The first-ever basketball shoe was a Converse All-Star, created in 1923 by Marquis Converse. It boomed in popularity within the decade, and has been the prototype for all basketball shoes to come after. Well, it’s the start of a new decade now, so it’s time to look at the best lightweight basketball shoes of 2020.
Technology has come a long way since 1923 and so has your option in shoes. We know that it can be overwhelming trying to find the best pick of the bunch. That’s why we’ve researched the top brands and highest-ranked shoes of basketball players for you.
Read on for our deep dive into the best lightweight basketball shoes out there.
|Top 6 Standouts of Best Basketball Shoes||Why It's Best||Our Rating|
|Under Armour Men's Charged Assert 8||This shoe is an all around good pick when looking for simple tech that holds up to modern innovations. Nothing fancy here, but what it does do it does right.||★★★★★|
|Nike Air Visi Pro VI||Nike Air technology makes this shoe go beyond most competitors, and that's not even talking about everything else this shoe does right. A great option in a sea of lesser picks.||★★★★★|
|Under Armour Men's Lockdown 4||A leather shoe option with EVA Memory Foam for great durability and comfort.||★★★★★|
|Nike Boys' Team Hustle D 8||A great basketball shoe for kids that focuses on durability and longevity. No shoe can stand up to the rigors of youth, but the Boy's Hustle D 8 will fair better than the average.||★★★★★|
|PEAK Lou Williams Lightning||Great branding and cool design make for a fashionably unique shoe that delivers a strong performance.||★★★★★|
|Under Armour Boys Curry 3 Basketball Shoe||Another shoe for kids and made to last. A strong knit mesh with textile features will outlast wear and tear, and EVA Foam will add a lot in the realm of comfort and resistance.||★★★★★|
- 1 Best Lightweight Basketball Shoes
- 1.1 Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 8
- 1.2 Nike Air Visi Pro VI
- 1.3 Under Armour Men’s Lockdown 4
- 1.4 Nike Boys’ Team Hustle D 8
- 1.5 PEAK Mens Basketball Shoes
- 1.6 Under Armour Boys Curry 3
- 1.7 Under Armour Kids’ Pre School 2019
- 1.8 Adidas Dame 6
- 1.9 Adidas Dame 5
- 1.10 Nike Men’s Mamba Focus
- 1.11 Adidas Harden Vol. 2
- 1.12 Under Armour Speedform Miler Pro
- 1.13 View on Amazon
- 1.14 Adidas Men’s Marquee Boost Low
- 2 How We Selected The Best Lightweight Basketball Shoes
- 3 FAQs About Lightweight Basketball Shoes
- 4 Final Word and Recommendation
Best Lightweight Basketball Shoes
Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 8
The Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 8 is a fine choice of shoe for those interested in a medium-tier multi-purpose running shoe.
This shoe is all about comfort and flexibility. One great addition to the Assert 8 is its ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA). EVA is a man-made synthetic foam that is considered an industry standard for high impact sports and running shoes. Its inclusion around the sock line will help cushion your foot from the impacts of fast turns and high jumps common to the basketball court.
The outsole of the shoe is rubber, which is good for traction, but the design itself could be better. Best court traction comes from a shoe with multi-direction trackpads. The Assert 8’s outsole is comprised of single direction horizontal lines, with a circular pattern on the heel.
To make up for its less-than-stellar traction, the Assert 8 has a superb hybrid mesh and leather overlay for maximum breathability and stability. Mesh is a loosely woven synthetic material that breathes well, and leather is great for durability. Special to take note of though is how the leather overlay serves to lock your foot in place, which helps to prevent slipping. For the lightest option though, stick with mesh.
Nike Air Visi Pro VI
The Nike Air Visi Pro VI is an all-around great pick for fast-paced games on the basketball court.
Right off the bat, we need to look at this shoe’s solid rubber herringbone traction pad. Rubber is good for traction, but what really helps this shoe go above is that herringbone pattern. This pattern type is a series of cross-directional lines and grooves on the outsole of your shoe for maximum traction.
