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Saucony Freedom 3 - Women's Review

These light, responsive, and breathable shoes are built to go the distance
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Light, instantly comfortable, springy
Cons:  Less supportive, more expensive
Manufacturer:   Saucony
By Ally Meller ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2020
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 15
  • Responsiveness - 25% 8
  • Landing Comfort - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Upper Comfort - 10% 8
  • Breathability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Not only is the Saucony Freedom 3 responsive, but they hold their own in every other metric as well. The soles of these shoes are flexible enough to promote agility even with tired legs, but protective enough to cross over to light trail runs too, earning them our Top Pick for Versatility Award. Their lightweight allows wearers to kick up the speed while the PWRRUN+ cushion provides much-needed squish for squashing. Based on our experience in these shoes, we think that anyone looking to crank up their speed on long-distance days should give them a try.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Similar to other traditionally shaped running shoes, but somehow better, the Freedom 3 lives up to its noble namesake. They are incredibly sleek and high performing, especially for their relatively low weight. These 4 mm drop superstars are made up of a FORMFIT upper mesh and patented PWRRUN+ inner foam. These elements come together in an ultra-comfy and properly supportive running BFF. The flexible mesh adapts to YOUR foot shape, creating a glossy ride that is all your own. The Freedom is an all-around, intelligently designed pair of shoes that will keep your legs, feet, and spirit happy.

Performance Comparison


On and on we go  never stopping in these turbocharged kicks.
On and on we go, never stopping in these turbocharged kicks.

Responsiveness


This metric is where the Freedom 3 truly shines! The agility felt when running in these shoes is next level. Saucony designed them to be flexible and responsive, and we absolutely felt that when out running. The entirety of the shoe has been reconfigured from the previous model which was plush, but also heavier and slower.


A 28% decrease in shoe weight allowed the Freedom to really shine. Because they are designed to mold around your foot shape, responsiveness comes naturally, returning effortless energy to help you run free.

The lightweight and streamlined build of the Freedom makes them a super responsive choice.
The lightweight and streamlined build of the Freedom makes them a super responsive choice.

Landing Comfort


The Freedom offers ample landing comfort without overdoing it. The sole is more flexible than the other shoes we reviewed, but the rubber provides much-needed support. Because the sole is made of rubber, the impact absorption is high without giving the shoe a maximalist feel. The inner elements of the shoe are forgiving without being gooey. They offer a softer landing than many of the other traditional shoes we tested.


We are thankful that the comfortable insole stays soft despite miles upon miles of pavement pounding. This exceptional landing comfort is one of the reasons the Freedom earned our Top Pick for Versatility. Our wide-footed sisters might find the platform of these shoes to be a bit narrow, and unfortunately, Saucony doesn't offer a wide version. But if you're not in that camp, we think the landing comfort is A-Okay for long and short distances alike.

The Freedom provides the perfect amount of squish without weighing you down.
The Freedom provides the perfect amount of squish without weighing you down.

Weight


This pair is the closest you'll get to a minimalist shoe that isn't actually a minimalist style. We tested lighter shoes, but not many and most didn't score as high overall. As previously mentioned, Saucony decreased the weight of the Freedom by 28% with this iteration. Impressive indeed.


We love the smooth, unburdened ride these shoes provide. Lightweight and durable, this is an excellent all-around option.

The lightweight and speed-inducing shape of the Freedom 3.
The lightweight and speed-inducing shape of the Freedom 3.

Durability


The Freedom, amazingly, gets better over time. Once the FormFit mesh and PWRRUN midsole mold to your feet you'll, never want to take these shoes off. After a few runs, they feel like they were specifically designed for your feet, and they stayed strong through all our months of testing.


The durable rubber sole of this shoe holds up even through marathon-esque training, which is atypical for extra light shoes. The base is tough enough to withstand abrasions from wear and tear as well. Since these aren't the cheapest option out there, we are glad to see that they have some lasting power.

20 miles in and this rubber isn't about to let us down.
20 miles in and this rubber isn't about to let us down.

Upper Comfort


The well-cushioned upper makes the Freedom a great long-distance choice. They are low profile and encourage amazing freedom of movement from the get-go. These fit differently when compared to the other shoes we tested — instead of being rigid and forcing the feet to conform to their shape, the opposite happens. The upper portion of the Freedom is comprised of the necessary structure without anything extra, allowing your foot to do what it needs to do without constriction. The Freedom also has slightly deeper lugs than most traditional runners with a tightly woven upper mesh that offers much-needed protection from the outdoor elements.


We awarded these comfy kicks a high score in this metric because of how adaptable the upper comfort is. The light mesh structure and plush collar conform to fit the width of your foot. The support frame around the heel adds to the stability, and the extra-plush collar prevents heel slippage blisters. Not sure about you, but heel slippage and the subsequent blisters caused by it ruin our runs faster than anything else, so we appreciate this detail. The laces are a bit slippery, but they don't stretch out during long runs. We found that we got to keep running without thinking about adjusting the laces — true freedom!

Plush in all the right places.
Plush in all the right places.

Breathability


The FormFit mesh of the Freedom is super breathable. The double layer of mesh around the midfoot cuts down on breathability a bit, but all things considered, this is a very breathable pair of runners.


We first tested these shoes out on an 80-degree day and were pleasantly surprised by the fact that our feet didn't overheat more than the rest of our body. As we got to know these shoes better, it became apparent that the double layer of mesh offers much-needed protection from the elements while in motion, an appreciated feature for sure.

The breathable Freedom 3 is perfect for running on hot days.
The breathable Freedom 3 is perfect for running on hot days.

Value


Because of their durability and versatility, we think the upper-edge pricing is fair here. Call us old fashioned, but we prefer to get a top-shelf shoe when we spend this much money. They certainly aren't a bargain, but they are not under-performing bank breakers either. Because the Freedom 3 can be used across a multitude of surfaces, we'll pony up the big(-ish) bucks for these trusty steeds with confidence. The long and short of it? We'll shell out cash simply because this is a great everyday running shoe and we think you'll be satisfied if you do as well. The Freedom is an excellent choice for minimally minded runners looking to purchase only one pair of versatile kicks.

The Freedom kicks a classic shoe design up a notch.
The Freedom kicks a classic shoe design up a notch.

Conclusion


The Saucony Freedom 3 will be your go-to everyday running shoe, a kick that can really do it all. These were an easy pick for a Top Pick Award for Versatility. They aren't too heavy, and they aren't unrelentingly stiff. They are plush enough for long-distance road runs and light enough for punishing speed workouts. We had the most success in the Freedom when we wore them on pace-challenging tempo runs, but we honestly loved them on all-terrain at any speed. They don't have as much underfoot cushion as others we reviewed, but their responsiveness makes up for it tenfold. Additionally, the lower-than-average weight allows runners who are used to running in a plusher shoe to ratchet up their speed days. These won't slow you down, and they offer ample cushioning for joint health. We prioritize running healthily and with proper form, and this shoe can become a base for doing just that. Because they are a 4 mm drop shoe, we would recommend the Freedom to runners looking to dabble in the 0 mm sphere — they will be a good gateway pair.

As comfortable as they are stylish  Saucony nailed it with the Freedom 3.
As comfortable as they are stylish, Saucony nailed it with the Freedom 3.


Ally Meller