The Saucony Freedom ISO is a versatile performance trainer for the neutral runner. It has a heel-toe drop of 4mm (23mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot) and weighs in at 9.0oz/255g for a US 9.
The Freedom ISO is a fresh model from Saucony that comes with a feature that makes it stand out from the rest of the market. The Freedom ISO competes with the likes of Adidas Boston Boost 6, Nike Zoom Fly, Brooks Launch 4, Asics Dynaflyte 2 and New Balance Zante v3.
Saucony uses a dynamic ISOFIT system that adapts to the shape and motion of the runner's foot. I found the upper plush yet minimal. The Engineered stretch mesh upper is extremely lightweight and is also breathable. I never once felt like my feet were heating up during runs of any speed.
The upper is one of the most comfortable uppers I have ever worn, coming right behind the first version of the Under Armour Speedform Fortis. I felt that the upper did exactly what Saucony claimed; the stretchy mesh conformed well to my foot and yet provided an adequate structure to hold my foot over the midsole without any pressure points.
Overall, the upper wins a place in my books as one of the best fitting and most comfortable uppers in lightweight trainers.
Heel Cup/Ankle Collar
Moving on to the heel. The Freedom utilizes a heel support frame to further cut down on weight to the upper.
The support frame was made with the intention to support the heel without the additional weight of a heel cup. I found this feature rather redundant. It adds unnecessary weight while providing the same amount of support as a Nike Free Run Flyknit.
In simple terms, the heel support frame does nothing to support the heel. I understand the reasoning behind the support frame (the shoe is called the Freedom for a reason) but Saucony should have discarded the frame from the start.
Tongue & Lacing
The tongue is thin and minimally padded but provides the right amount of pressure to prevent any lacing tension on top of the foot.
The padding on top of the tongue combined with the flat laces ensured further help with the distribution of lading pressure. However, the padding looked kind of strange.
This is more of an aesthetic issue for me and can be looked over considering the fantastic overall build quality the shoe brings to the table.
The lacing is unique.
The Engineered mesh forms 3 “band-like” loops that replace the traditional eyelets found on most running shoes in the market. This lacing system allowed the upper to hug around my foot like a burrito, giving the upper a versatile fit for varying foot widths.
Overlays are placed on these “bands” to reinforce them, further enhancing its durability.
The Saucony Freedom ISO runs true to size.
I have rather wide feet, and the Freedom accommodates my feet nicely without squeezing my toes together. However, a couple of my friends had to size up half a size to accommodate their wide feet. I recommend trying on the shoes at a local store before deciding on getting a pair.
I absolutely love the design and colorway of the shoe. Although the design on the top of the tongue looked strange, the strategic placement of the yellow-orange colors on the upper and midsole and low stack heights made the shoe look fast and sleek.
I would love to see Saucony come up with a racer with a stack height of about 12mm of Everun in the forefoot and 16mm in the heel, utilizing a softer carbon rubber variant for the outsole and a Pebax shank extending from the midfoot to the forefoot. I believe that this racer will be one of the most responsive yet cushioned racer.
Midsole Tech & Ride Quality
This is where the magic happens. The Midsole comprises a full-length Everun foam complimented by a 2mm Everun topsole with a 4 mm heel to toe drop.
Everun is made of TPU ( Thermoplastic Polyurethane) foam which is made to be bouncier, softer, and more durable than standard EVA foam that many shoes use. I was skeptical about the Everun topsole technology in the other Saucony models as there was only a thin layer of it which made it seem insufficient and gimmicky.
The Freedom ISO changes everything! I had never been so excited to have so much Everun below my feet. Sure, Adidas has their boost technology but most of their shoes feature a thin layer of EVA foam to stabilize the soft boost midsole.
The models with a full boost midsole either weigh above 300g or are too soft and unresponsive to run at quicker efforts. With the Freedom ISO, I enjoyed an undiluted experience of TPU foam bouncing below my feet with each step.
The Everun was claimed by Saucony to “produce a dramatically livelier and more responsive feel, 83% energy return and maintains its properties 3x longer than standard EVAs”
Everun was indicated to feel roughly 10% firmer than boost foam. This provides a more stable and responsive feel without losing the desirable attributes of the TPU.
