7 Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes in 2024

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
7 Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes in 2024
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The best middle ground of trail running shoes and hiking shoes is lightweight hiking shoes. What’s not to love: they are light + offer rigid soles usually. In this guide, we explained which lightweight hiking shoes are the best and which features to look for when buying lightweight hiking shoes.

After testing these shoes in our lab and on the trails, we have selected the best and brightest in 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 test hiking shoes

Our review process couldn't be more excessively elaborate than it already is. We do not settle for rumors and hearsay - we establish shreds of evidence! With that being said, our process starts with us buying hiking shoes by drawing out money from our own pockets. We love free stuff, we're not hypocrites! But when it comes to testing, we prefer getting the shoes on our own so our opinions wouldn't be tainted by gratitude.

After that comes the real part: the actual testing of the shoes. We put on the shoes on various hikes in different environments and circumstances. We then deliver our reports and observations about the shoes.

The next stop after the trails and terrains is our lab. We test the shoes using our tools such as a smoke machine, digital force gauge, caliper, and more! We gather data from these tests and analyze them to understand their mechanism better. By the way, do you know that we also slice the shoes into pieces? Because yes, we do!

Best lightweight hiking shoes overall

Danner Trail 2650

What makes it the best?

The Danner Trail 2650 is a thoroughbred of lightweight hiking shoes. Not only is it lighter than most other shoes we have tested, it’s incredibly versatile, grippy, and so comfortable that it has become our go-to hiking shoe!

An all-rounder should be able to go anywhere and do anything, and that means it needs good traction. We checked out the lugs’ depth in the lab and they came in at 4.3 mm, which is the average for hiking shoes that we’ve tested so far. That explains why they kept us confident and stable when walking on most surfaces, from rough trails to smooth rock! 

This shoe was such a smooth ride, and we suspected it had something to do with the plushest midsole we had ever experienced. We checked the midsole’s softness with a durometer and measured 52 HA, a whopping difference from the average of 86 HA, making it 65% softer than average! 

Next, we tested the shoe’s flexibility with a force gauge, measuring it at 31N, much more flexible than the average of 39N. We also bent and twisted the shoe to test longitudinal and torsional flexibility, and it scored 2/5 for both, 5 being the stiffest. We noticed the flexibility out on the trail; the shoe felt nimble and flexed naturally with our foot. It’s a great choice for summer walking; we found them to be wonderfully breathable and they dried out quickly.

We don’t recommend these shoes to hikers who enjoy quite a lot of ground feel. In the Danner Trail 2650 we wish there was a bit more of it. 


  • Lightweight
  • Good grip
  • Incredible midsole
  • Protective TPU shank
  • Excellent lockdown
  • Fits true to size
  • Breathable


  • Ankle support isn’t there
  • No waterproofing
Full review of Danner Trail 2650

Lightweight hiking shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

31% softer than other hiking shoes and lighter than the average hiking shoe with a Gore-Tex membrane: it's the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX. A lightweight hiking shoe with, by far, the best cushioning out there. After hiking for hundreds of miles when testing hiking shoes and dissecting all of them in the lab, we can say that this cushioning is what a hiker's dreams are made of. 

First, it's soft. Like crazy soft, our durometer showed 23.3 HA and the average for hiking shoes is 30.7 HA. Second, the Anacapa Low GTX stays soft even when exposed to cold weather. We confirmed this when we put it into the freezer for 20 minutes and checked its softness afterward. It got only 18% firmer. Most hiking shoes get 23% firmer! 

Third, there's a rocker. It feels so good; it makes us even start speed hiking! This is not a difficult thing to do in the Anacapa Low GTX because it's not a burden for our feet. It weighs 13.9 oz, and the average for GTX hiking shoes is 14.3 oz. 

While perfect in cushioning, this shoe is not perfect when it comes to heel to toe drop: Hoka says it's 6 mm, but, in the lab, our calipers measured a different story: 10.5 mm. This is a huge deviation and hikers, you've been warned. 


  • Mind-blowing cushioning
  • Podiatrist-approved sole
  • Excellent grip
  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Lightweight
  • Out-of-the-box comfort
  • Roomy toebox
  • Well-made
  • Contains recycled materials


  • GTX version only
  • Pricier than average
  • Weird-looking heel
Full review of Hoka Anacapa Low GTX

Lightweight hiking shoes with the best grip

What makes it the best?

We have good news for hikers looking for a grippy, lightweight, and agile hiking shoe! After thorough testing in the lab and on the trail, we found the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX ticks all the boxes and voted it the best lightweight hiking shoe with the best grip.

