79 best lightweight training shoes

Based on reviews from 83 experts and 31,515 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to lightweight training shoes. Updated Dec 2018.

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There are different types of training shoes available on the market and choosing which one is the perfect pair solely depends on the preference of the wearer. There are high-cut, mid-cut, and low-cut trainers, ones with leather, mesh, knitted, or canvas upper; some have thick, visible midsoles while others don’t. Workout shoes are also categorized by weight and there is now a growing popularity of lightweight training shoes or those that weigh under 300 grams. But the question now is, are there really any benefits in using lightweight training shoes?

Benefits of using lightweight training shoes

best lightweight training shoes

Best lightweight training shoes - November 2018

In 2016, a group of researchers from the Rodger Kram’s Locomotion Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder published a study on the effects of heavy running shoes to a runner’s performance.

The study was conducted among 18 male distance runners using running footwear secretly fitted with 100-gram or 300-gram weights and predicted that time-trial performance would be slowed down by 1% and 3%, respectively.

Based on the study, each 100 g of weight added to the shoe is equivalent to adding almost a minute to a runner’s time; take 100 g off the weight of the shoe, nearly a minute is shaved off of a runner’s time.

Though running speed may not mean as much to a cross-trainer compared to runners, using the right kind of footwear could easily mean beating a personal record in box jumps, burpees, jump ropes, or sled pushes. Below are just some of the benefits of using lightweight training shoes:

Don’t weigh the wearer down

There have been claims that using weighted shoes could help burn more calories, but studies show that there is little difference in the calories burnt when using weighted shoes and when not. These types of shoes could even cause injuries because they weigh the foot down, acting like a pendulum, which can strain the muscles and the joints of the lower extremities. As for lightweight training shoes, because they are made with materials that are usually soft and weigh very little, they feel like a natural extension of the foot and don’t burden the wearer with additional weight.

More flexible

Lightweight training shoes are typically made of pliable materials on the upper and in the sole unit. They aim to support natural foot flexion. Some of the usual materials used on the upper include mesh, jersey, or knit. These materials are soft and won’t cut into the instep when the foot is dorsiflexed, preventing any discomfort. As for the midsole, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is the most commonly used compound; but depending on the shoe manufacturer, it gets modified to be more flexible, cushiony, and even weigh less. Also, stiff sole units tend to cause foot discomforts such as arch pain, corns, and calluses. Training shoes with rigid platforms are usually meant for people with severe overpronation to help them correct the way their foot moves throughout the walking gait cycle.

Breathable

As mentioned above, the materials used on the upper are mesh, jersey, or knit. These textiles are crafted to be breathable and to ensure that the inside of the shoe is well-ventilated. The interior of lightweight training shoes is also lined with either mesh or a soft fabric that contributes to the breathability. The importance of keeping the inside aerated is to prevent the foot from excessively sweating and developing an unpleasant odor. Moisture build-up could leave the inside of the shoe damp which becomes a breeding ground for fungus that could give the wearer athlete’s foot.

Top lightweight training shoes

Nike Free Trainer v7

Weight: 277 g

This pair of lightweight training shoes features the Free Sole foam technology that serves as both the outsole and the midsole. This construction allows it to retain minimal weight but deliver exceptional cushioning and flexibility. The half-sleeve upper is made of 3D-printed mesh. This fabric is soft yet supportive in the right places. The material is also breathable, keeping the inside fresh. It has the Flywire technology that integrates with the laces so when they get cinched, the quarters of the upper get drawn closer to the foot, reinforcing lateral support.

Reebok CrossFit Speed TR 2.0

Weight: 241 g

The upper of these lightweight training shoes is made of the Cordura fabric. This proprietary material is manufactured from nylon which is resistant to tears, scuffs, and abrasions, allowing it to withstand the harsh conditions of high-intensity workouts. The midsole is made of a soft EVA foam that reduces shock to soften foot landings. The underside is lined with a hard-wearing rubber featuring a tread pattern that supports traction in multiple directions. It also has the MetaSplit flex grooves that promote natural foot flexion. The outsole is raised at the medial and lateral sides of the midfoot, forming the RopePro feature that bites the rope to make rope climbs and descents a breeze.

Skechers Flex Advantage 2.0 - The Happs

Weight: 283 g

The Skechers Flex Advantage 2.0 - The Happs utilizes the FlexSole technology for the midsole which also doubles as the outsole. This compound is developed to be lightweight and hard-wearing to endure indoor and outdoor workout sessions. Rubber pods are used in the high-friction areas of the outsole to retain its minimal weight. This pair of lightweight training shoes uses the Skech Knit Mesh fabric which is a one-piece woven textile that is form-fitting but still expands easily to accommodate foot movements.

