Best Lightweight Running Shoes Reviewed
The weight of a running shoe can make or break some runners, especially for long runs or at a competitive level.
I recall one of my first very enduring trails runs some years ago. I had never read any online reviews about which shoes to wear for the run, in fact at that time I was more inclined to judge based upon the price of the shoes and how stylish they looked. I paid a high price, the running conditions were ultra muddy, the shoes were very heavy and slowed me down, my legs felt like they were carrying dead weights and things got worse. The shoes picked up layers of clinging mud and no matter what I did I could not perform to my full ability. Then the shoes became wet as they had pretty much zero protection against the wet. I should have finished in the first ten out of about one hundred runners but I ended up walking the trail and forgetting about any chance of being part of the high end of runners to complete the 5km run.
I've learned a lot since that race, for me, the visual style of a shoe is way down the list of priorities though I still like a stylish looking shoe. As I have developed my running portfolio, I understand that researching and reading reviews for how to choose a good pair of running shoes for a particular style of running is very important.
- New Balance Zante V2
- Hoka One One Cavu
- Adidas Adizero Boston
- Mizuno Wave Hitogami
- On CloudFlow
- Nike Flyknit Racer
- Puma Faas 1000
- XIDISO Air Cushion
- Nike LunarEpic Flyknit
- Skechers GOrun Forza 3
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. New Balance Zante V2
X10 carbon rubber is highly durable
Very, very lightweight
Minimalist features make for increased flexibility
Cool color combinations
It’s no mystery why the New Balance Zante v2 won Runner’s World Best Buy Award in 2016. According to testers, these incredibly lightweight and sleek running shoes takes the platform to a new level of performance. Featuring New Balance’s Fresh Foam cushioning, nothing is sacrificed in this near-perfect running shoe.Read more
Although these are low profile, minimalist running shoes, they do provide a great amount of comfort. The Zante v2 is a good option for those who want a minimal sole without going to a barefoot type running shoe. The long-term durability of these shoes seems to have issues for some. They may not be a great choice for heavier runners. They can also be a little expensive, depending on where you shop. Amazon has them for a bit less, but they still aren’t cheap shoes.
2. Hoka One One Cavu
Durable rubber sole
At 7.7 ounces, the Hoka One One Cavu running shoes are among the lightest options available. They are great for short and long distance running and provide additional cushioning for maximum comfort.Read more
These running shoes are exceptionally comfortable--and not just because they are lightweight. They utilize thick foam for their comfy cushioning and mesh for maximum breathability. These shoes are durable and feature a rubber sole and synthetic mesh. These run from moderately priced to expensive depending on what color and style you go with.
3. Adidas Adizero Boston
Perfect for wide feet
High marks in breathability
Testers reported high feedback levels
Price may be a bit high
Not only are these shoes attractive in their minimal design and focus on the bold looks, but they’re flexible and light in their minimal construction. The asymmetrical design fits the foot anatomically and securely while flex design bends with the foot naturally. Many runners also lauded their durability, which can be a rarity when it comes to lightweight racing shoes.Read more
These feature an EVA insole, soft inner lining, the midsole which offers great lightweight cushioning and great shock absorption. The very obvious flex grooves in the sole give the shoe some excellent flexibility, which in turn allows good responsiveness, helping with the shoe’s overall stability during use.
The strong reputation of quality follows through into this product by Adidas. These shoes feature a solid torsion system for integrity, they are simply well constructed functional running shoes that will see you comfortably through your run.
Usually the reputation of Adidas' shoes tends to cost quite a bit; however, you can find these fairly decently priced, especially on Amazon.
4. Mizuno Wave Hitogami
X10 carbon rubber is highly durable
Very, very lightweight
Minimalist features make for increased flexibility
Cool color combinations
It is really hard to criticize Mizuno Wave Hitogamis. They’ve got a fantastic and modern design. They’re affordable. Most importantly, they’ve been endorsed by ultra-long-distance runners as well as short distance runners as highly effective. The Mizuno brand is respected in the running world, and for good reason. Slip on the Waves for training on the treadmill or race day; either way, you’ll be comfortable, fast, and satisfied with your results.Read more
The Hitogami has a really narrow fit, too tight at the top when compared to other Mizuno shoes. However, for those who find that they fit properly, these shoes offer some pretty good comfort after broken in. The quality construction offers a decent amount of durability under consistent use. Although the price varies a bit depending on where you look, Amazon usually has these available at an affordable price.
