Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.
Weight: men’s 8.21 oz / 233g (US9) / women’s 7.03 oz / 200g (US8)
Men’s Freedom 4 8.5 oz / 241g (US9)
men’s 7.83 oz / 222g (US8.5), 9.61 oz / 274g (US12.5)
women’s 7.03 oz / 200g (US8) 7.13oz/202g (US8)
Stack Height: men’s mm 27 heel / 23 mm forefoot :: women’s heel mm / mm forefoot
$150 Available April 2022.
First Impressions and Fit
Renee: I did not have “love at first run” with the Freedom 5, but the more I ran with it, lifted with it, and walked with it, the more I liked it. Lightweight runners may need to break the shoes in before appreciating the midsole feel. On paper, they sound amazing: lightweight and versatile for the 2 to 3 days each week when I strength train after I run. Like most Saucony shoes, the upper fit is solid for me. For sizing, I suggest true-to-size or your usual Saucony size.
Beto: Long gone is my beloved Freedom ISO which I still have and love. The Freedom 5 is a completely different shoe on the same platform. The shoe is very versatile. I took them to my Crossfit class and they were very secure and stable when lifting. The run ride is firmer than the old Everun or PWRRUN+ but feels snappy. As a heavy runner I really enjoyed the feel when I run. It is a firm but fun ride with more details about it in the rest of the review. Go true-to-size as you would in your otherl Saucony running shoes.
Bryan: Out of the box, the Freedom 5 looks like a toned down Ride 14 and almost racing flat like. In the black and white colourway that my sample came in, I would go so far as to say it was Adidas Sub-2-esque! The fit is true to size and I had no issues with fit. An initial walk around suggests that the fit is ultra-secure, especially with its sleek and nimble construction. Given Saucony’s intention for this shoe to be a one-stop shop gym, HIIT, walking and running, this ultra-secure fit may not be accommodating to runners with wider feet, especially in the midfoot.
Renee: Looks are subjective, but I think the Black/Gum colorway is sleek. Aside from running and strength training, a person would not be not wrong wearing them casually either. Did I wear them to work too? I did. The shoes are that comfortable.
The fit is secure and comfortable for running and strength training. The tongue and heel counter sit high, which helps with hold during workouts (note: I’m not powerlifting). The heel collar sits low enough whereas I have complete rotation for my ankles, which I like when running. The heel pull tab is tight against the shoe, and it’s not easy to quickly slip a finger underneath to help get the shoes on. That’s not really an issue because the shoes slip on well enough.
Beto: I agree with Renee the shoe looks pretty good with its black upper and gun outsole. And I normally don’t use shoes that I’m testing to work but these shoes look so good with jeans.
The upper fit is amazing and very secure starting at the heel counter which holds the heel in place very well with the midfoot lockdown just perfect for lifting, Crossfit and those runs when you need to pick up the pace.
The forefoot is a bit snug but secure. I didn’t have any issues or pressure points, it was just perfect sizing for me. The upper breathes well and the tongue has just enough padding so it hugs the foot comfortably and securely and with no pressure.
Bryan: Four words – I love the upper! As much as Melburnian runners pride themselves as stylish and often stay clear from black and white or triple black shoes, I could not help myself but appreciate the ‘patterned’ engineered mesh (as pictured above).
As with its form, it functions as stellarly. I agree with Renee and Beto in that the upper offers superior lockdown for a range of activities. I took it a step further, as I don’t lift or gym generally, and took them to hardcourt Plexi-cushion tennis instead. The toe and heel counters provided ample protection when sliding around and the midfoot lockdown was superb.
There was sufficient padding in the tongue, which was easy to forget about. Enough about tennis! My experience with the upper was mirrored on my runs, which varied from an easy 12km to speedier fartleks. The secure lockdown works well with changes in paces.
As mentioned, perhaps the main limitation is that the Freedom 5 may not be suitable for wider feet given its limited toebox volume and snug midfoot.
