The most eco-friendly running shoe we’ve tested. It looks more like a casual shoe but don’t be fooled – it’s bouncy enough for park runs and beyond!
Shows carbon footprint
Top end of budget pricing
Needs breaking in
Tongue could be more padded
Look so nice you don’t want to get them sweaty and dirty!
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Hylo Light: first impressions
The Hylo Light is a unique running shoe, and nothing like any other brand or model we’ve tested for our guide to the best running shoes out there. The company (opens in new tab) is very much a leading light in sustainable, environmentally responsible technologies that hopefully more and more brands will start to adopt.
• List price: $145 (US) / £110 (UK)
• Weight (pair UK 6.5): 492g / 17.4oz
• Colors: Men’s & Women’s Grey / Black / Blue / Khaki / Sage / Sand / Slate / White
• Drop: 9.5mm
• Compatibility: Short road runs
The composition of the upper is a fascinating list of corn, algae, plants and organic cotton, plus natural renewable rather than synthetic rubber is used for the outsole. This mix of more recycled and renewable materials allows Hylo to reduce the amount of EVA and polyester it uses, and they state the shoe’s carbon footprint to be 6.56kg CO2e (e stands for emissions) which is lower than the average of 8kg-16kg (source: We Can’t Run Away From This (opens in new tab) by Damian Hall, published by Vertebrate, a must-read if you fancy finding out more ways to be even more eco-friendly).
Running-wise, this shoe reminds us of old-school PE plimsolls, or casual shoes; they’re more like shoes than trainers and need a bit of breaking in. They’re cushioned nicely but not super bouncy like, say, a Hoka shoe, and they feel a little clunky until you’ve run a mile or so in them.
With a 9.5mm drop heel to toe they’re safely in the traditional road trainer zone and we highly recommend them for road runs and park runs. (Note: the RRP went up while we were reviewing the Hylo Lights for our buying guide, but it remains possible to find them for under $100 / £100.)
Hylo Light: on the roads and trails
The grip on the Hylo Light is minimal, so this is definitely an out-and-out road running shoe, but it was great for both my local fully sealed-surface park runs.
I wouldn’t say it’s not comfortable straight from the box, but it does take a few runs to break in before being super comfy. I also think the tongue could do with some padding to make it more comfortable around the lacing area and a gusset to stop slippage to the side.
The Hylo Light is cushioned with Hylo’s own Corn Spring (an exciting mix of 15% locally-sourced corn starch to make biodegradable Polylactic Acid and 85% traditional EVA) and the ride is bouncy and fairly firm, which I liked.
It looks quite unlike any of the other running shoes I’ve tested, which makes it a good option for commuters or, say, people with kids who have to run around at the drop of a hat but don’t necessarily want to wear full-on sports gear all day. There’s a great range of unisex colors too, so it’s a really versatile piece of kit with the added bonus of less impact on the planet’s resources. Definitely give it a try.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.
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