10 Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes in 2021
The best middle ground of trail running shoes and hiking shoes are lightweight hiking shoes. What’s not to love: they are light + offer rigid soles. In this guide, you’ll find out which lightweight hiking shoes are the best and which features to look for when buying lightweight hiking shoes.
With over 100 light hiking shoes reviewed, we have selected the best and brightest in five different categories. Apart from being light, some shoes also boast excellent waterproofing for rainy days, some offer springy cushioning for speedy hikes, and some can drain water very quickly to let you walk through rivers and streams.
No matter what your priority is, we’ve got a recommended shoe for it.
Overview of this guide
- 1. How we review lightweight hiking shoes
- 2. Best overall
- 3. Best for speed hiking
- 4. Best comfort
- 5. Best for water hiking
- 6. Best budget shoe
- 7. Features of lightweight hiking shoes
- 8. How lightweight hiking shoes compare to other hiking footwear
- 9. 6 steps for finding your perfect fit
- 10. 4 things to pay attention to when buying lightweight hiking shoes
- 11. The outsole story: lugs for every terrain
- 12. When not to use lightweight hiking shoes
How we review lightweight hiking shoes
Our review process is straightforward: we read reviews from 366 experts and 56,604 users on lightweight hiking shoes. Then we used our CoreScore system to aggregate reviews, while eliminating spam and weighing reviews of higher-level experts more. That’s how we ended up with a collection of more than 200 lightweight hiking shoes that are ranked and can be sorted or filtered by your personal preferences.
We give you the cream of the crop—the OUTline GTX from Salomon, besting 100+ of the most capable lightweight kicks on the market in our books.
At roughly 350 grams a shoe, the OUTline GTX made us push past our boundaries minus the tired feet. We were really taken aback by its sneaker-like lightness!
Comfort is through the roof in the Salomon OUTline GTX. On day one, our feet were greeted with super-plush confines, pampering us with comfy padding, especially around the collar and instep. What about blisters or hotspots, you ask? We got none of those in it. Fantastic, right!?
Closely linked to the OUTline GTX’s high level of comfort is the shoe’s incredible breathability. Our feet didn’t get drenched with sweat on our 5-hour journey. Yes, our tootsies knew now overheating in this breathable hiking shoe.
The Salomon OUTline GTX gives its name justice, too, particularly the “GTX” part in that it is relentlessly watertight. During our half-day hike, through some shallow puddles and moist grass, the OUTline GTX barred out every drop!
If you’ve never known kingly lightness in a hiker before, the Salomon OUTline GTX is your golden ticket. Grab a pair now!
If you’re an Adidas fan and you can’t be bothered with bulk and weightiness, we give you the speedster Terrex Swift R2 GTX.
Sporty in design, the Terrex Swift R2 GTX lives up to its name for being fantastically light. At about 700 grams a pair, this hiker made rough tracks feel level just by how agile we were moving in it.
Right from the off, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX was comfortable. Its lined collar gave us that premium feel, and the shoe’s padded midfoot felt snappy and snug. We sustained no heel blisters in it after adventuring for miles. Whatever the brains at Adidas did for this kick comfort-wise, they did a remarkable job!
For you wet-weather trail-goers out there, the Terrex Swift R2 GTX should be right up your backcountry alley. Wetness couldn’t invade this lightweight must-have throughout our couple-of-hours-long fast hike. Water just beaded off it as we made quick strides on some shallow creek along the way.
Overall, this is a fine substitute for our top pick. Don’t delay and get one right away!
Best for speed hiking
Swoosh—that’s what you’d hear in your head every time you hit the trail with the Salomon OUTline GTX!
This Adidas speedster weighs only 350 grams per shoe, and we thought it was lighter than that! Seriously, our time with the OUTline GTX was exhilaratingly fast. We were almost tempted to keep running in it.
As a Gore-Tex hiker, the OUTline GTX performed brilliantly. To see how well it would keep its confines dry, we let our feet be submerged in about 2 inches of water. The outcome? Well, like we said, brilliant! No moisture got inside; not one (fresh?) sock needed drying!
Now, how is the Salomon OUTline GTX comfort-wise, you might ask? Imagine a supple pair of sneakers that you simply don’t want to take off. THAT is how we’d describe the comfort level of this fast hiker. We also didn’t need a honeymoon phase with it—the shoe was just darn comfy the first time through.
The OUTline GTX is also the shoe for you if you dislike stuffiness around your precious tootsies.
So, get one of these and speed up your hikes. We know you want to!
Are you looking for a speedy Merrell hiker that elevates fun among others? We found it for you—the Merrell Moab Speed!
If you thought there’s no getting lighter than what you got on now, think again. The Moab Speed gives its name absolute justice by being less than 650 grams a pair. (Boom, mic drop!)
On level terrain, the Moab Speed deeply impressed us. It isn’t as rockered at the heel as our top pick, but something about its flexibility underfoot propelled us ever forward.
Despite the Moab Speed’s flexibility, we got a great dose of support and stability out of it. In this rocky section of the trail, where tough roots were also prevalent, the shoe in question gave us unflinching balance. Our arches were greatly taken care of, too!
Now, the Moab Speed is a summer hiker and not designed to block out wetness. That said, our experience in it was dry for the most part. It did an ok job repelling moisture.
Oh, before we forget—the Moab Speed toughed it out through mud and muck. We saw dirt falling off it as we were ending our day’s speedy journey!
Mind-bogglingly comfy! Yes, oh yes, the Moab 2 GTX from Merrell is the one to beat comfort-wise!
Snug around the heel, plush around the midfoot, and exceptionally pampering at the forefoot, the Moab 2 GTX knows comfort like no one else does. There’s no break-in period to speak of about this lightweight hiker, either, as it had none.
