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Trail Running Shoes • July 4, 2024

Ronhill Freedom Review: Let Freedom Ring

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What You Need To Know


10.9 oz. (310 g) for a US M9 / 8.8 oz. (250 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

32 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Best For

Mountainous ultrarunning

Key Features

Matryx upper, Michelin OC1 outsole, Duo Pro midsole

On The Run
4 mm lugs hit just right Half of us really like Duo Pro The upper definitely gets warm
Price / Availability

Available now for £125

Introduction to the Ronhill Freedom

REESE: I’d never heard of Ronhill running shoes before they showed up at my door for this review. Sure, I’d heard of Ron Hill, the runner — ya know, the second person to break 2:10 in the marathon. He’s the same person who ran every day for 52 years (and 39 days, but who’s counting), but I wasn’t aware of the clothing and footwear company. So, I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Ronhill Freedom.

So when the shoe arrived, it was fitting that trail running wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when I saw it. I’m not sure what changed over the past month, but I despised golf before May. Now, I’m completely obsessed with it. This newfound passion for golf made me immediately think of the Ronhill Freedom as a potential golf shoe. It’s stylish, has an unobtrusive tread, and lacks a big rocker. I decided to break my pair in while golfing, and it turned out to be an excellent golf shoe.

I’ve always believed that people in the United Kingdom know how to create very posh activewear, and Ronhill’s Freedom is proving me right, but I was curious how it would stack up as a trail running shoe because that’s its main job, right?

RUBY: As a Briton myself, I’ve long been familiar with the name Ron Hill and the legacy the record-setting athlete left not only on running in Britain but on the global stage, too. Unlike Reese, I’ve been aware of Ronhill — the clothing and footwear company — for almost as long as I’ve been a runner myself (again, thanks, Britain). What many might not know is that Ron Hill lived a double life: not only was he a legendary, ground-breaking runner, but he also had a PhD in Textile Chemistry and an interest in revolutionizing the running apparel space as it was in the mid-1900s. Founded by Dr. Ron Hill himself in 1970, the brand is a staple in the British activewear space, heralded for its quality and durability. Until now, I hadn’t realized that the tried and true company was yet to take hold across the pond.

Brief history lesson over, it’s safe to say I had high — but not unfounded given my previous experiences with the brand — hopes for the Ronhill Freedom trail shoe. Upon first impressions, I was not disappointed. The Michelin OC1 outsole and Matryx micro fabric upper immediately suggested the durability and reliability I’ve come to expect from Ronhill. And it wasn’t just me who was drawn to this shoe: my dad complimented the women’s Teal/Eggshell/PastRed colorway as “cute!”

What we like about the Ronhill Freedom

REESE: There is a lot to like about the Ronhill Freedom. The 4 mm lugs had me feeling like I could take on anything from gravel paths to muddy trails without a second thought. I feel like most shoe brands go with 3 or 5, but for me, the 4 mm lug is Goldilocks’ perfect porridge, so to speak. The Michelin OC1 compound outsole is no joke — it’s tough, offers fantastic traction, and laughs in the face of hard and abrasive surfaces. Yet, it somehow manages to perform beautifully on softer trails, too.

The True-Fit shaping is another standout feature, offering a spacious toe box that allows the big toe to splay naturally, though I’ll get to this point in the next section as well, so don’t get too excited. This design prevents constriction and enhances comfort, making it possible to run long distances without discomfort. The Wrap-Over lacing system ensures a secure fit around the mid-foot, complemented by a sturdy heel cup that locks the foot in place. My foot felt secure in this shoe, locked in for greatness. If you’re lazy like me and always slip your shoes off without untying them when you get home, it’s just not possible in this shoe.

Now, let’s dive into the materials because this shoe isn’t just a pretty face. The Matryx micro fabric, reinforced with Kevlar, sounds like something out of a superhero comic, and it performs like one, too. This stuff is built to last, meaning it can handle whatever you throw at it (or wherever you throw yourself).

Then there’s the Duo-Pro midsole, which deserves its own fan club. This dual-density EVA foam setup is genius. The top layer is like running on clouds, giving you all the comfort you need for hours on the trail. Meanwhile, the bottom layer provides the stability required for when the path gets rough and rocky. It’s like getting the best of both worlds — comfort and stability in one neat package.

