One of the premiere brands in running, Hoka One One is known for their great shoes. But with so many models it can be hard to know which one is exactly right for you. So let’s check out two of Hoka’s most popular models and compare the Hoka Speedgoat vs Challenger. The Hoka Speedgoats are the go to for many elite ultra runners and known for their great traction in the mountains and cushioning for extremely long runs. Many trail running world championships and FKTs have been set in these shoes. For many runners that run on more mixed surfaces like light trails and paved roads, the Speed Goats can feel like too much shoe. Enter the Hoka Challenger. A cushioned shoe designed to run on the mixed surfaces many runners train on day to day. To find out what that means let’s take a closer look at the two. So what is the difference between the Hoka Speedgoats and Challengers?
After a bit of research and trying both first hand I thought it would put together a quick check list of the differences to help you make the right choice based on your needs.
Hoka Speedgoat vs Challenger
- The Hoka Challengers are 1.5 oz lighter than the Speedgoats. The Challengers are 8.9 oz vs the Speedgoats at 10.3oz, which is a noticeable difference.
- Hoka Speedgoats have 1mm less drop than the Challenger. The Speedgoat features a 4mm drop compared to 5mm on the Challenger.
- The Speedgoats have less cushion then the Challengers. But offer more protection from rocks in the soles, sidewals, and toe box..
- The Challengers perform better on pavement/roads. This is where the lighter weight, tread, and drop difference pay off.
- Hoka’s Speedgoats are trail shoes first. With better overall traction and grip in wet rocky terrain.
- The Challengers tend to run a bit smaller. Meaning you may want to go a half size up.
- I found the toe box to be wider in the Challengers as well. But I wouldn’t call the Speedgoat toe box small by any means.
- The Speedgoat’s have a lower sidewall around the ankle. This becomes very noticeable on off camber trail where the Challenger sidewalls can start to rub.
Let’s get to the important part about the Hoka Speedgoat vs Challenger debate, their performance. I’ve run in both of these shoes and can see what Hoka One One was going for when they made the Challenger. They were able to take what a lot of people love on the Speedgoat and create a shoe that is perfect for people to run a mix of well groomed trails and roads. The increased drop makes them perfect for running without a lot of elevation and if your race has a large road section the Challengers would be a great choice. And if I’m going for a 6 – 10 mile run, while looking to run fast then the Challengers are a great choice.
All that said, if I’m running on rough trails I’m going to be in my Speedgoats. Herein the south east where I run, the trails a rooty and rocky. Meaning the extra protection provided by the Speedgoats are a must. And the traction on wet rock is unmatched. They are my favorite for both running and hiking, especially if there is a lot of elevation change.
Hoka Speedgoat Profile
Hoka Challenger ATR Profile
Speedgoat Back View
Challenger ATR Back View
Speedgoat Top View
Challenger ATR Top View
Challenger ATR Soles
I’ve actually run a 100 miler in both of these shoes. So I feel I have a really good sense of where they shine as well as their drawbacks. So for me this is one of the cases where it really comes down to what you are using them for. If I’m getting something for the trails then I’m going with my Speedgoats. They excel is tough, rocky and wet conditions. That’s just not the case with the Challenger. I ran my third 100 in them and my feet had never hurt more. They don’t offer a lot of rock protection and the higher sidewalls rubbed my ankles raw. Now if I’m running a lot of flatter well groomed trails or there is a long road run as part of it, then I might think about Challengers. Or if I want something for short runs where I’m not taking the beating of a longer trail. But in most cases, I’m going with the SpeedGoats.