With a rubber herringbone pattern in place, you’ll find fast stops and squeaky dashes on the court.
The next wow factor for the Nike Air Visi is its patented Tri-Vis Air Sole. Nike first released this technology 1979, and it was invented by engineer Frank Rudy. This brand-defining innovation is a flexible membrane placed within a shoe’s midsole region full of compressed air. When a player pushes down on that air-filled membrane, the air cushions the player from impact and instantly springs back into shape. This not only lessens impacts but also gives players a crucial extra dash of speed to their step.
It also needs mentioning that air is certainly lighter than foam cushioning alternatives, making the Nike Air Visi Pro a great lightweight basketball shoe.
Beyond those two innovations, the Nike Air is made of synthetic leather for high comfort and stability. It might not breathe quite as well as a mesh option, but it’s durable and secure, two important attributes for a player mid-game.
Under Armour Men’s Lockdown 4
The Under Armour Men’s Lockdown 4 is a well-balanced shoe with enhanced durability and breathability.
Lockdown 4 does not have a herringbone pattern for its traction, but it still meets the high standard of multi-directional rubber tracks for solid traction. This shoe pattern might not feel quite as snappy as some other options, but it’ll do the job.
What sets this shoe apart from those we’ve looked at so far is its use of perforated leather as an upper shoe material. This method grants high durability, but also allows for mesh-like airflow to and around your feet. The Lockdown’s upper section and tongue are also made of a molded synthetic cushion making for a nice snug fit.
Rounding out this durable shoe option is an EVA injected midsole, adding to the already snug and cushioned feel of this shoe.
Leather is a heavier material than mesh, but since the rest of the shoe is designed to be as light as possible, and since the leather present is perforated, the Lockdown still comes out as a nice lightweight option for players on or off the court.
Nike Boys’ Team Hustle D 8
The Nike Boys’ Team Hustle D 8 is a lightweight leather option of shoe for youth players.
Hustle D is made up of a leather upper shoe, foam for the mid-sole, and thin strip rubber for bottom traction. The leather serves to support and stabilize the shoe onto the player’s foot, especially with that hook-and-lock strap included in the mid-section. Foam is great for cushioning, and rubber is pretty much the main standard for traction pads, too.
Overall, this is a very basic and reasonable option for basketball players. There is nothing really fancy going on here, but for a youth player that might be best. A mid-range option for a player that will quickly outgrow it, not a bad buy.
PEAK Mens Basketball Shoes
The PEAK Mens Basketball Shoe is a shoe that focuses on anti-slip technology and lightweight design.
Peak Men’s Shoe comes with a synthetic rubber outsole and does the job right with a unique design of multi-directional lines for greater traction. One nice addition is their custom STA anti-rollover module placed on the sides of the front outsole. This technology helps players remain stable on fast turns and can prevent trips and slips on the court. It is by no means a sure method of saving one from injury, but it’s a step above what we’ve seen so far.
Otherwise, this shoe meets the standards we’ve seen. It has EVA mid filling, leather upper sections for durability, and a molded sock line for a tight fit. It’s important to note though, that a lot of customer reviews cite the shoe as being about half a size too large on purchasing. So be sure to buy these where returns and exchanges are possible.
A lot of the focus on this shoe beyond the usual specs is its flash and bang. With a lightning bolt of reflective material and styled laces, this shoe has a dash of sass and pomp. And for Louis Williams fans out there, the Peak comes with a cartooned version of him emblazoned on the front.
Under Armour Boys Curry 3
The Under Armour Boys Curry 3 is another shoe just for kids that makes its main focus on keeping together and holding out against the inevitable tide of youthful energy that pulls most shoes apart in no time flat.
With a mesh and textile design, the Curry 3 is made for durability. It boasts a thick rubber outsole, a breathable midsole, and a textile tongue to outlast wear and tear. Beat it, bash it, and send it through the wash, the Curry 3 will hold out longer than most other shoes made for kids.
