Best Lightweight Running Shoes Reviewed

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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.

Here we are looking at the best light-weight shoes for different types of running, these reviews can guide you towards choosing the best running shoe for your own individual style, in much the same way as our reviews for best trail shoes or best shoes for over-pronation, or even a part of running gear such as the best running watch for runners.

Last Updated: June 10, 2018
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By Giselle Killebrew:

This update brings several new introductions to our list—from hoka, altra, and skechers .These additions feature some of the lightest options available as well as some of the most comfortable. The Hoka and Altra models are known for their optimal cushioning levels, wile the skechers addition is well-liked shoe all around.

New Balance Zante v2
  • New Balance Zante v2
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Runner's World Best Buy Award
  • Price: See Here
Mizuno Wave Hitogami
  • Mizuno Wave Hitogami
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Wave cushioning system
  • Price: See Here
Hoka One One Cavu
  • Hoka One One Cavu
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Only weighs 7.7 ounces
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Lightweight Running Shoes

 

 


1. New Balance Zante V2

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.
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Comfort / Stability

Although these are low profile, minimalistically built 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.

Quality / Durability

The long term durability of these shoes seems to have issues for some. They may not be a great choice for heavier runners.

Cost

They can be a little expensive, depending on where you shop. Amazon has them for a bit less, but they still aren’t cheap shoes.
Pros
  • Testers enjoyed the extremely breathable no-sew upper
  • Removable Molded Footbed Making Room For Custom Insoles
  • Fresh Foam Midsole Scored High Marks For Cushioning And Feedback
  • Great Traction
Cons
  • Expensive


7. Mizuno Wave Hitogami

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, and either way, you’ll be comfortable, fast, and satisfied with your results.
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Comfort / Stability

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.

Quality / Durability

The quality construction offers a decent amount of durability under consistent use.

Cost

Although the price varies a bit depending on where you look, Amazon usually has these available at an affordable price.
Pros
  • X10 carbon rubber is highly durable
  • Very, very lightweight
  • Minimalist features make for increased flexibility
  • Cool color combinations
Cons
  • Tight fit


3. Hoka One One Cavu

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.
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Comfort / Stability

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.

Quality / Durability

These shoes are durable and feature a rubber sole and synthetic mesh

Cost

These run from moderately priced to expensive depending on what color and style you go with.
Pros
  • Cushioning
  • Moisture wicking
  • Breathable
  • Only weighs 7.7 ounces
  • Several color options to choose from
  • Great for short and long distance runs
Cons
  • Too much cushion for some users

4. Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Low

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.
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Comfort / Stability

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.

Quality / Durability

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.

Cost

These are not cheap shoes. with some shopping around you can usually find a good deal on sites like Amazon.
Pros
  • Flyknit upper for comfort and breathability.
  • Light yet supportive
  • Recommended for plantar fasciitis
  • Laser-cut pods gave testers unique cushioning.
Cons
  • May Not Stand Up Well To The Elements (mud, dust, dirt).

10, Adidas Adizero Boston

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.
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Comfort / Stability

These feature a 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.

Quality / Durability

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.

Cost

Usually the reputation of Adidas' shoes tends to cost quite a bit, however you can find these fairly decently priced, especially on Amazon.
Pros
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Perfect For Wide Feet
  • High Marks In Breathability
  • Testers Reported High Feedback Levels
Cons
  • Price May Be A Bit High

8. Puma Faas 1000

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.
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Comfort / Stability

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 terrain. just stick to the road and track with this one.

Quality / Durability

As these are not cheap shoes, the durability and quality of construction seems to rate really high overall.

Cost

As mentioned above, the cost of these shoes is a little higher that many other shoes by Puma. Although, they seem to be worth it.
Pros
  • Air mesh upper for breathability
  • FaasFoam absorbs shock and provides lift
Cons
  • Too bulky for some

9. Nike Flyknit Racer 

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.
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Comfort/Stability

 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.
Outsole.  The OutSole of the shoe has a durable rubber outsole with a waffle-skin surface which has a racing diamond pattern.

