7 Best Lightweight Running Shoes in 2024

Jovana Subic
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7 Best Lightweight Running Shoes in 2024
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With lightweight running shoes, you want to feel like you’re not wearing any shoes but still get the needed protection and support. Be it a daily workhorse, a racing flat, or a minimalist trainer, we gathered the best to help you achieve your personal bests.

We have tested these running shoes on many test runs and across 20+ parameters in our lab, so we know what makes a truly outstanding option.

Since the meaning of ‘lightweight’ varies depending on the category (a light daily trainer could mean a heavy race shoe), we have selected our top picks in different categories.

How we test running shoes

Any shoe that’s available on the market and weighs less than 250 grams (8.8 oz) in a men’s US size 9 makes it to our selection of light running shoes. Numbering 100+ models from 30 brands, including Nike, ASICS, Adidas, and more, we take each shoe through a thorough serious testing process:

  • We buy running shoes with our own funds to prevent bias.
  • We take each shoe on a series of runs with a total distance of 30-50 miles to provide in-depth feedback on its performance.
  • We use our RunRepeat lab to measure 30+ data points and evaluate each shoe’s cushioning, flexibility, breathability, and more. We even chop up the shoes.

Best lightweight running shoes overall

Hoka Mach 6
86
Great!

What makes it the best?

A jack-of-all-trades, the Hoka Mach 6 excels at any pace and distance with its otherworldly comfort and high level of agility for effortless miles. With its light and loose build, plus a grippy outsole, it’s a clear favorite in our lab and ranks as the top lightweight running shoe.

At just 8.2 oz (232g), the Mach 6 effortlessly covers miles, feeling virtually weightless on foot. Its lightweight construction, far below the 9.4 oz (265g) average for road running shoes, ensures it never holds us back during runs.

Beyond the lab, Mach 6 thrives on the road with its rocker design paving the way for smooth forward transitions and easing out our hard efforts with its vibrant soul. Each landing feels supported by a generous stack, which our caliper shows is 36.0/26.4 mm, followed by an energetic toe-off.

The Hoka Mach 6 isn't just about speed; it's also built for endurance. Its balanced 20.4 HA midsole offers unparalleled comfort, enveloping our feet with every stride. Furthermore, its exceptional flexibility allows it to bend with our foot's natural flexion effortlessly, evidenced by a 36.4% lower resistance compared to the average.

However, its focus on reducing weight led to a slightly narrow build. We recommend those with wide feet to explore other more accommodating options.

Pros

  • Really lightweight
  • Fantastic outsole
  • Exciting ride
  • Highly cushioned
  • Great for heel strikers
  • Handles faster paces
  • Superb lockdown
  • Excellent value at $140

Cons

  • Drop varies from stated
  • Somewhat narrow fit
  • Thin tongue
Full review of Hoka Mach 6

Best lightweight running shoes for daily training

Saucony Kinvara 14
78
Decent!

What makes it the best?

The Saucony Kinvara 14 shows us that looks can be deceiving. While its chunky midsole gives us a weighty impression of the shoe, it totally defies expectations by tipping our scale at a barely-there weight of only 6.84 oz (194g). What's more, it's a versatile workhorse of a shoe that proved to be more than capable of tackling any of our test runs, so when it comes to the best lightweight daily trainer, the Kinvara 14 is truly a no-brainer. 

Playing a large part in the versatility of the Kinvara 14 is how flexible it is. Requiring only 15.3N of force to bend the shoe 90 degrees in our flex test makes the Kinvara 14 49.8% more flexible than the average road shoe. This greatly factors into the shoe's overall comfort as it is able to bend along with the natural movement of our foot with ease, making the shoe feel extremely forgiving on the foot, whether we take it for mile-gobbling long-distance efforts or pavement-pounding high-paced sessions. 

The main drawback of the Kinvara 14 is its toebox, which is 3.1 mm narrower than average in the area around the big toe, measuring only 74 mm wide. This means that runners with wide feet will likely have to contend with hotspots or even blisters as the shoe constricts the natural splaying of the foot. 

Pros

  • More cushioned and protective than ever
  • Responsive foam
  • The lightest Kinvara yet
  • Offers some mild guidance
  • Good grip even on wet surfaces
  • Smooth, natural-feeling ride
  • Pleasantly airy
  • Works for fast and slow paces
  • Can go the distance
  • Also a worthy racing shoe
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • A bit on the firm side
  • Less outsole rubber means less mileage
  • Lockdown is so-so
Full review of Saucony Kinvara 14

Best lightweight speed training shoes

What makes it the best?