5. On CloudFlow
Cloud Pod Cushion Factor
Zero-Gravity EVA foam
Additional traction and surface control
Outsole and midsole wear out quickly
The On Cloudrush features a pleasant shoe design, lightweight performance, and cushioning with good responsiveness. It's good for fast running and is particularly nice for runners with a natural foot-roll. The name Clouds is surprisingly apt for this shoe because of the sensation it invokes of running on soft clouds. It's cushioning and functional response system works throughout the moment of foot-strike all the way to the toe-off to give you a very light feeling while running. This shoe model is for men and women who run.Read more
This shoe is specific for runners looking to achieve faster running-outputs, a great shoe for runners with a natural foot-roll and the shoe is constructed from comfortable, protective high-quality materials. With an engineered mesh upper in a feature resembling woven-cloth, the shoe has durability, gives good support, and encompasses a unique system to promote air flow to the foot-chamber in the shoe. Also, the breathability factor is truly impressive.
For the sole unit, efficiency is achieved through EVA foam made from the Zero-gravity formula which is highly responsive and durable. These are the foam clouds from which its namesake is derived. They also have a layer underneath which is made up of a durable rubberized material, providing protection from abrasive road surfaces such as asphalt. The bottom of the shoe is finished off with a texture pattern which enables better surface traction.
Built-in innovation for performance remains consistent with the incorporated SpeedBoard system. This works to facilitate foot motion naturally through the gait cycle and culminates in a burst of energy at the point of toe-off. The end result is a positive reduction by reducing the impact of fatigue on muscles.
Although this product is a substantial investment, it is worth the cost when considering its quality and performance capabilities.
6. Nike Flyknit Racer
Good selection of colors
Springy and nicely responsive
Good durability when used in the right context
Lightweight FlyKnit material
A bit narrow for a few runners
A shoe appreciated by neutral runners, you get style, security, and comfort with a one unit-shell upper which is knitted together and offers good breathability, the material has a stretch factor to enable an adaptive FIT combined with nice support.Read more
The Flyknit Racer shoe remains true to size. A good choice of sizes covering what is wanted by runners. The heel, mid-foot and forefoot areas have medium measurements. The shoe comfortably accommodates those with narrow-to-medium foot dimensions.
The outsole of the shoe has a durable rubber outsole with a waffle-skin surface which has a racing diamond pattern. The Phylon midsole is a sound low profile system, known as very responsive, light in weight with good response, built in as a full-length feature enabling a nice cushion factor. A one-piece knitted upper offers nice breath capability, gain a sock style FIT with this stretchable upper which allows flexibility, this means a comforting FIT with good foot support, a low profiled tongue lends towards more comfort.
The upper of the Nike Flyknit Racer features a one-piece knit upper that gives satisfying breathability. It is stretchable to deliver a seamless, sock-like fit which means less chance for irritating friction problems. With the Dynamic Flywire, this shoe delivers a comfortable fit and added support while reducing the shoe’s weight. The lightweight and low-profile tongue offers additional comfort. Quality comes with a nice choice of colors, a shoe which gives a high-quality sock style fit, though the shoe is built to be light, the materials used in the construction of the shoe offer a good degree of durability. A lot of innovative design has gone into making this a light shoe: well worth the investment.
7. Puma Faas 1000
Air mesh upper for breathability
FaasFoam absorbs shock and provides lift
Too bulky for some
Feel like running fast? These Pumas are a great pick for those looking for the best racing running shoes when it comes to shorter distances. They’re fairly lightweight and minimal with a light outsole and super flexibility. If you’re looking to try out the minimalist route, these are a great starter shoe. With only so much padding, these shoes will aid you in developing muscle tone and a stronger form.Read more
Puma tends to be popular as a fashion sneaker, but they do know how to make some pretty good lightweight runners too. though there are a few reviews that complain about the comfort, largely, people who have bought them while transitioning into lighter running shoes have had great things to say about their comfort and stability. It is recommended to try them on before you order, so you are sure to get the best fit. These are probably not a great choice for off-road running, as they may not do so well over rocks and other rough terrains. Just stick to the road and track with this one.
As these are not cheap shoes, the durability and quality of construction seem to rate really high overall. As mentioned above, the cost of these shoes is a little higher than many other shoes by Puma, although they seem to be worth it.