Beyond its durability, the Curry 3 has EVA Foam for comfort and cushioning, and a great cross-direction pattern on its outsole for traction. It comes in a variety of colorful options that would appeal to kids and would be a good fit for most youth players on the court.
Under Armour Kids’ Pre School 2019
The Under Armour Kids’ Pre School 2019 is a great hybrid of comfort and durability technology for young basketball enthusiasts.
An upper section of mesh and textile makes this shoe very breathable. Not only that, but a molded heel and TPU coated toe guard makes for added protection and stain proofing, which I think we can all agree is an important addition for a kid’s shoe. An EVA Injected sock liner and molded midsole adds to comfort and impact resistance, and the outsole has an interesting pattern that promises high traction.
Fashion-wise, this is a great pick for kids. It comes in bright colors and neon outsoles to stand out, and will definitely add some sass to every step.
Overall, this is probably the strongest kid’s shoe option on our list. It comes with a lot of features not advertised or thought of in kid’s shoes and is a great pick for the little basketball players in your life. It does run a little heavy though, and there are other lighter options on the market to find.
Adidas Dame 6
The Adidas Dame 6 is a super light and breathable shoe designed from the ground up to mimic NBA Star Damien Lillard’s fast-flowing style out on the court.
What first sets the Adidas Dame 6 apart is its sock-like quality. To achieve this snug fit design Adidas wanted they went with a synthetic mesh build for their shoe and a thin herringbone outsole for traction. With the inclusion of Adidas’ custom new Lightstrike cushioning technology into the design, this is a shoe completely focused on comfort in weightlessness.
Lightstrike cushioning was released by Adidas in 2018 with their prototype N3XT L3V3L shoe model. The goal of Lightstrike was to create a cushioning foam that would be as lightweight as any other on the market, but would never harden from use or give out after prolonged sessions. Since its release Lightstrike has been rolled out to many other Adidas products as a premium cushioning technology, and that’s what we are getting here with the Dame 6.
Adidas Dame 6 has a lot of new technology and fancy features, but it comes at a cost. This is a premium shoe, for a premium high-end price.
Adidas Dame 5
The Adidas Dame 5 is a very different shoe than the Dame 6 and offers a more traditional stance on B-Ball shoes while retaining the Adidas brand look and feel.
Once more we get a synthetic mesh option from Adidas, but this time it’s combined with a suede upper section and a textile tongue and sock liner. Suede is a soft, comfortable leather and provides the Dame 5 with greater durability over the Dame 6, but it will run heavier overall. The sock liner being textile does little for keeping a snug fit, but it will run more comfortably on the skin.
We get a herringbone pattern outsole for great traction, and while the Dame 5 is lacking Lightstrike technology, it does come with previous generation bounce cushioning to try to make up for it.
Beyond the look and make of the Dame 5, this is a very cool looking shoe. It comes in a variety of psychedelic colors and patterns, and while this might not matter to all, I sure appreciate some flair now and then from my kicks.
The Dame 5 is a great shoe, but it’s by no means a budget option. Like the Dame 6, this is a high-end shoe for a high-end price.
Nike Men’s Mamba Focus
The Nike Mamba Focus is a hyper classy shoe with great Nike Zoom Air technology and fine features besides.
Zoom Air is another branding of Nike’s Tri-Vis Air-Sole. This shoe sports that same epic air-filled membrane as we’ve discussed above. The goal of Zoom Air is tri-fold; to cushion impacts, to add pep to every step, and to decrease weight by removing EVA foam material for air. Anyone who’s worn a shoe with this air technology can tell you that this is a great addition to modern basketball shoe design, and is well worth catching your eye.
Besides the basics, this shoe is all about style. It features an embossed snake pattern imitation for a cool look, and the Nike Swoosh logo has been molded into the mid sole for showing off. On top of that, the Mamba logo is displayed prominently on the heel.
It’s a shame that the Mamba Focus is missing some crucial elements, like a herringbone outsole, but it tries hard to make up for it with Zoom Air and a classic look.
