HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 vs HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4

HOKA Speedgoat 4 vs HOKA Challenger ATR 6

How to Choose Between these Altra Contenders

At first glance, both the shoes in this comparison post might look ridiculous. With a 30mm stack height in the heel, massive amounts of pillowy midsole cushion, and a rainbow’s array of colorways, the HOKA Challenger ATR 6 and Hoka Speedgoat 4 are head-turning shoes. At least, they were when they first hit the market.

In the past few years, HOKA ONE ONE has increased drastically in popularity among hikers, backpackers, and trail runners — presenting a serious challenge to the dominance of Altra models like the Altra Lone Peak. They love Hoka’s increased comfort and protection against the rocky, rooty ground, upper and outsole durability that comes in above other trail running models, and the moderate drop that works for nearly everyone’s foot strike.

There are also a lot of models to choose from with HOKA—among them, the popular Challengers and Speedgoats. It can be hard to choose between these two models, which look very similar at first glance. However, there are some key differences (including pros and cons) between the two models, which we’ll review in this article.

This guide should help you decide which model is best for you, and what to expect from each pair of shoes, warts and all.

What About those Altra Lone Peaks?

And we’ve included an addendum on how they stack up against the Altra Lone Peaks.

HOKA Challenger ATR 6 ($130)

Weight: 9.6 ounces (Men’s 9) | 8.8 ounces (Women’s 8)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 30mm / 25mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Comfortable, versatile shoe with extreme durability
The Hoka One One Challengers are our picks for top hiking and backpacking shoes. The Challengers are a lightweight, versatile shoe that gives the wearer an incredible amount of stability and out of the box comfort. Their 5 mm drop is a happy medium, which suits both hikers used to zero or high drop shoes. Though they don’t feature the same wide toe box as the Altra Lone Peaks, the slightly snugger fit provides more stability and confidence in foot placement. Furthermore, this model comes in wide, if you truly need extra room.

Read more…

PROS Wider fit and less aggressive outsole is more comfortable for longer periods of time, and will likely be more than enough for the most commonly encountered terrain. These shoes dry fast, and the rubber grip on the forefoot and under the heel provides good traction on most terrain. These shoes are lighter weight than others with comparable cushion, and are incredibly breathable.

CONS The lack of rubber under the middle of the foot can be a detractor when the trail gets steep or slick, and the more moderate outsole wears out more quickly than other, more aggressive trail shoes.

BEST FOR: Athletes who don’t fit into extremely narrow shoes, but want a more snug fit. Hiking, backpacking, and trail running on a variety of trails, with big miles as the objective. Ultralight backpacking

Read our full review: HOKA Challenger ATR 6 Review

HOKA Speedgoat 4 ($145)

Weight: 10.8 ounces (Men’s 9) | 9.6 ounces (Women’s 8)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 32mm / 28mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
MSRP: $145

What We Like: Excellent traction and comfort.
HIGHLIGHT: Jeff Garmire chose the Speedgoats for his record on the Colorado Trail. He set the FKT (Fastest Known Time) in just 9 days and 8 hours. We predict the Speedgoats guiding more backpackers and runners to records. Furthermore, their benefits extend to any wearer, not just the elite.

Read more…

PROS: Technical fit is secure on steep, challenging trails, and the outsole and deep lugs provide even more security. The ultra-cushioned midsole helps prevent bruising and pain after long stretches of rocky trail, and the foam was updated this year to be more responsive, which means more efficiency with each foot strike.

CONS: This is a shoe for more aggressive hiking and trail running, and people looking for a more moderate shoe might find the outsole and taller stack to be overkill on moderate trails. The tighter fit can add up after a full day of wear, and some might find it constricting, especially compared to wider models.

BEST FOR: Trail running and hiking on any trail. Ultralight backpacking and putting up big miles

Read our full review: HOKA Speedgoat 4 Review

Hoka challenger atr 6

How to Choose Between the Speedgoat & Challenger ATR

Is the Speedgoat or Challenger a better fit for you? Ask yourself these questions before choosing between the two.

1) Terrain

Do you hike on mostly moderate terrain, or is your next big adventure going to have steep trails, loose shale, mud, or all of the above?

Your Choice: If you hike and run on more moderate terrain, go for the Challenger. More technical? We recommend the Speedgoat.

2) Breathability

Do your feet sweat a lot? Is your region humid and the trails damp, and you need a very breathable mesh upper? Or maybe your feet stay dry and you would rather have a more durable upper?

Your Choice: If your feet sweat a lot, choose the Challenger with its lighter, more breathable mesh upper. Need something a bit more rugged? The Speedgoats are still breathable, but not as light as the Challenger.

3) Shoe Width

Do you like a wider fit, or are you worried about your feet sliding around on tricky trails?

Your Choice: Hikers who like a slightly wider fit should choose the Challenger, and hikers who want a snugger, more secure fit will be happier with the Speedgoats.

4) Durability vs Weight

Would you rather have a more aggressive, durable shoe that weighs a few ounces more, or are you looking to go light and fast?

Your Choice: If you want something more rugged, the Speedgoat is your best bet. The lighter weight, more moderate option will be the Challenger.

5) Overall Application

Your Choice: Overall, if you’re going to be hiking on mostly moderate terrain, we’d recommend the Challenger as the best all-around shoe. The shoe is wider, more comfortable, and lighter Hikers hitting more steep, loose, or technical trails will be happier with the Speedgoats for their snugger fit and better traction.

hoka speedgoat on the trail

What about other highly cushioned shoes?

The shoe that comes to mind immediately is the Altra Olympus.

