You may not ever have felt like you’re running with cinder blocks on your feet, but when you go on your first run with a pair of truly lightweight running shoes, you can’t help but notice the difference.
Even if you don’t want to change from your trusty trainers, a lightweight running shoe is ideal for races or doing speedwork.
If you’re interested in trying a light shoe, our top choice is the Brooks Hyperion Tempo. It weighs in at just 7.3 ounces for a single men’s shoe, and 6.3 ounces for women’s. The Hyperion has an impressive spring nitrogen-infused midsole, and a woven upper that’s light and floaty.
If that isn’t enough to have you out the door to buy a pair, check out the rest of the options in our top ten.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Brooks Hyperion Tempo
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Hoka One One Rincon 2
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ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 25
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1. Brooks Hyperion Tempo
The Brooks Hyperion is an impressively light offering from one of the premier running shoe brands.
Both the men’s and women’s weigh just slightly more than half of what the average running shoe does. The men’s version comes in in at 7.3 ounces, and the women’s is a nice 6.3 ounces.
One of the best features of this shoe, and something that contributes to its cloud-like weight, is Brooks’ DNA FLASH midsole technology. Following in the footsteps of other successful lightweight shoe designs, Brooks have incorporated a nitrogen-infused midsole.
The end product is an ultra-light foam that provides a springy, responsive cushioning. It serves your feet well no matter the surface. The woven upper also helps give you a cloud-like feel as you’re running, and allows for great airflow.
The only potential downside is that they don’t come in wide sizes, which may mean runners who usually order a wide size won’t find a great fit for them. Other than that, the great features on this shoe make it top of our best lightweight running shoes.
- Weight of 7.3 ounces (men’s), 6.3 ounces (women’s)
- Nitrogen-infused foam midsole
- Light, woven upper
- Thin but supportive heel cushioning and tongue
- Runners with wide feet may not find the fit comfortable
2. Hoka One One Rincon 2
The Rincon 2 is the much-anticipated update of the original. And it isn’t actually all that much different. It’s still super light, though, so it gets our nod of approval for his list.
The base is unusually wide, which provides better stability. They’re made to fit true to size, though, so the fact that it has a wide sole doesn’t necessarily mean it will be great for runners with wide feet.
The cushioning is quite solid, but spongy and comfortable for many miles of hard running. It’s a full EVA midsole for complete coverage. Like all Hoka running shoes, the emphasis here is max cushioning for a soft ride.
What could be a slight problem is the exposed midsole, which seems to wear down a little faster than it should.
The only real difference from the original is the upper, which is now constructed from engineered mesh as opposed to a single-layer mesh. It does a good job of keeping your feet cool, and hasn’t added or removed an ounce of weight.
We do like the generous heel tab, which makes getting them off a breeze. Just make sure not to catch it on anything as you go past.
- Weight of 7.7 ounces (men’s), 7.2 ounces (women)
- Wide, stable sole
- Great traction on the rubber outsole
- Full EVA midsole for great cushioning
- The midsole and outsole seem to be less durable than others
Top Mild Stability
3. ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 25
The Gel-DS 25 is made for those who overpronate or have a neutral foot. It’s extra supported by the addition of a DuoMax dual-density midsole, to provide stability in all the right places without sacrificing comfort.
The Gel-DS is strengthened with multiple technologies, including:
- Rearfoot Gel system: Shock-absorbing.
- Propulsion Trusstic technology: Assists in improving push-off by mimicking tension in the connective tissue of the foot.
- AHAR Plus outsole: 50% more durable than their standard rubber outsoles.
The midsole uses FlyteFoam technology, which makes it slightly heavier than our top models on this list but still more than acceptably light for a well-cushioned shoe. It’s responsive and energetic, and is created to prevent flattening.
This combination of technologies creates a perfect combination of stability and comfort. Add to that the engineered mesh upper, and you’ve got a lightweight, breathable, and supportive shoe.
- Weight of 10 ounces (men’s), 8 ounces (women’s)
- Light and responsive FlyteFoam midsole
- Rearfoot gel cushioning system
- Guidance Line tech for extra stability
- Less traction on soles than others, best for road running in good weather conditions
Best for Long Runs
4. Saucony Kinvara 12
For long runs, a perfect blend of comfort and support is necessary to cushion and protect the foot. This shoe gets it right.