This lightweight Merrell piece impressed us greatly in the area of surface grip. We tried it on inclines (first dry, then wet), and we climbed with tenacious traction. We also tested it on felled trees and wet logs, but we didn’t lose our bearings. We can confidently say that the Moab 2 GTX is one grippy companion!
Through shallow waters, the Merrell Moab 2 GTX made us true believers. We weren’t as confident at first, but after crossing those puddles several times without any seepage, we were convinced nonetheless.
As for mobility, we found the Moab 2 GTX quite agile. Thanks to its semi-rockered heel and forefoot zones, negotiating the latter part of our route became a breeze!
So, if you want pampered tootsies for hours on end, get the Moab 2 GTX!
We got another lightweight comfort machine for you—the Targhee II from KEEN!
A big chunk of our fun times in the Targhee II was talking about its high comfort. Past its break-in period, we got a kind of pampering we always wanted in a KEEN hiker. It’s secret? Its combination of plushness, particularly around the heel and midfoot, and cushioning (footbed).
We also got a completely shielded experience with the Targhee II (shielded from wetness, to be exact). We made our way through this flooded and muddied part of the trail, and came out with dry feet!
Speaking of our muddy travels some more, the KEEN Targhee II performed incredibly. Our successful back-and-forth on mud and what-not was thanks to the shoe’s aggressively lugged outsole. What impressed us the most about its grip performance was the way it effortlessly latched on this particularly gooey slope. Great!
As for durability, we’d tag the Targhee II as “tank-like.” Its upper was simply quite tough during our rugged hikes. We took a close inspection of the shoe post-adventure, and we only noticed some light scratches. There were also no life-threatening dents present on its grippy outsole.
Best for water hiking
What a shoe! The Astral TR1 Junction is the one to beat in the amphibious arena!
After rounding up about a hundred hiking shoes (and testing each thoroughly), it’s clear to us that the TR1 Junction lives and breathes in the water. As a fantastic water-ejector, this Astral offering blew us away even further with its featherweight lightness at 300-ish grams per shoe.
Sticking to varied terrain is the TR1 Junction’s A-game, yet it was on streams where we got totally impressed. On mossy inclines, we didn’t need to mind our steps as the shoe found purchase wherever it landed!
The TR1 Junction pampered our feet straight from the box, too. Its partly mesh, partly leather confines hugged our feet snuggly, all without giving us hotspots after our initial mile-long hike. We want to give extra props to the TR1 Junction’s rearfoot zone, as it managed to keep our heels centered without giving us blisters.
Now, we bet that the moment you slip inside the TR1 Junction, you will be delighted to discover its spacious toe box. Yes, this Astral water hiker is simply a must-have if you like to give your piggies extra room to breathe!
Be prepared to cut through streams and creeks with the wind trailing behind you in the Merrell Hydro Moc!
This amphibious wonder impressed us quite early on. We felt like champs crossing streams in it. The way it dealt with and ejected water was simply incredible.
At around 400 grams a pair, the Hydro Moc was a dream to wear. We felt quite light in it as if we had nothing on. Even in the water, this hiking shoe didn’t weigh us down.
The Hydro Moc from Merrell eats slippery rocks for breakfast. Yes, we boulder-hopped in this one part of the stream we visited, and the shoe gave us superb grip. On wet grass, the Hydro Moc greatly impressed us, too.
As for comfort, the Hydro Moc is fantastic. Its simplistic synthetic upper is lining-free, but we felt very comfortable inside it. The smoothness of its confines did it for us in this regard, and we know you will be floored, too!
Speaking of the Hydro Moc’s upper, we are confident that it will last long. In fact, we are convinced that the entire shoe will stick with you for months. Buy it now!
Best budget shoe
Can something super-lightweight AND super-affordable come from Adidas? Yes, and it’s none other than the athletic Terrex AX3!
On the lightness front, we are looking at 355 grams per shoe. Imagine being in a pair that gives most hiking shoes a run for their money weight-wise. Meanwhile, the Terrex AX3’s price keeps things humble, selling for no more than $80 MSRP!
The Adidas Terrex AX3 wowed us big time on the trail. Its toothy lugs, though low-profile in design, latched on various surface types like magnets. That said, the real scene-stealer was its heel in that it gave us remarkable traction on slopes and inclines.
Let’s not forget the Terrex AX3’s comfortable confines. We’re attributing the shoe’s plushness to its sufficiently padded interior. We’d link its insane level of comfort to the hiker’s extraordinary breathability and extra-cushy footbed, as well.
And if there was any doubt in your mind concerning the Terrex AX3’s supportiveness, allow us to quell your worries. This Adidas shoe, although quite light, is mighty secure. Its breathable upper gave us more than enough midfoot support, while underfoot, the shoe held our heels and arches without fail!
Ooh la la, Columbia! The Facet 15, while a real looker, is even more fascinating once you get to know its asking price.
This jaw-dropper of a lightweight shoe, weighing no more than 600 grams a pair, is a sight to behold at $100 a pop. We can say that the Facet 15 from Columbia is a worthwhile investment indeed!
One of our speed-hiking must-buys, the Facet 15 is a stunner in the traction department. If you look at its rubber outsole, its lugs might not give you a strong first impression. Oh, but wait till you make your first hike in the shoe—you’ll soon discover its incredible adhesive power.
We also have to applaud the Facet 15 for being the scrumptiously comfortable hiker it’s been to us. When we put it on for the first time, we knew that our tootsies would stay pampered for the rest of the hike.
In speed hiking shoes, unruly laces are a no-no. We are pleased to tell you that once you get the Facet 15 laced up, you probably won’t bother redoing your configuration ever. Our 3-hour-long hiking experience testifies to that!