From a design and aesthetics standpoint, the Ronhill Freedom nails it. Weighing in at just 250g (US W7), it’s lightweight enough to feel fast but cushioned enough to keep your feet happy, at least for short to mid-distance runs. The stack height of 32/27 mm with a 5 mm drop strikes a great balance, and the reflective trim is a thoughtful touch for those dawn or dusk runs. Plus, it looks sleek and functional, which is always a bonus.

RUBY: Independent of Ronhill’s reputation, this shoe is built to go the distance. As Reece highlighted, you can rely on the Michelin OC1 compound outsole to hold strong on the gnarliest of trails, toughest conditions, and longest adventures. It’s the battle of the tire companies: Adidas with their Continental Rubber outsoles, Ronhill with Michelin.

Designed to withstand Britain’s unrelenting weather — think mudslides, slippery wet rocks, swampy grasslands, and muddy trails — the Ronhill Freedom’s 4 mm lugs provide excellent traction. For firmer trails and drier conditions — uncommon but not impossible in England — the durable Outdoor Compound 1 (OC1) outsole performs great on harder surfaces, too. Combined, these qualities make the Freedom an incredibly versatile shoe that you can run out of your front door along the pavement to your nearest trail.

While not as much of a selling point for a trail shoe — a shoe that’s going to get dirty almost straight away — the women’s Teal/Eggshell/PastRed colorway is beautiful. Focused on quality over quantity, the shoe comes in two colorways for each gender: both come in Black/White, then Forest/Lime/Lemon for men, and Teal/Eggshell/PastRed for women. Rather than a fluorescent eyesore or an unremarkable afterthought, it’s clear Ronhill is trying to tick all the boxes when it comes to creating a great-looking shoe.

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What we don’t like about the Ronhill Freedom

REESE: Alright, now for the nitty-gritty on the Ronhill Freedom — because even superheroes have their kryptonite. Let’s start with the laces. They have a mind of their own, and not in a good way. If you don’t double-knot them, you’ll be stopping every mile to retie. It’s like they enjoy untying themselves just when you hit your stride. So, double knotting is non-negotiable unless you enjoy impromptu breaks.

Then there’s the wide-toe box. Don’t get me wrong, I love the freedom (see what I did there) for my toes to spread out, but sometimes it felt a bit too Altra-adjacent for its own good. When pushing off, I occasionally felt a wrinkle or hinge at the toe box, which was as annoying as finding a pebble in your shoe mid-run. It’s a minor hiccup but noticeable enough to mention.

While the upper is breathable and sturdy, it’s not perfect. There were times during my runs when my feet felt like they were in a mini sauna. Yes, it’s breathable, but that sturdy fabric can trap heat, making those long, hot summer runs feel a bit more sweltering than necessary.

In a nutshell, the Ronhill Freedom is a fantastic shoe with a few quirks. The laces need a firm hand, the toe box can feel a bit clunky, and the upper, while durable, can get a tad warm. These are not dealbreakers but things to keep in mind.

RUBY: As favorably as I think of Ronhill, this shoe is not without flaws, and quite important ones at that. Unfortunately, the midsole seems to be stuck in the 1900s of the brand’s founding, leaving a lot to be desired. While not heavy, the shoe is firm and rigid. Personally, I’m a huge fan of soft, bouncy, and responsive rides, and this is far from that. As I mentioned, the shoe doesn’t have the heavy, clunky feel of many trail shoes, but it also doesn’t seem to have much cushioning either. Not to yuck another person’s yum, but the lack of midsole softness and cushioning means I’m more likely to use this shoe for hiking than running. However, I can see this shoe being a fan favorite for runners who prefer a firmer ride, especially for longer runs that might include periods of hiking and more technical terrains where some ground contact feel is valuable.

Ronhill hasn’t totally missed the mark, though. Hopefully, future iterations will maintain the durable outsole and quality upper while improving the midsole cushioning without adding weight.

