BEST lightweight running SHOES
REACT INFINITY RUN FLYKNIT
Best for Tempo
Floatride Run Fast 2.0
Hoka One One
Down to a Science
The appeal of lightweight shoes is based on speedier running performance and biomechanical science. Brands have refined the lightweight running shoe by analyzing stride and gait, using impact measuring devices, and constructing shoes to encourage natural form instead of correcting it. Flexible knit uppers, bouncier midsoles, and more subtle tweaks like widened toe boxes and lower-drop platforms are all innovations that have created the present-day lightweight trainer.
How We Tested
Not all lightweight sneakers simulate barefoot running. Some shoes are moderately cushioned, making them ideal for runners who want to make the transition to minimalism, or for runners who want to go faster without sacrificing cushioning. The road and trail shoes below floated to the top of our charts as the lightest shoes in the bunch, and every pair offers some protective cushioning underfoot, according to the data from the RW Shoe Lab. Plus, each pair has been tested by some wear testers from our pool of over 300 for feedback on ride, durability, responsiveness, and more.
—BEST FOR STABILITY—
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
React Infinity Run Flyknit
- Immediately soft, then firm, React foam provides bottomless cushioning
- New Flyknit upper breathes well, fits snug in the midfoot
- Added outsole rubber improves traction
- Heel cup too wide for some
The Infinity Run uses a thick slab of springy React foam and a rocker shape that feels like there’s a slight ramp beneath your midfoot. Eschewing a medial post, Nike went with a high arch and used a horseshoe-shaped guide rail on the rear of each shoe. The rails, like we’ve seen on shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline, are designed to help overpronators maintain a neutral foot orientation while not encumbering neutral runners.
Hoka One One Rincon 2
Hoka One One
- Lightweight with ample cushioning
- Meta-Rocker feature encourages fast turnover
- Men’s fit is slightly narrower
The Rincon was like the popular Clifton, but lighter and better suited for speed days. Hoka has fortunately not changed much with the second iteration. The shoe still has full-length plush EVA cushioning in a surprisingly lightweight—and speedy—package. Some testers were critical of the width, saying it felt slightly snugger; however, others stated the fit was just right and not too restrictive. The shoe has the brand’s early-stage Meta-Rocker, a transition zone in the outsole, to provide quicker and smoother turnover.
Saucony Endorphin Speed
- PEBA-based foam is soft and bouncy
- Nylon plate provides a fast turnover
- Excels at training and racing speeds
A toned down version of the more expensive Endorphin Pro, the Speed is a hardy workhorse that can also careen down a marathon course. Its bouncy midsole contains PEBA-based foam, which delivers high rebound and supportive cushioning. For snappy turnover, the shoe has a flexible nylon plate, in contrast to the rigid, overhyped carbon fiber. “Speedroll” tech—a slight curvature of the sole that encourages a rocker-like motion—aids with swift heel-to-toe transitions on your run.
—best for tempo—
Reebok Floatride Run Fast 2
Floatride Run Fast 2
- Firm and light midsole
- Exceptional cushioning and energy return
- Weighs more than the first generation
Our testers felt fleet on their feet and gushed about how the Floatride made them feel speedier. Weighing only 6.9 ounces for men and 5.6 ounces for women, the shoe has an innovative Pebax-based midsole foam, which is lighter than the standard EVA. Fortunately, the midsole and outsole remain unchanged on this update. However, more than half an ounce has been added to the shoe, due to a thicker upper. Like when an artist launches a sophomore album that detracts from her original sound, we’re not too thrilled with the upper’s new design. But at its core, the Floatride retains what we had loved, and still manages to deliver impressive rebound.
—best for tempo—
Brooks Hyperion Tempo
- Moderate cushioning and flexibility
- Responsive nitrogen-infused foam midsole
- Less cushioning in the forefoot
The Hyperion Tempo may be the “training shoe” to the Hyperion Elite 2, but don’t rule it out as a trainer for racing. The shoe is moderately cushioned, responsive, and more affordable than its $250 counterpart. The shoe doesn’t have a carbon-fiber plate but its DNA Flash midsole, which is made of nitrogen-infused foam, offers impressive rebound. The Tempo also gets the upper hand in sizing. The shoe runs in men’s and women’s sizes, resulting in a snugger, true-to-size fit for women in contrast to the unisex-sized Elite.