Midsole.  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.

Upper.  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 offer's added comfort.

Quality/Durability

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.

Cost

A lot of innovative design has gone into making this a light shoe, well worth the investment.
Pros

Good selection of colors

Springy and nicely responsive

Good durability when used in the right context

FlyKnit

Breathability

Very light

Cons

A bit narrow for a few runners

5. Altra Duo

These Altra Duo shoes are extraordinary lightweight--the make version weighs in at 8.6 ounces while the female counterpart weighs in at 7 ounces. They come in several color options and offer optimal comfort levels during your runs.
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Comfort/Stability.

These shoes provide highly cushioned for optimal comfort levels. In fact their midsole is injected with foam to provide optimum cushioning levels.

For durability, these shoes feature a rubber outsole and and reinforce toe cap, laces, and heel. The mesh upper maximizes the shoe's breathability so you can stay cool during your runs.

Cost

These shoes are a bit pricey, but given how lightweight and comfortable they are obviously well worth their price point
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Cushioned
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Flexible
  • Natural toe box
  • zero drop
  • several color options
Cons
  • Too much cushion for some

2. On CloudFlow

A nice shoe design, light-weight performance, cushioning with good responsiveness, good for fast running output, nice for runners with a natural foot-roll. This shoe model is for lady runners and men.

Updated:

Engineered mesh

Zero-Gravity EVA foam

Built-in sock

Additional traction and surface control

The name clouds is correct for this shoe because of the sensation of running on soft cushioning clouds and the functional responsive cushion system works throughout the moment of foot-strike through to the toe-off to give you a very light feeling while running.

This may well be exactly the right shoe for you, read our review and see if you want to add it to your running gear.
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Comfort/Stability

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 a system to promote air flow to the foot-chamber in the shoe, the breathability factor is very good.

The shoes have a sock designed into them and this feature gives a higher level of comfort.

For the sole unit, efficiency is achieved through EVA foam made from the Zero-gravity formula, this is responsive and durable. These are the foam clouds and they have a layer underneath which is a durable rubberized material which gives 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.

FIT. The On CloudFlow shoe is a little bigger than the usual size standard and we suggest that runners try on a size which is half a size down in order to gain a sound FIT, for width and including men and lady runners the size is a standard medium.

Outsole.  Constructed from Cloud-Tech-Rubber and acts as a cover for the shoe cushion features, this durable material also has a responsive capability and therefore adds to the cushion performance. For better grip, the outsole has a "honeycomb" patterning and gives traction performance more similar to the way a tire holds traction.

 MidSole.  Very consistent underfoot cushion effect through the use of light and durable Eva-Zero-Gravity material and this is exactly the same material used for the cushion cloud-pods. You get beefed up cushion performance throughout the gait cycle. Touchdown or shock impact is attenuated and lift or push from the ground surface is energized responsively.
Built-in innovation for performance remains consistent with the designed in SpeedBoard system which works to facilitate foot motion naturally through the gait cycle and culminates in a burst of energy at the point of toe-off. This results in a positive reduction by reducing the impact of fatigue on muscles. factor in the designed in sock-liner for even more cushion factor and comfort is assured, the liner also has an anti-microbial capability to combat odor-causing bacteria.
Upper. Durable, foot holding, comfortable engineered mesh with very good breathability, air flow is enabled to support the breathability factor through a shoe tongue which is perforated to allow a flow of air into the shoe. At the heel area is a durable convenient pull hoop for quickly putting on or removing the shoe.

Quality/Durability

The shoe is very much about quality and the makes have taken into account the need for durability. The shoes offer good durability when used in context. Quality is clearly reflected in the amount of innovative built-in cushion and the positive performance benefits which the cushion system gives. Attention has been given to ensuring a good level of durability for the cushion system.  The sole system has good durability and like all shoes, there will be a level of a wear-out factor which will be dependent on how you run, how far and often you run and on which types of surfaces.

