I recently had the opportunity to test out both Hoka Challenger 2 ATR  and Hoka Speed Instinct during TMBT2016. Both are trail shoes by Hoka One One. For those who are unfamiliar with Hoka One One trail products, they have 4 trail shoes.

  • Hoka Stinson 3 ATR
  • Hoka Challenger 2 ATR
  • Hoka Speedgoat
  • Hoka Speed Instinct

In this blog, I will review both Hoka Challenger 2 ATR vs Hoka Speed Instinct. I had bought these shoes specially for my first trail ultra. Both shoes undergo brutal trail and road challenges for 50+km.

Hoka Challenger ATR 2

The Challenger ATR 2 is trail version of Clifton 2. the shoe have  a great feel on both road and trail. However, it does not perform very well on muddy surfaces or rocks with moss. The shoe is designed with Early stage Meta-Rocker (explained in my earlier blog) meant to focus on the transition zone behind the metatarsal head. It is to create a smoother ride and faster transition to the forefoot.

The downside of this shoe is similar to the Clifton 2. Some runners may complain on its small toe box. But, for me it fits just fine. I used this shoe during the Permai Hybrid trail challenge, which consist of 3km road and 10km permai trail (included wet moss rocks and semi wet trail road). I found the shoe performed well on tarmac. It had similar cushioning feel, like its full road shoe (Clifton 2). The 4mm lugs did feel a bit stiff on tarmac. But on wet roads, traction was impressive up and downhill.

In trail, the shoe had acceptable traction going downhills. But, on wet moss rocks, the shoe was impossible. There was practically no grip. (But, i found out that this was the same for other brand trail shoes too. Hence, nothing to be really disappointed about). Landing on hard edge of rocks, proved to be manageable. I remember flying downhill during Hybrid challenge and TMBT (2nd half of course). But, the durability of the shoe side can be further improved. I rip my Challenger 2 ATR on a tree branch. Luckily for me, it was just the first layer of the shoe. My toes where still protected. The shoe have very good drainage. Manage to keep my feet damp, rather than soaking wet during heavy downpour and river crossings in trails.”What goes in, must come out”.

Unfortunately, the shoe does feel slightly bulky, clumsy in trails. Maybe this was due to size US11 that I was wearing. I seem to be tripping on roots. I think, Hoka can improve further on the toe box protection, especially if you plan to be flying in Asian Trails, where you may trip over roots.


Hoka Speed Instinct


This shoe was just launched in April 2016. The latest addition to the Hoka One One trail shoe family. You can see that the shoe design and base is very different from the conventional challenger ATR. The speed instinct comes with multi directional lugs, which allows the shoe to have better traction in trail terrain. The shoe base is designed with PRO2Lite technology. What does Pro 2 Lite means?  It basically means the transition of a softer and lighter heel support, to a firmer and more responsive forefoot. That allows better propulsion when running. You can clearly see from the picture above, the heel has an added cushioning in black compared to the forefoot, which is more of a firmer material. The speed instinct basically feels like your feed fits in a cradle, snug and well protected.

On tarmac, this shoe performed superbly in wet (raining) and dry weather. Due to the Pro2Lite technology, the shoe actually feels great. I tried the shoe while doing my weekly LSD. I assure you, the shoe feels like a well cushion road shoe.

On trail terrain, the shoe was very nibble. Just like a ballerina, you could be dancing in the woods. I used the speed instinct for the first half of TMBT, as i wanted a fast response shoe up and downhill, without compromising the cushioning and support. And I am glad that I made that decision. The shoe responded better than the Challenger 2 ATR going down muddy terrain. I recalled climbing uphill using this shoe without taking out my trekking pole. The grip was excellent. Even running downhill, did not pose a threat.

River crossings and wet surface rocks did not bother the speed instinct. This was due to the multi-directional lugs design and Seamless Air Mesh concept by Hoka One One. The seamless air mesh allows the shoe to be lightweight and highly breathable.



To be honest, for me, the speed instinct would be my next trail go to shoe, when comparing to the Hoka Challenger 2 ATR . Unfortunately, for the Hoka speed instinct,  I had to get 1/2 size larger (US11.5) compared to the Hoka Challenger 2 ATR, to allow more space for my toes.

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If you are interested in owning a pair of Hoka Speed Instinct, please visit the following locations:

Please remember to quote #ultrabala, prior to purchase to receive an additional discount when buying from Revolution Run Borneo.


Run Happy , Run Safe, Run Injury Free.