In the northern hemisphere, winter is finally over and warmer, longer days are on the horizon. For the sneakerheads amongst us, that means a chance to put our boots and heavier, weather-proofed shoes away and pull out some of our lightweight sneakers for summer.
A summer rotation means different things to different people, though a general rule of thumb is that brighter colors and lightweight materials come in to play because there’s nothing worse than your feet feeling like they’re in an oven. Usually, that results in a lot of running shoes — designed to be breathable and wick away sweat — being major players during the summer months.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the best, lightweight sneakers money can buy (at all budgets). So if you’re at home, wondering what you’ll be throwing on when you’re off to the shops, on your feet all weekend, or at the park or lake, give our selection of light sneakers below a scroll.
The best lightweight sneakers to buy for summer 2021
Soulland x Li-Ning Shadow
For designs that are sure to turn heads, look no further than Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning. The brand’s standout collaboration with Soulland is centered around a lightweight, carbon-plated runner, known as the Shadow. The key design element of the sneaker is its hollowed-out midsole, which makes it one of the most lightweight sneakers on our list and is outfitted with more than enough cushioning for you to log some serious summer miles — whether working out on the track or simply strolling around town.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 14
The ASICS GEL-Kayano 14 will bring some serious retro flavor to your summer sneaker rotation while sacrificing none of the comforts. The upper of the shoe is predominantly crafted from mesh, making it breathable during those long, hot summer days. From an aesthetic standpoint, the gold accents really liven up an otherwise subdued colorway.
Salomon has gained widespread crossover appeal in recent years, thanks to the brand’s considered fashion collaborations. If you’re looking for a shoe that you can wear for a day out on the town as well as during an intense mountain traverse, these are for you. The Streetcross, specifically, is decked out with reflective branding that shimmers in the light, and features a predominantly mesh build, making it one of the most lightweight sneakers you can get from Salomon.
CLOT x Nike Air Max 1 “Kiss of Death”
CLOT’s 2021 “Kiss of Death” Air Max 1 is a nod to one of the most iconic Air Max releases ever. With these on your feet, everyone from dedicated sneakerheads to people who are wondering why the fuck they can see your toes will take note. The bright colorway makes the collaborative makeup a premium summer option, and that transparent toe box allows you to show off a complementary pair of socks, too.
Merrell Long Sky Mesh
Merrell’s Long Sky Mesh is another shoe that is just at home on the streets as it is atop a mountain. This purple colorway of the low-top is a clear attention-grabber, giving your summer sneaker rotation a touch of color. Equipped with a Vibram outsole, you certainly don’t have to question the durability of this pair, which is sure to last for many seasons to come. What makes this pair special, though, is that its trail-running origins ensure it's one of the lightest sneakers in your rotation.
Acne Studios Mesh Sneakers
Acne Studios is offering a semi-see-through design that screams summer. The low-top sneaker is done up in semi-sheer mesh, as well as faux suede to give it a more premium feel while remaining a lightweight sneaker option for the summer. You can accentuate the light-colored pair by wearing some bright socks that will peek through the sheer panels.
adidas 4D Fusio
adidas’ 4D Fusio is an exceptionally lightweight sneaker that shines in the summer. Tones of bright yellow and green come together on this particular pair, which features Primeknit on the upper. Underneath sits the brand’s signature 3D-printed 4D midsole that is made to enhance comfort day in and day out. The sneaker is made complete with glow-in-the-dark trim to ensure you’re seen at all times.
PUMA Deviate NITRO
Weighing in at 9.4 ounces, the Deviate NITRO is a lightweight performance shoe designed for fast-paced runs. If you prefer to take life a bit slower, the sleek silhouette could still be for you, as it comes jam-packed with NITRO foam to give you unrivaled cushioning no matter the activity. The PUMA sneaker is form-fitting, made with engineered mesh, and is one of the most lightweight sneakers on the market.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
So-called “super shoes” have become all the rage in the running world, and nobody is leading the charge quite like Nike. You don’t have to be a runner to rock the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, though, because a shoe that looks this good shouldn’t be confined to one niche market. The upper of the Nike runner is crafted from AtomKnit, a Flyknit fabric used to deliver a lightweight sneaker. What steals the show, however, is that beefy ZoomX midsole with dual Zoom Air units.
Parley x adidas Ultraboost 21
This eco-friendly version of the Ultraboost 21 is made in partnership with Parley for the Oceans. Around 50 percent of the upper is textile, and 92 percent of the textile is Primeblue yarn, a high-performance recycled material. This is a non-dyed, lightweight sneaker, and is outfitted with adidas’ signature Boost foam in the midsole to give you all-day comfort. You can never go wrong with an all-white shoe in the summer.
Saucony Endorphin Pro
The Endorphin Pro is Saucony’s carbon fiber-plated race-day sneaker. Whether for performance or leisure, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more lightweight sneaker this summer, as the Endorphin Pro weighs just 7.5 ounces. The upper is constructed from single-layered engineered mesh, making it undeniably breathable, while Saucony’s lightest and most springy cushioning is implemented in the midsole.
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite
One of New Balance’s most innovative running designs, the FuelCell RC Elite is made with minimal overlays to cut down on weight. Paired with the shoe’s streamlined synthetic upper is a FuelCell foam midsole that provides ample cushioning and ensures this will be one of the lightest sneakers you’ll own. And you can’t overlook the bold New Balance branding on the pair, which we are quite fond of, personally.
HOKA One One Clifton 7
HOKA One One is another performance brand that has benefited recently from more fashion-focused collaborations. If lightweight sneakers with maximum cushioning are what you’re after, HOKA is the brand for you. The award-winning Clifton 7 boasts open-engineered mesh construction for ultimate breathability, in addition to a full-compression EVA midsole that delivers the brand’s signature cushioning.
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