I've run in these three shoes over the last three days, and think I have a stronger view about each shoes' role in my arsenal.
Hoka Challenger ATR: Sits somewhere between the pure ground feel of the Zealot and the marshmallowy feel of the Clifton 2. It's going to be my go-to for any running in non-pavement areas - it worked really well on slick mud and the gravel of the C&O. Plus, it has enough but not too much cushion. Its a little loose fitting and requires some re-tying laces after several miles, and the factory inserts can bunch up in a really sweaty run when it gets squishy underfoot. But it is the best feeling shoe for me on the long stuff off the tarmac.
Saucony Zealot: It sat on the mat by the door for a few weeks after I got the CATR, but got reinserted into my rotation when I wanted to slip in an extra 5K at work on the paved Beach Dr. trail. It really is the best road shoe I've used in recent memory. The only knocks on it: a snug size 13, but I think that's because of the inner "sock" liner more than lack of room at the toes. And it has a little Mirage-like firmness, could be a little more (a tad bit more) cushiony in the outer, a tad more grippy on the tread (not the greatest on slick pavement). But: love. Holding up nicely at the 100 mile mark - you wouldn't know by the looks.
Hoka Clifton 2: Definitely an improvement over the Clifton 1. But it is a little too cushioned for the road, and a little too cushioned and not grippy enough for wet non-road surfaces. Not sure how its going to be used -- probably most likely as a change of pace once in a while. But it isn't going to be one of the main go-tos for the time being.
So there you go. Between the CATR and Zealot, I should give the UPS folks and Running Warehouse's fulfillment peeps a rest for a few (hundred miles/weeks).
Also: See review of Challenger ATR 2.
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