8. XIDISO Air Cushion
Knit woven makes it nice and breathable with soft mesh material
Anti-slip grip sole
Comes in many different colors
These shoes are lightweight and knit woven on the top which makes them breathable. It's got a soft mesh material that keeps your feet dry and comfortable. They also have an anti-slip rubber sole and a cotton lining that gives you added support.Read more
These shoes provide added comfort with a cotton lining. It also gives you full support. These are classic low top sneakers and they easily come on and off thanks to their particular design. They are also lightweight with a knit woven upper made from soft mesh that will keep your feet dry and comfortable. These shoes even have an anti-slip rubber sole to protect you from falling or slipping on water.
The XIDISO Air Cushion also comes with a money-back guarantee. That way, if anything happens to them, or you just don't like them, you can return them and get your money back. They come in ten different color options for an excellent style variety. They're also decently priced: perfect for a customer looking for a more affordable pair of shoes.
9. Nike LunarEpic Flyknit
Flyknit upper for comfort and breathability.
Light yet supportive
Recommended for plantar fasciitis
Laser-cut pods gave testers unique cushioning.
May not stand up well to the elements (mud, dust, dirt).
Nike delivers with not just a great lightweight running shoe, but an extremely comfortable one as well. Thanks in part to a laser-cut pod design, the amount of cushioning “felt unique” to testers who described a different type of feeling through their strides. We are familiar with all the good qualities of the Lunarlon midsole foam as we have seen many tested models with it. It’s a welcomed addition to this great lightweight runner.Read more
Just as we expect from Nike’s Lunarlon Midsole, these are comfortable as well as supportive. Testers enjoyed the unique feeling of this high tech lightweight runner. Nike always delivers with high quality and durability, and these shoes are no different. Testers put these running shoes through the paces with no issues. Unfortunately, these are not cheap shoes; but with some shopping around, you can usually find a good deal on sites like Amazon.
10. Skechers GOrun Forza 3
Lightweight and highly durable
Several colorways to choose from
The Skechers GOrun Forza 3 shoes are a lightweight and highly durable pair of running shoes. They are meant to last and will take you on your runs without weighing you down.Read more
These shoes are meant for long runs and were specifically designed to keep you comfortable when you go on them. They are extremely lightweight - their foam midsole is lighter now - and breathable. The male version of the shoe weighs 9.3 ounces, while its female counterpart comes in at 7.3 ounces.
These Skechers shoes come in several color options and while they may look bulky, they are one of the lightest options out there for you. These shoes are also moderately priced and well worth the cost of admission.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
According to most runners, shoes with higher motion control or stability are perfect for long-distance runners and heavier runners alike. This will help with the durability and ensure the runner that materials that are responsible for cushioning and shock absorption hold up under additional weight or loner runs. Our guide is sure to mention this when providing additional information on the listed footwear. Lightweight running shoes are more than capable of giving runners the motion control and stability they require.
Another myth that exists in the running world is that lightweight running shoes can’t be comfortable and properly cushioned. Nothing could be further from the truth, and our selections are here to prove that point, with an exclamation mark! Our readers will find that running shoe manufacturers have developed smarter ways to cram cushioning in a lighter overall unit. We will give you all the details on foams, gels, and composites and what they mean for your cushion levels. There are some very highly rated cushioned lightweight runners on our list.
Be wary of review sites that simply offer a “most expensive” list without taking important factors into consideration, especially for lightweight running shoes. It’s a performance-based market segment, and some sites like to capitalize on that fact. We strictly looked at tester feedback and quality materials when making our selections. While lightweight running shoes are typically a little pricier, it’s possible to provide our readers with the most value for their dollar. We will also supply a list of considerations to ensure that our readers don’t “buy more running shoe” than they need for their specific requirements.
All running shoes, no matter what brand name should be replaced after three hundred to five hundred miles. However, some lightweight running shoes may have less of a lifespan because of materials with less durability.
It’s important to remember that even if the shoes look like they’re in good visual condition, the amount of wear on the outsoles and midsole fit can significantly lose their integrity beyond three hundred miles. Most seasoned runners keep a detailed journal with the approximate mileage and time of ownership of their running shoes. You’re not just making an investment in your footwear, it’s also an investment in your health and safety.
In this case, you're searching for the most fitting pair of light shoes so weight is obviously a huge factor. With lighter weight comes the need to more attention to detail when putting the product together. Today we see many models which move away from the traditional stiching, and show more heat welding and synthetic materials. As long as you can expect durability from them, you should have no problem find something that weighs as little as you want, withing reason of course.
