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The Challenger ATR 3 combines superior cushioning, breathability, and all-terrain traction making this HOKA One One a top shoe for trail running in the South.

Creating excellent running shoes since 2013, HOKA has developed a reputation for making long-lasting, high-quality shoes that offer maximalist design while remaining extremely lightweight. When running in HOKA, it almost feels like running on a cloud: light, cushiony, and soft. And the Challenger ATR 3 is no exception.

Our favorite trail running shoes: our HOKA One One Challenger ATR 3 trail running shoe review

We were excited to get the chance to test out the Challenger ATR 3 after running in, and loving, our HOKA Clifton running shoes for years. Dubbed ‘the Clifton for trail running’ we were eager to get the third-gen Challenger ATR on our feet and out on the trail.

Our HOKA One One Challenger ATR 3 review

A versatile performer, this shoe excels on technical singletrack trails and gravel roads. It also handles the pavement well, which is awesome if we need to cover a few miles on the road to access a trailhead. We frequently run sections of paved city streets to access our favorite running trails, and the Challenger has been our go-to shoe for our recent trail running adventures.

Featuring an ultra-grippy outsole, the HOKA One One Challenger ATR 3 is one of our all-time favorite trail running shoes

The fit was comfortable right out of the box, but we did notice the toe box was a bit narrow compared to the Clifton. It wasn’t an issue for our narrow feet, but for you, if a wider shoe is more comfortable, be sure to check the HOKA sizing guide for a proper fit.

The shoe features the X-40 High Rebound Ortholite insole, which wicks away moisture to keep our feet dry and comfortable. The insole also inhibits odor and mildew growth while offering an extra layer of cushioning for superior comfort. Paired with our favorite FITS Ultra Light Runner No Show socks, our feet stay dry no matter how many miles we’re logging on the trail and blissfully blister-free.

Our HOKA One One Challenger ATR 3 trail running shoe review

Underfoot, the oversized EVA midsole combines outstanding cushioning without adding excess weight. Weighing a mere 7.9 ounces (9.5 ounces for men), the Challenger ATR 3 doesn’t weigh us down or slow us up on long distance runs. The midsole also provides plenty of protection from rocks and roots underfoot when we’re hitting those rocky mountain trails.

The Challenger’s grippy outsole features 4mm lugs that provide excellent traction on all kinds of terrain and trail conditions. We ran a technical section of the Art Loeb Trail and were impressed with the shoe’s ability to tackle rocks, roots, puddles and hard-packed dirt. In wet conditions, the lugs do a great job of keeping our feet firmly planted and our body upright. Our runs often include sections of pavement or sidewalk, and unlike some other trail runners we’ve worn, the Challenger doesn’t feel overly bulky or knobby when running on pavement.

With fantastic grip and outstanding cushioning the HOKA One One Challenger ATR 3 is one of our all-time favorite trail running shoes

HOKA’s midsole geometry and early stage meta-rocker give the Challenger the comfortable ride we’re familiar with, keeping us on the move. The meta-rocker works with our natural running gait to propel us forward, and provides a smooth roll from the back to the front of our foot. And the active foot frame keeps our feet securely planted deep in the midsole for excellent stability and control.

Our trail-tested HOKA One One Challenger ATR 3 trail running shoe review

Up top, the 3D puff print frame offers excellent foot support without adding weight. It also offers amazing breathability and ventilation which is essential for our hot, humid summers here in the South.

Challenger ATR 3 review wrap-up

The Challenger ATR3 is a lightweight, neutral stability trail shoe that offers superior cushioning and traction for any terrain and trail conditions we run up against here in the South. And the breathable, ventilated upper, and wicking insole keep our feet dry and comfortable in our warm climate.

So where can I find them?

While we received a sample pair to test, all opinions above are our own, and based on our own, trail-tested experience. Some links on Trailful are affiliate links, which means that the merchant might pay us a commission if you purchase a product after clicking our links, at no extra cost to you. We only recommend gear that we personally use and love.
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Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a freelance web designer, writer and photographer at Authentic Asheville who loves to hike, run, backpack, cycle and swim. Her mission is to inspire others to get out and experience the great outdoors. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina.