Looking for the world’s lightest basketball shoes you can get right now and feel like a formula on the court? Let’s talk about just that. However, you need to know a thing or two before blindly grabbing a pair that the numbers indicate as the lightest…
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Here’s What I’ll Break Down
- Dismantling the Myths You Need to Hear About
- The Strengths and Weaknesses of Light Shoes
- Behind the List: How I Chose the Shoes
- Lightest Basketball Shoes – 12 Picks
- It’s Not Just About the Weight
HERE’S WHAT I’LL BREAK DOWN
For those who like to get a little deeper into the concept of lightweight hoop shoes and their impact on our game, listen up.
Before we get into the shoe list, I’ll give my personal perspective of the need for lightweight shoes, explain the possible strong points & drawbacks while playing in the lightest possible shoes, and break down the key principles I stuck to when putting the list together.
I’ll then give you all my picks for the lightest possible & well-performing kicks with a personal favorite of mine at the end. Strap in!
DISMANTLING THE MYTHS YOU NEED TO HEAR ABOUT
And do you even NEED light kicks?
Here’s the thing about the “lightest” basketball shoes. Time and time again, we keep seeing these misconceptions around the internet regarding hoop shoe’s weight and its importance in-game. A LOT of folks still have this idea that the lighter, the faster, and usually, the better.
And I’d have to say this is simply not true. Not always at least.
THE BUILD DEPENDS ON THE PLAYER
Like virtually every nuance in the world, it all depends. It depends on the player, his/her build, the preferences which this player has that were formed by developing a playstyle on the court. It also depends on the courts & conditions you play in and even on your wallet.
But this simple idea seen so often online that guards or generally faster & shiftier players need the absolute lightest shoes to fully realize their way of playing the game is just untrue.
There is a time and place for a light shoe so to speak, but not everyone’s equal and not everyone’s going to prefer an 11 oz feather-like sneaker that barely has anything on top over a slightly heavier but more structured shoe.
But this is also why I’ve made this for you – I’ve picked each shoe in the list for a reason. Every single shoe likely won’t be ideal for YOU, so I tried my best to cater to as many different styles/situations with each shoe as possible.
THE NUMBERS GAME: FORGET IT!
There’s also this over-obsession with numbers. This shoe weighs that, this weighs 2 oz more, so on and so forth. I encourage you not to think about the sheer weight stats too much. They can give some insight into the shoe but nearly not as much as some might think. It’s all about how it feels and plays for you on the court.
I’ve played in many shoes that weigh more than their “lighter” opposition on paper but actually feel much quicker & nimble when it’s actual game time. Implementation of the build is key, and the weight number is only a small part of it.
But of course, lightweight hoop shoes that play like a damn formula sure do have their use. As long as you don’t put the number as a priority when looking for a pair and instead focus on the feedback that real players provide after gametime, you absolutely can find an awesome option that will fit, play and feel light as feathers.
LIGHTWEIGHT SNEAKERS DO HAVE THEIR USE
A light, quick guard who’s much shorter than most of his competition on the court needs to rely on his quickness, speed, and precision when it comes to making decisions. He doesn’t have a height, size, or strength advantage but he puts as much effort as he can to outrun, outmaneuver and outthink his prey.
That’s where a light shoe comes into play – this guard needs all the quickness he can get, and feeling mobile, low to the ground, and light-footed means a way of helping his game. Probably by quite a small margin but a margin nonetheless.
There can be many different scenarios similar to this one, or perhaps you’re just a fan of playing in a quick, compact lightweight sneaker that doesn’t get in your way and you’re used to this type of build.
Whatever the case might be – you also need to keep a balance to ensure you’re playing not only quickly but also efficiently and safely.
That’s where the next section comes in…
THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF LIGHT SHOES
Always important to keep a balance
So, speaking of efficiency & safety, you must first arm yourself with some perspective when shopping for a pair of lightweight kicks. I do want to point out that the differences you feel on court are never extremely large, so take all the key points here with a grain of salt.
You CAN achieve a great balance and enjoy your time in a blazing-fast shoe but chances are, you’ll likely have a pretty good time in an average weight shoe as well. Regardless, there are still some key areas you should take note of. A lightweight basketball shoe has its strong points but not without potential flaws.
Let’s break down what I think are the pros and cons of such a sneaker.
+ FEEL QUICKER & SHIFTIER THAN EVER
Of course, the most obvious point to make. A quick, mobile shoe means feeling light on your feet, the shoe not restricting your movements even if they’re coming from various angles, and ultimately the better fit is for your desired playstyle.
If a shoe is balanced in terms of performance but manages to take things further and keep the weight to a minimum – the end result is awesome. My movements feel fluid and unrestrictive, running feels like a breeze and you get to keep the 100% of your quickness no matter the angle.
– LESS WEIGHT CAN SOMETIMES MEAN SACRIFICES IN CUSHION
This is not always the case but I’ve seen plenty of lightweight shoes that have sacrifices in their offered cushion setup, such as the lack of any additional cushion technology next to a minimal foam midsole.
Now bare in mind, some shoes are designed to be this way and perhaps you like having firmer, less mushy cushion and staying light on your feet.
But for guys who play with force, athleticism, or perhaps outdoors on less forgiving surfaces to your joints, it’s a good idea to have some cushion underfoot. Not only to make things fun but also safe and absorb impact. Some shoes, especially in the budget range, tend to have minimal cushion setups.
They’re light, sure, but you’ll have to decide which trait is more important for you at times.
+ “LIGHT” USUALLY STICKS WITH “LOW TO THE GROUND”
Tying into the last point, a lighter, more responsive cushion setup also means staying lower to the ground. Your foot has more direct contact with the ground as opposed to a beefy, LeBron 18-like implementation where you can’t feel the ground at all.
Staying low to the ground means being in touch with your plants and angles at all times, and delivering them at maximum precision. That’s super beneficial for “under-the-rim” guards, spot-up shooters, quick guards who do a lot of off-ball movement, etc.
There are exceptions for this, but most cases will lead you to a lightweight shoe with less in-your-face cushion but will also keep you low to the ground for mobility, response, and precision.
– A MINIMAL SETUP CAN RESULT IN MINIMAL SECURITY
Much like the cushioning compartment, a lot of lightweight shoes nowadays tend to prioritize weight reduction & comfort over support and structure. A minimal knit shoe that weighs 11 oz undeniably offers less support & structure than a heavier leather or TPU-based sneaker would.
Today’s modern advancements in shoe engineering continue to push the boundaries of just how light & minimal a shoe can be while still retaining important basketball security. But this growth doesn’t mean everything’s comfy, ultra-light and offers beefy support at the same time. We need to be aware of what builds we go with.
+ LESS FOOT FATIGUE IS ALWAYS WELCOME
If you’ve ever played in older hoop shoes in the early 2000s or even the early 2010s, you know how it feels to put on literal bricks on your foot and feel all over the place on the court. Lightweight shoes mean your muscles and tendons need to work a bit less to move around, resulting in less overall foot fatigue.
Perhaps you’re having some issues with your feet/legs and playing light is the preferred way, or perhaps you’re older so your feet fatigue rather quickly. A lighter shoe takes care of this and ensures smooth step transitions, quicker take-offs without feeling clunky.
HOWEVER, weight doesn’t always fully depend on your level of fatigue after a game, if we’re talking about your feet or legs. The cushion setup offered, the way the tooling is constructed, and the material choices all play a role.
If your knees are on fire and you’re playing in a feather-like Kobe A.D. NXT 360 – that doesn’t necessarily mean you need something even lighter.
– THE LIGHTEST OF SHOES USUALLY AREN’T THE MOST DURABLE
Today’s shoe-making standards have really changed over the years. Modern synthetics, lightweight knits & wovens, different implementations of various textiles now dominate new releases. Of course, this is welcome from a performance perspective as long as the shoe is well-rounded.
But one simply can’t argue basketball shoes are becoming less durable over the years. Stripping off additional structure that might’ve reinforced the material is a common practice now, as well as using the thinnest & most minimal possible variant of available materials like mesh or jacquard.
A leather Zoom Heritage N7 will undeniably outlast a knit-based Curry 8. There’s no doubt about that. So if saving cash and getting the most out of your sneakers is the #1 priority – you might need to face some decisions when it comes to minimal shoes.
BEHIND THE LIST: HOW I CHOSE THE SHOES
Here’s all you need to know about my process of putting the list together
It’s not a credible list without the reasoning behind the choices. Let me quickly go over the main principles I stuck to when choosing the shoes. I believe these are just as important for you to know as the list itself!