Adidas Harden Vol. 2
The Adidas Harden Vol. 2 is a really interesting shoe that brings a unique look and fancy technology for players wanting to stand apart.
For starters, this shoe has Forgefiber with TPU coated fibers. Forgefiber is Adidas’ durability technology that utilizes a new stitching method for materials used that boasts up to 30% greater resistance than other methods in the industry.
Not only does a shoe with Forgefiber retain breathability, but the increased durability puts it on par with a leather option for much less weight and greater flexibility. Interestingly, Forgefiber was created based on the design structure that human cells take when growing and developing. We’re not sure if that design structure is inherently good for durability or not, but it sure works here with the Adidas Harden 2.
TPU stands for Thermoplastic Polyurethane. This material is a synthetic creation that is great for protecting a material from grease, spills, stains, and all variety of liquid hazards. It is comparable to Nylon in this respect and definitely goes far in keeping this shoe squeaky clean.
In addition, the Adidas Harden 2 has Adidas’ boost cushion for super responsive snaps and boosts on the court. Boost utilizes TPU once more, but not for coating and protective purposes. No, instead TPU is used here for its shock-absorbing and bounce-back property. When compressed, TPU is a highly reflective material that bounces back to place instantly. This technology is very similar to Nike’s Air tech and serves much the same purpose.
Other bragging points of the Adidas Harden 2 is its sock-like design for a snug fit, web-like lacing for securing your foot in place, and the rather unique fractal traction pattern on its outsole. And, it just looks cool.
Under Armour Speedform Miler Pro
The Under Armour Speedform is a super durable shoe that breathes well and offers extra comfort and a snug fit.
What’s immediately interesting about the Speedform is that the entire upper section of the shoe is built in one piece. From the sock line all the way down the the toe and outsole, this shoe was designed as one device. This method of craft makes for a very snug fitting shoe that has no bits of bobs sticking out to bother your foot. Not only that, but it also greatly improves durability.
Attached to this single upper section is a Pebax Plate for structural durability and trip prevention. Pebax is a type of Thermoplastic Elastoplast that boasts higher resistance and protective qualities than even TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane). It will serve8 as a protective shell for the greater shoe structure and will help prevent staining and water damage around the bottom edges of the mid and upper sole.
The outsole of the Speedform is a series of cross lines going in opposing directions. This is pretty good as far as traction is concerned. A hexagonal or herringbone pattern would be better, but this will be fine for more situations. Rounding out this shoe is EVA injected foam for moderate impact cushioning.
While this is a very interesting shoe from our perspective, it is one that does little to lessen weight and make it very high on our lightweight options list. That Pebax plate adds a fair bit of weight on its own, and for some it might not be worth the trade-off.
Adidas Men’s Marquee Boost Low
The Adidas Marquee Boost Low is a great mid-range option for basketball players on a budget but wanting quality none-the-less.
This Adidas Marquee comes made in a synthetic mesh and textile mix, making for great breathability and durability. The outsole is rubber, which is good, but it comes in a single direction line pattern. The best patterns for traction are omni-directional and includes horizontal lines. This shoe has it right on the inclusion of horizontal lining but falls flat on the patter otherwise.
Adidas designed this shoe to be a low-down fit style shoe. The sock liner will be at the ankle, and the shoe will be a snug fit around the top and arch of your foot. This is pretty much as close as you can get to a sock-fit shoe while keeping things more traditional.
At the end of the day, the Adidas Marquee does little to excite, but it will do the job right and will run in a more reasonable price range than some of our other selections.
How We Selected The Best Lightweight Basketball Shoes
First Criteria: Shoe Material, Design, and Make
Basketball shoes are an art and a technology. They need to be durable for long games, breathe well, fit snug, and have amazing traction and cushioning support. All sports need good footwear, but in basketball, in particular, it’s important. Not a lot of other sports play on a smooth hard surface or have to jump nearly as much, after all.
Toward that end, we looked first at the traction each shoe brought. We found that a rubber herringbone pattern shoe was by far the best on the market. Herringbone patterns have been found to offer the best gripping power of any design, and while not the end all be all, a shoe without this was missing out.