Asics Weldon X

Weight: 218 g

Forming the midsole of these lightweight training shoes is a number of technologies designed to absorb shock and keep the foot and the rest of the lower extremities comfortable. The fuzeGEL midsole is the fusion of gel and foam that adapts to the weight shift from the heel to the toes during the gait cycle. An additional layer of gel is utilized at the forefoot and heel to amplify comfort while the Solyte footbed increases the shock attenuation of the midsole. The underside of the trainer is lined with the AHARPLUS which is rubber engineered to be lightweight but more durable compared to regular rubber. The upper is made of the Flex Mesh which is also breathable, weight little, and allows the foot to flex naturally.

Under Armour Limitless 3.0

Weight: 289 g

Made using woven mesh, the upper of this pair of lightweight training shoes provides a snug fit but still permits natural foot expansion throughout the workout session. A leather saddle wraps the quarters and the heel to fortify lateral and rear support when the laces are tightened. The full-length EVA foam acts as both the midsole and outsole. It absorbs shock to soften the impact on the foot and joints of the lower extremities. Rubber pods are placed in the heel and the majority of the forefoot to intensify traction and durability in these areas.

Frequently asked questions about lightweight training shoes

How much do lightweight training shoes weigh?

Lightweight training shoes weigh less than 300 g. Though minimalist training shoes could be considered as lightweight, their construction merits them their own category. Lightweight training shoes use materials that permit the foot to move and keep the foot chamber aerated.

What’s the difference between lightweight training shoes and minimalist training shoes?

In terms of weight, lightweight training shoes and minimalist training shoes are in the same range, though some in the latter category tend to weigh less. The reason behind this is that minimalist training shoes do not have thick midsoles. They usually just have an outsole that is only a few millimeters thin and an insert that’s even thinner. This type of construction allows wearers to feel more ground contact as if they were training barefoot. On the other hand, there are lightweight training shoes with a thick midsole, an outsole, and an insole - but the weight is kept down because special engineering is used to make the said materials less dense.

How to clean lightweight training shoes?

The general rule when it comes to cleaning training shoes is not to throw them into the washing machine because that could compromise the integrity of the footwear. The same rule applies to lightweight training shoes. The best way to clean them is by brushing off dried dirt with a soft bristled brush. If there is staining or stubborn dirt, a clean cloth or brush dipped in a solution of warm water and mild soap can be used to remove it. The soapy concoction should be rinsed using a damp clean cloth or a clean wet brush. As for the drying method, do not throw it in the dryer or place it near a heat source as it could deteriorate or even catch fire. The best way to dry lightweight training shoes is by air drying them for 10 hours or longer, depending on how wet they got.

What to look for in lightweight training shoes?

Lightweight training shoes are made from different types of materials, but the main thing to consider is, of course, the weight. Every person has their own idea of what is considered a lightweight shoe but, across the board, any trainer that weighs less than 300 grams falls under this category. The upper can be made of mesh, jersey, knit or any other iteration of breathable and pliable materials that allow the foot to move and expand but still feel supported. As for the sole unit, it should be flexible in order to promote multidirectional cuts, and the underside should have adequate grip, so that the user does not slip and slide during workouts.

When to replace lightweight training shoes?

Lightweight training shoes, like typical training shoes, should be replaced every six months but there are several factors to be considered in doing so. First, how often is it used? If the footgear is worn on a daily basis, then the pair might have to be replaced earlier than six months. Another factor to look at is where it is utilized. Shoes used indoors do not wear out as fast as those used outdoors. You should also check various elements of the trainer such as the outsole, the midsole, and the upper. The tread of the outsole should be visible and able to provide traction. The midsole should still attenuate shock and keep the foot comfortable. As for the upper, it should not have holes or unravel seams that could compromise how it supports the foot. The eyelets, if present, should be intact as the wearer would not be able to achieve a proper fit if the eyelets are no longer functional. If any of these elements no longer work as they are supposed to, then it’s time to buy another pair of lightweight training shoes, regardless of how long you have been using the old one.

Can overpronators wear lightweight training shoes?

Yes, overpronators can wear lightweight training shoes, but if they feel that they need more arch support or something that prevents too much rolling in of the foot, then they may use custom orthotics to relieve any pain or discomfort. There are also some lightweight training shoes equipped with arch supports, like the New Balance Fresh Foam 1165, or have dual-density midsoles, like the Skechers Flex Advantage 2.0 - The Happs, that prevent overpronation because of the firm cushioning at the medial side.

What’s the best brand of lightweight training shoes?

Nike, Puma, Adidas, Skechers, New Balance, Asics, Under Armour - these are just some of the manufacturers that offer lightweight training shoes. As for which brand makes the best one depends on the user as one type of footwear may come highly regarded by one group of fitness enthusiasts, but may not be as effective for other gym-goers. People have different foot types and also have varying tastes when comes to materials used, style, and fit. There are shoe experts and workout aficionados that extensively test footwear and provide their reviews. You can take their insights as a guide, but it is also wise to see what actual buyers say about the footgear you are interested in. Here at RunRepeat, we curate user and expert reviews, so consumers can have an overview of what the footwear has to offer in a timely manner.

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