Best Lightweight Shoes

Lightweight shoes have many benefits one of which includes helping you achieve a natural stride. However, lightweight shoes are not for everyone as they can make certain conditions worse, such as Plantar Fasciitis. If you currently wear stability or neutral shoes, it is a good idea to transition to lightweight shoes instead of switching all of a sudden while trying to keep up with normal training routine. This guide will help you decide whether lightweight shoes are right for you, how to transition to them, and guide you to the best lightweight shoes available on the market.

What is a Lightweight Shoe?

A lightweight shoe is also called a minimalist shoe, which means they do not provide the support a stability or motion control shoe does. A minimalist shoe weighs under eight ounces for women and under nine ounces for men. If the shoe weighs over these amounts, it tends to lean more towards the neutral shoe type. However, there is an in-between category that blurs these lines and assists you in the transition process from the traditional shoe to the minimalist shoe.


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If you have plantar fasciitis, high arches, flat feet, or other foot support issues, but would rather not purchase a new pair of shoes – add the Tread Labs Stride Insole to your existing shoes. The Stride Insole is biomechanically designed to support your arch and cure/prevent plantar fasciitis. Simply remove the factory insole from your favorite shoes and replace it with the Stride. The Stride comes in four different arch heights for each foot size, offers a lifetime guaranteed arch support and has a removable top cover. Take the Tread Labs Fit Quiz now and get THE BEST possible support for your feet.

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A minimalist shoe features a flat outsole, no arch depression that you can see, and no mid-foot structure. These features allow you to have a neutral foot strike during your run. The shoes do offer some cushioning, but just enough to protect you from impact. They have more cushioning than barefoot shoes but less than neutral shoes.

One big tell of a minimalist shoe is that it has a zero-drop heel to toe ratio. The heel of the shoe and the toe are level. This is different than other shoes because most have raised heel cups, while these do not. However, not all minimalist shoes features this zero-drop heel to toe ratio. To properly be defined as a lightweight shoe, the ratio has to be less than 10mm. 

Who Lightweight Shoes are For

Lightweight shoes allow your feet, ankle, and lower body to support itself as you move through your steps. If you are not strong enough in these areas, it can cause problems. However, if you wear lightweight shoes properly and train correctly, lightweight shoes can provide a variety of benefits. Harvard University did a study that was published in 2010 about the benefits of barefoot running versus running with shoes. The study concluded that people “were able to land comfortably and safely when barefoot or in minimal footwear by landing with a flat foot (midfoot strike) or by landing on the ball of the foot before bringing down the heel (forefoot strike).”

Minimalist shoes are perfect for those who want some cushioning and are looking for a lightweight shoe. They are best if you are going to do strength work, drills, speed work, and long runs. Furthermore, they are ideal if you are training for a big race in which you will wear racing flats, or the lightweight shoes you have practiced in.

Who Should Avoid Lightweight Shoes

If you have flat feet, you might want to stay away from minimalist shoes because they do not offer the arch support you need. Flat footed or low arched people have a higher chance of getting injured than those with normal arches. This is because the people with flat feet tend to land on the outside of their feet, which causes them to overpronate. The overpronation causes injuries like Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, and bunions. If you suffer from any of these already, then lightweight shoes are not for you.

Another thing to consider is what type of runner you are. Are you a lighter runner or a heavier runner? Your speed, size, and form all go into considering what type of runner you are. If you are lighter, you do not need as much cushioning in the shoe than if you are a heavier runner. Furthermore, if you are going to be running longer than three hours and 15 minutes, you will want to consider a shoe that has more cushioning because of how often your feet will be hitting the ground. After a while, the shock will start to hurt your legs and feet if you do not have enough cushioning. 

When to Use Lightweight Shoes

Minimalist shoes are a good middle ground between trainers and racing flats. They are perfect for races that are 10k and under as anything longer than that will require more cushioning for your feet and joints. Another reason people use lightweight shoes is they help shave off time because the feet are not as heavy. Lightweight shoes can be used for regular training as well as tempo runs, it just depends on the type of shoes you purchase.

