, the aesthetics are not too bad. Accenting eyelets show through the dual-layer mesh and the corresponding color highlights along the tongue and bottom. The problem we find is that there are not a whole lot of good-looking tone schemes. There are too many which are less than desirable and it is easy to picture the curling of an upper lip, as people gaze down upon them in bewilderment. Obvious enough, this is not a good thing.
Also, not all of the contrasting tones work well together. Aesthetically, choices are few in that we can find a pair which declares the freeness within a runner's life, as they hit the trails for the adventure. This is one of those times when careful consideration should be taken prior to choosing the colors presented before you. After all, these are going to be on your feet.
We do find that airflow is rather decent with this pair. Since these are considered for running the trails
, airflow is monumental in reducing fatigue and maintaining healthy feet. The dual-layer, mesh upper is the main contributor to the airflow. It is made well enough that air does enter and escape at acceptable levels. The extended toe cap, however, does reduce the amount of air which freely moves. In essence, the toes may get a bit hotter than the rest of the foot; albeit, this may not be overly so for some. Finally, after everything is taken into account, the freedom of air is present for a pair which is great for those warmer days. Airflow receives a plus and these hit the mark, so to speak.
There are a few color choices available. But with that being stated, some of the color schemes are rather questionable. We are uncertain if this is a designer's shortcoming or a matter of taste; possibly, a bit of both. It seems that the blue and green hues are especially more repulsive than attractive. It might be the accenting tones in which are utilized to describe the colors or the overall color choice. Either way, the colors are just not there, for the most part. We did find, on the other hand, some schemes which are greatly desirable, such as black mixed with orange and other like-minded layouts. Unfortunately, however, there are fewer we consider great versus the amount that's available.
These have a design for neutral feet. So, assuming that your feet have neutral pronation, we will consider the comfort levels. First, the midsole has been oversized to give more cushioning. This is not bad, per se; and yet, it isn't entirely good, either. For example, more cushioning is great for questionable terrain types that we find on trails. If, however, you prefer something which sits lower in the heel, than these are not going to suffice. There is a healthy amount of elevation from heel to the toe and the added cushioning only works to amplify this.
For those who are used to the design by wearing the Clifton model, on the other hand, the environment is not that much different. Also, the toe area is a bit tight in comparison to the rest of the fit. This can feel odd and strange for those not used to this design. Moreover, there can be pain associated with the cramping fit.
First and foremost, this is a pair having the design for trail running. This means that lugs are a given and that they must handle the terrain. Unfortunate enough, however, this is not the case. After roughly 40 miles of trail running, the lugs begin to tear off and become a non-factor. In order to gain the maximum amount of usage for the monetary investment, we would need to rip off the rest of the lugs and then apply this to road running.
These are not, however, created for the road. They are advertised and sold as trail running footwear, and as such, should hold up to the task. They do not. Also, the outsole, in general, peels after 4 months or so. This is completely unacceptable from a brand as costly as these. Moreover, the durability factor is ridiculous at best and does not meet even subpar standards.
With technical trails, we need footwear which creates a solid foundation while, also, remaining flexible enough to allow us to navigate the terrain with general ease. With this pair, Hoka One One hit the mark with the stiffness factor. Unfortunately, however, these are way too stiff. There is not enough flexibility to hit up a technical course with both safety and speed.
Performance is thereby reduced and we are left pondering how these could even be considered for a trail, outside of the lugs, that is. The main problem area we found is that the midsole is just too rigid for a technical trail run. It cannot handle the job and our feet suffer because of it. This is absolutely disappointing, as these will not work on any trails that are not level.
Grip & Heel
The grip is rather decent out of the box. The lug spacing is sufficient for trails and releases dirt and rocks with general efficiency. The problem with the grip, however, is that the grip just doesn't stay intact. The lugs begin to tear off after 40+ miles and the outsole, itself, begins to peel at around 4 months. Add to this the reduced flexibility in comparison to other styles of this same type, and the grip becomes secondary to the lack of flexibility needed for technical trails.
The heel sits fine and there is an internal heel counter to aid in support. This feature does seem to function as intended and performance remains decent, within this regard. Overall, however, because of the utter failure in the gripping features, this model is a bust.
Heel to Drop
These have a 5-millimeter heel-to-toe drop. Normally, this is a decent drop for trail running and works well for those not used to minimalist shoes
. If it were just the HTT (heel-to-toe) drop, this number is a good range. But when we consider the rest of the setup, mainly in the thick midsole, then we begin to receive another picture, altogether. What we find is that these can feel as though you are running on heels, especially after putting in a lot of miles. This is because of the stiffness in the midsole and the overall fit of the product. This amplifies the minimal drop to feel much more elevated than it actually is.
If you are searching for a pair with energy return and responsiveness as requirements, then these are not for you. Responsiveness is at an all-time low. Whether this is due to the rigid midsole or the stacking effect of a strange fitting, the gait is hindered in that there is no spring in your step, as it were. And if this is all that we found in this realm of responsiveness, then this would be something we might be able to live with. Sadly enough, this is not the case. Because of the stiffness, we find when attempting to navigate technical trails, responsiveness seems to take a step backward. In other words, there is more effort that needs to take place, in order to complete the gait process during a trail run.
These are rated for trails. In any trail footwear, there are various types, such as technical and straight trails. With that being said, typically, when we find a trail running shoe
, we find that they work equally well on both of these pitches and levels of degree. With this pair, we find that these perform much better on straight trails that have a minimal pitch associated with it.
For technical trails, these are a no-go and should not be utilized as such. They do not handle the terrain type like they should and could possibly cause unforeseen injury; mainly, in the realm of a midsole which is far too stiff to give ample flexibility and lugs that peel off. And although some may be able to navigate with this pair with ease, others might find this pair to be cumbersome and painful. Because of the likeliness of potential damage, we recommend these to be only worn on straight and flat courses with no technical aspects associated with it.
After consideration of the fit, performance, durability, and pricing, we can only conclude that this is a pair worth steering away from. Unless you are a collector of the Hoka One One brand, this particular model is an utter failure and huge disappointment. They do not perform on technical trails without causing pain, simply because the midsole is too stiff to give the correct amount of flexibility needed for such types. Also, the lugs rip away from the tread much too early than any acceptable parameter and the outsole peels away in around 4+ months.
Considering the price, this is a pair which should last well into the 6-month range and lug durability should be a non-issue, especially considering they are the primary focus of a trail shoe, more or less. At the end of the day, these are just not worth the asking price and there are better options out there on the market, today.