Verdict: The Saucony Freedom 3 was a joy to run in! It was smooth-transitioning, responsive, and cushy, it's easily our choice for mid to long-distance running. All of this, however, comes at a cost and that's on weight and ventilation. It's just too heavy for anything fast, and too hot for summer runs!
I would classify this shoe as a long-distance road shoe. It provided a smooth, comfortable ride for the duration of my review, starting with the first run right out of the box.
What separates Freedom 3 from other running shoes was clearly the responsiveness. I was blown away by how much pep they added to my step. However, though it excels at both responsiveness and traction, it makes some trade-offs in other areas such as weight and breathability.
Who should buy the Freedom 3
The Freedom 3 is going to be best for a mid to long-distance runner. I do believe that most runners not spending most of their time running around a quarter-mile track could find a place for the Freedom 3 in their rotation due to its versatility.
Who should NOT buy the Freedom 3
This shoe is not for you if you:
are an overpronator; the Saucony Guide 14 is suitable for mild to severe overpronation
have wider feet; the Kinvara 12 is wide-feet friendly with fantastic foot lockdown and it offers a balanced and reliable ride
The Saucony Freedom 3 was legitimately fun to run in
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Freedom 3 was the responsiveness of the ride. The shoe provided a fantastic amount of spring in the midfoot. Not only did I noticeably feel the difference, but my mile times during my test runs relative to effort (measured by heart rate) averaged 10-15 seconds faster than my normal trainers.
Traction on the Freedom 3 WOWed me
The second best feature of the Freedom 3 is its grip. The outsole doesn’t have a complex design, but the extra tacky rubber used beneath the shoe did a great job at grabbing the road and releasing on the follow-through.
The grip performed exceedingly well on traditional road surfaces such as concrete and asphalt, with a less noticeable difference on loose gravel surfaces, making it perfect for most city or neighborhood running routes.
True to size and great toebox fit
In terms of sizing, the Freedom 3 runs true to size. I have a standard if not slightly narrow foot. I wear midweight Injinji toe socks during my runs. I expect most shoes to feel tight in the front of the shoe since these socks take up more space, but was pleasantly surprised that the front of the toe box gave me no issues.
The best foot lockdown ever!
I was mostly happy with the fit of the Freedom 3. The midfoot and heel felt extremely secure, with no slipping through my test runs.
Don’t worry about lace bite!
The lacing is a pretty traditional lacing system, however, the design of the upper and the lacing system seemed to create no hot spots or lace pressure on my foot.
The Freedom 3 is not for runners with wide feet
The one area of concern was at the forefoot. This area was a tad narrow, which I could see externally while wearing the shoe. It didn’t cause any issues on my run but does make me worry about the shoe developing holes prematurely in this area, though I have not yet experienced it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending the Freedom 3 to someone with a wide foot; there are better options out there for you.
Sweaty feet on hot days
My biggest complaint about the Freedom 3 is its breathability. Compared to many shoes these days, the upper is slightly thicker, which impacts its weight and breathability. In a midweight sock, my feet were starting to sweat on a hot day after only a few miles. One might have better luck with a lighter sock, but my general impression is that the Freedom 3 is likely ideal for cooler climates or seasons.
Good looks with subtle reflective material accent
From an aesthetics perspective, I like the look. It is not too dull, but not obnoxious either. It is accented with reflective material, most prominently in the form of a strip that runs up the back of the heel. This is subtle but is a great safety component if you like night running.
One of the things I like to do at the end of a shoe review preemptively answers the question “Would you buy this shoe again?” For the Saucony Freedom 3, my answer would lean toward yes. While many of the features of this Saucony shoe would land it in the middle of its industry peers, I don’t really feel like they dropped the ball in any particular area overall.
Joe is a runner of all distances and terrains, but nothing beats a long run on his favorite trails. He has over a dozen top 20 race finishes ranging in distance from 5K to 100 miles. He spent over a decade running in the mountain terrains of Utah and the American West before moving to Virginia three years ago where he has been exploring new places to run. In addition to his own adventures, he loves helping others get started along their own running journeys.