I. TRIED-AND-TRUE MODELS ONLY
Each and every shoe on the list was personally played in by me, for at least ~2 months before evaluating it via a review. Some of the choices were tested both indoors & outdoors but the 2020-2021 releases were being wrecked solely outdoors due to quarantine still not having any gyms open in my area.
It’s annoying, sure, but this will help you evaluate each shoe’s reliability and whether it’s ready for multiple seasons of balling under the sun.
II. THE LIGHTEST OR THE LIGHTEST-FEELING
Like I’ve mentioned earlier – it’s not all about the sheer weight number. There are many shoes that boast a low weight number, yet a bunch of heavier shoes on paper play quicker and feel lighter. The weight number can be trusted at times but not all the time.
The emphasis here is not to have a light shoe on paper but hop into a shoe that actually feels light to play in. This is why you’ll see some shoes on the list that might look iffy due to their heavier weight but you’ll quickly see why that’s the case.
III. ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE IS STILL A GO
It’s great to feel light on your feet but don’t forget about the rest. Each shoe on the list also has other critical qualities when it comes to playing comfortably, efficiently, and securely. It’s not always a perfect balance but you can’t always get everything. I do my best to pick out the shoes I felt were the closest to that.
IV. LATEST AND GREATEST ONLY
Let’s forget about Retros, 2000s shoes, or even 2010-2014ish releases for now. When it comes to staying quick, precise, minimal, and still comfortable – today’s modern shoes single-handedly outclass the stuff we used to get a while ago.
Materials, cushion technology, and the ways to implement necessary features have come a long way, so there’s no real point in us looking through the old stuff. Besides, I’ve tried my best to keep the list consumer-friendly: each shoe is still widely available to get in one place or another. Can’t say the same thing about older shoes.
V. CHECK BACK OCCASIONALLY!
Last but definitely not least, be sure to come back to this list and other lists that interest you from time to time! I’m regularly updating my lists with better/additional options to go with as new releases launch.
Who knows – you might see an entirely reworked list by the end of the year!
LIGHTEST BASKETBALL SHOES: 11 PICKS
In no particular order & my personal favorite at the end. Each shoe’s breakdown on why it works, possible drawbacks, and additional notes you should know before getting ’em
The weight was mostly based on a US size 10
I. JORDAN CP3.12, $100
MORE DETAILS ⚖ 14.33 oz
GREAT ALL-AROUND OPTION FOR EVERYONE
Starting off the list with something subtle, here’s the Jordan CP3.12 for you – a $100 signature shoe that packs what a lot of $130+ signatures offer. It’s also a versatile shoe, so not just guards or shooters will find these enjoyable.
Chris Paul’s 12th sneaker comes in at 14.33 oz (406 g.) and even though it’s not among the lightest on paper, the shoe plays very fast and balanced.
The cushioning features forefoot Zoom Air along with a high-quality Phylon midsole. All this makes up for a pretty light setup, yet one that offers solid impact protection, still keeps you low to the ground, and makes every movement less of a chore.
These aren’t the most bouncy or soft but there’s just enough to keep you fast and comfortable, even for a longer session. Let’s not forget about the full-on Flyknit upper that’s buttery smooth and greatly reminds of Jordan’s flagship Performance Woven.
This upper’s lightweight, super comfy, takes close-to-zero time to break in but the build has proper support features implemented, so even larger guys should find these sufficient. This one’s a great well-rounded option that doesn’t break the bank and provides everything most guys would need in-game.
The CP3.12 is not among the lightest on the list but still beats an average sneaker & is quick enough to propel your shifty game.
The main culprit behind these isn’t the shoe’s performance but its availability. While you can still get it close to retail at places like eBay, StockX, or Amazon, these just aren’t available at your favorite sports retailers such as Footlocker, Eastbay, Finish Line, etc.
I did see some sizes on eBay that were even below retail, so they’re there, you’ll just have to do some digging.
- Go true to size with these
- Most wide footers will want to go up 1/2 a size
- Outdoor-ready outsole rubber
II. NIKE KOBE A.D. NXT 360, $200
FULL REVIEW ? 7.8 ⚖ 11.58 oz
THE ULTIMATE LIGHTWEIGHT EXPERIENCE FOR THOSE GOING ALL-OUT
Let’s address those who are looking for the lightest, quickest, and most minimal hoop shoe you can get right now. While I don’t know exactly if the Kobe A.D. NXT 360 is currently the lightest on paper, all I know is that it plays like an absolute formula.