I found that landing on the forefoot was firm but bouncy and landing towards the heel was towards the softer side. This allowed for more cushioned landings and faster toe- offs.
I could not tell that the Everun Topsole was present but I'm sure that it contributed to the overall bouncy feel of the Midsole.
At Uptempo speeds, the ride quality was one of the best if not the best that I have experienced. Many Uptempo shoes give a responsive ride but lack the bouncy characteristics of the TPU foam that makes this shoe so much fun to run in.
However, there are some drawbacks to the midsole of this shoe. For longer runs, the shoe started to feel “bottom-heavy” due to the weightless upper paired with the heavier midsole.
This made me feel as if I was on top of the shoe instead of being in the shoe. Also, due to recurring shin splints, I usually run in shoes with more cushioning for anything more than an hour. I decided to test the shoe for a 15km recovery jog and regretted it immediately.
I felt that the protection the midsole and outsole gave was inadequate for my sensitive shins on the longer miles. However, it shouldn't pose a problem for those without injuries.
The sock liner is rather standard with minimal targeted padding on the heel and forefoot. I switched the insole out for my personal insoles for a better ride.
Outsole & Durability
The outsole uses a single, full-length slab of crystallized rubber that runs from the front to the back of the shoe. The newly introduced crystallized rubber is unlike any other outsole manufactured by Saucony, presenting both pros and cons which will be addressed below.
This outsole design gave the shoe a very uniform feel from heel to toe which translated into smooth transitions from impact to toe-off. The crystallized rubber came in a bright yellow color. Personally, I preferred if they utilized the Orange-Yellow outsole color pattern with the blue upper.
The crystallized rubber is incredibly durable. I have about 200km in my pair and the outsole shows minimal signs of wear! I expect the outsole to last as long as or longer than the typical daily trainer.
However, I noticed that the crystallized rubber did not provide adequate grip during runs in wet conditions. Whether it was the road or the track, i would occasionally slip and lose my footing. Because of this, i would never pick up the Freedom for a run when it was raining or if the floor was wet.
Types of Workouts
The Saucony Freedom ISO is best used on the road and track for Intervals and up-tempo paces from 5ks to full marathons. However, I would prefer a lighter option for 5km-10km races.
- Sleek design
- Pretty colorways
- Responsive cushioning
- Extremely durable
- Flat laces ensure even pressure distribution on feet
- Slightly unstable on uneven terrain due to lack of heel counter
- Lack of grip in wet conditions
Recommended Runner’s Profile
- Weight of 65kg (154lb) and above
- Running pace of 4:00km/min to 5:00km/min
- Preference for cushioned & durable Shoes
- Neutral gait
- Wants a flashy shoe that would turn heads
Potential areas for improvement
- Add a minimal heel counter
- A Slight reduction in weight
- Tweak outsole configuration to enhance grip in wet weather conditions
Saucony Freedom ISO vs Altra Escalante
The everun midsole in the Freedom is firmer than the Escalante. As much as I enjoy the EGO midsole in the Escalante, I dislike the slight negative drop of -1mm as I usually run in shoes with a heel to toe drop of 4-10mm and this negative drop tires my calves and Achilles. Unless you are into low drop shoes, pick the Freedom.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs Kinvara 8
The Kinvara 8 is softer but lacks the bounce the Freedom offers. Despite being 30grams heavier, the Freedom is more responsive and is an overall faster shoe. The only situation where I would pick the Kinvara over the Freedom is for long and slow runs.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs Asics Dynaflyte
The Freedom is much bouncier than the Dynaflyte though both shoes have great vibration-dampening in their midsoles. Both uppers are equally as comfortable.
One with wider feet or a preference for bouncy cushioning should opt for the Freedom while a person with narrower feet or a preference for firmer cushioning should consider the Dynaflyte.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs Nike Zoom Fly
The Saucony Freedom ISO is much more flexible compared to the extremely stiff Zoom Fly. I would prefer the Zoom fly over the Freedom for paces of 4:15min/km and below, the Freedom for everything else.
The Saucony Freedom ISO is a do-it-all, decently lightweight, responsive and durable shoe. It is currently one of the best options out there in the market for those looking for a versatile shoe to perform workouts at any pace.