We tested the shoe on all terrains, and it didn’t let us down. The 4.5 mm lugs are slightly deeper than the 4.3 mm average, which play their part in sticking to soft mud and loose gravel. The star of the show is Salomon’s trademark Contragrip sole. Its chevron-shaped lugs work wonders on steep ascents and descents, 

We popped the shoe on the scale in our lab and measured it at 11.8 oz (336g). This is 12% lighter than the average for hiking shoes and the difference is unmistakable out on the trail, with our feet feeling a whole lot fresher at the end of a long day than we expected. Speaking of fresh feet, this shoe is highly breathable, so moisture and air can get in and out! We noticed heaps of grip on terrain ranging from grassy hillsides to rough trails. In the lab, measured the lugs at a meaty 5.2 mm on Salomon’s Contragrip outsole, 0.9 mm deeper than average. With such sturdy lugs, it’s no wonder we felt confident! 

We don’t recommend these shoes for regular hiking in mud. The 41 lugs clustered relatively tightly on the outsole have trouble shedding mud and we found we slipped a bit.


  • Instant comfort
  • Impeccable waterproofing
  • Very lightweight
  • Exceptional grip
  • Excellent support and lockdown
  • Stable platform
  • Roomy toebox


  • Quicklace is not for everyone
  • Too-high collar
Full review of Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

Lightweight hiking shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

This shoe is so stable it feels like "stability" should be its middle name. When hiking in Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX, we felt very safe, secure and stable. Our lab tests allowed us to understand why. 

When looking at the stiffness of the shoe, the longitudinal one sits is 6.7% lower than the average which tells us why the ride was more on the natural, unobtrusive side. However, what matters more for stability is the torsional stiffness, and on that test, when we tried to twist the shoe, it scored 5/5. 5 is for the stiffest! It was almost impossible to twist it, even a little bit. 

Because we hiked over grass, muddy areas, rocks, and soft single tracks covered with gravel here and there, we knew that the grip is superb. Looking at our caliper measurements, we understood why: the lugs are 4.4 mm deep and the rubber is a bit softer than average. This combination proved to be great or, well, sticky! 

While hiking shoes with a Gore-Tex membrane tend to be heavier (average is 409g or 14.4 oz), the Swift R3 GTX weighs just around the average (408g), BUT it feels much lighter than what we see on the paper (or our scale in the lab). 

Be warned though, this shoe is stable as heck but needs breaking in to make it work perfectly. 


  • Boot-like stability
  • Highly durable and protective
  • Lightweight for what it offers
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Breathable for a GTX shoe
  • Generously cushioned
  • Very secure foothold
  • Top-notch grip with deep lugs


  • Stuffy for summer
  • Can be too stiff (even stiffer in cold)
  • Break-in needed
Full review of Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX

Best lightweight shoes for speed hiking

What makes it the best?

After testing lightweight hiking shoes to their full capacities in the lab and outdoors, we found Merrell Moab Speed 2 the best for speed hiking. Fully living up to its name, its light and agile nature combined with its springy cushioning and rigid FlexPlate begs to break into a run, all with solid footing and plush comfort.

On foot, Moab Speed 2 almost feels like a trail shoe. Our scales confirm it’s only 11.6 oz (329g), 13.2% lighter than the average hiker, and keeping each stride effortless.

Surprisingly, this shoe maintained its weightlessness despite the massive 38.8 mm heel we measured with our caliper. This rises 7.4 mm above average and is made of plush full-length FloatPro Foam delivering all-day comfort. Our durometer confirms its low 19.0 HA reading, 31.4% softer than average.

Even with its delicate foam, Moab Speed 2 feels impressively stable. Our cut-in-half shoe reveals the FlexPlate that embraces our foot, creating a balanced and controlled environment. Our manual assessment shows it’s tough to twist, earning the highest 5/5 torsional rigidity score, boosting stability, and preventing leg fatigue. The toothy 3.7 mm lugs also contribute to our solid footing over moderate terrain.

However, while this hiker delivers reliable stability, there are other more supportive shoes for specific purposes such as backpacking with heavy loads.


  • One of the lightest hiking shoes
  • Plush and abundant cushioning
  • Great support and stability
  • Perfect grip for moderate terrain
  • Excellent durability
  • Breathable for summer
  • Cozy step-in feel
  • Two loops for easy on-off


  • Frail inner lining
  • Small debris gets inside
Full review of Merrell Moab Speed 2

Best lightweight hiking shoes for summer

Salomon Outpulse

What makes it the best?

