Hoka as a brand has only been around a few decades. But in a relatively short time they have earned a reputation for some of the best trail running shoes on the market. With some of the top runners in the world wearing them for races and FKT attempts alike. So today we’ll be looking at two of their more popular trail running shoes, comparing the Hoka Torrent vs Challenger ATR. Breaking down the key differences, each shoe’s specs, pictures, and an in depth review for each shoe. The goal is to help you find the perfect shoe for you. So let’s get to it.
Hoka Torrent Vs Challenger ATR
- Both shoes are neutral trail running shoes. Perfect for the majority of runners.
- Hoka Challenger are the slightly heavier of the two. With the men’s model weighing 8. oz compared to the Torrents at 8.7 oz.
- Both the Hoka Torrent and Challenger have a 5mm drop. Which is considered moderate, and good for both mid to long distances.
- The Torrents have slightly less cushion and are classified as responsive. Compared to the Challengers which are listed as balanced as cushioned.
- The Challengers are listed as having almost twice the volume (sole density). I’d guess there is almost twice the volume of padding in the Challenger..
- Hoka’s Torrents have a noticeably larger, multi directional lug. And has better overall traction for mud, wet, or slick conditions.
One is a light and responsive trail runner. Providing a feel for the trail with the grip to keep your feet locked in no matter the conditions. While the other offers a balance of cushion and feel. Taking the trails with ease and making the occasional road sections feel surprisingly comfortable for trail runners. But when comparing the Hoka Torrent vs Challenger ATR, which one is right for you? Below we’ll go into more depth about each shoe. Helping you decide which model is right for you.
The Hoka Torrent is the brand’s aggressive trail runner. And with a design that features cutting lines and larger multi directional lugs. They certainly looked the part out of the box. On the feet the Torrents fit more snug and are noticeably less plush than other Hoka models. This is a nice contrast compared to other models. And offers a much more responsive feel on the foot.
Hitting the trails in the Torrents, they feel light and fast. You can feel the trail under your feet. This means they are incredibly responsive on rocky and rooty courses. Allowing you to feel each step but giving you just enough padding. The large lugs grip incredibly well both in dry and wet conditions. And they drain water / breathe really well.
My only complaints about the Torrents are one of the things I love about them. For better or worse you are going to feel the trail. So they may not be the right choice for racking up a lot of training miles. The grip may also be overkill for well groomed and moderate trails.
Out of the box the Hoka Challenger looks very much like a road running shoe. And very similar to one of my favorite Hoka shoes, the Clifton. Just with added lugs, ankle support, and heel landing for down hill. Though they feel much different than the Cliftons on the feet. The Challenger is comfortable but does feel a bit narrow. So you may want to go a ½-1 size up if you want a roomier fit. And I’d say the arch support is low to medium. And could use a bit more in my opinion.
On the trail there is a lot to enjoy about these shoes. They have a good amount of cushion and take a good amount of the shock from ground under you. The traction is perfect for well groomed trails. And one of the biggest draws to the Hoka Challenger is its ability to flow from trails to roads without missing a beat. This is where the Challengers shine. Giving you the ability to run a few road miles to the trailhead and straight onto the trail comfortably.
There are a few downsides to the Challenger. If you need shoes that can handle technical, rooty, and rocky trails. These wouldn’t be my choice. The traction is better suited for well groomed trails. They also don’t drain / dry as quickly as I would like. So if they get wet on the trails, they can feel soggy for longer than other trail runners that dry quickly (the Torrent for example).
Below is an image comparison of the Hoka Torrent vs Challenger ATR. You can see the difference in lugs between the two and how lean the Torrent is compared to the Challenger.
Hoka Torrent Profile
Hoka Challenger ATR Profile
Torrent Back View
Challenger ATR Back
Torrent Top View
Challenger ATR Top
Hoka Torrent Soles
Challenger ATR Soles
Conclusion – Hoka Torrent vs Challenger ATR
One is the brand’s fast, light, and responsive trail runner. While the other offers a classic road runner look with the ability to transition between the trails and streets with ease. But which one is right for you?
Which One to Buy?
These are two really different trail running shoes. Built with two different uses in mind.
If you are looking for something to handle technical, rocky, and muddy trails. The Torrents are exactly what you are looking for. They are my go to for running OCR, climbing 14ers, and faster races (5k-50k) on technical trails.
On the other hand, if you run on the well groomed trails in the western states. And are looking for something that will transfer comfortably to roads for short periods. Then the Challenger is a great choice. I took my pair with me to Sedona and could easily run from my hotel to the trail head. Hit the trails and get back comfortably. While only having to pack one pair of shoes.