Saucony Freedom ISO is a lightweight performance running shoe for the neutral runner. It is one of the most versatile shoes that I have ever run in. The Freedom ISO defies categorization. It is cushioned and responsive; flexible and fast; durable and lightweight. This shoe can handle any run, from long runs to speed work, in any temperature.
The Freedom ISO has a stripped down lightweight upper that is very comfortable. When I first put on the shoe, I was surprised by how low the heel cup came up on my ankle.
It did not provide much support, but it was very comfortable after I adjusted.
The heel collar is also very soft. There is a small band of flexible plastic in place of an original heel cup to provide support, however, this does not make the heel very supportive.
It merely holds the mesh heel collar in place. Due to the unstructured heel collar, you can put on and take off the shoe without untying the laces.
ISO Fit Technology
Saucony uses its ISO fit technology in this shoe, hence the name: Freedom ISO. ISO fit technology consists of an inner sock like bootie, and an external cage of fingers that hold the laces. This gives the fit of the shoe the ultimate adaptability.
The ISO fit technology gives the shoe a very secure fit. My feet never slipped in the shoe. Any shape foot can get a secure lockdown because of the ISO fit technology.
The tongue is part of the inner bootie. It is extremely thin. The tongue and the bootie are made from the same material except that the middle of the tongue has a thin plastic reinforcement so that the laces do not bother your foot when they are firmly pressing against the tongue.
The laces are good flat laces that distribute the pressure on the top of the foot well. They do not fray easily. Two pairs of laces came with my pair of Freedom ISOs. I received a pair of matching blue laces and a pair of yellow laces.
Forefoot & Toebox
The upper material is very soft and somewhat stretchy. The forefoot was a little bit wide.
This toebox is no Altra, but it is wide for a standard running shoe. The toe box has a slight curve on the big toe side. Usually this is a problem, however, the material is so soft and stretchy that it did not bother my foot.
In the heel area, there is a liner of Saucony’s Run Dry material. This is a soft synthetic wicking material. It wicks sweat from your foot very well. It does not keep your feet dry in the rain.
There is a thin plastic reinforcement around the toe bumper to add structure. This did not prove to be very durable when used in the gym. There are two lines of worn away material on both of my shoes. There is also a small toe bumper of crystal rubber to add structure and protect your foot.
The shoe has a very thin, perforated upper. A good way to test the breathability of a shoe is to put the upper next to your mouth and literally breath through it. My breathing was unobstructed, proving just how breathable the upper is.
With great breathability comes great susceptibility to the elements. This shoe was not water resistant and left my feet cold when it was cold out. This is a good problem to have in my opinion. Overall, The upper is minimal but comfortable and durable.
The Freedom ISO utilizes Everun, bouncy foam similar to Adidas Boost, as the only midsole material.
Saucony has been implementing a thin layer of Everun in all of their high-end running shoes, and now they have come out with a shoe that has a full midsole of Everun!
Everrun is marketed to give you an 83% energy return. I don’t know how accurate this figure is, however, I do enjoy the bouncy and fast ride of this shoe.
The downside of Everun is the weight. Everrun is considerably denser than other foams and therefore weighs down the shoe. That being said, the shoe is still lightweight at only 9 ounces.
Everun compared to EVA
Everun is slightly firmer than Boost; Boost is excessively squishy. Everrun is not affected by temperature changes like standard EVA. The shoe will not be damaged by the cold and it will retain all cushioning properties in the cold.
This is why I like to run in the Freedom ISO in the winter. Everrun is also said to last three times longer than standard EVA. In three hundred miles in this shoe, it feels like the shoe is brand new.
The cushioning consists of a very standard sock liner, a top sole of softer Everrun and a thick layer of firmer Everrun. The Everrun in the forefoot is more firm than the Everrun in the heel.
I am a forefoot striker so this did not affect the ride of the shoe for me. There is no plastic board underneath the sock liner, which lets your foot sink into the midsole. This gives the shoe a plusher feel. This construction allows your feet to relax more. It ends up weakening the foot muscles but the comfort is worth it.