Coming in at 7.5 ounces for the men’s and 6.5 ounces for women, it’s already light enough to save energy during your run and reduce the amount of fatigue on your feet.
Another feature that will assist on long bouts is the light-yet-bouncy PWRRUN cushioning. This, paired with the unusually flexible sole, allows for easy movement of the feet and responsive running whatever surface you’re on.
Speaking of surfaces, the traction may not be the best on wet or gravelly ground. If you’re training on the road in good weather, though, you’ll find these to be perfectly adequate.
They feature a very breathable upper, so there’s no need to worry about your feet overheating on a long run. Something we like is the 4mm heel drop, which gives your toes a slight break as you aren’t leaning as far forward as you may be in other shoes.
- Weight of 7.8 ounces (men’s), 6.9 ounces (women’s)
- PWRRUN cushioning for sustained comfort
- Flexible sole for responsive movement
- 4mm heel drop
- They seem to run narrow
- Not as much grip as other shoes
Best Zero Drop
5. Altra Escalante 2.5
Zero drop running shoes have some noticeable advantages over others, one of which being that they tend to be lighter because they use less cushioning material. That’s quite true for these Altras, coming in at 8.5 ounces for the men’s shoe and 6.9 ounces for the women’s.
The sole is more definitely foot-shaped than others, although some may find that it doesn’t quite suit their foot. An unusual feature of this shoe is the skinny mid-foot, which adds an element of support but may not be comfy for those with wider feet.
Zero drop running shoes are great for endurance especially at slower paces. Altra earned their stripes as a company in the ultra-running world, before becoming more generally popular. The principles that guided them to design shoes for super-long races still guide their design today. While they usually have less cushioning, the Escalante 2.5 is still fairly padded, with an Altra Ego midsole with Innerflex technology. These make the shoe soft but responsive, while maintaining a good flex.
- Weight of 8.5 ounces (men’s), 6.9 ounces (women’s)
- Sock-like upper for added comfort
- Thin mid-foot for stability and support
- Good cushioning for zero drop shoes
- No wide sizes available, so runners with wide feet may find these uncomfortable
Top Racing Shoe
6. Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper
If you’re into competitive running, this shoe is a superb lightweight option. Both the men’s and women’s versions weigh in at 6.4 ounces per shoe, one of the lightest we’ve seen.
Firstly, they’re impressively durable. The uppers are made from Ripstop mesh, so the chances of them tearing or unraveling are low. The rubber outsole is also fairly long-lasting, with strategically placed grippy sections to maximize traction and minimize weight.
The midsole is where the GORun Razor 3 Hyper really shines. Their innovative Hyper Burst technology creates a super-floaty cushioned midsole by infusing EVA with CO2 and nitrogen. When you’re on the road, you’re basically running on bubble wrap, and you can feel the difference.
The 4mm heel drop takes pressure off the heel and reduces pressure on the toes. All in all, these shoes are super light, comfortable, and cloud-like for racing.
- Weight of 6.4 ounces, men’s and women’s
- Renowned Hyper Burst midsole
- 4mm heel drop
- Ripstop mesh upper
- The unisex sizing could become confusing when buying (choose 1.5 sizes down for women)
- Skechers shoes have a reputation for being less durable than other brands
Best for Speedwork
7. Saucony Endorphin Speed
If speed is your thing, try the Saucony Endorphin Speed. They may look a little chunkier than others on this list, but they’re still incredibly light and have some features that make them great for speed.
PWRRUN superfoam softens the impact on your feet, and gives you a spring in your step at the same time. You’ll also find Saucony’s Speedroll technology, which aims to improve your pace by propelling you forward with less effort. The 8mm drop helps with that, by providing a slightly forward lean.
Another great feature is the full-length nylon plate, which adds rigid support but remains fairly flexible, allowing for quicker transitions between movements, which is crucial for speedwork.
- Weight of 7.8 ounces (men’s), 6.8 ounces (women’s)
- 8mm heel drop helps forward propulsion
- Springy performance cushioning
- Speedroll technology
- No wide sizes available
Top for Wide Feet
8. New Balance FuelCell Rebel
Wide-footed runners, if you’ve been getting despondent at all these shoes that run narrow, don’t worry. This is the light-but-wide shoe that should suit your feet perfectly.