Renee: I needed some time to break in the midsole. My strength training days are short, between 20 to 60 minutes of light weights, depending on my run for the day. The midsole is firm, which works well for strength training. The drop is low at 4mm, although they feel much higher than 4mm for me. While running, I thought the midsole was too firm, but the flex off of the forefoot is great. The feel under the midfoot is a bit inflexible, but that loosens up.
Beto: The PWRRUN PB midsole is denser and lower than the one in the Endorphin Speed so I like that for my non run workouts. When doing box jumps or burpees over the bar the shoe feels secure and the firm midsole helps to stabilize when switching direction during workouts. For deadlifts or thrusters the shoe is stable and the 4mm drop helps to feel secure and low to the ground. It is also a great shoe to jump rope and do double unders with.
And now let’s talk about running. The shoe feels a bit firm but not bad, it just needs some miles to break in and feel more comfortable. After two runs the shoe felt amazing. I’m a heavy runner so I enjoyed this midsole a lot. When I run and do some tempos the shoe feels snappy and takes care of the legs which I notice the next day. For me it felt lower than a 4mm drop but I’m heavy at 195 pounds so that may just be me.
One of the things I like in the Freedom 5 is that under the insole there is another insole made of PWRRUN+ a TPU material similar to Boost. This set up helps when running keep the shoe feel a bit softer and more energetic and then also to feel comfortable when walking or for casual wear.
Bryan: I largely agree with Beto in that the PWRRUN PB midsole felt denser and duller than that in the Endorphin Speed (v1). Perhaps that feeling is due to a lack of the nylon plate and lower stack height, and that Saucony has intended this to be more versatile in accommodating multi-activity uses including HIIT and lifting, which would require a more stable platform to work from.
My experience also mirrors Renee, where there was a period required for the PWRRUN PB and platform to break in. This was not extensively long at around 15 miles / 24km, before I noticed the midsole softening a little and the shoe’s midfoot flex increasing after which I started to enjoy the properties of PEBA a lot more. Remember, the Freedom 4 (the previous version) was Sacuony’s first non-plated shoe to employ the PWRRUB PB midsole. This is a rarity on the market generally, and the only other shoe with this construct that comes to mind is the Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro. Even the Nike Streakfly has a Pebax shank. These shoes form part of a different segment of the market, and the Freedom 5 really occupies a space of its own.
In the most succinct summary without overlooking shortcomings, the midsole works. It is snappy and dynamic, slightly firm (so good for those other “sports”) but with enough give and protection for distances up to a half marathon for me. However, its limitation may be that for runners who are used to maximalist and protective shoes, or heavier runners generally, there may not be enough stack height and cushioning for longer distances.
Renee: The outsole coverage is what it should be for a gym/strength training shoe. The exposed midsole cuts down the weight and the rubber coverage worked great for me on pavement or floor to provide grip. The outsole also runs well on a treadmill or pavement. On gravel, the outsole coverage and pattern is not the best, but that’s the same for any Saucony road shoe with a similar outsole (the Axon 2 or Shift 2, for example). For hard packed dirt or small pebble paths, no problems. For thicker, uneven gravel, not so much.
Beto: The outsole rubber and design is a good mix for running and crossover training. The heel feels flat when lifting so that helps with stability with the front also almost flat which contributes to that stability during cross training.
On the run, the shoe has a nice flex at toe off giving a nice snappy and responsive ride. Thanks to the rubber outsole (and midsole foam), the Freedom is also stable and snappy on the run with great traction on any road but is just not the best when the road is wet.
Bryan: Who doesn’t love a retro-looking gum outsole? Looks aside, the rubber outsole has been well designed in promoting weight savings through cut outs that both reduce weight and increase flex. It offers ample traction and works in sync with the shoe’s low stack height. As Renee pointed out, the limited outsole coverage may affect the shoe’s durability with any off-road usage including fine gravel.