The foot sits higher in the shoe than the visible top of the midsole. This lack of sidewalls gives the shoe less support. There is a 4-millimeter heel to toe offset in this shoe. This makes the shoe better for forefoot and midfoot strikers. Since the foam is softer in the heel, the foam in the heel compresses more than the foam in the forefoot when the foot hits the ground.
This gives the experience of running in a shoe that has a drop of even less than 4 millimeters. Heel striking in such a low drop shoe makes for long ground contact times and slow transitions from heel to forefoot. The Freedom ISO is decently flexible, especially in the sideways direction.
This gives the shoe less of a racing shoe feel and more of a comfortable, daily trainer feel. There are small, square indentations on the lateral side (outside) of the midsole and small, square protrusions on the medial side (inside) of the midsole.
This allows the midsole to compress more on the lateral side than the medial side preventing a little bit of pronation. This design is pretty insignificant; Saucony probably constructed the midsole in this way purely for aesthetic purposes. Overall, This shoe feels slow and clumsy while heel striking, but fast and responsive while forefoot striking.
The Freedom ISO has a highly durable crystal rubber outsole. The Crystal rubber covers almost the entire outsole.
Crystal rubber lasts longer, is much more flexible and is more lightweight than regular carbon rubber. After 300 miles, my shoes did not show significant wear.
The problem with Crystal rubber is the traction. This rubber is not very sticky. I could not grip slick roads or snow well. The grip was considerably worse than carbon rubber or Saucony’s other rubber material: IBR. The traction was fine on groomed trails, treadmills, dry tracks and roads that aren’t super slick. The Triflex chevron pattern on the outsole adds surface area and improves flexibility. I wanted this to be the perfect winter running shoe, but it did not grip icy roads well enough.
Who is the Freedom ISO best for?
I used the Freedom ISO for running in the winter mainly as a daily trainer on the roads and on the treadmill. The shoe is lightweight, flexible and well cushioned, which are my three requirements for a daily trainer. I used the shoe for some up-tempo running.
The Everrun responded well to the speed, however, due to the flexible design, it was not my personal favorite for speed work. I did not use the shoe on days that were too wet. The low heel and breathable upper let too much water in.
I actually wore the Freedom ISO casually sometimes. It was good looking and comfortable. I recommend this shoe to any neutral, forefoot or midfoot striker, looking for a versatile training shoe with racing potential, especially if they run in the cold.
I wear a size 12 in this shoe. This is my regular Saucony shoe size. This shoe runs ½ size larger than brooks road shoes (apart from the Ravenna which is the same size.) It fits about the same as the Brooks Cascadia and Mazama.
This shoe has the same sizing as Altra road running shoes, apart from the Instinct, which runs ½ size smaller. This shoe runs ½ size larger than most Hokas. It runs ½ size smaller than most Nikes, apart from the Lunartempo and Lunaracer, which run a full size smaller.
This shoe runs about ½ size larger than Adidas shoes. This shoe fits the same as Asics Dynaflyte, but runs a ½ size larger than Asics Gel-Nimbus. It fits ½ size larger than La Sportiva trail running shoes.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs. Saucony Kinvara 8
The Kinvara 8 is lighter and faster. It is much less durable and less comfortable. The Kinvara 8 is much less responsive than the Freedom ISO, however, while standing in the two shoes, they feel similar because they both have a full length Everrun top sole. The two shoes have the same geometry, but a different ride.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs. Brooks Launch 4
The two shoes weigh about the same amount. The Launch has a higher stack height, denser cushioning and a 10mm drop. The launch is stiffer than the Freedom. They are both very durable. The Launch is a better option for heel strikers looking for a more minimal daily trainer with racing potential. You should buy ½ size up in the Launch.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs. Hoka Clayton
The Hoka Clayton has a firmer forefoot and a softer heel, similar to the freedom ISO. The Clayton uses EVA foam as the midsole and RMAT, Hokas equivalent of Everun as the outsole. The Clayton is lighter, much, stiffer and more cushioned than the Freedom ISO. They both have a 4 mm drop. You should buy ½ size up in the Clayton.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs. Adidas Boston Boost
This is the shoe most similar to the Freedom ISO. Both shoes have a similar ride because of the similar midsole and similar flexibility levels. The Boston is heavier, softer and has a 10mm drop. This shoe is better for heel strikers. It fits ½ size smaller than the Freedom ISO.
