6 Best Lightweight Running Shoes of 2023
From heavy backpacks to the bone-crushing weight of Garmin calling you unproductive, no one likes feeling weighed down. This is especially true when it comes to runners, who like to feel light on their feet as they chase down their goals.
Lucky for you, we put together a list of the six lightest shoes we’ve tested this year in descending order. If running shoes get any lighter, we may just float away!
6. On Cloudflow 4: 7 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)
Despite gaining an additional 8 millimeters of stack height from the previous model, the On Cloudflow 4 remains one of the lightest daily trainers on the market today. The shoe is built with On’s proprietary Helion superfoam, which is molded into pods to create On’s Cloudtec cushioning. The pods collapse under your weight during landings and spring back to life during take-offs, helping propel you forward into the next stride.
An engineered woven upper, made from 100-percent recycled polyester, feels light and airy on your feet while offering On’s signature sleek aesthetic. “I’d recommend the On Cloudflow 4 to runners who enjoy lightweight, responsive shoes that seem to disappear on their feet,” says Caroline. “With its striking appearance, it’s also great for fashion-forward runners, walkers and gym-goers.”
5. Hoka Rocket X 2: 6.7 oz (W), 8.3 oz (M)
It should come as no surprise that many shoes on this list are carbon-plated super shoes designed for maximum performance. No one wants to chase down a PR in a pair of heavy, clunky shoes, so racing shoes are designed to be as lightweight and efficient as possible.
The HOKA Rocket X 2 features a thick stack of snappy PEBA midsole foam (36 millimeters in the heel and 31 in the forefoot, to be exact) and a spoon-shaped carbon plate to maximize energy return. The carbon plate is angled forward to use your body’s momentum to propel you into the next stride.
A synthetic mesh upper tops off the Rocket X 2, offering just enough support to hold you in without weighing you down.
“The first thing I noticed about the Rocket X2 was the paper thin upper,” says Nate. “The material is so thin it’s practically translucent. The purpose of this shoe is to go fast, so I appreciate all the weight savings here. It’s a serious contender for any runner looking to set their fastest times over any distance, from the 5K to the marathon.”
4. New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v3: 6.6 oz (W), 8 oz (M)
Don’t be fooled by the name—the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite isn’t just for elites. Any runner with a need for speed can benefit from this ultra lightweight racing supershoe.
Built with New Balance’s snappy FuelCell midsole foam, a carbon-fiber plate and a lightweight engineered knit upper, it’s easy to find your groove in the Elite v3. Plus, with a 40-millimeter heel stack height, it’s hard to believe this shoe is as light as it is.
The midsole is hollow in the middle, part of New Balance’s Energy Arc technology, which likely contributes to the weight savings. The design was created so that the carbon plate can flatten into the hollow channel during landings and spring back up during take-offs.
“It almost feels like there’s nothing on my foot besides a cushy, bouncy midsole underneath,” says Caroline. “I love that, while most of the upper provides a barely-there feel, the heel is nice and solid to keep me feeling supported throughout my run.”
3. Brooks Hyperion Max: 6.7 oz (W), 7.8 oz (M)
The Brooks Hyperion Max is totally maxed out on weight savings. It’s not a maximally cushioned shoe, but the shoe’s shape and midsole foam create a maximally responsive ride.
What did wear-tester Max have to say about his namesake? “The ride of the Hyperion Max is very lightweight with a surprisingly stable feel for the overall weight of the shoe,” he says.
Mandy agrees, saying “I took these out of the box and was amazed at their weight. I immediately wanted to balance it on one finger because it seems that lightweight.”
Brooks’ DNA Flash midsole cushioning, made with nitrogen-infused foam that’s lighter than traditional EVA foams, allows you to fly through workouts and races with nothing weighing you down. While this shoe doesn’t have a carbon-plate embedded in the midsole, reviewers still found it to be responsive thanks to its rocker-shape geometry.
2. Saucony Endorphin Elite: 6.5 oz (W), 7.2 oz (M)
If a running shoe has the “elite” in its name, you know it’s going to feel fast. The Saucony Endorphin Elite rises to the challenge with the second lightest weight out of all shoes we’ve tested this year.
It’s light weight isn’t the only thing that makes it feel fast, though. The Endorphin Elite comes equipped with a full-length carbon-fiber plate that’s slotted in the forefoot for extra flexibility and an aggressive rocker shape for seamless transitions.
The upper is perhaps the most unique feature of the Endorphin Elite, and likely where a lot of its weight savings come from. It’s made out of a performance-knit mesh with strategic cutouts in the midfoot and perforations in the forefoot.
“Every element of the Saucony Endorphin Elite is engineered and built for speed,” says Max. “The tongue has laser-cut hexagonal shaped holes to minimize weight, and the rubber outsole is extremely minimal but extremely tacky and grippy – almost like an F1 car tire.”
1. Saucony Kinvara 14: 6.2 oz (W), 7 oz (M)
Since many shoes on this list are carbon-plated super shoes, we were surprised to find that the lightest shoe we’ve tested all year isn’t a racing shoe at all. While it could certainly be used for races, the Saucony Kinvara 14 is designed as a lightweight daily trainer, capable of handling both fast paces and easy, slow miles.
With a heel stack height of 31 millimeters, the Kinvara 14 certainly feels cushioned enough to go the distance while still remaining mysteriously light on your feet. In fact, Saucony actually managed to add cushion to this latest iteration while simultaneously shaving weight.
Reviewers suspect the engineered mesh upper has something to do with the shoe’s weight savings, as it offers just enough padding to hold you in while maintaining a “no-frills” style.
“If you’re looking for a lightweight multipurpose trainer, the Kinvara is an excellent choice,” says Kate. “They feel light and snappy. They’re flexible while still offering some stability.”
When choosing a lightweight running shoe, keep in mind that many of the lightest shoes feature minimal rubber on the outsole to save weight. This means the shoes will likely wear out faster than shoes with more rubber coverage. You can make your running shoes last longer by rotating between different pairs, keeping your shoes clean and dry, and only wearing them on the surfaces they were designed for.