Faster than its shadow, Nike’s ZoomX Streakfly is our best speed trainer in the lightweight division. This non-plated modern hyper-shoe exhales pure speed while enhancing agility and comfort through its cushioning, breathability, and flexibility. 

Streakfly unveiled its dynamic and powerhouse persona on our streets, unleashing bursts of energy in every stride. Its power lies in the plush ZoomX midsole, as confirmed by our 12.1 HA durometer reading. 

This airy shoe never burdened us, it actually melted away on foot. Our scales confirm its weightlessness at 6.0 oz (171g), the lightest we’ve ever encountered in the lab. Its lack of a carbon plate makes it easy to maneuver, as shown in how we sped through corners smoothly. Our bend test confirms it’s 55.6% more flexible than average, making it comfortable for recovery paces as well.

Even during summer training, we felt like flying with the upper’s well-ventilated nature. Heat easily escapes, effectively keeping sweat, blisters, and hotspots out of the way. Our breathability test results align with a perfect score.

However, the shoe’s lack of structure and support makes it uncomfortable to run distances beyond 10K. Best to use pairs with more stability for longer distances.

Pros

  • Screams fast and speed-ready
  • Nike’s lightest racing shoe yet
  • Stable and good at cornering
  • Incredible lockdown
  • Splendid track workhorse
  • Roomy toe box
  • Grippy outsole
  • Eye-catching design
  • Not so expensive!

Cons

  • Narrow-footed runners may experience poor lockdown
  • Insanely thin laces
  • Falls short for racing
  • Heavy runners can “bottom out”
Full review of Nike ZoomX Streakfly

Best lightweight running shoes for marathon

Nike Alphafly 3
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

Alphafly 3 goes lightning fast at any distance. Characterized by boundless energy, revolutionary stability, and a refreshing ride, our lab and run tests wholeheartedly endorse this shoe as best for marathons in the lightweight running category. Going fast and far feels effortless with this Nike pair.

This beast is on fire, effortlessly keeping up with our fastest speed. It boasts a superior combination of the rigid FlyPlate and the Air Pods, adding power to every stride. Our bend test reveals it takes a solid force of 71.7N to flex this shoe to 90 degrees, 147.2% greater than average. This stiffness shows itself through strong and consistent energy return.

While instability is often found in racers, it doesn’t hold for Alphafly 3. Despite rising to skyscraper heights, the foam strategically has dual-density layers. The bottom layer is an ultra-soft 18.1 HA for gentle landings, while the top layer is a firm 29.3 HA to enhance surefootedness. This feature comes alive at longer distances, inspiring confidence since it prevents leg fatigue.

Running a marathon is a breeze with Alphafly 3’s lightweight package and ultra-breathable upper. It scored the highest rating on our breathability test and only weighed 7.1 oz (201g).

While this shoe is light, the case isn’t the same as its price. It costs a steep $285, but honestly, we think it’s worth the investment for peak performance.

Pros

  • Remarkably lightweight despite its broad size
  • Best-in-class breathability
  • Excels in the marathon distance
  • Repositioned Air Pods offer a better ride than the v2
  • ZoomX foam delivers massive energy return
  • Aids in forward momentum, especially when legs begin to fatigue
  • Better than ever for 5K/10K racing
  • Finally smooth transitions!

Cons

  • Heel strikers might wear down the outsole quickly
  • The arch could still be a challenge for some
  • The sock-like tongue might not suit everyone
Full review of Nike Alphafly 3

Best lightweight stability running shoes

What makes it the best?

After repetitive lab tests and runs, we’re truly in awe of how Brooks Launch GTS 10 packed so much support in a light and affordable shoe. For only $110, we get the stability we need from its GuideRails technology, compared to the $141 average of its counterparts. Every stride felt remarkably agile and assured, solidifying its claim as the premier lightweight stability shoe.

Weighing in at 8.5 oz (241g), the Launch GTS 10 defies the stereotype of heavy stability shoes averaging 10.3 oz (293g) in our lab. Its maneuverable midsole offers comfort and agility, as confirmed by our bend test when it surpassed the average running shoe by 35.0%, promoting smooth toe-offs and fluid transitions.

Fully embodying the “Go-To-Stability” in its name, Brooks’ GuideRails technology takes center stage. It consists of two rigid plastic pieces to guide our foot alignment and adds stiffness to the midsole torsionally. In our manual assessment, it took mighty strength to twist the shoe, earning a high torsional rigidity rating of 4/5. To ensure a balanced ride, the 19.6 HA foam delivers comfort without compressing unevenly.