Once you get used to such a build, you’ll be feeling you’ve got a pair of compression gloves on your feet. The A.D. NXT 360 features a drop-in midsole consisting of React & Lunarlon. A very subtle & balanced setup that won’t surprise you too much with the bounce but will offer you just enough of it to play safely & efficiently.
Once I got used to it, the actual sensation in-game isn’t very clear, yet my legs were able to stay fresh for a very long time. That’s what lightweight foam like React can do for you. This is a fantastic setup, yet one that might not feel like it.
But the area that sheds the most weight is the upper: it’s 360 degrees of Flyknit all over the place. The back portion features slightly stronger, more tightly-threaded knit, while the front has some super thin stuff that you can literally see through. This stuff is ridiculously light, comfortable and shows you what a true one-to-one fit is.
The Kobe A.D. NXT 360 doesn’t even reach 12 oz for a size 10 and you can really feel it. If you’re hunting for the all-out option that’s all about keeping a minimal footprint – this is the one.
For such a minimal build, there are going to be some sacrifices. While Kobe’s shoes always push the boundaries of how supportive such a build can be, the heaviest & most athletic of players might find the support offered just a little too forgiving.
Foot containment’s fine but a heavier foot that operates on crazy angles could feel slightly unconfident at times. I can’t speak for everyone though – all of you have different priorities.
This is also not the best option for a flat footer or someone who’s had issues with their feet. The shoe is extremely flexible, and there’s no real torsional rigidity here – you can bend the midsole in half without too much effort.
- True to size is optimal, including wide footers
- Try not to take these outdoors if you can
- This Flyknit is surprisingly reliable
III. ADIDAS HARDEN VOL. 4, $130
FULL REVIEW ? 8.4 ⚖ 14.9 oz
THE LIGHTEST-FEELING ADIDAS SHOE THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE
Remember what I said about the lightest vs. the lightest-feeling earlier? The adidas Harden Vol. 4 is the closest to a perfect example of such a thing among modern adidas shoes. It’s just under 15 oz, yet it barely feels like I’ve got ’em on once I broke them in and got used to them.
The Harden Vol. 4 offers some seriously lightweight Lightstrike cushion which is quite similar to Nikey’s React to some degree. It’s very fast, responsive, low to the ground, and keeps the weight in check but doesn’t leave you with a dead feeling underfoot.
There’s still solid impact protection here, as well as slight foam rebound upon a movement. It’s not the most cushioned setup you can find but it feels great, especially for a fast, shifty player. I love the path adidas chose when going for this midsole – it’s every bit of balanced while staying minimal.
The knit & leather upper variant I’ve got plays great and doesn’t slow you down at all. The materials wrap around the feet nicely, there’s enough support & stability for most guys, and the shoe grips the floor consistently.
Remember, it’s not the weight number that results in such an experience – it’s the midsole and how smooth & fast of a ride it provides, the materials and their ability to become “one” with the feet, and many other factors. This shoe nails that in my opinion, and not just for shifty Harden-like guards.
Due to the tacky rubber used on the outsoles, you’ll need to wipe ’em down occasionally to keep the dust issue in check. This is mainly a thing if you’re playing on an older/dirtier court or outdoors.
Also, be aware of the little midfoot elastic band that pulls your midfoot down when pulling down the laces. That band dug into my foot and caused some pain for the first 1-2 weeks. It’s likely also due to my thicker feet but a lot of people seemed to have reported on this issue. For most – it does go away after some break-in time though.
- True to size is a go for everyone
- Try to keep outdoor games to occasional rather than regular
- 1-2 weeks to break in the needed components
- Comes in two upper variants: knit & leather or mesh & suede
IV. NIKE PRECISION IV, $70
FULL REVIEW ? 8.1 ⚖ 11.87 oz
A LOW-BUDGET OPTION FOR THOSE STILL LOOKING TO STAY LIGHT
The Nike Precision 4 is not a crazy popular shoe or a signature but for such a cheap team model, this is actually not a bad deal at all. Keeping things minimal is what the Precision 4 is all about and even though this budget range will introduce some sacrifices, the end experience is still pretty damn good.