Uninhibited pace and unburdened feet – this could easily be the slogan of the Salomon Outpulse. This hiking shoe steered us through our escapades without a hint of exhaustion and foot perspiration. The support the Outpulse has given us is unsurpassed and the comfort? A revelation!

We loaded up smoke inside this hiking shoe and evaluated the amount that would flow out. Given the abundant smoke release, a 5/5 breathability score is a no-brainer. On our wear tests, a smooth airflow is also achieved, ensuring an unceasing state of freshness. 

This hiking shoe is constructed with such a light build, that our trekking speed benefited a lot. Weighing only 11.61 oz (329g), the Salomon Outpulse is 15.6% lighter than its peers. Granted, it is airy but it is also resilient. We discovered that it is tough against our Dremel tool, especially the heel padding and outsole. The heel scored a solid 5/5 in durability as it prevailed over our abrasive device, while the outsole only bore a 0.3 mm depression, which is negligible compared to the 1.1 mm average.

As good as all these are in the trail, we found that wide-footers might not completely enjoy the Salomon Outpulse. This shoe is 97.2 mm wide across the widest section of the toebox and it is 2.8 mm short of the average. If you think you would have an issue with the Outpulse, fit-wise, better pick a more forgiving pair.


  • Grippy and durable lugs
  • Extremely breathable
  • Lighter than average
  • Protective and bouncy midsole
  • Great for long hikes
  • Speedy and tenacious
  • Comfortable and high-quality upper construction
  • Secure lockdown
  • No break-in required
  • Performs consistently in the cold


  • Not ideal for wide feet
  • Tongue slippage
Full review of Salomon Outpulse

Best budget lightweight hiking shoes

What makes it the best?

At $90, there's nothing else we could ask from the Adidas Terrex AX4 and we got so much! It retailed at a price that's 30% lower than the average for hiking shoes ($129) and yet we found it to be very versatile and it even has mudguards and recycled elements!

Because it has mudguards we took it to some muddy areas. We also covered very steep uphills and flat gravel-covered paths. The grip was there and it did not make us question it. The lugs are 3.7 mm thick and we found them to work best on softer ground.

When the grip is good, we also wish for stability to be there. And it was! All thanks to the platform that's wider than the average, ensuring planted strides. With a caliper we measured the width of the midsole at the heel (87.9 mm) and the forefoot (111.5 mm). They turned up to be 2.6 mm and 3.8 mm wider than the average, respectively. 

This shoe is on the stiffer side. It starts stiffer than average at room temperature and, when exposed to cold, stiffness up much more than the average. In our test, it got 66.2% stiffer, while hiking shoes usually get 48.9% stiffer. Because of this, we don't recommend this shoe for hikes in very cold weather. Keep in mind it might need more time on the hike or somewhere inside to warm up and "loosen up". 


  • Excellent value for money
  • Feels like a trail running shoe
  • Breathable
  • Water-repellent
  • Solid grip
  • Durable for the price
  • Stable platform
  • Contains recycled materials


  • Lacks toe protection
  • Flimsy insole
Full review of Adidas Terrex AX4

How light are lightweight hiking shoes?

In our database, lightweight hiking shoes weigh less than 14.1 oz or 400g. We measure every single hiking shoe that we test and add it to our lab database. 

Lightweight hiking shoes on a scale

At the moment of writing this, the average weight of a hiking shoe in our database is 13.4 oz (377.6g). And it perfectly makes sense, because the average weight of a hiking boot is 17.8 oz (498.9g) and a trail running shoe 10.4 oz (289.1g). 

When to use lightweight hiking shoes

Lightweight hiking shoes are a middle ground between trail running shoes and regular hiking shoes

Trail running shoe vs lightweight hiking shoe vs regular hiking shoe
An example of a trail running shoe, lightweight hiking shoe and regular hiking shoe with their weights

We recommend hiking in lightweight hiking shoes when: 

  1. You want a hiking-shoe experience but at a light weight. Hikers usually prioritize these shoes when they want to move fast and light or when the terrain is not demanding. 
  2. You want something a bit sturdier than the trail running shoes but don’t need it to be as stable and supportive as a heavier hiking shoe. 
  3. You don’t want to bother with a break-in period. These shoes usually as for a short one or none. 
  4. You plan to rock the hikers, maybe even in an urban setting, because they are so easy to wear and comfortable. 

When NOT to use lightweight hiking shoes

Here are our tips on when to look for heavier hiking shoes: 

  1. Your hike is long, maybe even a multi-day one, on a demanding terrain. As our feet get tired, we appreciate all the extra support we can get. Heavier shoes tend to be more supportive. Same goes for stability. 
  2. You plan to carry a heavy backpack. The support and stability needed for this adventure are usually combined with hiking boots or mountaineering boots. When that’s not the case, the next best thing is to go for heavier hiking shoes. 

