For most of us out there, we thought that Puma as a running brand might be dead. We haven’t seen a lot of them in the last few years so when they reached out and we were provided a sample version of the new Deviate NITRO to test out, we truly had no idea what we were getting into. Who would have expected Puma’s rebirth into the performance running category would come in the form of a hot looking high cushion carbon plated distance race shoe. I mean, we should have expected it, but we definitely didn’t. Puma is just full of surprises, so let’s see how they did.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- A long-distance max cushioned carbon plated racer with a killer look.
- Supercritical NITRO midsole tech is fantastic, more of this Puma!
- Weighs in at 9.4oz or 266g for a US Men’s 9, 7.6oz or 216g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 38mm of cushion and has an 8mm heel/toe drop (10mm including sockliner).
- Retails at $160.00 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
We haven’t run in a Puma shoe in forever. If we were asked about the brand before we had a chance to check out these shoes, we would have put them firmly on the style shelf, but leave it to Puma to surprise us. At first glance, the Deviate Nitro is a really good-looking shoe. Something about them feels like something you might traditionally expect from Puma, but then it also feels modern and sleek and forward-looking as well. That upper material will remind a lot of Nike runners of the Pegasus Turbo 2. It came up with almost every social post we had on these and yes it does look that way, but inherently a very different shoe.
Your initial on foot impression with the Deviate NITRO is pretty consistent with how the shoe will feel from that point forward, so a single try on should give you a pretty solid picture of the fit. As we mentioned, the upper does feel like a Nike Peg Turbo 2, but the Deviate NITRO’s fit is a bit snugger. It feels more like what we expect from a true racing shoe. The stance does run on the narrower side and while the toebox does sit a bit wider, don’t expect a ton of toe splay. The tightly gusseted tongue which has very little padding holds you in place quite well and will contribute to the shoe feeling snug, like a gentle hug. It also continues all the way down to the toes so it encapsulates the forefoot and improves comfort. The heel is a lot like what we are seeing in other speed and race day shoes so no padding on the lip of the collar and then a solid amount of padding on the lateral and medial sides of the heel. The heel counter is very minimal and there is a little movement in there, but more on that.
Underfoot, the new Deviate NITRO midsole is pretty fantastic. We have been pumped on nitrogen-infused midsoles for a while now because they tend to deliver all the performance at a fraction of the weight. One note here is that the Deviate NITRO feels a bit bottom-heavy which kind of shocked us. For a racing shoe, we would expect it to be an ounce or two lighter than this so perhaps the carbon INNOPLATE or the PUMAGRIP rubber needs to be looked at to get the weight down.
That being said, when you are in a run, the shoe doesn’t necessarily feel heavy, but not sure we would put it in the carbon plated racer category because for anyone over a size 10, then you are in at least 10-11oz. To that end, the shoe does feel quick and the carbon plate does a good job of giving you that pop when you toe-off. The NITRO foam provides a very comfortable landing so all in all we are digging the experience. We took these up to half marathon distances and found the shoe highly capable as we put up some good times in them. The only downside is definitely the weight as you start to notice it when the miles add up.
The one big caveat on the shoe is the heel itself. For some reason, that heel collar just doesn’t hold you that well. If you heel-lock the laces and really strap in, then it seems to resolve but just a note that these shoes really need a snug fit to avoid heel sloppiness. Thicker socks, a heel lock, etc all seem to work fine.
The upper is a breathable engineered mesh, and the tongue gusset actually extends all the way into the forefoot lining providing a more comfortable bootie-like experience. The eyelets are reinforced and the laces really don’t back off all that much at all during the run. The tongue and collar lip are un-padded and then Puma has added padding to the lateral and medial sides of the heel to pull you back into what is a very slight internal heel counter.
The midsole makes use of two of their key technologies. First, we have their new supercritical NITRO foam. This is a nitrogen infused foam much like we have seen from Skechers Performance or what Brooks has brought with the DNA Flash. These midsoles are typically lighter overall, but they still maintain the balance between cushion and responsiveness. We hope Puma will extend this across their entire model lineup. Next is their INNOPLATE which is essentially their carbon plate and that’s what provides that explosive feeling that we are seeing in all carbon racers out there. The shoe has very little flex because of this and these things just really just want to go. This is another spot where the heel comes into play because there is that silver bit of plastic right at the midline that sticks out, but it doesn’t seem like it extends that far into the heel. It’s just really unclear why it’s there other than aesthetics.
The outsole uses Puma’s PUMAGRIP technology which is just really a rubber formulation proprietary to them. It covers the entire foot from mid-foot forward and then loops the heel. Traction is very high on these and durability on the outsole is as well.
Style & Aesthetics
Needless to say, we are a huge fan of the styling. We love a good pop of color and Puma really leans into it with this one. The hot pink/orange colorway you see here is the launch edition, but the European site also has some hot yellow versions as well. As we said, it balances traditional Puma aesthetics with something that feels very modern and looks really fast.
The key takeaway from this review is a couple of things. First, the supercritical NITRO midsole is fantastic and we hope they bring this to a number of other shoes across their line-up. This is one of the most comfortable and performant midsole technologies out there. Second, the Deviate NITRO itself is a solid max cushion long-distance speed shoe, but its weight brings it out of the race day category for us a bit. Although, we do expect another spin on this shoe that will reduce the weight. Note there are lots of reports of heel related issues on here, but once we found a good lock down, that diminished quite a bit. The shoe looks great overall and lives up to the hype, so Puma welcome back to the performance running category, we can’t wait to see what’s next.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.