The shoe weighs just 11.87 oz (337 g.) and its tech specs speak the same tongue: a lightweight foam midsole for cushion along with a super minimal knit upper with some Fuse overlays in high-wear areas. This is some of the thinnest knits I’ve EVER seen on a hoop shoe.
This cushion is far from perfect for everybody but it might just be what you’re looking for. It’s minimal, low to the ground, there’s moderate impact protection but no real feedback upon impact unless you’re heavier.
To put things into perspective, I’ve played in setups that feel much worse with a price tag of $100+, so cut these some slack. It’s not that bad. The same thing goes for the upper – it’s not the most premium knit but for 70 bucks, it’s comfy, breaks in super quickly, and doesn’t over-stretch to keep your foot in place.
Not a lot of beefy support features either but a stable platform & a secure fit mostly carries the load for a secure experience. And guess what, a lack of a midfoot shank, beefy heel counters, or heavily structured overlays mean this is a ridiculously light sneaker.
With such a barebones setup, of course, not every player will prefer this type of ride the Precision 4 provides. If you’re a high-flyer or generally play explosively, you might need something with more cushion and stronger support features. Once again, it all comes down to what you prefer/are used to though.
Also, you’ll need to tighten the laces back up occasionally. I don’t know what it is with these, but the laces refuse to stay as tight as I laced ’em up. Not a dealbreaker but merely an annoyance.
- True to size is optimal for everyone
- The upper adjusts to your foot in a matter of days
V. UNDER ARMOUR HOVR HAVOC 2, $120
⚖ 11.3 oz
FOR THOSE IN NEED OF STAYING LIGHT BUT KEEPING STRONG SECURITY
The second shoe in Under Armour’s HOVR Havoc line is the light shining the brightest in my opinion. It’s a shoe for those who want a light, fast-feeling shoe but would like to keep a lot of the beefier stuff more supportive shoes have. Well, I think this one’s the closest to such a balance.
The HOVR Havoc 2 utilizes HOVR cushion which was initially founded for running and this is why it’s such a light foam compound. Bounce fanatics might end up unsatisfied as this setup is on the firmer side, focusing on quickness, responsiveness, and stability.
Shock absorption does exist here but you won’t feel much of it unless you’re a big guy. However, each running/jumping motion feels very smooth & fast. It might not be as fun but HOVR keeps a small footprint while delivering the performance.
The upper is a micro-molded mesh material with some rubber overlays laterally for more structure. It’s not the lightest upper ever but it does a lot to keep your foot in place.
Overall support is definitely there: a wide & flat platform for stability, outriggers to catch ankle rolls laterally, a great fit, and the Propulsion Plate for torsional support. Everything you need is here but the great part is I still felt light on my feet. This mesh looks to be perforated, so a little bit of weight is cut down due to the holes as well.
Wide footers – be aware! I don’t recommend this one for a prominent wide footer or someone who’s got thicker feet. Or both like myself. The shoe does break in and this mesh can mold a bit to your foot but I’ve never reached a point where I’m feeling as comfortable as I think I should.
Certain movements still feel uncomfortable, especially when the shoe flexes torsionally.
- True to size for most
- Wide footers can try going up 1/2 a size
- Outdoor-ready properties
- Give the outsole rubber & HOVR some time to break in
VI. UNDER ARMOUR CURRY 7, $140
FULL REVIEW ? 8.1 ⚖ 13.2 oz
A LOW-PROFILE GUARD’S DREAM
The Curry 7 is a true Stephen Curry’s shoe. All of ’em are, sure, but the 7th model, in particular, focused on the traits that make up a near-perfect low profile guard’s tool: lightweight, low to the ground, stable no matter the angle, smooth step motions, and adequate support even for such a compact silhouette.
The shoe features a dual-layered midsole consisting of HOVR & MicroG. You might think this will be bouncy as hell but it’s quite the opposite – HOVR is a very lightweight foam and the MicroG portion is heavily subdued to make the ride as fast, responsive, and precise as possible.
If you’re someone who prefers this type of setup – the Curry 7 should be at the top of your list. There’s not a lot of impact protection for heavier/leapers, so be aware of that. It’s all about the formula concept here.
The upper consists mainly of mesh along with Fuse overlays on certain areas & TPU casings laterally for additional structure. Definitely not the lightest material choices but they work very well for what the shoe wants to accomplish.
