10 Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes in 2021

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
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.

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. 

Best overall

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!

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

Best comfort

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!

See our full review and facts

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.

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

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!

See our full review and facts

Features of lightweight hiking shoes

In the RunRepeat database, hiking shoes that weigh less than 500grams are considered lightweight. 

We’ll focus on features that set them apart from hiking shoes in general. Them, we’ve covered in detail in our guide on hiking shoes

  1. Lightweight. The whole point of these shoes is to be lightweight, so the extra weight coming either from hiking boots or regular hiking shoes is taken away. This lightweight feature definitely gets the spotlight on the longer hikes - with them you just might go further because your feet aren’t as tired. 
  2. Stiff outsole. On average, these hiking shoes are less sturdy than traditional hiking boots, and sturdier than trail running shoes. 
  3. Shorter break-in period than in hiking boots and even regular shoes, because of the new materials used for the upper. 

When looking at the whole feature set, it’s best to compare it with other fellows from the trail footwear community. Here, we’re looking at trail running shoes, hiking sandals, hiking shoes, and hiking boots

How lightweight hiking shoes compare to other hiking footwear 

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This is a general overview. Lightweight hiking shoes definitely get a better rating for the “lightweight” feature. They are, on average, 158g lighter than the regular hiking shoes! 

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Lightweight hiking shoes take the 3rd place (out of 5) when compared to other trail footwear when it comes to both price and weight.

6 steps for finding your perfect fit 

There are a few important steps to follow when it comes to trying on hiking shoes. You should try the shoes on and not order them online. 

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These 6 steps will guide you through the process of trying out the hiking shoes. 

  1. Go shoe shopping in the afternoon, so feet are swollen at least a bit. It’s what happens anyway when hiking, so it makes sense. 
  2. Try the shoes with your hiking socks on. Bring the socks that you plan to wear on your hikes with you. Avoid using cotton, but choose wool or synthetic socks - they dry out faster and are good at preventing the blisters. 
  3. Try it on, lace it up, and check for pressure points. Shoes should feel comfortable and non-constricting. You don’t want any part of your shoe to feel loose! 
  4. There should be a thumb’s width space between your toes and the front of your shoes.
  5. If you’re wearing special insoles or orthotics, take them with you and insert them into the shoes when trying them on. 
  6. Use the ramp! Walk up and down. This tests the shoe’s snugness. No part of the shoe should feel loose. When you go up the board, observe for any heel lift. When you go down, check if your toes hit the front of the shoes. If your heel rises more than a quarter of an inch, try adjusting the laces. If your toes hit the front, try sizing up.

4 things to pay attention to when buying lightweight hiking shoes 

These tips apply to all hiking footwear. If this is your first hiking-shoes shopping, you might find our general guide on hiking shoes quite useful. 

1. Duration of your hiking trip

The longer the hike, the better support you need. This means you should look for more stability features and cushioning. Lightweight hiking shoes tend to lack those features, or at least in great amounts, in order to be lighter. To learn about cushioning features, look at the specifications of the midsole: every material (for example EVA foam) has a certain set of features that may or may not suit your hiking and feet needs.

2. Weight of your backpack 

Same rule applies for the duration of your hiking trip. We bring heavier backpacks on longer hikes. Hiking shoes aren’t meant to support you in these adventures completely, only up to a degree. That’s why, if you’re planning a long backpacking trip, consider buying hiking boots or mountaineering boots. They will offer stability features and cushioning: a very welcomed set of features for such adventures. 

3. Your arch type

Depending on your arch type, your feet might need different stability features. High arches usually ask for neutral shoes, medium arches ask for neutral or stability shoes, and low arches (flat feet) ask for motion control shoes. We’ve covered this in-depth in the next chapter. 

Arch type and stability features 

The type of your arch matters because it offers guidelines for choosing the adequate shoe type. Whether it’s a neutral, stability, or motion control shoe - they all offer different stability features that your feet need when hiking. 

Shoe wear test 

Things you can do: look at your used hiking shoes and compare how the outsoles have been worn with the “Shoe wear” section below. 

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If you’re overpronating, you can look for overpronation hiking shoes. If you’re a neutral pronator or a supinator, browse through the neutral hiking shoes database. 

Wet test 

There is also another way to discover your arch type and it’s called a wet test. 

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You should: wet the sole of your foot (ideally both of them, one at a time), then stand on a piece of paper while allowing the moisture from your feet to sink into the paper, and step off. Look at your footprint and compare it to the ones shown below.  

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Of course, the best thing to do is to consult a podiatrist. Especially if you already know you have injuries or a special feet condition. Only specialists can give you a thorough (complete) analysis of your feet.  

If you need something more specific, you might want to look into insoles or orthotics that you can insert into hiking shoes. 

The outsole story: lugs for every terrain 

Your hiking adventures ask for different lugs based on the terrain you’ll be covering. It’s good to pay attention to the outsole and look at the bottom of the shoes before buying them. This way, you’ll know which terrain you’re buying the shoes for. 

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When not to use lightweight hiking shoes 

While these shoes are a perfect option for short and easy hikes, given that they don’t offer enough stability and support, you should avoid them on multiple-day hikes and when wearing a heavy backpack. Plenty of other factors can be covered with additional features: for rainy days, look for waterproof hiking shoes. Use filters in the RunRepeat database and look for specific features like orthotic hiking shoes or wide toe box hiking shoes.   

Author
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic

Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.