Challenger ATR 5 vs Speed Goat 3 | Initial Impressions – Average Hiker
Challenger ATR 5 vs Speed Goat 3
Trail Runner History
My ATR/Speedgoat initial Impressions are listed below, along with my post thoughts after using them backpacking and hiking. I had spent several weeks researching new trail runners, and had finally settled on the Women's HOKA Challenger ATR 5's instead of the HOKA Speedgoat 3's. You will see below that this decision has changed over time, so I have updated this article.
The trail runner I'm using now is the HOKA Men's EVO Speedgoat. The main reasons include…
- Traction – Grip and “stickiness”
As a committed Salomon user over the past decade I was hesitant to try something new, but after years of hiking and beaten up feet I needed a change.
I used Salomon's on my PCT hike and they were a game changer for me, but the shoe construction changed in 2009. While I still think Salomon makes a great shoe, it is just not the right shoe for my current needs. I now prefer more cushion to absorb shock, and a little more arch support.
Table of Contents
- Challenger ATR 5 vs Speed Goat 3
- Trail Runner History
- Table of Contents
- Trail Runner Expectations
- HOKA Challenger ATR 5 Decision
- Decision to Switch from Challengers to Speedgoat EVO's
- HOKA Challenger ATR 5 & Men's EVO Speedgoat Follow-Up
- Related Posts
Trail Runner Expectations
The Plantar Fasciitis, I've written about, has probably been the biggest change in my foot's needs. A mild case in my left foot has resulted in the need for more arch support. With the current state of my feet, what I want in my shoes now is listed below.
- Good arch support – I have average arches, but more support on the foot with plantar has definitely helped the pain when I backpack.
- Large toe box – My feet are prone to blister easily. Plenty of room for my toes to spread, while keeping them dry and cool reduces the blisters.
- Breathable – not waterproof – Waterproof shoes are definitely much warmer, and if they do get wet they take too long to dry. I also walk through water – rivers, creeks, etc., without removing my shoes and need them to dry quickly.
- Tough upper material – A double mesh upper is important, and it needs to be durable. When shoes get wet the upper will rip easily on rocks and rough ground.
- Good grip – A sticky grip is important. In long distance hiking I can't control the weather, so wet and icy terrain is not uncommon.
HOKA Challenger ATR 5 Decision
There were still a few things that had me questioning the Challenger decision.
- With the thick sole, balance was a question.
- The uppers on the shoes were not as tough as my Salomons, but hopefully they would be durable.
- The grip was not as sticky as the Grip on the Speedgoat, or on my Salomons for that matter.
Regardless, I was excited because they were noticeably more comfortable than other shoes I had worn, and I looked forward to providing an update when I got back from the Colorado hike.
Decision to Switch from Challengers to Speedgoat EVO's
Since first writing this article my shoe of choice has changed. Challengers worked out well for me until my hike on the Colorado trail this year (Colorado Trail – 2020).
The Colorado Trail is approximately 486 miles. If you add the Collegiate West, which I also completed, it is a little over 500 miles. The trail is tough and rocky, climbing to over 13,000 feet at it's high point, and accumulating about 98,000 feet in elevation gain and loss.
About 250 miles into the trail I found myself beginning to slide, and even fall due to losing my footing in some cases. Unfortunately, the grip and soles (lugs) on my Challengers had begun to wear off significantly enough to result in a loss of traction on lose, steep, gravel covered sections of the trail. This was disappointing since they were new when I started and I had at least hoped to get 400 miles out of them.
Outside of Silverton, CO I had a nasty fall that could potentially have resulted in serious injury or worse, so I decided to switch out the shoes. Initially, I was going to get new Challengers, but I purchased Men's EVO Speedgoat trailrunners instead.
I feel so strongly about the performance of the Speedgoat EVO 4's that I have them listed in my Gear Guide under Top 10 Backpacking Gifts. Unless the model changes, these are my go to trailrunners for now.
HOKA Challenger ATR 5 & Men's EVO Speedgoat Follow-Up
The Challengers above served me well in terrain on the AZT, AT, and NET, but I switched to the Men's EVO Speedgoat on the Colorado Trail. Initially, I updated this article from the Colorado Trail, but I jumped the gun. The Challengers ended up not holding up well on the rugged trails in Colorado.
I still have my Challenger ATR 5's, but I use them for daily exercise and casual walking. The Speedgoat is a comfortable shoe, but the Challenger is still my MOST comfortable shoe.Road Runner Sports Blog: Is Running During the Coronavirus Pandemic Safe?
Challenger ATR 5 Pros
- Comfort – no other shoe I've worn provides the cushion and comfort over long mileage days. The Challenger is definitely still my most comfortable casual shoe.
- Blisters – Night and Day. The large toe box on both the Challengers ad EVO Speedgoat's has mostly eliminated my blisters.
- Plantar – I still have it, but it is much improved and almost gone with the Protalus inserts I use.
- Arch Support – Right amount for my foot with my moderate inserts.
- Uppers – more durable than anticipated, and hold up fine for my casual needs.
Challenger ATR 5 Cons
- Tread – The treads wear down fast, and I would like them to have a little more bite for long distance hiking. The Speedgoat's are better in this regard. I hike in areas with some technically challenging scrambles, so I have to replace the Challengers more often than I would like. This ended up being MUCH more often than anticipated on the Colorado Trail.
- Price – The Challengers never seem to go on sale, but I guess that speaks to the demand for the shoe. I have a feeling that when version 6 is introduced the 5's will disappear overnight!
Men's EVO Speedgoat Pros
I switched to the Men's EVO Speedgoat shoe in size 9.5. The Speedgoat for women is a little more snug than I would like, but the Men's shoe fits perfectly. The toe box is wider, and the heel of the shoe is more snug than the Challenger. This works out well, as my foot does slide slightly in the Women's Challenger.
I'll be completing a review of the EVO Speedgoat over the next few days. If you subscribe to this blog on the Home page, you will receive all new posts.
- Tread – The tread is much more “sticky” on the EVO Speedgoat than it is on the Challenger. The lugs in general have more grip, and the Vibram sole with a the smaller lug strip down the middle of the shoe definitely offers more stability and traction.
- Support – I like the snug fit in the heel of the shoe. The shoe firmly supports my foot while giving the room I need in the toe box.
- Comfort – The Men's Speedgoat 4 is still a comfortable shoe. I've now used it on east coast terrain, and in the very rocky Canyonlands of Utah, and have had no hotspots or foot fatigue.
- Durability – The upper on the EVO Speedgoat is much more durable than the regular Speedgoat 4. This is why I went with the EVO.
EVO Speedgoat Cons
- Price – Like the Challengers, these are an expensive shoe, and unfortunately they also seem to not go on sale until the new version is released.
- Colors – This is not really important, but the color selection does not really appeal to me. This is usually the case with Men's shoes. Fortunately, that is at the bottom of my priority list, well below performance.