Renee: For running, the midsole took some time to “wear in” for me. I found it a bit firm and unflexing at first, with a good forefoot spring at quicker paces. I prefer running with a flexible shoe (even on gravel), but those other shoes don’t double as well for strength training as Freedom does.
The heel cup is firm (again, great for strength workouts), but it did provide a bit more structure/stability than I typically prefer on the run.
That said, I had several days when I wore these shoes for 12 hours straight. I ran in them, I lifted with them, and then I walked in them all day. They fit great, especially for people who like low drop, low sitting shoes. Overall, I think they work best for shorter runs, 3 to 6 miles. They feel fine at slow speeds, and work well for fartlek or interval days too.
Beto: I like firm shoes and the Freedom is just that and worked well for me. It has just the perfect and just enough cushioning for me and is a very versatile shoe for Gym/Crossfit and then for a run in the same shoe.
As for the ride I like how it felt at any pace. I did some tempos and mile repeats and the shoe didn’t disappoint. The PWRRUN PB midsole (same compound as in the Endorphin Pro and Speed) is responsive with just enough bounce to go fast, the light weight helping of course and because is a 4mm drop I felt a good ground contact when doing some short strides after easy runs. For me this is a shoe that can do it all.
Bryan: As mentioned, the Freedom 5 took a little time to break in. Once past that, the ride is smooth and it encourages quick transitions but is also forgiving at slower paces. In today’s technology and feature loaded shoe market, the Freedom 5 is refreshing in offering a shoe that is almost a training version of a racing flat with sufficient cushioning, has plenty of midfoot flex and is responsive.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Renee: The Freedom 5 is a quality, very lightweight, versatile shoe best for runners who prioritize a shoe that can double for gym days. For running, I think it works best for shorter distances, namely 3 to 6 miles, at any speed but mostly at faster (interval/fartlek) efforts and paces. They would be fine for mid distance runs too (6-15 miles), but I would prefer something a bit softer under the forefoot.
While I do not power lift, I did find them great for strength/circuit training and it’s nice to not have to change shoes between lifting and running. Bonus, I think they feel great for all-day wear.
At $150 as a person who prioritizes running more than lifting/gym, they are a bit pricey. The quality is there though, and worth the price for runners who spend several days each week doing strength and other non run workouts and who want a do-it-all shoe.
Renee’s score: 9.1/10 (-.60 price, -.20 best for shorter distances, -.10 firmer midsole)
Beto: The Freedom 5 is a shoe that will not disappoint. It can basically do it all: gym, crossfit, running and casual. You can lift and then run in the same shoe. I ran from 10k to 21k with ease, no issues with the shoe. It felt secure, snappy, and very comfortable. The fit is amazing for any workout, or any run, and is also very comfortable as a casual/work shoe if you are on your feet all day .
Beto’s score: 9.6 /10
Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)
Bryan: If one shoe could do it all, and this includes beyond running, the Freedom 5 is the one. It’s such a good shoe that to nit pick, my biggest qualm is that for a low profiled shoe with a PEBA midsole, I wish it was 0.5 oz / 15g lighter. The other issue is that many runners these days have a well-stocked and multifaceted shoe rotation that may not have space for a Swiss Army Knife of a shoe like the Freedom 5. But for those looking to downsize their rotation, and for people who want a HIIT or Crossfit shoe that can take them on a quick mile in their circuit, this could be the shoe to consider. The Freedom 5 has certainly found a place in my large rotation, and I will certainly be using them a lot for activities outside of running.
Bryan’s score: 9.4 /10
Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Skechers Razor 3/Razor + vs. Saucony Freedom 5 (RTR Review)
Renee: I have used the Razor 3 for many workout days. Like the Freedom 5, the Razor has a low drop, low ground feel. For running, I greatly prefer the Razor 3 because of the dynamic midsole. I ran a 50k race on gravel with the Razor +, so it is clearly my choice for longer distances. That said, I hate lifting in the Razor because I want to preserve the midsole. For a gym to run ratio, the Freedom 5 works better. For a running focus, any distance and speed work, the Razor is my pick. The Razor costs less, but the Freedom 5 doubles as an all-day/casual shoe. I wore a women’s size 8 in both (or 6.5 men’s in the Razor 3). The toebox is slightly roomier in the Freedom 5.