This is the popular brand’s closest competitor to a HOKA shoe. The Altra Olympus is heavier than both the Speedgoat and the Challenger, and since the Olympus is zero-drop, you’re standing taller through both the heel and toe—a full 5mm taller in the toe than the Speedgoat. The Olympus has a wider toe box than the Speedgoat and Challenger, which contributes to both long-term comforts as well as stability on the trail but keep in mind you’ll be standing taller in these than in either HOKA model.

Altra’s durability has been called into question in recent years, including instances of the uppers wearing out, and the outsole wearing down. Hikers who want maximum midsole cushioned and the wide toe box could definitely be happy with the Olympus.

Other HOKA Options

The Speedgoats and Challengers come in a variety of styles, including a GTX version of the Challenger, and the Speedgoats in a GTX mid-rise and GTX low-rise version.

HOKA also offers the lighter-weight Torrent, the high-volume (yes, even for HOKA) Stinson, and the ultra-technical EVO Mafate.

Addendum | What About Altra Lone Peaks?

We’d be remiss if we didn’t at least briefly address how the Speedgoats & Challenger ATRs compare to the wildly popular Altra Lone Peaks.

  • Zero Drop: This trendy style might appeal to some, but many hikers will be perfectly fine with a mid-drop shoe. A 4-5mm drop has a more neutral feel than zero-drop and is and less likely to cause Achilles and calf strain.
  • Wide Toe Box: The wide toe box of Altras lets your feet splay out, but on more technical or steep terrain, your foot starts sliding around in the shoe. The mid-width fit of the Challengers is likely a better all-around shoe, and the slightly narrower fit of the Speedgoats is better for technical terrain.
  • Lower Stack Height: More stability and better trail feel. But also less cushioning.
  • Weight: Heavier than Challengers, similar weight to Speedgoats
  • Durability: None of these will have the durability of a hefty hiking-specific shoe or boot. They are all very light trail runners with a lifespan of 200 to 500 miles depending on terrain and who is wearing them. Some of our testers have had good luck with Altra durability (but others have had issues with Altra durability in the past few years, but are regularly getting 500 miles out of HOKAs).

Conclusion | Choosing the Challenger ATR or the Speedgoat

If we had to sum it up in just a few sentences? These are both excellent shoes for hikers looking for a trail shoe with a lot of cushion, a moderate heel-to-toe drop, and a more standard width and fit.

Both shoes fall right in the middle of durability for lightweight trail runners, with the Speedgoats likely lasting longer due to their more rugged construction and heavier weight.

The Challengers are a more moderate shoe for hikers on moderate trails, and are more comfortable over long distances than the Speedgoats. The Challengers don’t have rubber under the middle of the foot, which means less traction on steep or challenging trail sections.

The Speedgoats are ideal for hikers hitting more challenging, rugged terrain. Their aggressive lugs and Vibram outsoles can stand up to slippery or muddy trails, and the narrower fit helps keep them secure over loose or steep terrain.

It’s important to remember that the best pick for your upcoming trails might not be the same as the next person. The Challenger is a fantastic, comfortable all-around shoe, but the Speedgoat is the shoe that Jeff “Legend” Garmire chose for his Colorado Trail record this past summer, opting for the more secure fit, higher durability, and rugged traction for the 100,000 feet of elevation gain and loss over nearly 500 miles.

We hope this helped you choose between two great options, and if you have any other questions about how to decide between these shoes, or other top picks, drop them in the comments.


This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. For product reviews: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.

6 replies
  1. Joseph Seago
    Joseph Seago says:

    I have owned the Challenger ART 5 for a year and a half. I am sure they are about the same as the Challenger ART 6. They are my first pair of trail runners. I 100 percent agree with Alan’s review of them. They are great shoes, very comfortable, light weight, dry’s quickly, and supportive. At the time it was Hoka’s only trail running in wide. My two biggest complaints are: the tongue moves to the side every time I wear them and traction. The tongue moving to the side is more annoying than anything else so I just deal with it. As far as traction is concerned, my feet have slipped more than once while waling in wet or mud conditions. i have also fallen down due to foot sliding on step downhill or on lose rocks. I backpack around Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi. I am a very slow hiker and watch very carefully where I am stepping. I have Osteoarthritis in my right knee. I don’t even have a ACL anymore. For those reasons I plan on purchasing the Speedgoat 5 for my next trail runner.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for all the good info Joseph. And FWIW a tongue sliding sideways is a peeve of mine as well. Fortunately, the ATR 6 has a gusseted tongue that keeps it from sliding sideways. Wishing you a great new year of hiking. Warmest, -alan

  2. Craig Barber
    Craig Barber says:

    Love My Hokas!
    I have the Challenger ATR 5 .
    Honestly they took a bit of getting used when I first purchased them.
    Probably because I had not ever had a shoe with so much cushion.
    Once I figured them out I have to say , Hoka makes the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. So comfortable, I ended up buying a pair of the Hoka kaha hiking boots.
    I chose the Kaha over several other brands . Simply because I like the idea of being able to hike all day ,whether on trail or cross country, over rough terrain ,and at the end of the day my feet and ankles do not feel completely spent.
    One of other things I really like about my Hokas is, they were designed to be fast walking.
    They are so light and nimble – you can hardly feel the weight on your feet.

    My only complaint with the Kaha is the lacing system. However – I think I may have found a solution to a simple problem.
    I ended up changing the round laces to traditional flat hiking boot laces.
    Much better !
    I am not a big fan of round laces.
    I find they slip too much and create pressure points over the top of my feet.

    I may have to look into a new pair of Speed goats the next time round…


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