How to Transition to Lightweight Shoes

If you are thinking about switching to lightweight shoes, keep in mind that you cannot just switch and expect everything to be okay. It is a process to get your feet and body used to the new type of shoes. When you decide to transition, make sure it is in the off season so you have plenty of time to practice and stay injury free.

The first thing to do when switching to minimalist shoes is to wear them walking every day. By doing this, your muscles will adapt to the lighter feel of the shoe as well as the flatter heel. Wear them when you run errands or around the house during the day.

Once you feel like you are ready for a run, start out small. Go for a three-mile run and then a five-mile run. Do not do your regular runs right away because even though your body may be more used to the shoes when you walk, they are still adjusting to running. As your body adapts to the shorter runs, you can try out longer runs on smooths surfaces. Go for a seven-mile run on the road and see how you feel. An important thing to remember is to stretch regularly while adapting to your new shoes. This will help keep your muscles loose and limber, which reduces the chance of injuries. 

The Best Lightweight Shoes

Now that you understand what lightweight shoes are and who should wear them, the following is a guide to the best lightweight shoes on the market. Each shoe has different features and are designed for different types of runners, since not everybody is the same. Think about what your feet need and what is important to you as a runner. This will help you narrow down your choices so you can start trying on shoes. 

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Newton Gravity V

For Men

Newton Running Men's Gravity V Green/Blue Sneaker 10.5 D (M)

Men’s Newton Gravity V

For Women

Newton Running Women's Gravity V Kiwi/Orange Sneaker (8.5)


 Women’s Newton Gravity V

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The Newton Gravity V is more of a neutral runner while still having lightweight construction. The shoe does have a slight heel counter to improve the fit of the shoe. The bottom of the shoe will give you a solid amount of cushioning without compromising on flexibility. Another nice aspect of this shoe is the 360-degree reflectivity.

Notable Features

The upper mesh is seamless and gives you breathability during your run. The metatarsal mesh panels make room for all types of feet. If you have a slightly different foot shape, this shoe can accommodate to your needs. The midsole of the shoe features full length cushioning. They also have a Biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate that gives you better ground contact. This will ensure your stride is right while giving you some stability. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s shoe weighs 8.1 ounces and the women’s shoe weighs 6.7 ounces, so they do fall in the range for lightweight shoes when it comes to the weight. The heel to toe drop is 3mm for both male and female shoes, which is a little above where a minimalist shoe should be. However, this is due to the heel counter that is designed to keep your foot securely in place. The Newton Gravity V are perfect for up-tempo runs, daily training, and long distance running. 

What People are Saying

People who wear these shoes on a regular basis say they are lightweight, durable and comfortable. Some noted that there was some break-in time once they took the shoes out of the box. Most people agreed these are great running shoes, especially for long distances. 

Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable 

Cons:  Break-in period

New Balance Vazee Pace v2

For Men

New Balance Men's Vazee Pace V2 Running Shoe Black/White, 9.5 D US

Men’s New Balance Vazee Pace v2

For Women

New Balance Women's Vazee Pace v2 Running Shoe, Light Blue/Pink, 8 B US


 Women’s New Balance Vazee Pace v2

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The New Balance Vazee Pace v2 is a neutral daily running shoe. It is durable so you can train with it through all different seasons. The cushioning is responsive, which is a plus when you are training for a marathon or race. The shoe has a roomy toe box, which is also nice for long runs. The shoes have a dash of color, not so bright as some of the other running shoes on the market, which a lot of people really like.

Notable Features

The New Balance Vazee Pace v2 has a blown rubber outsole that protects the midsole above it. The blown rubber allows the shoe to stay flexible so your gait can be natural. The midsole of the shoe features RevLite foam that runs the full-length of the shoe. The shoe also features a sock liner to give you more cushion as you run. The upper is made of mesh and wraps nicely around your foot, without being too loose or too tight.