However, the steep 12.2 mm heel drop makes this trainer more suitable for heel strikers. Mid-to-forefoot strikes will find better comfort and support in other pairs.

Pros

  • Offers excellent stability with GuideRails technology
  • Priced attractively at only $110
  • Features a durable outsole
  • Incredibly lightweight!
  • Boasts a comfortable upper
  • Provides a fun and responsive ride
  • Suitable for all kind of paces
  • Offers great grip on most surfaces

Cons

  • Suffers from lack of breathability
  • Becomes too stiff in winter
Full review of Brooks Launch GTS 10

Best lightweight running shoes for long runs

What makes it the best?

With a delicate 7.8 oz (220g), the Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is our #1 lightweight option for going the distance. It takes us fast and far with its delightful cushion and dynamic midsole that infuses tons of energy in each toe-off. It’s hard not to love this shoe, with a long lifespan as the cherry on top.

A champion in the long haul game, the Pro 4’s midsole ticks all boxes packing comfort, responsiveness, and stability in one. Our foot is supported by dual-density layers: a soft and springy 18.5 HA top layer and a balanced 22.0 HA bottom layer, providing added stability during endurance runs, especially as fatigue sets in. Sandwiched in between is a rigid S-shaped carbon plate that promotes smooth forward motions. No matter the direction, EP4 is one of the toughest shoes we’ve ever tried to bend. Our flex test reveals it’s 137.5% stiffer than average, explaining the energy rebound we feel. 

The toughness displayed by this supershoe’s outsole is unmatched. We barely saw any wear after double-digit miles. Our lab results confirm it exceeds the average: a tough 85.3 HC, 2.1 mm thick, and 33.3% less indentation than average in our Dremel test.

Its stacked 38.1 mm heel and steep 9.5 mm incline show it’s made for heel-strikers. Mid-to-forefoot strikers should find a pair that will suit their running technique.

Pros

  • Durable upper and outsole
  • Spacious upper fit
  • Enhanced midsole comfort
  • Great value at $225 for a supershoe
  • Versatile across all paces
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • More stable than ever

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than v3
  • Less suited for forefoot strikers
  • Competitors may feel quicker
Full review of Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

Best budget lightweight running shoes

Saucony Axon 3
86
Great!

What makes it the best?

Runners searching for a lightweight and light-in-the-pocket shoe can’t go wrong with Saucony Axon 3. It stood out in our lab and actual runs as a high-performance shoe with low weight and a low price tag. At only $100, it’s $37 cheaper than the average running shoe and offers unmatched value with its premium comfort, light build, and lasting durability.

Axon 3’s airy construction results in less burdened strides, allowing us to pick up the pace. Our scales reveal it’s only 8.6 oz (244g), 8.3% lighter than the average running shoe. Adding to its weightless feel is the well-ventilated upper that scored a high 4/5 on our breathability test.

For its weight and price, we were pleasantly surprised with its generous cushioning. We can run long miles feeling supported by the tall and plush stack. Our durometer reading shows it’s 22.1% softer than average, confirming its cozy sensation.

The outsole looked pristine after repetitive test runs. Axon 3 combines a thicker and tougher-than-average rubber to ensure it can take the abuse of several training blocks. Not only that, it gripped various surfaces with exceptional consistency.

Axon 3 feels quite rigid for easy runs. Our lab tests reveal it’s stiffer than average on all sides. Runners who prefer a more natural feel should check other alternatives.

Pros

  • Incredible value at only $100
  • Significant weight reduction from version 2
  • Impressively cushioned with PWRRUN foam
  • Fantastic durability
  • Suitable for quicker paces
  • Excellent as a daily workhorse
  • Lovely upper
  • Works for short and long runs

Cons

  • Probably too stiff for very relaxed runs
  • Slightly narrower forefoot than before
Full review of Saucony Axon 3

What makes a lightweight running shoe

How light is “lightweight”? You can’t really put a finger on it as it depends on the category:

  • light racing flat: 3.5 to 5.5 oz (100 to 155 g)
  • light daily trainer: 8 to 9 oz (230 to 250 g)

Rule of thumb: the shorter the distance, the lighter the shoe.

saucony-kinvara-12-weight.jpg

Saucony Kinvara is among the lightest daily running shoes (7.6 oz / 216 g)

Associated with a slightly higher running economy and speed benefits

Sources

, lightweight running shoes do help you feel more nimble.

But lighter may not always mean better. With reduced weight, there may come a trade-off in cushioning, support, durability, or price. In addition, the type of running, terrain, and runner’s body also dictate the appropriate weight range of shoes.