Saucony Freedom ISO vs. Saucony Zealot ISO 2
The Zealot ISO 2 is Saucony’s plush cushioned shoe for the forefoot striker. The Freedom ISO has a much more comfortable fit. The upper on the Zealot is Narrow and coarse. The Freedom has less cushion, is more responsive and is a little bit lighter. They both have a 4mm drop. The Zealot ISO 2 fits ½ size smaller.
- I take off 4 points for the traction
- 1 point for the weight
- 1 point for the cuts in the toecap
Overall, this was one of the best shoes that I have tested. It has a very comfortable upper and a fun, bouncy ride. At 160 dollars, the Freedom ISO is very expensive. In my opinion, it is worth the extra cost.
This shoe will last much longer than other shoes and is extremely versatile. You can do anything from long runs to 400-meter repeats at any temperature. This is the perfect choice for forefoot and midfoot strikers looking for a responsive and cushioned road running shoe.
The Saucony Freedom ISO is a shoe that lives up to its name. Running in it for the first time made me feel free.
This “freedom” felt new and refreshing as I was not used to being able to feel how my feet moved when I ran. This trainer would suit anyone who wants to own a pair of ultra-flexible trainers.
The ISO fit upper on this shoe is very comfortable. It is both stretchy and breathable. This allows my foot to move naturally and breath when I’m running in the shoe, making it super comfortable. The upper is definitely not the best upper I have used but it is pretty decent.
Another thing about the upper that I like is the lack of overlays. In general, I hate shoes that have an excessive amount of overlays as I feel restricted when running in them.
On the freedom, the lack of welded overlays helps me to feel free when running in them. Where overlays are present, the placement of them helped with the aesthetics of the shoe. Also, the overlays that are found on the shoe are reflective which help runners who like running at night.
Saucony’s effort to save weight on this shoe by reducing the amount of padding in some areas of the upper while not sacrificing comfort is commendable. The sock-like fit of the shoe is something I love as I feel that I do not have to wear a sock when running in this shoe.
The midsole on the Freedom is one of the best I have seen in a shoe. It is both responsive and cushioned yet flexible.
The everrun midsole has yet to disappoint me. After breaking into the shoe, running in it became very enjoyable. The shoe provides enough support and cushioning for longer runs yet has the ability to stay responsive.
Being so flexible, the shoe allowed me to feel where I am running which took a while to get used to as I am used to be running in shoes like the Hoka One One Clifton that has much more cushioning. For runners who are looking for a shoe that will allow them to have more ground feel, this shoe is definitely made for them.
Saucony markets the everun midsole to have an 83% energy return which is quite close to that of boost from Adidas. In my opinion, both the midsole material feel about the same however boost is a bit softer as compared to everun.
Outsole and grip durability
The crystal rubber used on the outsole is both grippy and durable. It performs well on a variety of surfaces and is able to handle light trails quite well but I feel that it still performs best on the road.
For runners who like running on surfaces such as grass, the outsole may struggle to provide the necessary traction depending on how an individual runs. The outsole is no doubt durable.
After doing drills and long runs in it for about a month, the shoe is still holding up quite well with not much significant wear and tear.
The shoe does fit me quite well but finding the correct size may be a bit of a problem for some people due to the way the shoe is like.
This shoe runs half a size smaller but once I nailed the fit, the shoe fitted me well. The lockdown is pretty good and the heel counter stopped my foot from sliding around in the shoe when I run.
When sizing the shoe, I would suggest runners who have a wider foot to size it half a size larger than usual but it's always best to have the shoe fitted in the store before buying it.
This shoe is a very comfortable shoe to run in. The upper is breathable and the midsole material provides enough cushioning for longer runs.
Running in this shoe, I have not experienced any type of discomfort of any sort besides during the breaking in period where I had a few hotspots. Once the shoe has been seasoned, it is really quite comfortable.
The ride on the freedom is very smooth. The heel to toe transition felt very natural probably due to how flexible the shoe is.
Also, the 4mm drop on the shoe helps the ride to stay smooth. Running in it, I was able to focus more on my landing and become more efficient.