Are They Worth It?

Then men’s version of the Vazee Pace v2 weighs 9.5 ounces and the women’s weighs 7.8 ounces, so they are definitely a lightweight shoe. However, they have a little bit more of a heel to toe drop as it is 6mm. These shoes are perfect for training and running on a regular basis. 

What People are Saying

Through our research, we found that people who wear these shoes on a regular basis say they have a great fit if you order them a half size larger than you normally wear. Furthermore, if you are trying to transition from a traditional shoe to a more minimalist shoe, this is a good bridge between the two. People really liked the roomy toe box as it made the shoe feel more comfortable while offering good cushioning. 

Pros:  Cushioning, roomy toe box 

Cons:  Sizing issues as they run small 

Skechers GORun 5

For Men

Skechers Men's GoRun 5 Shoe (10, Black/White)

Men’s Skechers GORun 5

For Women

Skechers Women's GOrun Ride 5 Lace Up,Teal/Blue,US 9 M


 Women’s Skechers GORun 5

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The Skechers GORun 5 is a lightweight shoe that offers some stability. It is comfortable and comes with a removable sock liner so it gives you a somewhat custom fit. The shoe also has an inner support strap to provide your feet with extra stability. These do come in more toned down colors than some of the traditional running shoes on the market, which make them a more attractive option if you are looking for neutral colors. 

Notable Features

The outsole of the GORun 5 feature circular pods to give the shoe extra durability. They are set in areas that hit harder on the ground so both the shoe and feet will get protection. The midsole features Resalyte that responds to your natural movements. This protects you against the harsh impact of the ground while still giving you some flexibility. The sole is slightly thicker in the mid-foot so you will be more likely to strike in the mid-foot area. This will give you better transitions and toe-offs. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s version of the GORun 5 weigh 8.4 ounces where the women’s weigh 6.6 ounces, so they are a pretty lightweight shoe. The heel-to-toe drop is 4mm, which is decent for a lightweight shoe. Overall, these shoes will give you a responsive ride while offering some stability. 

What People are Saying

Our research shows that people who run with Skechers GoRun 5 shoes say they are comfortable, lightweight, and give the right amount of cushion. Some people who have had knee and feet problems said they go away after wearing these shoes. Furthermore, they shaved time off their runs because of how lightweight these are. Some people did note the foam wore out faster than they liked. Yet, most people would recommend these to others. 

Pros:  Offer some stability while being lightweight, cushioning 

Cons:  Foam may wear out pretty fast if you use them a lot 

Brooks Launch 4

For Men

Brooks Men's Launch 4- High Risk Red/ Black/ Orange, Medium (D) width

Men’s Brooks Launch 4

For Women

Brooks Womens Launch 4 Running Sneaker Shoe, Anthracite/Ceramic/Lime Punch, 7


 Women’s Brooks Launch 4

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The Brooks Launch 4 is more of a neutral shoe that is designed for daily running. Compared to the last model, this version weights one ounce lighter. The flex grooves allow for more flexibility and allows the shoe to be versatile. It has a good amount of responsiveness that will give you a smooth transition. 

ALSO READ:  Ultimate Guide to the Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (Updated 2017)

Notable Features

The outsole of the shoe is durable, especially in high impact areas. There is extra blown rubber in the forefoot area to give you a better toe-off. The midsole features the BioMoGo DNA, which adapts to how much cushioning you need. The Segmented Crash Pad is also in the midsole and combined with the DNA midsole, you will experience a smooth run. The upper is made of air mesh so your feet will stay ventilated and dry no matter what type of weather you run in. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s version of the Brooks Launch 4 weighs nine ounces and the women’s version weighs 7.5 ounces. The heel-to-toe drop is a little higher than most lightweight shoes because it comes in at 10mm. Overall, the shoe will allow you to be more agile during your run and lots of cushioning to keep you comfortable. 