Learn more in our in-depth research on shoe weight and how it affects speed and comfort.

Types of lightweight running shoes for every activity

The primary factors to consider when choosing a pair of running shoes are the speed and distance of your runs.

Daily running / training

lightweight-daily-running-shoes.jpg

speed: easy to moderate

distance: up to a marathon

weight: 6.5 to 9 oz (185 to 255 g)

durability: 5/5

cushioning: 5/5

comfort: 5/5

Competition / race day

lightweight-race-running-shoes.jpg

speed: moderate to fast

distance: up to a marathon

weight: 3.5 to 9 oz (100 to 250 g)

durability: 3/5

cushioning: 3/5

comfort: 3/5

Trail running

speed: easy to fast

distance: up to a marathon

weight: 6 to 9 oz (185 to 250 g)

durability: 3/5

cushioning: 3/5 

comfort: 3/5

NOTE: Lightweight trail shoes also lack the protection of average-weight trail shoes (i.e. rock plates, durable overlays, gaiters, etc.). This is all in favor of shedding weight to increase speed.

See lightweight trail running shoes

Barefoot-like running

barefoot-minimalist-running-shoe.jpg

speed: easy to moderate

distance: up to a marathon

weight: 4 to 7 oz (115 to 200 g)

durability: 3/5

cushioning: 1/5

comfort: 1/5

See barefoot/minimalist running shoes

Why beginners should think twice before buying lightweight running shoes

Unnecessary bells and whistles. Premium race shoes are equipped with cutting-edge technologies like propulsion plates (made of carbon or nylon), rocker soles, etc. These not only hit hard on the wallet but are also likely to malfunction for entry-level runners. They only work with forefoot striking and faster speeds.

asics-metaspeed-sky-cut-in-half.jpg

The black line going through the white midsole is the carbon-fiber plate on the ASICS MetaSpeed Sky. The upturned forefoot, or rocker, means that the shoe rolls forward like a rocking chair.

Too little support. Paper-thin racing flats and minimalist shoes require an adaptation period especially if you are used to generously cushioned footwear.

lightweight-shoe-upper-support.jpg

Tongue and collar padding on regular trainers (top) vs. on light racing shoes (bottom)

Higher injury risk. Injuries are inevitable and you might come to a point (especially if you read “Born to run”) that you want the lightest shoe out there. Maybe even the minimalist or barefoot one. But runners should keep in mind that while there are some injuries that would benefit from lighter shoes (especially hip injuries), they should not overdo it. And if they decide to move to less supported/cushioned shoes, always start slowly.

Find out if lighter running shoes will work well for your body in the section below.

Lightweight running shoes and your body needs 

It surely feels good to be light and free with nothing dragging your feet down.

But it feels just as good when your feet and body receive the needed amount of comfort and support. Here are a few things to be mindful of:

  • Pronation: do you need additional support and stability?
  • Your weight: how much cushioning and impact protection do you need?
  • Wide feet: is there enough space to accommodate your toes?
  • Plantar fasciitis and other foot conditions: how not to aggravate these?

Pronation

Most lightweight running shoes are designed with the minimum amount of materials and technologies and are suitable for neutral pronation.

But if you’ve ever noticed your ankle rolling inwards more than it feels right or if your shoes wear out faster on the inner side, chances are that you have overpronation. In this case, it’s better to get a light shoe with stability components.

Arch types and recommended shoes.png

You can also learn more about pronation in our in-depth guide on the topic.

neutral-vs-stability-support.jpg

neutral shoe (no added support) vs. stability shoe (comes with arch support on the inner side)

Your weight

Runners over 90 kg (250 lbs) should be careful about choosing lightweight, minimally cushioned running shoes. As the pressure on the feet increases, you want to make sure there is enough underfoot and side support to keep you comfortable.

So, it is advisable to choose footwear with a thicker and firmer midsole or have a look at the more generously cushioned shoes for heavy runners.

Foot width

If you suspect that your toes or feet overall need a little more room to have fun and wiggle, consider lightweight shoes with a more accommodating fit:

  • Medium (D) width shoes with a wide toebox 
  • Wide (2E) width running shoes
  • Extra-wide (4E+) running shoes

Plantar fasciitis and other foot conditions

Lightweight running shoes are typically not recommended for people with severe plantar fasciitis or other painful conditions. These cases require shoes with ample cushioning, stability, and support to prevent aggravation.

Although none of the shoes from this ranking is recommended, you can have a look at our special selection for plantar fasciitis. The lightest shoes in this category start from 9 oz (255 g).

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.