New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v2 vs. Saucony Freedom 5 (RTR Review)
Renee: Both are lightweight shoes, but a fresh pair of Rebel 2 is the opposite of what I want to strength train with! The midsole is bouncy and soft which is great for running, but not for lifting. My first pair of Rebel 2 have more than 350 miles, so I use it to lift occasionally because the midsole is dulled (still comfy though!). For running (any distance, any speed), the Rebel 2 is my choice (my favorite shoe of 2021). For lifting and all day wear, I would go with the Freedom 5. I wore a women’s size 8 in both and the sizing is comparable.
Beto: I agree with Renee the Rebel v2 is the opposite of the Freedom 5. The Rebel v2 is softer and bouncy and not that stable when doing crossfit or lifting but still can be used for that. It’s just that the Freedom is a better choice in the non-run department. The Rebel v2 is better for fast training but the Freedom 5 can do the same, just on a firmer midsole with a nice snappy toe off and is responsive on speed workouts too.
Bryan: I personally think the Rebel v2 is a better running shoe, but as the others have opined, the Freedom 5 is more capable of other activities outside of running. If we are strictly talking about running, I would pull out the Rebel v2 for just about every run from fast to slow and short to longer distances.
Saucony Kinvara 13 vs. Saucony Freedom 5 (RTR Review)
Beto: The Kinvara 13 is lighter and super fun to run in, has a nice flexible ride and a very secure upper for any workout. The Freedom 5 has the same secure upper just with a more energetic midsole and has a less flexible front toe off than the K13. I believe the Freedom 5 feels like an upgraded Kinvara very similar in feel, just a better midsole and way more durability, so for me there is no “which one is better” between the Kinvara 13 and Freedom 5. If you want a do it all durable shoe the Freedom 5 is a great choice but if you want something lighter and for more running than gym workouts the Kinvara 13 is also a great choice especially at the price point K13 $120 USD vs. the Freedom 5 $150.
Saucony Ride 14 vs. Saucony Freedom 5 (RTR Review)
Bryan: The Saucony Ride 14 like the Freedom 5 offers a smooth and stable ride. It is similar to the Freedom 5 also in the sense that it is a traditional running shoe, offering midfoot flex and a moderately firm ride. The Freedom 5 however is snappier with its PWRRUB PB midsole as opposed to the PWRRUN midsole used in the Ride. The Ride 14 however will probably be the more durable shoe given the more limited lifespan of PEBA, and also be more suited to heavier runners and runners looking for better protection. The Saucony Ride will likely fit in well for those with a well-stocked shoe rotation while the Freedom 5 may not. Versatility is on the Freedom 5’s side. If I only wanted one running shoe, I would pick the Freedom 5 over the Ride 14.
Asics Dynablast v1 vs. Saucony Freedom 5 (RTR Review)
Bryan: The Dynablast weighs in at just about the same as the Freedom 5 but although featuring just 1mm more in official stack height, it is a far ‘beefier’ shoe and feels like it might have 5mm more in stack height. Both are everyday training shoes, but they take very different approaches. The Dynablast is very accommodating in fit, with a voluminous toe box and uses knit with a lot of give. I personally prefer the Freedom 5’s lockdown fit over the relaxed fit in the Dynablast. However I prefer the wider and bouncier FlyteFoam platform in the Dynablast, which is a tad more fun and forgiving to run in. On aesthetics as an everyday shoe, I think the sleek Freedom 5 edges out the more modern looking Dynablast.
The Freedom 5 is expected April 2022
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
RTR’s Top Road & Trail Run Shoe Introductions for 2022 from The Running Event
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