What People are Saying

People who have been loyal to the Brooks Launch say these are even better than the previous versions. Newcomers to the brand say these are a comfortable shoe and they have a good amount of cushioning. Some people did note the midfoot was a little stiffer than what they were used to. However, most people love these lightweight running shoes. 

Pros:  Flex grooves, smooth transition, better than previous versions 

Cons:  Somewhat stiff if you are not used to them

Saucony Freedom ISO 2

For Men

Saucony Men's Freedom ISO Running Shoe, Black, 10.5 M US

Men’s Saucony Freedom ISO 2

For Women

Saucony Women's Freedom ISO Running Shoe, Black, 10 M US


 Women’s Saucony Freedom ISO 2

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The Saucony Freedom ISO is a neutral running shoe that is comfortable and has a sock-lite fit. It is lightweight and looks great on all types of feet. It is surprisingly close to the ground but still offers you protection against the harsh impact. The shoe can be used for tempo sessions and long distance runs.

Notable Features

The outsole of the shoe features arrow shaped lugs so you can keep your footing as you run in all types of weather. The midsole has TPU material, which is responsive, firm, lightweight, and extremely versatile. It runs the full-length of the shoe so your entire foot will be protected. The TPU will give you a smooth transition as you move through your stride. The upper of the ISO wraps around your feet comfortably without being too tight or too loose. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s version of the ISO weighs nine ounces and the women’s version weighs 8.1 ounces. The shoes have a smaller heel -to-toe drop as it comes in at 4mm. The shoe features Saucony’s latest midsole technology so you get a more responsive run. It has a minimalist feel while still offering you some cushioning. 

What People are Saying

Those who wear the Saucony ISO shoes on a regular basis say they offer a smooth running experience and come at a good price. Furthermore, some even commented they fit better than the original version. Some noted that the lining of the shoe did wear down pretty fast, but the rest of the shoe was solid. Most who wear these shoes say they are very comfortably and fit perfectly. 

Pros:  Smooth running, minimalist feel, good fit 

Cons:  Interior sock lining may break down faster than the shoe 

Mizuno Wave Inspire 13

For Men

Mizuno Men's Wave Inspire 13 Running Shoe, Strong Blue/Silver, 10.5 D US

Men’s Mizuno Wave Inspire 13

For Women

Mizuno Women's Wave Inspire 13 Running Shoe, Malibu Blue/Pink, 9 B US


 Women’s Mizuno Wave Inspire 13

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The Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 is a comfortable shoe that offers some stability. It has more cushioning than most lightweight shoes, which does make is a little heavier. However, it is a good choice if you are looking to transition from the traditional running shoe to a minimalist shoe. This durable shoe is great for long runs because the cushioning can keep up throughout the duration of your run. 

Notable Features

The outsole of the shoe is blown rubber, which gives you good traction on the road. Flex Controllers are also on the outsole so the shoe is more flexible. The midsole features Wave Technology to give you a responsive and smooth ride. Furthermore, the shoe will help reduce pronation, which is a plus if you tend to pronate as you run. The upper is made of AIRmesh to give you even more flexibility. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s Wave Inspire 13 weigh 11 ounces where the women’s weight nine ounces. These are just a tad heavier than the typically lightweight shoes, but that is because of the excellent cushioning they offer. The heel-to-toe drop is 12mm. These shoes are perfect as a transition from a traditional shoe to a minimalist shoe and work wonderfully on the road. 

What People are Saying

Through our research, we found that people are happy with these shoes. Those who have had knee paid had it relieved after wearing these shoes. Some did note they are a little tight, but overall most people were happy with how they felt as they were running.