The number of colorways available is definitely something I like about the Freedom. Also, the design is clean and I feel is integrated well with the colorways.
This shoe performs very well as a lightweight trainer. Besides being fantastic at long runs, the shoe is able to handle faster-paced workouts quite well due to its light weight.
On most surfaces, this shoe provides enough traction, the only time the shoe really struggled was on wet grass. To top it off the upper is very breathable, lightweight and flexible allowing my foot to move naturally.
The Freedom ISO from Saucony is a trainer that would suit the everyday runner. The light mesh upper coupled with the everun midsole makes this shoe one of the most comfortable shoes running shoes I have used so far.
I would recommend this shoe to anyone who wishes to have a trainer that would suit all their basic needs.
Why did I buy these? I keep asking myself this question. There are hundreds of other shoes I could have bought, so why these?
Well, I read the rave reviews, I went to my local running store and tried them on. I gave them a quick run on the in-store treadmill, and then I gave the cashier my credit card. Pretty simple. But will I come to regret this purchase?
I really like the look of these shoes, and it definitely played a role in why I decided to try these as opposed to other well-reviewed shoes. These just look nicer than other shoes. They look fast yet comfortable, and there are wide varieties of colors available.
Comfort & performance
When I first put them on, it was like wearing a sock with a sole on it. The mesh upper was very comfortable, and the heel cup was somewhat spongy. The grooves on the tongue help with the lacing and keep the foot well secured.
I appreciated the 4mm drop, cushioning and robust EVERUN midsole. The outsole was grippy, and the durable rubber meant they would last longer than other shoes.
Everything appeared to have been well thought-out and smartly designed, and I was ecstatic with my purchase. I really thought I would love these shoes and continue running in them until they literally fell apart.
However, that was not the case. I initially thought these would be my racing shoes for 5k’s all the way up to the marathon. As the mileage accumulated, they started to lose their speed. So instead, I thought they might be better suited as my workhorse training shoes that I would use to eat up the weekly mileage.
But, with each passing mile, my love for them would diminish. I noticed that the comfortable spongy heel cup and upper that I loved so much would soak and lock-in sweat. By the end of my run, the shoes would be a couple of ounces heavier.
The "cushiony feel" disappeared, and my feet would feel tired and sore after wearing them. The midsole lost all of its spring, and now they were a chore to wear. My legs were decimated after a week of wearing them during training, so I switched over to other shoes.
Maybe they will be a once a week-long run shoe? Nope. I had to cut short my final run since my legs felt absolutely battered. I’m counting my losses.
These just aren’t good at anything once they get miles on them. I honestly don’t even want to wear these shoes to walk in anymore, that is how bad they have gotten after only 275 miles.
Durability & value
I thought they would last for at least 500 miles with the possibility of even more. The rubber soles did hold up and show minimal wear and still have decent grip.
The upper has remained intact as well. However, the insoles are worn and uncomfortable. The EVERUN midsole has also lost all of its spring and now feels dead.
These are expensive shoes. I think the price point makes you want to believe they are better than they are. I so wanted to like these shoes as they do feel great for the first 100 miles or so.
I’m sure I could keep running in them until the soles wear out or the upper disintegrates, but I don’t want to. I hate the feel of them right now. What's good in a running shoe if you hate running in them? After only 275 miles, I am calling it quits.
- They look great
- Initially, very comfortable
- Durable and grippy soles
- Lacing system and tongue make for a secure fit
- Turn into sponges and become heavy once feet start to sweat
- EVERUN midsole loses luster once the miles start to accumulate
- Insoles aren’t durable
These shoes are proof that reviews shouldn’t be done after only 50 or so miles. Most shoes should feel good under 100 miles. It’s only when you get up around 200 miles that shoes reveal their true character.
A short summary for those who are in a rush. Buy, if:
- You prefer low drop running shoes with neutral cushioning; or, in particular, a fan of Saucony Kinvara, but now want to try something slightly different,
- Enjoy sock-fit (glove fit),
- Love running shoes with slick design and cool colours, and
- Normally do mid-distance road runs at a medium-high pace;
Probably, look for something else, if:
- You require extra cushioning and support, have overpronation or flat foot (check Saucony Guide),
- Need well-balanced shoes with additional heel protection and thicker sole (Saucony Ride are probably for you then),
- Planning to often go out of the hard surface road terrain (Saucony Xodus may work there), and
- Prefer running shoes of sober colours, something long-lasting and resistant to rain and stain.