The bootie-like construction wraps your foot in a soft, hug-like upper. It’s made from lightweight mesh that is highly ventilated and keeps you as cool as possible.
The FuelCell foam midsole is bouncy and propels you on your way. It features a deconstructed heel counter which helps reduce weight, but means this shoe is definitely more catered for forefoot and midfoot runners.
Available in regular and wide, there’s something to fit everybody!
- Weight of 7.3 ounces (men’s), 6.1 ounces (women’s)
- Bootie-like design
- Propulsive forefoot technology
- Available in regular and wide sizes
- The sewn-in tongue can be uncomfortable
9. New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo
We know, running gear can get expensive! Thankfully, most brands have quality options for a decent price, and that’s what this footwear is.
The men’s is a little heavier than some others here, but still under the average weight of running shoes. The women’s is quite light, as close to barefoot as you can be.
For a decent price, you’ll get a Fresh Foam midsole that cushions your arches nicely using data-driven footbed shaping.
They also have some nice short, round traction spots underneath them to keep you safe on moderately slippery and slidey surfaces.
Although they’re not as comprehensive as others technology-wise, they offer a good many features for a great price and would be worth the buy if you’re looking for an affordable lightweight running shoe.
- Weight of 9.1 ounces (men’s), 6.1 ounces (women’s)
- Fresh foam midsole
- Hypoknit upper
- Comes in regular and wide
- They run a little small, so be careful
Best for Trails
10. Arc’teryx Norvan SL
Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce this brand. It’s all about the feeling of their shoes on your feet, and these trail running shoes are as good as they get.
Weight is a factor on the trail, and these are astoundingly light, weighing in at just 6.5 ounces for the men’s, and an impressive 5.6 ounces for the women’s.
Lightweight trail shoes are something of a unicorn. The rigors of the trail demand that shoe be robust, and that most often means added weight. Still, the Norvan SL is built for serious performance without bogging your feet down. Arc’teyx’s technical trail running systems provide a solid, stable base for the shoe while a lightweight TPU mesh upper repels water. 3.5mm lugs on a Vibram rubber outsole provide ultimate grip on off-road terrain. And the Norvan’s EVA midsole saves grams and ankles with it’s plush feel.
A nice feature to round this shoe off is the “clip-in” point on the heel, which makes them really easy to carry by simply clipping them to a backpack.
- Weight of 6.5 ounces (men’s), 5.6 ounces (women’s)
- Pro 3.5mm lugs for traction
- Vibram MegaGrip sole
- TPU hydrophobic mesh upper
- Some runners may find the toe box too narrow
Not sure if a lightweight shoe is for you? Here’s some more information on the benefits and features to help you decide!
What is the Benefit of a Lightweight Shoe?
Wearing a lighter shoe means less weight on your feet! Considering your feet are the most active part of your body when running, the weight they have on them is quite significant.
A lightweight shoe means every time you pick up your feet to take another step, there’s less weight to pick up. Although the weight differences might seem minimal, it can be quite noticeable when switching from normal weight shoes to lightweight.
The average shoe comes in at about 11.3 ounces, which sounds like very little. Lightweight shoes will be even less than that per shoe.
Wearing lightweight shoes means you expend less energy when you’re running. This means more energy to put towards breaking your own records!
Are Lightweight Shoes Cushioned?
Generally, companies that create shoes specifically to be lightweight try to limit the amount of foam the shoe contains. This means less cushioning than the average shoe, but of course, also less weight.
Some lightweight sneakers are made to simulate barefoot running, and obviously these will hardly be cushioned at all. But most shoes that are considered to be lightweight still contain moderate cushioning, so your feet will have a degree of protection.
Are Lighter Shoes Better for Running for Long Term Results?
A lighter shoe can make quite a positive difference to your long term running results. Having less weight on your feet (even if it’s minimal) means less fatigue, less chance of pain and discomfort, and more energy to put towards speed rather than just lifting your feet!
Less fatigue also means you’re able to recover faster after your runs, which is always a positive. When it comes to long term results, choosing lightweight shoes is a good idea. From the first step out on the road or trail to resting and allowing your muscles to recover, lightweight shoes do the job admirably.