My other gripe is the heel counter or lack thereof. No, trail shoes aren’t known for their plush heel cushioning, but for a shoe designed to go the distance, comfort is key. Only a few miles into my first run, the back of one shoe had chafed away at my heel, staining the upper with a few spots of blood. Further into my run, the same thing happened to the other heel. Over longer efforts, I could easily imagine blisters also being a common complaint. My recommendation here would be to be proactive: wear socks that come up over the ankle —think crew cut— and apply cushioned bandaids prior to your run.

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Final thoughts on the Ronhill Freedom

REESE: Welp, Ronhill is a running company I won’t soon forget. The Ronhill Freedom is just an all-around great and versatile shoe. Its stylish look is a nice reprieve from the traditional trail shoe, which sometimes looks to me like it’s aggressively outdoorsy. The Freedom is a shoe that feels at home on trails and a golf course, which, honestly, I can’t believe I even wrote.

Golf aesthetics aside, this shoe is durable and rugged. It holds its own on a trail. Shoot, it was light and responsive enough that even on roads, I felt like the shoe performed well. The snug, secure, yet comfortable fit will have me wearing these shoes for many of my runs. Though, I feel like the shoe might not have the oomph I like to see in shoes I’d choose for ultra distances. I tend to prefer a little bit of a rocker (Read: The North Face Summit Series Vectiv Sky). It’s worth noting that I normally wear a US W7.5, but a W8 in the Freedom felt like a great fit.

Who knows, maybe there is a weird niche of trail-to-course vibe out there that I haven’t yet stumbled upon. If so, Ronhill can corner the market. I’ll be the first in line.

RUBY: If you were to have an all-in-one trail shoe suited to softer, slippery trails and firmer, rockier terrain, the Ronhill Freedom is the shoe for you.

Given this is Ronhill’s first (or second) and so far only foray into the trail running footwear space, I’m giving them a lot of kudos and grace. Many big-name brands with multiple trail shoe offerings have models that fall far below the Ronhill Freedom. From the durable Michelin outsole and 4 mm lugs that’ll provide runners with as good traction as any shoe out there to the elastic-like laces that I can almost guarantee won’t come undone on the run and full Matryx upper, it’s clear Ronhill has put considerable time and thought into this shoe.

I’m with Reese here. I see a future for Ronhill in the footwear industry, and I won’t be surprised if they’re playing with the big dogs in a couple of years. For now, the Freedom is my go-to hiking shoe as I log many miles on Flagstaff’s rocky trails. Personally, I will continue to opt for a more cushioned shoe for trail running, such as the Hoka Speedgoat and the Saucony Peregrine.

That said, I can’t think of many better options than the Ronhill Freedom for runners who are looking for an all-around trail workhorse: just bandage up your heels first. I would compare it to the Altra Lone Peak 8 with a heel-to-toe drop, as well as a slightly less soft and cushioned Brooks Catamount 3. When Ronhill becomes a leading name in the trail running space, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

You can pick up the Ronhill Freedom for £125 from Ronhill by using the buttons below.

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reese ruland - bio
Reese Ruland
Colorado Trail Reviewer
  • Instagram

Reese Ruland is a Fort Collins, Colorado-based ultra trail runner with over 15 years of competitive running experience. She has a penchant for PopTarts, a gear addiction, and is always taking photos of her two French Bulldogs, Loaf and Oatie. In addition to her athletic endeavors, Reese serves as an ambassador for Project Heal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accessible mental health care for those affected by eating disorders. She’s also one of the fastest women ever to run R2R2R (7:59).

More from Reese
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 5:06

  • 3:45

  • 1:33

    Half Marathon
  • R2R2R

ruby running
Ruby Wyles
Track and XC Reviewer
  • Instagram

Ruby is an NCAA Division 1 student-athlete, running shoe geek and all-around exercise science nerd, originally from the United Kingdom. An aspiring pro runner, Ruby currently competes on all terrains– road, track, and cross country– from the 3000m distance up to the half-marathon. A true mileage junkie, Ruby has plenty of opportunities to test out different shoes and properly put them through their paces.

All-time favorite shoes: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, Hoka One One Clifton 6, Nike Zoom Vomero 14

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Fav. Distance

5K & 10K

  • 16:45

  • 34:56

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