The Saucony Freedom 4 is a premium-level, neutral-oriented performance training shoe that inspires fast running, especially for short to medium-length runs. It’s light, cushy and energetic and comfortable with a flexible, low-to-the-ground feeling and a slipper-like feel.
The biggest improvement to the Freedom 4 is the replacement of the PWRRUN+ foam with the lighter, ever-so-slightly thicker and notably more energetic PWRRUN PB midsole.
There’s also a new engineered mesh upper and outsole, but it’s the lively foam that really upgrades the performance and experience of this shoe.
There are no stability mechanism built into the midsole of this shoe, but the nature of the PWRRUN PB foam is that it’s quite stable. So if you very mildly pronate, you’ll probably be fine wearing this shoe for everything except longer runs. But that stable sensation also makes this shoe a great shoe for the gym.
Another seemingly small but impactful change to the Freedom 4 is the overhaul of the outsole. Gone is the tacky, flexible crystal rubber and in its place is a firmer rubber in a new pattern that offers durability and traction but less softness.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The Saucony Freedom 4 fits true to size, and similar to other Saucony models with a mildly cushioned medium to narrow interior volume.
The step-in feel has been enhanced by the new upper, which, along with a gusseted, slightly padded tongue, feels snug and comfortable as it cinches your foot down to the midsole.
Although it’s not a minimalist shoe, the Freedom 4 gives off a decidedly low-to-the-ground sensation. This allows you to engage the ground as you touch down, roll through the gait cycle and toe-off again.
You can feel the ground, but the midsole foam sufficiently absorbs shock and cushions each stride without bottoming out. As you roll through the midstance phase, you get a boost of forward propulsion. This is created from the energy stored in the compressed midsole foam.
It’s a distinct ride that feels very smooth, slightly firm and extremely energetic.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
The Saucony Freedom 4 can serve a wide range of runners from beginners to lifelong runners, but it’s best for those who are condition to run in shoes with low heel-toe offsets.
What is heel-toe offset? That’s the difference in height off the ground where the heel sits inside the shoe and the height off the ground of where the toes sit inside the shoe.
The 4mm offset of the Freedom won’t feel dramatically different than a 6mm offset. However, it will feel a lot different than a shoe with a 10mm-13mm offset. If 4mm works for you, you’ll probably love this energetic shoe for faster workouts and tempo runs.
It can suffice for long runs for some runners and recovery runs for most, but the nature of the foam is such that it inspires faster, quick-cadence running.
PROS: SAUCONY FREEDOM 4
PWRRUN PB is a high-performance PEBA-based foam that debuted in Saucony’s stunning Endorphin Pro and Endorphin Speed shoes. Those racer/trainer shoes have a much firmer demeanor because they’re built with rigid plates.
There isn’t a plate in the Freedom 4, so the foam offers a more pliable but almost equally energetic feel and moderately bouncy ride. If you have run in Endorphin shoes, you’ll sense some similarities but also enjoy the more traditional flex pattern in the forefoot.
The meshy upper is silky soft as it wraps the specific shape of your feet without any binding. There’s little structure to it, except some suede overlays in the rear and forefoot and a TPU Saucony logo. It seems to help lock down the foot as it works in conjunction with the firm interior heel counter.
Believe it or not, the upgrades to this shoe have actually given a runner’s feet less freedom. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it has a firmer feel than the all-way pliability of the Freedom 3.
CONS: SAUCONY FREEDOM 4
Overall, this is a really good shoe, but the stretchy, semi-round tube laces are a slight detractor. They can be a bit cumbersome and more constrictive than traditional flat laces.
It’s an easy fix, though, because you can just replace them with any other pair of laces.