This setup doesn’t feel heavy but it does feel supportive. Pair that with a great fit and you got yourself a winner. Guards like Curry himself, spot-up shooters, light & quick players relying on maneuvering around their opposition, or just guys who love a quick ride will absolutely have a blast with the Curry 7.
These material choices will introduce a bit of stiffness, especially at first. It doesn’t completely take you away from the lightweight, guard-orientated experience but the additional structure this upper has does mean the Curry 7 isn’t as flexible as the 6 or the 8.
Before you judge ’em, make sure to give them some time to fully break in. Things are much better and move around more freely after you give them some action first but don’t expect this build to feel as loosy goosy as a knit-based shoe would offer.
- True to size is optimal for most
- Occasional outdoor play is fine
- Give these a week or two to break in
VII. NIKE ZOOM FREAK 2, $120
FULL REVIEW ? 7.9 ⚖ 12.5 oz
ANOTHER FAST OPTION, BUT ONE THAT MIGHT JUST WORK FOR EVERYONE
The Greek Freak’s second signature surprised me. I thought it’ll be a big dude’s shoe with some modern twists but it turned out to fit in the quick guard’s shoe club. However, unlike some low-profile guard-orientated choices, the Zoom Freak 2 has what it takes to fit even a big guy’s needs on the court.
I mean Giannis himself plays in these, and you’ve already seen how much of an animal he is. The Freak 2 features a fairly minimal Zoom Air unit in the forefoot and a lightweight foam midsole. The end result is not as minimal as the Curry 7 but still very low to the ground, it’s all about responsiveness and not losing quickness.
There’s a tad bit of energy return at the front and a bit of shock absorption at the back if you’re a heel-striker. Overall though, this setup is what mainly makes the shoe feel fast, light, and aerodynamic. However, there’s a bit more impact protection now so bigger guys should find these enjoyable.
Same thing goes for the support department. Essential features such as outriggers, heel counters, a fairly wide base, and a structured upper are all there but implemented in a lightweight fashion. There’s no midfoot shank, so there’s some additional weight reduction for you.
Lastly, the upper sports a textile along with Fuse overlays on a few spots. Nothing special here but it delivers in terms of containment, durability, and comfort, all while keeping the shoe at 12.5 oz. The Zoom Freak 2 is a type of shoe that you’ll likely forget you’ve got on while playing.
Guards, forwards, or even big dudes like the Freak himself should get a distraction-free experience.
The Zoom Freak 2 has a decoupled outsole design, and the forefoot & heel portions of the outsole have a different traction pattern. Probably not for the better this time. The back portion is fine – it’s consistent, has great bite, and doesn’t look like it’ll wear down quickly.
But the front portion uses a much more dense pattern that actually frays faster and attracts much more dust into the grooves. Not a complete dealbreaker but most of our basketball movements do come from the forefoot, so wiping the outsoles down frequently will be needed.
- True to size is optimal for a snug fit
- You can go up 1/2 a size for a looser fit
- Keep outdoor action to occasional
VIII. UNDER ARMOUR CURRY 6, $130
FULL REVIEW ? 8.3 ⚖ 12.3 oz
A BALANCED OPTION EMPHASIZING QUICKNESS & COMFORT
It has the lightweight qualities of a formula but also adds a more luxurious experience comfort-wise into the mix and has the tech specs that open up doors for more players/positions. In other words, it’s awesome and it’s still my second-favorite Curry shoe to date.
The UA Curry 6 features full-length HOVR cushion that was brand new at the time but still holds up very well. It’s still very light, fast, and low to the ground but we get more impact protection & slight energy return underfoot that’s missing from the Curry 7 and most of older Curry models.
The upper is a full-on knit that feels awesome on-foot. It could’ve easily been named Flyknit if it was Nikey’s and people wouldn’t be mad. It’s all about marketing folks! This knit is ultra-light, feels one-to-one with your foot, reminding me of the sensation the Kobe A.D. NXT 360 brought.
But the shoe doesn’t completely omit the security aspect. For such a compact low-top, the sneaker has a wide platform that promotes stability, internal heel counters for heel & ankle lockdown, cut-out grooves in the midsole for more natural motions, and a speed plate for torsional rigidity. It’s all there.
If you’re looking for a minimal, fast shoe but one that you’ll be enjoying your time in because of how comfy it is, the Curry 6 has got you covered.