Cost

A serious investment which is affordable when you factor in shoe performance.
Pros

Cloud Pod Cushion Factor

Built-in Sock-Liner

Engineered mesh

Zero-Gravity EVA foam

Additional traction and surface control

Cons

Pay attention to wearing out, below the cloud pods.

6. Skechers GOrun Forza 3

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.
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Comfort/Stability

These shoes are meant for long runs and were specifically designed to keep you comfortable when you go on them. They are extremely lightweight--there foam midsole is lighter now--and breathable. The male version of the shoe weighs 9.3 ounces, while its female counter part comes in at 7.3 ounces.

These shoes come in several color options and, while they may look bulky, they are one of the lightest options out there for you.

Cost

These shoes are moderately price, and well worth the cost.
Pros
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Cushioned
  • Lots of color options
Cons
  • Some users don't like the style

Racing shoes are not the simple, lightweight and basic looking clunkers that they once were, now with so much technology, and design put into them. Technology is changing the way we do practically everything, including the way we build our shoes with an increased focus on shock absorption, ease of motion, and flexibility, all with a reduction in weight. The main goal is to allow feet and legs to move the way they naturally should with a barefoot and weightless feel while still providing support to prevent injury and pain.

Beyond anatomical finesse, the design also aids shoes in lasting longer with innovative fabrics, weaving, and sole construction. Hot feet and athlete’s foot are becoming a thing of the past with cooling technology and increased breathability with mesh and synthetic fabrics.

 

 

The Criteria Used When Choosing The Best Lightweight Running Shoes:

A Guide That You Can Count On, Not Hype.

We researched through countless user reviews and recommendations to bring our readers a comprehensive list of lightweight shoes that offer a variety of features, and nothing that is superfluous. According to seasoned runners, the lightweight running shoe segment is very heavy (pun intended) on marketing terms and celebrity endorsements that can influence a runner’s selection. We waded through the hype and made sure that we selected the absolute best lightweight runners to take the guesswork out of making a great choice.

 Selections For Varied Terrain

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.

No Sacrifice On Cushion Levels

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.

 

 Breathability

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.

 We Didn’t Forget The Budget

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.

 Flexibility

This is a crucial component of a lightweight running shoe, and although it’s common for lightweight running shoes to be flexible, it’s important to consider how it contributes to the other qualities of the shoe. For example, most runners have seen the image of a person holding a shoe and squeezing the toe segment all the way back to the laces, seemingly indicating that it’s a flexible shoe. Not so fast. We listened to what runners had to say about flexibility in other parts of the footwear such as the midfoot and the vertical. Taking this into consideration will provide for a natural foot movement and less effort through your stride.

 

Other Important Things to Consider

A great lightweight running shoe will make your short and long distance runs a much better experience. No matter which model you choose, you are sure to notice a great change if you’re used to bulkier runners. However, before you go, take a look at the wide range of feedback and data we went through when compiling our selections. This will help you choose a lightweight running shoe that’s right for you. It’s important that you make a selection that makes sense for your purposes and what you plan to do with them. Below you will find some personal factors to take into consideration when making your choice.

 Know When To Replace You Running Shoes

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.

 Make A Selection For Your Run Length And Body Type

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.

Will You Be Trail Running Or Road Running?

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 and our guide has excellent choices for outdoor runners.

We’ve Got Style, But Don’t Buy Running Shoes Because Of Trends

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.

 

FAQ

Q: I’ve got a “lucky” pair of running shoes that I use on all marathons, can’t I just keep using those?

A: 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.

Q: How do I know if I have a good fit?

A: 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.

Q: How do I know if I need more stable footwear?

A: 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.

Q: I’m planning on going out on a non-technical trail; what should I look for in my running shoes?

A: 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.

Q: Lightweight racers feel great, can I use them all the time?

A: Wouldn’t recommend that. 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.

 

 

Here are some sources we used while conducting our research

 

Sources

  1. Runner’s World, Runner’s World, Running Website,
  2. Weekend Notes, Weekend Notes, Running Blog,
  3. Competitor, Competitor, Running Website,
  4. Amazon, Amazon, Product Reviews,
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