The Best Lightweight Trail Running Shoes
For our Spring 2017 test of lightweight trail runners, we had seven experienced runners put five similar shoes head to head on the same trails for between to and three months of testing. We rated them objectively on five categories—speed, agility, security of fit, responsiveness, and protection.
The shoes we tested in this category are designed for faster, more agile trail running. These are built lower to the ground lighter, generally weighing under 10 ounces for men’s sample size (size 9) and 8 ounces for women’s. They are best for more efficient runners who prefer a speedier, more responsive trail running experience.
Overall, the best lightweight trail shoe of the season, by a slim margin, was the New Balance Vazee Summit V2. The second generation of the Vazee Summit simply had the best overall trail running experience—it is fast, agile, lightweight, adequately protected, and delivers a very secure and confidence inspiring fit on fast downhills. It was also one of the most versatile shoes we tested this year—it absolutely flies when it needs to, but there is enough cushioning and support for fairly long distances and technical trails.
For thicker, more comfort-oriented shoes, check out the tests for our “cushioned and protective trail runners” which are typically slower, thicker, and meatier shoes.