Finding the best fit in lightweight hiking shoes

Them being lightweight, does not change how we should approach the buying process and testing whether the fit is the right for us. 

KEEN NXIS Speed Stiffness

In our experience, these are the steps you should take to ensure the best fit possible: 

  1. Go shoe shopping later in the day, afternoon or evening. We’re aiming for that normal swelling that happens from all-day activities. Similar to what happens when you’re out hiking. 
  2. Wear the socks you usually wear when hiking. Bring them with you. 
  3. If you’re using orthotics/insoles, bring them with you and try the shoes on with them. 
  4. Put the shoe on, lace it up and try to sense if there are any pressure points. Nothing should itch, cramp, poke. We’re aiming for the perfect comfortable fit, not loose or too tight. Hikers prefer having 1 thumb’s width in front of their toes. 
  5. Use the ramp to test the shoes on uneven terrain and on uphills and downhills. Ramps usually have different surfaces - track, grass, rocks. Test the shoes on them all. Look for no sliding within the shoes! 

Grip is still a priority

Once we got the weight behind us, it is still important to consider the terrain and, based on it, find the grip that will not fail you. 


We assess the grip during our wear tests and double-confirm everything in the lab by measuring the depth of the lugs with a caliper and the softness of the outsole with an HC durometer. 

Outsole softness and lug depth measurements in RunRepeat lab
Outsole hardness (left) and lug depth (right) measurements made in RunRepeat lab

Here’s what we suggest you look for depending on the terrain: 

  1. Lugs that are average (4 mm) or shallower will work on most well-maintained trails. If they are shallow, they can also work on hybrid adventures (road to trail). Best used for dry surfaces. 
  2. Very deep lugs (4 mm and above) work best for wet terrain: mud, snow, slush. Lugs that are not cramped too close to each other shed mud better. 
  3. Usually, the bigger the lugs, the softer the rubber, because it is stickier. With this in mind, don’t use big lugs on flat, hard surfaces like huge flat rocks or asphalt. The lugs will wear down FAST that way. 

Note: lower numbers for outsole hardness mean softer rubber.

Most durable lightweight hiking shoes

Even though you decided to get lightweight hiking shoes, it does not mean they are forgiven if they are not durable. Or, just because they weigh less, we want them to last long. 

In the lab, we measure the durability of the outsole, upper and heel counter. When it comes to the outsole, we press a Dremel against the rubber and then measure the dent that it made.

The bigger the dent, the less durable the shoe is. 

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX outsole durability test

We also use a Dremel to damage the upper. Here, we visually assess the damage on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the most durable. This is especially important if you plan to hike over terrain covered with fallen branches, sharp rocks, and debris. It’s what the toe bumper and overlays are there for, to protect your feet, so we want the upper as durable as possible. 

Salomon Outpulse Toebox durability

Last but not least, we use the same method and test the durability of the heel counter. 5 being the most durable, again. 

Adidas Terrex Trailmaker heel padding durability test

Now, you can analyze every shoe and prioritize the durability that matters to you the most: 

Keep in mind that, in the table, we're looking for lower numbers for outsole durability (the smaller damage in millimeters that our Dremel has made), while for the other 2 columns, we're looking for high numbers because 5/5 is the most durable. 

How breathable are lightweight hiking shoes?

As a general rule, we’d expect lightweight hiking shoes to be rather breathable. The rule applies except when they are waterproof (see next chapter). 

Upper breathability scores 1 and 5
Microscope images of uppers that scored 5/5 in breathability (up) and 1/5 (down)

In the lab, we don’t just examine the upper under the microscope, but we also pump the smoke in the shoe and assign a rating for breathability: 1-5, where 5 is most breathable. 

Here's an example of a lightweight non-waterproof hiking shoe that scored 4/5 on our breathability test and a waterproof hiking shoes that scored 2/5. 

See which lightweight shoes got the flying colors in breathability: 

Lightweight and waterproof: it’s possible!

Usually, we also think that waterproof shoes weigh more because of the membrane and advanced technology. There are shoes that actually fall into the category of lightweight AND waterproof! 

Are lightweight hiking shoes cheaper? 

Less material (in weight) does not mean less money, this time. At the moment, the average prices in our database look like this: 

  • Trail running shoes: $139
  • Lightweight hiking shoes: $121.9
  • All hiking shoes: average $121.9
  • Hiking boots: $193.4

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.