Pros:  Cushioning, some stability, good transition shoe 

Cons:  Run a little tight

New Balance Zante v2

For Men

New Balance Men's Fresh Foam Zante v2 Running Shoe, Grey/Yellow, 10.5 D US

Men’s New Balance Zante v2

For Women

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam Zante v2 Running Shoe, Grey/Pink, 8 B US


 Women’s New Balance Zante v2

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The New Balance Zante v2 are a neutral shoe that can be used for competitions. They have a good amount of padding while still being lightweight. The upper is designed to be irritation-free, which is nice for long runs. The toe box is large enough to accommodate toe splay so you should not get any blisters or irritation in that area either. 

Notable Features

The outsole features blown rubber in a hexagonal pattern to give you traction on all types of surfaces. The midsole features a Fresh Foam layer that runs the length of the shoe. This will give you shock absorption while giving you a little extra cushioning in the heel. The upper is designed to expand at certain points to give you a more flexible fit. The open mesh allows your feet to breathe and stay cool and dry as you run. 

Are They Worth It?

The weight of the men’s Zante v2 is 8.6 ounces and the women’s is 7.2 ounces, so they are a good lightweight shoe. The heel-to-toe drop is 6mm. The shoe is perfect to use for long runs, tempo runs, or regular training. They give good cushioning and support while still being lightweight. 

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What People are Saying

People who wear these shoes on a regular basis say they are comfortable to wear whether you are walking or running. Some noted that these shoes run narrow, so that is something to keep in mind. Furthermore, those who were not used to the heel-to-toe drop took a little bit to get used to it. Overall, people would recommend these shoes as they are comfortable and give a good amount of cushioning. 

Pros:  Lightweight, large toe box, cushioning 

Cons:  Run narrow, take a little to get used to 

Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit Low

For Men

Nike Mens LunarEpic Low Flyknit Running Shoes (Sz. 12) Black, White

Men’s Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit Low

For Women

Nike Women's Lunarepic Low Flyknit 2 Black/White/Anthracite Running Shoe 8 Women US


 Women’s Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit Low

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The Nike LunarEpid FlyKnit Low is a lightweight daily running shoe. It is most notable because of its sock-like feel once you put it on your feet. Furthermore, it is a durable shoe that will last you many miles. It has a good amount of flexibility and cushioning so you will be comfortable throughout your run.

Notable Features

The outsole of the shoe has been laser cut to give you better traction. The outsole also has heel pods to give you a smoother heel to toe transition. The midsole features Lunarlon and Laser Siped. These features give you a smooth run while enhancing flexibility of the shoe. The upper is one piece that allows for maximum breathability. The Dynamic Flywire cable wraps comfortably around your feet to keep them in place. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s version of the shoe weigh 9.1 ounces and the women’s version weighs 7.7 ounces. The heel-to-toe drop on these shoes is 10mm, so they do have a larger drop than some lightweight shoes. Overall the shoes are perfect for neutral feet and runners who want a responsive ride and cushioning. 

What People are Saying

Our research found that people who wear these say these are very comfortable to wear while running or as an everyday shoe. Some did note that they fit a little tight, but overall people were very happy with them. 

Pros:  Lightweight, natural feel, cushioning 

Cons:  Can run tight 

Puma Faas 1000 v1.5

For Men

Puma Faas 1000 V1.5 Mens Running Sneakers / Shoes-Black-9

Men’s Puma Faas 1000 v1.5

For Women

Puma Faas 1000 V1.5 Womens Running Sneakers / Shoes-Purple-9


 Women’s Puma Faas 1000 v1.5

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The Puma Faas 1000 v1.5 are made of durable materials that are breathable to keep you comfortable. They are a good daily running shoe for the road. Furthermore, they provide a good stepping stone between the traditional shoe and minimalist shoe. 