A full story
I’m fond of low drop running shoes. For a couple of recent years, it appeared to me that Saucony does them really good, if not the best on the market.
They raised the bar very high with famous Kinvaras, but what about alternatives?
I have owned several pairs of Saucony Kinvara 5 and 7. They were very much like the best running friends. They stayed for quite a long time and passed through many races with me.
On the first look at Saucony Freedom ISO, the only question was: Is it like an old-good Kinvara or a completely new mate for me; are they “silver” or “gold”? Let’s try to figure this out.
First off, they look really slick. The colours range Saucony offers for Freedom ISO is rather extensive, probably wider than what you can normally find for Kinvara.
I got mine in “Gold” colour, which is more like pale light-brown, with shiny glossy inserts. Roughly, 80% of an upper shoe is made of an elastic mesh to provide so-called “sock-fit”.
This basically means, the shoe fits a bit tight, but it’s ready to expand when and where it’s needed. This is all thanks to the flexible structure of the mesh. I’ll also cover this a bit later.
With upper mainly presented by mesh, critical parts are enforced with durable materials
Lacing is also a bit fancy. There are no common lace eyelets. Instead, shoelaces are going through small “tunnels” made on top ends of the upper shoe, enforced with a polyester cover.
Outsole gives enough traction on hard surfaces
The bottom side of the shoe has a diamond pattern. It reminds me of Harlequin's style, covered with semi-transparent gel-like rubber outer sole.
What’s cool is that different model variations might have different artistic prints on the bottom. So, better keep your eye on it!
The shoes look beautiful when new. Let’s see how it would last for the next few months.
Shoes come with a classic Saucony box, protected with some recycled paper. There are no plastic tags or bags, so all the packaging seems to be 100% recyclable.
Saucony Freedom ISO is a low drop shoe (about 4mm) with neutral cushioning. The Saucony official website pretty well explained the technology used for making these shoes.
- ISO-FIT upper to keep your feet in a right position—give this sock fit and stretching shoelaces (seems to be a standard for higher-end Saucony models),
- EVERUN monolith midsole, which aims to provide better running dynamics,
- Featured TRI-FLEX outer sole from some advanced long-lasting rubber aiming to give better traction.
Single EVERUN midsole goes all the way from front to back
Shoes are quite lightweight. Although, my measurements didn’t match official numbers: 9.5 UK size weighed about 284g per shoe.
It should be fine for everyday workouts. These workouts include high-intensity intervals or long runs, though you might want something lighter for fast 5K races or speedy marathons.
With its light weight and sock-fit, they feel seamless even on long-distance runs
Let’s go outside
The first thing you probably notice when you put the shoes on is the sock-fit. When I first tried them, I was afraid that my favourite 9.5 UK size appeared to be too small and narrow.
But, it turned out quite quickly to be even comfier than Kinvara or Breakthru that I had at the moment. The upper “sock” stretches appropriately while you’re running.
During first 2-3 workouts in these new road shoes, including a 20km run, I didn’t feel any pressure in a toe box.
And, surprisingly, I had no blisters after completing, which is a very good sign given it's a brand new pair.
Another thing to mention here is lacing—shoelaces itself are stretching a bit, which goes fine with sock-fit as mentioned earlier.
However, if you’re used to classic non-stretching laces, then tie the ends a bit loosely, leaving some space for your feet. Otherwise, you would likely over-tighten them the first time.
Shoes perform well with natural running, but won’t protect you in case of a heel strike
On the run, shoes feel light and fast, as expected. I’m fond of a “natural running” technique. Hence, the low drop and minimalistic low heel appearance were just right for me.
The only thing I noticed when running the first kilometres, I wasn’t so confident when stepping on the ground. I think the main reason for this is quite narrow and short midsole.
So, a larger (wider) foot tends to go to the side, if not placed precisely on the sole when you land down. Or maybe it was just the poor surface quality where I ran.
Anyway, it went better when I got used to them, though it required a bit of balance.