The only gripe I have about these is the traction pattern’s tendency to pick up dust rather quickly. This will be the most apparent if you’re playing outdoors or in an older gym. Not the worst case scenario I’ve seen but frequent wipes will be needed to keep the traction healthy.
- True to size is fine for most
- Fine for the blacktop, though not your go-to outdoor tank
- Close-to-zero break-in time needed
IX. NIKE KYRIE 7, $130
FULL REVIEW ? 7.8 ⚖ 12.77 oz
A LOW-PROFILE GUARD’S DREAM, BUT IT’S FROM NIKEY
Like in true 2020 fashion – the Kyrie 7 is super light, and (almost) precisely 3.2 ounces lighter than its previous counterpart, the Kyrie 6.
The cushioning system’s tech specs are the same, and just like typical Kyrie fashion, all you get is the forefoot Air Zoom Turbo unit & a lightweight Phylon midsole to accompany the rest of the ride.
So, just like the Kyrie 7, I’ll skip the fancy talk and get to the need-to-know: you get a very form-fitting, well-structured, and secure shoe that produces some deadly grip, and the 7th shoe got rid of the heavier raw materials, opting for an extremely thin mesh option, 2020-style.
You also get a blazing-fast ride that’s on the firmer side, very low to the ground, and explosive for your cuts, accelerations, stops, and so forth, especially the forefoot area. You get moderate impact protection the rest of the way from the foam midsole but not much, or at least not much that you’d feel underfoot.
So, very similar to the Curry 7 but even lighter numbers-wise, mostly due to the minimal mesh as opposed to the Curry 7’s stiffer & beefier setup. But like I’ve said, it’s not about numbers – in terms of feeling light on your feet in particular, you wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference when it’s time to lace ’em up.
Due to shedding so much weight this time, some components had to be ruled out by the designers & engineers.
A lack of a proper midfoot shank and a midsole that’s torsionally forgiving means there’s no torsional rigidity built-in to provide the support your foot actually needs as opposed to your foot doing the work, handling the various angles you throw at them while staying in position.
So, for people with a plantar fasciitis condition (flat feet), or for people with generally untrained, unconditioned feet for such activities, this setup is not ideal. For me personally, I didn’t feel much of a difference while playing or shooting around but would notice my feet feeling more fatigued.
It doesn’t mean the shoe is dangerous to play in, as there are plenty of people having a great time in them, including actual pro players. But just watch out if you’ve got any of the above-mentioned traits just to be safe.
You might want to check out this list if you have such foot issues such as flat feet, or generally heavy foot fatigue.
- True to size for a snug fit, up 1/2 a size for a roomier fit
- Wide footer should go up 1/2 a size
- Look for an EP/overseas version to get stronger XDR rubber
X. UNDER ARMOUR SC 3ZERO III, $90
⚖ 12 oz
FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR DURABILITY & STAYING LIGHT
Looking for a lightweight Curry shoe but the flagship models are too pricy? Let me introduce you to the SC 3ZERO line – the Splash Brother’s takedown signature line targeted towards people with a lower budget.
The tech specs might not be as appealing but for the SC 3ZERO III, in particular, you can give your wallet a break as these should last you a WHILE. The shoe utilizes a synthetic leather upper, perforated for possible ventilation and flexibility. The cushion setup offers a MicroG midsole.
This upper might not be genuine leather but for 90 bucks, this is a reliable option, even for the blacktop. It can take more time to break it in for your foot shape when compared to something like mesh/knit, but you’ll have a trusty option for several years, as this upper’s not breaking down on you any time soon.
The MicroG midsole doesn’t really do justice for what MicroG can do. This is a toned-down version of MicroG focusing on response, court feel, and speed. So, right at home with the rest of Curry’s releases. There’s a bit of impact protection but heavier dudes/explosive players might end up with fatigued legs after a 2-hour game.
The end result is still a positive in my eyes though. The shoe is ultra-light despite the leather upper, it wraps around your foot in a very snug manner, ensuring proper containment. While the cushion isn’t much, you’ll feel quick & light on your feet.
This isn’t the best option for wide footers. The platform isn’t that narrow externally but inside, things get more suffocating.
