Hoka Torrent Trail Shoe Review
The ‘ATR’ in the Hoka Challenger’s name stands for ‘all terrain’. That means it has been designed to function just as well if the trails you are running on are hard packed and dry in the summer.
The Challenger has the very distinctive pillow like cushioning of Hoka shoes. The soft midsole rides over the lumps and bumps in the trail in the same manner as your mountain bike tyres do. On the tarmac they feel just like a Hoka Clifton, which is Hoka’s top selling road shoe. In a nutshell it’s an incredibly versatile road to trail running shoe. The Hoka Challenger ATR 5 is in our opinion best suited to the dryer, harder terrain and for reliable wetter, muddier conditions we love the Hoka Torrent.
The Torrent differs from the Challenger in a few different ways. First, the outsole has much deeper treads, yet not so deep or pointed that they don’t feel good on the road. So the Torrent ends up versatile enough to be used on tarmac, hard packed trails AND muddy footpaths. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not lugged enough for the worst of cross-country racing, but it is versatile enough to survive a bit of almost everything. The outsole is made of a durable rubber that won’t easily wear down quickly on the tarmac or hard packed trails but and not so hard that it slides on wet surfaces. It hits that middle ground between being supper soft/sticky and hard/durable.
The ride isn’t quite as soft as the Challenger ATR. The Torrent is somewhere between firm and ‘pillow like’, so it gives a better feel for the ground and is more nimble. Like all Hoka shoes they are super light, weighing in at 254g for a gents UK 9. The heel to forefoot drop is on the low end at 5mm. Like all Hoka shoes it’s designed to reduce heel strikes and help with posture. It does this by using both a low heel to forefoot and Rocker construction. The rocker rolls the foot from heel/midfoot landing to toe off. It keeps the cadence quick, which encourages the runner to run in a more up right posture. Shoes with a high heel to forefoot drop encourage a heavier heel strike and when the runner gets tired they tend to then lean forward at the waist, running with a slower cadence. This makes the runner much heavier on their feet, slower and as the knees and hips take most of the force more open to injury over time.
The fit of the Hoka Torrent is on the narrow side, like most Hoka shoes. There isn’t currently a wide option in this shoe. I normally run in shoes with more room in the toe box, as I like my feet to be able to spread. Initially the Torrent did feel a little restrictive but it honestly hasn’t caused me any issues. The toe box isn’t actually as pointy as some other Hoka models ,so you don’t feel like your toes are being pushed into a triangle when you are descending down steep hills for a long time. If you’re not into the rounded toe box fit and feel then the shape and fit of the Hoka Torrent should feel great.
When running in the Hoka Torrent they feel like they aren’t there. In the Challenger I am constantly aware of the soft cushioning and in firmer shoes are am aware of the feel of the ground.
I have used the Torrent mainly for my longer runs which are a mix of tarmac, very wet and muddy paths and some stony tracks. The Torrent coped with all this terrain. I expected them to be worse in the wet mud than they were. A lot of trail shoes are made for much drier conditions and you slide around and have to walk really sloppy bits or you feel yourself sliding sideways. Although I had to be careful I was able to run across these wet boggy fields and along the muddy river bank without stopping or worrying about falling over. As I mentioned above you can’t run carefree through the sloppy mud like you would with a long studded cross country/fell shoe but then these heavily lugged shoes don’t feel so comfortable on the road.
The Hoka Torrent is a trail shoe. If most of your running is on the road, but with a few trail running adventures at the weekend, then you would still need two pairs of shoes or the Hoka Challenger ATR.
If your runs are generally a mix of road and trails then the Hoka Torrent is definitely worth a look.
Charlie @ Nothern Runner Newcastle
Other shoes to consider:
Altra Timp 2
A zero drop shoe with a more rounded toe box than the Hoka Torrent. They have a softer ride and less feel for the ground. So, if you like a softer feeling shoe and more room for your toes to spread then these are worth a look:
Topo Terraventure 2
A similar heel to forefoot drop to the Torrent with a slightly firmer ride initially. Topo shoes tend to get more comfortable the more you run in them. They have a broad rounded toe box like the Altra shoes.
Here is a link to our review of the Terraventure:
7mm heel to forefoot. A more cushioned ride that is a bit stiffer than the Torrent.
Brooks Cascadia 14:
A traditional heel strikers shoe. Available in two widths with a good level of cushioning and grip that comparable to the Torrent.