Saucony Freedom Review

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I was really excited to get the Saucony Freedom shoes as I had high hopes for the novel TPU midsole in a shoe with only a modest drop and a reasonable shape toe box. While I'm a little disappointed in the reality, I still rather like the Freedoms and I rated them "recommended." I think the main reason for buying them might be value for money. They're not a cheap shoe, but they seem to last rather longer than many others, so the cost per mile (or Km) is perhaps quite a bit lower. I was hoping the Freedoms would have the bounciness that I liked in the Adidas Energy Boost, but they didn't seem to have as much bounce as a good EVA foam shoe like the Topo Fli-Lyte. The Freedoms are also pretty heavy, coming in at 10.7oz in my men's size 10.5. If I'd have known they were that heavy are I might not have purchased them, but I'm glad I did. Hopefully TPU foam will become lighter over time, as we've seen with the evolution of EVA foam. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)

Saucony Freedom top
Saucony Freedom outside
Saucony Freedom bottom
Saucony Freedom inside

1 Characteristics

  • Cushioning . The Freedom uses a different material to provide its cushioning. Instead of EVA foam the Freedom uses expanded TPU beads. This is the technology that's found in Adidas shoes like the Adidas Energy Boost, though Saucony brand it "EVERUN." The idea is that TPU provides more spring than EVA foam and it lasts longer. Previously, I've found that the Adidas Boost had a distinctly bouncier feel, but I haven't noticed this much in the Freedom. In fact, I'd say that the Freedom feels a little firm, and it's rather under cushioned for its weight. One of the caveats to TPU cushioning is that it's relatively heavy when compared with EVA foam. Saucony have done an admirable job in reducing the weight of the upper without compromising comfort, but this does give the shoe is slightly odd feel when you pick it up as the weight is concentrated so much in the sole. The other oddity with the Freedom is that it doesn't seem to quite compress under pressure in the same way that EVA foam does, so I get a sense of extra pressure just in front of my metatarsal heads (the ball of my foot and the similar joints for the other toes.) I'm not sure this is necessarily a problem, but it's not something I'm terribly keen on. I'm a little disappointed with the cushioning-to-weight ratio of the Freedom, as it provides about the same cushioning as the New Balance RC5000v2 but ways far more than twice as much. On a more positive note, I'd say that the cushioning seems to be lasting much better than EVA foam, though I've only put just over 100 miles on them so far.
  • Drop. Saucony claims the Freedom has 4 mm drop, but I measured it at only 1 mm and 3 mm when it has your weight in the shoe. When running in the Freedom it feels close enough to zero drop for my tastes.
  • Structure. Saucony seem to have styled the Freedom to look like it has a Medial Post, but this is just the superficial coloring they've printed on the TPU midsole. I found the Freedom to be very natural, with little to interfere with my biomechanics. There is a slight rise under the arch, but not enough to cause a problem.
  • Flexibility. The Freedom is nicely flexible, and the forefoot has a little bit of springing us to the bend. I'm not sure if this really provides any propulsion at toe off, but it's a nice thought. The Freedom is rather more flexible than you might expect given its unbroken outsole along the forefoot.
  • Outsole. As you can see from the pictures above, the Freedom has harder rubber outsole over virtually the entire sole, with just a small gap under the middle of the arch. The rubber is nicely sticky and tacky, providing good grip while the tread pattern seems to work quite effectively. The outsole also seems to be quite hard wearing, and there are no stone traps or other holes in the sole that could pick up gravel.
  • Shape. I had high hopes that I might not have to cut open the toe box of the Freedom, but after just a few miles my imprisoned toes cried out for freedom. This is not a shoe that has a terrible toe box shape, but it's still a long way from the human foot and the designs of shoes from companies like Topo and Altra. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. To offset the additional weight of the TPU midsole, Saucony have put in some extra effort to reduce the weight of the upper. They've done this without significantly compromising comfort, and the rear of the shoe is nicely padded, soft, and flexible.
  • Tongue. The Freedom has a sock-liner style of tongue that actually part of the upper and is attached all the way along. There is almost no padding in the tongue, except for a narrow section that runs the length of the midline of the tongue. Having run in ultralight shoes that have a barely more than a bit of tissue acting as a tongue, I was a little surprised to find the tongue in the Freedom to be lacking. This could be lead you to the lacing pattern of the Freedom where the laces cross over in bands that concentrate the force on a narrow part of the foot. This wasn't a big issue for me, but I did occasionally find the top of my foot was less than happy.
  • Lacing. The Freedom has flat laces that work how laces should and don't come undone mid-run.
  • Heel Counter. The Freedom doesn't have a heel counter in the traditional way. If you look at the photos above, you'll see a black band that runs roughly where the top of the heel counter would go. This black band is relatively thick plastic that acts as a skeleton of a heel counter. To me, this seems like an unusually pointless bit of design and it's hard to imagine that anyone would think that this provides any functional benefit. I'm guessing that the designers felt that a running shoe must have a heel counter so late put something in regardless of the futility.
helping-hand.jpg