Next, we visited the material the rest of the shoe was made of, and what if any new technology they might feature. Most of the shoes on our list are mesh, with a few having some suede or textile mixed in for durability and comfort. Mesh is a good option for a sports shoe as it gives great airflow to and around the foot. Leather and textile are more focused on durability, which in a kid’s shoe or when properly portioned out, can be a good choice.
We, of course, are concerned with how light a shoe was compared to what it had on offer as well. The Speedform was a good example of this. While a good shoe overall, the Pebax bar on the Speedform adds weight when a good basketball shoe generally looks to be as light as possible.
What really pulled out gaze was the technology on display in some selections though. Specifically, the Nike Air and Adidas Lightstrike innovations found themselves wowing us. EVA is fine and all, and we think you can get a great shoe with EVA cushioning alone, but Air and Lightstrike go a step above in providing not only comfort but a competitive edge.
Second Criteria: Style!
What can we say? We’re suckers for cool designs and flashy colors. Options that had unique color patterns or interesting makes caught our eye over competitors. After all, what shoes you wear to the court is not just a part of the outfit, but a show of your style and presence. Our top pick for style was definitely the Dame 5, with its strong colors and cool design it rose to the next level.
For fans of Louis Williams, the Peak Men’s shoe is worth a look at as well. It’s a cartoon version of the star and flashy lightning bolt add a bit of flair to an otherwise decent option. For kids, just about all of the options we talked about geared toward them looked good and came in vibrant colors.
FAQs About Lightweight Basketball Shoes
What is the lightest basketball shoe on our list?
The Adidas Dame 6 will come in lightest in part due to their sock-like snug build, but also due to Adidas’ Lightstrike technology.
That being said, any shoe made mostly of mesh, with EVA Memory Foam or another lightweight alternative, and a thin rubber outsole will come in lighter than competitors. Leather is great for durability, but it adds weight, and the same is true of canvas or textiles.
What are the best shoes for playing basketball?
Any shoe that is lightweight, has a rubber herringbone outsole, and sports impact cushioning technology will be what you are looking for.
You want superb traction, above board comfort, and protection for all those jumps and dashes you’ll be making on the court.
Nike shoes with Zoom Air technology are great, but otherwise, we recommend Adidas as being generally the brand with the best shoes on the court.
What are the most comfortable basketball shoes?
While all companies strive to make their shoes comfortable, it’s no secret that some do so better than others.
The Nike Air and Adidas Dame 6 come in tied for top. Both offer new technology specifically for increasing comfort and it shows. Nike Air has their Tri-Vis Air Sole to cushion impacts beyond any other shoe on the market, whereas Adidas released Lightstrike super-lite foam in 2018 to resounding success. We do need to add though that Adidas comes close to Zoom Air with their Bounce TPU technology.
When looking for comfort in a basketball shoe, look for certain keywords: Mesh, EVA, Memory Foam, and always be on the lookout for new technology when it’s available.
Final Word and Recommendation
At the end of the day, what makes the best lightweight basketball shoes is always new innovations in technology married to an adherence to old tried and true practices. You’ve heard us gush about herringbone patters for outsoles and Nike Air Zoom/Adidas Lightstrike tech for a reason. These are the things that make a shoe go beyond a simple accessory to an asset on the court. And in the competitive world of sports, any edge you can get is one worth taking.
With that in mind, our favorite shoe has to be the Adidas Dame 6. This shoe comes with amazing cushioning in Lightstrike, and a very lightweight and snug-fit design besides. We wish we could get a Nike/Adidas hybrid for the best of both worlds, but until Adidas Bounce comes to Zoom Air levels, we recommend the Adidas Dame 6.
For those most concerned with keeping a shoe as light as possible, look for mesh over leather and ignore options with fancy attaches like a toe or side pebax bar.
Thank you for reading, and we hope we’ve helped.
Check out some other articles on the site to see more best-of lists for basketball shoes and happy shoe hunting!