Notable Features

The outsole is made of EverTrack rubber that is designed to be resistant to abrasion. The outsole also provides a good amount of traction no matter what type of weather you run in. Another nice feature of the outsole is the EverRide+ rubber. This is a responsive material to give you cushioning and a smooth ride. The midsole features FAAS Foam+ that absorbs shock and returns it to give you a bouncy feel. The upper is made of AirMesh material so your feet can breathe. 

Are They Worth It?

The men’s Faas 1000 v1.5 weigh 10.4 ounces and the women’s weigh 8.8 ounces. The heel-to-toe drop is 12mm. They are a neutral running shoe that gives you a good amount of flexibility and a springy feel as you move through your gait. They can be used for daily training and road running. 

What People are Saying

People who wear these shoes on a regular basis saw these have excellent forefoot cushioning and are comfortable to wear. People note that their joints are comfortable while running in these shoes. Some have noted that these do run narrow, so if you have wide feet they may not be for you. Overall, people were very happy with how they felt as they ran. 

Pros:  Bouncy feel, cushioning, good transition show 

Cons:  Run Narrow 

ASICS Gel DS Racer 11

For Men

ASICS Men's GEL DS Racer 11 Running Shoe, Methyl Blue/Ink/Flash Coral, 11 M US

Men’s ASICS Gel DS Racer 11

For Women

ASICS Women's Gel-DS Racer 11 Running Shoe, Hot Pink/Black/Flash Yellow, 8.5 M US


 Women’s ASICS Gel DS Racer 11

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The ASICS Gel DS Racer 11 is a lightweight shoe that is flexible and designed for competition running. The shoe offers superior breathability because of the open mesh upper. Furthermore, you will get some stability with this shoe because of the midsole components. This is a good all-around lightweight running shoe. 

Notable Features

The outsole of the shoe features DuoSole and DuraSponge technology. These will give you a good amount of cushioning and flexibility while still giving you a durable shoe. The midsole has the ASICS Trusstic System to keep your foot from pronating. The gel cushioning absorbs shock as you run and gives the shoe extra durability. The upper of the shoe is made of an open mesh so your feet will be comfortable and dry. 

Are They Worth It?


 The #1 Best Insoles for Foot Pain

If you have plantar fasciitis, high arches, flat feet, or other foot support issues, but would rather not purchase a new pair of shoes – add the Tread Labs Stride Insole to your existing shoes. The Stride Insole is biomechanically designed to support your arch and cure/prevent plantar fasciitis. Simply remove the factory insole from your favorite shoes and replace it with the Stride. The Stride comes in four different arch heights for each foot size, offers a lifetime guaranteed arch support and has a removable top cover. Take the Tread Labs Fit Quiz now and get THE BEST possible support for your feet.

#1 Best Support - Tread Labs Stride Insole

  • THE BEST support to prevent/cure Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Lifetime Guaranteed Arch Support.
  • Replaceable Top-Cover
  • Free shipping both ways.

Read Why Stride Insoles are the Best


The men’s DS Racer 11 weigh 6.6 ounces and the women’s weight 6.5 ounces, which is pretty lightweight. The heel-to-toe drop is 8mm. Overall, they the perfect lightweight shoe if you need a little extra support during your long runs. 

What People are Saying

Our research has found that these shoes are perfect for those who do not need a lot of support and are looking for a solid lightweight shoe. People say they are comfortable and durable. Some have noted the sizing runs small and can be a little tight, so that is something to keep in mind. Overall, people were happy with their purchase and said they are a perfect racing shoe. 

Pros:  Flexible, lightweight, some stability 

Cons:  Run small, some people had sizing issues 

Conclusion

Lightweight shoes can help you shave time off your record and give you a smooth transition. Some have more cushioning than others, while some offer some stability. There are a variety of lightweight shoes available, so it is important to do a good amount of research and find the right ones for your feet and body. Everyone is different so you may need to try a few before you find the perfect one for you. This guide is a good place to start as these are the best lightweight running shoes on the market. Go through and find your ideal shoe today.

2017-03-26T09:09:23+00:00

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