Saucony Freedom ISO 2 review
I tried on the first Saucony Freedom ISO model in 2016 and didn’t quite love the feel or price enough to get them over the Saucony Kinvara 7 which I wound up purchasing.
Fast forward to March of 2019, when I received a coupon for a free pair of shoes of my choice for pacing a half-marathon.
I run in neutral, low heel-toe drop shoes, and decided to try on the Saucony Freedom ISO 2 in the store since it was one of the few shoes they had that I have not used and fit my running profile.
This second iteration of the Freedom ISO did not feel as weird as I remember the first model feeling, and after 4 minutes of running on the treadmill to test them out, I was happy with my choice. As of writing this review (April 2019), I’ve put 75 running miles on the shoes.
Well-built and attractive
Like all Saucony shoes, these shoes are well built and look pretty good. When you pick them up, you’ll immediately notice how sturdy they feel.
They almost feel a tad on the heavy side, but that might also be because I’ve recently been running in the featherweight Altra Escalante and Brooks Pureflow 7, at 8.2 and 8.9 oz, respectively. But for how much should you get from the Freedom ISO 2, they are surprisingly lightweight!
Springy, responsive ride in the Freedom ISO 2
The EVERUN midsole is a fairly standard thickness (18mm) for moderate cushioning, neutral shoes, and it’s just like I remember from the last Saucony shoe I ran in (the Kinvara 8). The midsole is springy, responsive, and does a great job of keeping your feet happy while they’re pounding the pavement.
Durable and grippy outsole
The outsole of this shoe is what strikes me as the standout feature. It’s made of Saucony’s “highly durable TRI-FLEX crystal rubber”, and I have to hand it to Saucony.
They made a rubber compound that feels extremely durable but is also flexible enough to not make the shoe feel rigid despite almost the entire bottom being covered with the outsole material.
Higher mileage will show if this stuff is the real deal or not, but one thing you notice right away is how much grip these shoes have. They could almost pass as trail runners, especially if the trail run has long sections of pavement or crushed limestone.
If I’m running to the park where I trail run (4 miles away on pavement and sidewalks), these are the shoes I’d choose to lace up.
Stretchy, flat laces
I like the laces a lot. They are flat, which I prefer, but they are slightly stretchy, which I didn’t expect to like so much. My only complaint is they are a tad long. Just a few inches off and they’d be perfect!
The heel cup is very sturdy, the mesh upper is breathable (though I worry about its durability), and I like that the tongue is sewn directly to the sole to give the shoe a sock-like feel.
The ISO design is the slits in the lacing anchors on the upper (I am fairly certain of this, but it’s hard to find anything definitive online as to what specifically makes the ISO design). Saucony claims that ISO allows the upper to “adopt the shape and motion of a foot”.
It does make for a comfortable shoe, but I wouldn’t say it’s significantly more comfortable than most other shoes I’ve run in. My feet did feel a tad more secure without needing to really cinch down on the laces.
But you don’t really need a ton of foot security from road shoes, you just need something that is comfortable and keeps the sole against your foot. That said, I have not done serious trail running in these shoes, and that could be where the ISO feature really shines.
However, in these shoes, it seems a little overkill. Finally, I’m not sure if it is something worth adding, especially since it seems like Saucony is incorporating it into most of their new lineup. Just call the shoe the Freedom 2 and drop the ISO.
Comfortable, true to size fit
I talk about the fit a little bit in the above, section, but to summarize:
Saucony claims that the ISO design is a “revolutionary fit system that morphs to the foot for a custom feel.” These shoes do fit pretty well, but if the premium price is coming from the ISO system, then I think I’m fine with a typical, simple upper and tongue that I can get in a cheaper shoe.
These shoes are comfortable, but not significantly more comfortable than the Altra Escalante or Brooks Pureflow 7 I’ve recently used. The ISO system might be worthwhile on the trails, however, it seems excessive on a road shoe.
I wear a size 12 in most shoes, and these are true to fit.
- Most Adidas shoes - 12
- Saucony Kinvara 5,6, and 7 - 12.5
- Brooks Pureflow 6 and 7 - 12.5
- Altra Escalante - 12
- Saucony Freedom ISO 2 - 12
The Freedom ISO 2 is expensive
I try to retire my shoes based on feel and wear, not mileage. Typically, one can expect 400-500 miles out of a pair of road shoes, but that depends on many things, like weight, running style, speed, and conditions.
I’m 6’1”, 165 lbs, in a size 12 shoe, and average ~7:15 min miles; which I imagine produces an average amount of wear compared to other male runners. I got about 450 miles out of my Kinvara 6, 7, and 8, granted my dog didn’t chew through a pair.
I got about the same distance out of the Brooks Pureflow 6 and Altra Escalante. The Kinvara 10, which I’m assuming are excellent and will last for ~450 miles based on the other three other Kinvara models I’ve worn, retail for $110, whereas the Freedom ISO 2 retails for $160, a 45% increase in price!
Am I going to get 650 miles out of the Freedom ISO 2? I'm doubting at first, but seeing how durable the outsole even on crushed limestone trails, it just might.
However, even if the outsole can last to 650, I have my doubts about the midsole, but I’m eager to be proven wrong. My Freedom ISO 2 has about 75 miles on them, and they still feel and look almost brand new aside from a little dirt.
Since I do enjoy running in them quite a lot, I would say that if they can last till 600 miles, then they would be worth the premium price to me. If I found them at a discount, then they would definitely be worth buying.
Tip: see the best running shoes.