I’m a wide footer myself and I’ve got thick feet (quite a nightmare of a combo, I know), and despite playing in ’em for weeks initially, the fit never reached a point where there would be enough space width-wise to operate comfortably.
Narrow/regular footers should enjoy these and their super secure fit though. For people who prefer a roomier fit, there’s also an option to go up half your size.
- True to size for a tight fit
- Wide footers should go up 1/2 a size
- Outdoor-ready qualities
- Vey minimal cushion, long sessions could result in faster fatigue
MY PERSONAL FAVORITE
The shoe that sticks best with me when wanting a light & quick pair
XI. CURRY 8 FLOW, $160
FULL REVIEW ? 8.3 ⚖ 12.5 oz
A LIGHT, RUNNER-LIKE BUILD & UNRIVALED COMFORT
The Curry 8 Flow is the one for me. It’s probably not my favorite all-around basketball shoe to play in all the time but I doubt I even have such a thing from so many kicks to choose from. And everyone’s got different playstyles, builds, preferences, etc.
But when I want to feel like a racecar, Stephen Curry’s latest signature which also debuted his brand new Curry Brand, the Curry 8 Flow is pretty much a running shoe reworked for basketball. And it shows every bit of the way.
The Curry 8 features UA’s latest Flow cushion technology, which is awesome. It’s not your typical low-profile guard setup we were used to getting from a Curry. Flow now has better impact protection, actual cushion that you can feel underfoot but it’s not overdone, still keeping those critical traits shifty, quick guards need.
I’m talkin’ speed, staying low to the floor, explosiveness in your movements, and all that now backed up by comfort and RIDICULOUSLY smooth heel-to-toe transitions. This is really the ultimate racecar of basketball.
The upper is a minimal knit with some small Fuse overlays & synthetic overlays laterally for additional structure & containment. But I’d be lying if I said it’s a well-structured shoe. This is literally almost a sock that wraps around your foot and feels feathery on the court.
But arguably the biggest factor that made the shoe that much lighter than its competition is the tooling design. The midsole (Flow cushion) and the outsole is now a single piece of foam. So your traction is now all foam.
Forget about rubber when you can make foam just as durable, grippy but twice as light! I don’t know why more shoes don’t do this as foam can apparently be made durable. See for yourself!
The most important thing that needs mentioning is the containment/support situation. You can pack as many support features as you want, chances are you’re not going to make a knit shoe with no structure just as supportive as a sturdy LeBron Soldier 13.
There’s virtually nothing laterally to take care of proper containment if you’d happen to be an athletic big guy, for example. I don’t recommend the shoe if you’re among the heavier players and/or produce a lot of force in your game.
You might just be fine, but who knows, as every wrong plant/roll out of the footbed has the potential of you getting hurt.
Since the build of the shoe is pretty much based on a runner, the heel-to-toe offset is felt a little more clearly now. The elevated heel portion can sometimes cause your foot to shift forward and bang your toes into the toe box.
I’ve had this happen multiple times and a longer session can result in your toes pretty banged up. Find yourself some grippy socks for these if you can!
- Going up half a size for most is advisable
- Outdoor-ready foam traction
- Can take some time to get used to the runner-like construction
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE WEIGHT
Sophisticated guides & shoe lists await you
I know the concept of a lightweight, ultra-fast shoe is an appealing one, no matter who you are or how you play. These types of shoes definitely have their place and become and more common as our engineering standards develop to such focus over time.
But there’s much more to basketball shoes than just weight & how light it feels on the court. Not everyone is affected by a performance shoe the same way – some people can literally play in any kind of shoe and feel fine, while others need a more research approach when it’s time for a new pair.
But regardless of how you feel about this one, I believe it’s still great (and sometimes even critical) to some as much stuff as you can, to at least know which direction you’re going and make an informed decision.
There’s never any guarantee you’ll hit the nail in the head each time but at least the decision was an informed one, so you earned yourself a chance to track down that “perfect” pair. I’ve got plenty of other shoe lists & guides to get you started and get an idea of what kind of components make up basketball shoes.
You’ll also have some go-to options ready whether you’re a guard, a center, playing outdoors, need the most security, comfort, traction. You name it.
Check ’em out below and expand your sneaker education!
And as always, I’m super curious to see your thoughts on this. Do you have some additional options you think are worthy to add? Perhaps you’ve got some experience with either of these kicks? Or you’ve got a question I haven’t answered in the article?