Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4 ReviewAugust 29, 2017
- Trail Protection
- Flexible midsole
- High center of gravity
- Small outsole lugs
- Short tongue
The maximally-cushioned Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4 is hard to beat for comfort, stability and protection, but runners will sacrifice some weight, agility and responsiveness to get it. The updated Stinson ATR 4 is an off-road trail cruiser, best suited for long training days and ultramarathons.
The new Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4 is a comfortable trail cruiser that features smart updates throughout. Hoka One One’s maximalist midsole design is the standout feature, and the Stinson ATR 4 is a great choice for ultramarathon training and racing, and any other long days on the trail where runners are willing to sacrifice some weight and responsiveness for comfort and protection. The Stinson ATR 4 has a compression EVA midsole that looks enormous but feels very traditional underfoot. The 39mm heel/34mm forefoot stack height put the Stinson ATR 4 solidly in the max-cushion category, although the new version is slightly lower than the 41mm/36mm found on the previous Stinson ATR 3. The Stinson ATR 4 cruises along the trail with comfort, support and stability. Overall, the Stinson is a max-cushion trail cruiser that’s best suited for recovery runs, daily training, lower-intensity ultramarathon-distance races, and hybrid road/trail use. Trail runners looking for an aggressive shoe for shorter, harder, higher-intensity efforts may want to look elsewhere. Likewise, runners who need an aggressive outsole with deep lugs won’t find it here. But folks looking for a cushioned, comfortable, supportive trail shoe for long days and moderate efforts should consider the Stinson ATR 4.
The Stinson ATR 4 excels here. The maximally-cushioned midsole is slightly lower than the previous edition, but remains supremely comfortable. As one wear-tester noted, “the plush midsole made this hands-down the most comfortable shoe I tested, particularly on downhills.” The ventilated mesh upper and well-padded tongue and heel collar contribute to the Stinson ATR 4 being a pleasant shoe to wear, even right out of the box, although some may find the heel counter too high and rigid. Flex grooves on the midsole keep it from being uncomfortably stiff, although some runners may find that it takes a couple of hours of running for the forefoot to feel broken in.
The Stinson ATR 4 is a solid choice for multi-hour efforts and our testers were happy to lace them up for 50K and 50-mile ultramarathons, but reported that it would not be their go-to shoe for 5K or 10K trail races. The weight and high stack height make the Stinson ATR 4 comfortable over long distances, but not quick when the pace is hot. Our team noted that the shoes felt sluggish when they tried to run quicker speeds, although the rockered midsole design did encourage an efficient stride and easy foot turnover.
Security of Fit
On the upper half, the Stinson ATR 4 uses Hoka One One’s supportive Speedframe construction. The mesh panels are breathable, while the overlays hold the foot securely by wrapping up and forward from the heel. The stiff stitched overlay across the toe is protective but doesn’t feel restrictive or inflexible. Like many of Hoka One One’s 2017 models, the Stinson ATR 4 has a slightly wider and roomier forefoot than previous versions, which is a response to feedback from runners. Some runners may find the throat wide enough that they need to lace with a heel-lock. Unfortunately, the tongue is so short that heel-locked laces are prone to slip over the top. One wear-tester also reported that the high center of gravity made him fear rolling an ankle on the trail, which detracted from the overall feeling of a secure fit.
The outsole is sticky rubber with lugs that have been redesigned since the previous edition. The new outsole has relatively shallow 3-5mm lugs, mostly triangular shaped. They’re well spaced and the shoe floats across sand and hardpack, but they’re not deep or aggressive enough to bite into soft ground or feel grippy on slick rocks and roots. Compared to other Hoka One One models like the Speed Instinct 2 and Speedgoat 2, the Stinson ATR 4 has a considerably less aggressive outsole. The upside, however, is that the Stinson ATR 4 works well as a road/trail hybrid shoe, which may be part of the reason Hoka One One opted to discontinue the Stinson road version this year. The thick midsole detracts somewhat from the Stinson ATR 4’s agility. One wear-tester reported that he felt like he was overcompensating when jumping over rocks, roots and other trail obstacles.
The Stinson ATR 4 cruises along the trail with comfort, support and stability. Despite the thickness, the midsole is flexible enough that wear-testers didn’t feel disconnected from the ground. It is not an incredibly responsive trail runner, however, wear-testers didn’t find the max-cushion midsole energy-sapping or bouncy on the trail, which are common complaints about some maximalist shoes. Runners looking for a max-cushioned trail shoe that’s more nimble and responsive may want to check out Hoka One One’s other trail models, specifically the Speedgoat 2, Speed Instinct 2, and Challenger ATR 3.
This is another category where the Stinson ATR 4 shines above other models in the test. One wear-tester noted, “the large midsole offered protection from side impacts and small rocks,” while the toe bumper and toe box overlay protect the front end of the shoe for unanticipated impacts. The midsole is thick enough that a nylon rock plate would be overkill, not to mention unnecessary weight on a shoe that’s already hefty.
Jason is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner who lives with his wife and children in the frozen tundra of northeastern Wisconsin.