The fact is, even many of the heavier models out there are still much lighter than the lightest shoes were a few years ago.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
You might find that when you start digging into extremely lightweight shoes, when the weight goes, so do certain parts of the shoe, in most cases. If you need a lot of support, or even more cushioning, it will become a little more difficult to find a perfect choice that is also ultra-lightweight.
Just because a shoe is super lightweight, it doesn't mean that long-term quality has to be sacrificed. Pay extra attention to the overall construction of the shoe. Look for signs that the construction is intended to last.
Although the use of heat welding and no-stich overlays has seemingly taken over, still look for the high-stress areas are stictched or well connected.
Other Factors to Consider
Most novice runners make the mistake of choosing one pair of “do it all” running shoes. This is a mistake for several reasons, but it’s a bigger mistake when you’re choosing lightweight running shoes. Remember that running shoes that are non-trail rated can be dangerous when encountering loose pebbles or stones, jagged rocks, and muddy puddles.
Trail runners are purposely built to give added traction for outdoor surfaces, foot protection from sharp edges, and waterproofing materials for inevitable puddle splashes. Additionally, road running shoes will not last as long if taken out on technical trails that they are not suited for. Make sure that your selection matches the terrain that you plan to run; our guide has excellent choices for outdoor runners.
If you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis or other forms of foot conditions, buying shoes based on looks or trends might make your condition worse. Lightweight running shoes are a good option because they are better for your foot health than their trendy “barefoot” running counterparts. You need a drop off that will absorb shock and provide your heel with protection. Runners do not get that with flat-soled running shoes. We have provided selections with great style and design that look great while providing runners with the protection and performance they need.
Most people associate this category of running shoes with choices that limit you to the treadmill. It’s easy to forget that lightweight running shoes are available for all terrains, and with such a wide selection to pick from, there’s no need to settle. For outdoor enthusiasts and trail runners, we’ve selected some great options with tough uppers and rugged outsoles that can handle anything that Mother Nature throws their way.
Tester feedback demonstrated that lightweight footwear can make quick work of outdoor running and provide a better overall experience. Our goal was to provide selections for all surfaces and running conditions.
It’s important to keep in mind that the breathability of running shoes isn’t just an important factor for runners in hotter climates. Most runners report that they “run hot” on longer runs and that it starts to cause significant discomfort for them. This is why it’s crucial for all runners in terms of comfort and moisture control. Nothing will take the wind out of your sails faster than a wet, sweaty running shoe during the last mile of your run. We listened to what testers had to say about the ability of the footwear to wick away moisture and control temperatures to eliminate hotspots. Runners agree that a light and breezy running shoe can make all the difference in the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not a great idea. In fact, the only thing “lucky” about them is that they haven’t caused you an injury yet. Lightweight running shoes are great for marathons and long distance running, but they need to be replaced. If you’ve passed the three hundred mile mark, take a look at the outsoles for excessive wear. Also, listen to your body. If you no longer feel the same cushioning and support and your impact is hard, it’s time to replace.
First, know this: department store fit is NOT great running fit. Quite simply, you need to run. As you run you should be checking for stability, cushioning, and comfort. Remember that seasoned runners never buy their running shoes from a department store for good reasons. Higher markups and no help with authentic running needs. With today’s online buying and returning convenience, you have the ability to test out footwear in the real world.
Try standing on one foot while you have no shoes on. Do you feel that your foot is moving a lot and struggling to keep your body balanced? If so, make a running shoe selection that offers higher stability. This will help keep your gait consistent.
Grip and protection. What’s offered on our trail rated selections are more than adequate for some uneven terrain with minimal debris. Some things to consider: they will get dirty, especially the breathable upper fabric. Another consideration: if you’re going to encounter hazardous debris (such as jagged rocks), you may want to go with a trail runner for safety’s sake. Look for selections with rock barriers and toe protection.
That is not recommended. Lightweight running shoes are great for competitions and interval training. They are also the shoe of choice for gym workouts and short training sessions. However, they should be an individual tool in your toolbox of specific running shoes. Putting too many miles too often on lightweight runners will decrease their lifespan and cushioning levels. If you plan on hitting the road for back to back days, consider buying two pairs to allow their cushioning and support materials to “spring back” from prolonged wear.