A shoe platform is rather rigid and responsive but feels a bit too narrow
On gravel, they perform quite poorly. Maybe choose surfaces that are plain enough and have not so many rocks popping up.
Entering the off-road territory, you quickly realise the obvious fact that these shoes are just for the plain, hard surface. Firstly, stepping on some bigger rocks can get annoying very.
Because of a single and a rather rigid sole, your feet may land down with an aggressive angle without much of amortisation or flexibility.
Also, their flat, shallow rubber cannot provide enough traction on tarmac covered with plenty of smaller stones.
It might be fine if you hit a few kilometres of gravel on your route. But, I definitely wouldn’t go for anything longer than sudden 2-3 rocky kilometers.
After all, Saucony Freedom ISO was not designed for this.
So is it a good pair for you?
Definitely yes if you’re used to neutral, low drop shoes and are up for fast runs on road terrain. The sock-fit may feel a little bit odd the first time, but it gets comfortable quite quickly.
Though if you’re very new to running and prefer a bit more stability and support, these shoes perhaps won’t meet your expectations.
Instead, go for Saucony Ride with neutral cushioning or Saucony Guide with arch support.
And yeah, if you usually run on a gravel surface, you’d probably need another option (check Saucony Xodus, for example).
I have ran 200km and spent one month with them. Of course, they’ve already got some marks and scratches. Nevertheless, I can honestly say I’m very much satisfied with this pair.
They totally meet the needs, are made with good quality materials, have a proper geometry, and provide a decent level of comfort even on long runs.
Here’s just a couple of things that could be improved:
- Slightly wider outsole could provide a better balance & more confidence when stepping on the ground,
- Stretching shoelaces can unexpectedly lead to tying them too tight.
Will I go back to Saucony Kinvara or choose more Freedom?
It’s hard to answer right now. Probably, it’ll get more evident in the next couple of months, or after passing through the marathon any time soon.
- Weight: 67kg, height: 185cm
- Avg. distance weekly: 80-100km
In these shoes:
- Max. distance ran in a single workout: 30km
- Max. pace: 3:30min/km, avg. pace: 4:30min/km
Good to know
- Saucony rolls out many of its innovative technology in the incarnation of the Freedom ISO. Although the ISO fit has been used many times over by Saucony, the Freedom takes this upper technology to a new level. Instead of being two separate pieces of the upper that are attached to the upper, this ISO tech is now fully incorporated into the shoe, which gives a feeling of a shoe that offers support while at the same time moving very well with the foot with every stride.
- Another huge feature in this shoe is Saucony’s use of the Everun tech as a full-length structure in the midsole, instead of being just beneath the sock liner or hedged in the heel area. The result is a ride that has experts running for the best superlatives. It offers a resilient response, unaffected by temp, extremely light, powerful, and smooth.
- For even more dose of lightweight, responsive cushioning, an Everun topsole also sits just beneath the standard industry sockliner.
- The outsole is yet another new feature in the shoe. Instead of a mix of carbon and blown rubber, what runs in the underfoot is mostly hard rubber. Saucony improves the traction by placing arrow-shaped lugs all over the outsole, called the Tri-Flex.
Out of Saucony’s new bag of technologies is the new translucent outsole design called the Crystal Rubber. As the name suggests, the outsole lets the runner see basically the entire midsole, which is evident by the Everun name splashed across the midsole. This is made of firm carbon rubber as opposed to the hard and soft mixture of most shoes. The durability of the Freedom ISO is exceptional based on the rubber material and construction. For more traction, arrow-shaped lugs run from the heel to the forefoot. They are almost of the same size and depth as well.
The expanded TPU midsole material of the Freedom ISO takes Saucony’s midsole business to be one of the most heavily-anticipated this year. With a firm, responsive, lightweight, and resilient ride, the shoe offers versatility in spades. The full-length structure gives the shoe a nice transition from landing to take-off.
The ISO tech is mostly integrated to the upper that creates a wraparound feel of comfort, support, and hold. To prevent the Freedom ISO from weighing too much, Saucony used little padding in many areas of the upper while seamless and ultra-light overlays are utilized for improved support and structure. A removable sockliner adds cushioning together with the Everun topsole.