2 Update after 200 Miles

After 200 miles, the midsole of the Freedom is remarkably untouched. There are no signs of any compression or breakdown, showing the promise of the TPU is being delivered. Likewise, the outsole is barely touched, with just the faintest hint of wear on the heel. Sadly, the same can't be said for the insole, which was dead after 100 miles. The insole started off about 4.2mm thick in the forefoot, but it's down to 2.5mm depressingly quickly. I used this as an opportunity to start testing some Replacement Insoles, which helped restore the Freedoms to their original state. The other approach is to remove the insole completely, which works fairly well. The insole adds a fair bit of cushioning and some comfort, but once the insole has worn it doesn't add much but a bit of weight (0.6oz). The upper is a little dirty, but otherwise in perfect condition (except for where I've cut open the toe box.) I've got used to the slightly weird feel of the Freedoms, but I've found the extra weight to be increasingly annoying. I should view the extra weight as a useful form of additional training stress, but I'd much rather run faster in a lighter shoe. I'd have to say I've tolerated the Freedoms rather than enjoyed them. If I was looking to save money on running shoes, then the Freedom is probably a good approach as I think they'll last a lot longer.

3 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.

Full Review Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Asics 33-DFA Review 33-DFA Worth considering $90 5.7 10.6 16.5 27 27 0 6.1 6
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 8
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 7
Hoka Bondi Review Bondi Highly Recommended $150 8.0 10.9 17.0 41 45 5 8.8 0
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Bondi Review Pending $150 6.1 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 7.1 4
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 5
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 6
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 8
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 3
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 5
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 7
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 6
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 6
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin Review Endorphin Highly Recommended $125 11.1 4.1 6.4 14 13 -1 4.5 9
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 6
Altra Escalante Review Escalante Review Pending $130 9.1 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.9 7
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 9
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 8
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 6
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 6
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.8 7
Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review Gel Lyte Not recommended $90 8.0 7.3 11.4 17 24 4 5.8 9
Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review GOmeb 3 Worth considering $120 6.9 8.1 12.6 20 24 4 5.5 8
Skechers GORun 4 Review GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 5
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 7
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 4
Hoka Hupana Review Hupana Recommended $115 6.1 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 5.4 5
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 7
Altra Instinct 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 6
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Instinct 4.0 Review Pending $120 6.0 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.9 6
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 7
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review Kinvara Best of the Best $110 7.4 8.2 12.8 23 27 3 6.1 6
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 6
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 7
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 3
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
Saucony Nomad Review Nomad Review Pending $110 4.3 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.5 5
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 4
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 4
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 8
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 4
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000 Review RC5000 Best of the Best $125 12.2 3.4 5.3 13 17 3 4.2 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 8
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 9
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 9
Topo ST-2 ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 8.2 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 6.0 8
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 2
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 6
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 6
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 5
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 6
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 9
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 7
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review Vapor Glove Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
New Balance Vazee Pace Review Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 6
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 7

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.