What You Need To Know
- Weighs 9.1 oz. (258 g) for a US M9.0 (women’s currently not available to weigh)
- Midsole is made of Super Critical NITRO foam and carbon-composite INNOPLATE
- Drop is 8 mm (32 in heel, 24 in toe)
- Designed as a max cushion shoe with improved efficiency for long runs
- Also, file under things that make you go “holy sh*t” … is Molly Seidel now a Puma athlete, six months before Tokyo?
THOMAS: Like an inky cat slipping through the dark of the jungle, a couple years ago Puma seemed to disappear. Forced into exile by predatory foes, or simply the ebb and flow of a migratory species … nobody knew the fate of the Puma running shoe.
When they were on the prowl, we liked their running shoes. Hell, I’ve even run a marathon in the Puma Faas 500S. I would’ve put that model up against any other shoe available at the time. The last Puma running shoe we reviewed was the Puma Speed Ignite Netfit, which sounds like a dial-up internet service, but was actually a legit shoe.
Like a lot of Puma running shoes, the Netfit leaned hard into innovation. Where the Netfit upper was the news on that shoe, the Mobium Elite Speed had a midsole with bands that stretched and contracted with your stride. While all these things were kind of cool, the issue with Puma was that they would introduce technology into a shoe, but wouldn’t move forward with the line. Sometimes, it is better to shift, but with Puma it seemed like a new team was assembled for every project. It is hard to grow a fan base when consumers don’t know what will be coming next or if a favorite shoe will be updated and improved.
The Puma Deviate NITRO is the first offering in what we hope will be a cohesive line up of Puma running shoes. With a secretive Instagram account (@pumarunning), and some slight whispers of a comeback, we’re excited to see what’s rolled out in the coming months.
One more thing: There are even rumors of U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials runner-up Molly Seidel switching from Saucony to Puma (along with a whole crew of other elite runners). If true, that would prove to be a stunner leading up to the Tokyo Games. Let’s hope the brand is back to stay in the game.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: Oh la la! Another standard width plated shoe for ol’ Jarrett to try?! Don’t mind if I do! Before I get started, I wanted to point out that the Deviate NITRO is pitched as a “max cushion shoe with improved efficiency for long runs,” so keep that in mind as the review goes forward.
THOMAS: The upper will immediately remind you of the Nike Turbo 2 upper. I mean, it looks like a clone of the thing, and we weren’t the only ones who noticed. We’re not complaining, as the Turbo 2 was one of our favorite trainers in recent memory. The engineered mesh is breathable and looks modern. The tongue is sleek and minimally padded. Best of all it is gusseted, so it stays in place and helps to improve the fit. While the upper fits true to size, there was enough room in the shoe to pass it onto Jarrett with his wide foot for testing. A non-gray shoe always gets Jarrett giddy.
The nitrogen-infused midsole is soft and feels lively throughout the gait cycle. Between the bouncy foam and the plate, the shoe really pops. The toe of the shoe has ample sticky rubber for a strong toe-off.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: The engineered mesh upper is thin and very breathable. It has a minimal amount of overlays and lets the foot do its thing. For my wide feet, it has just enough room to allow me to run comfortably. It’s a little tight in the forefoot, but the lack of overlays keeps away any pressure points. I have to mention the gusseted tongue which probably has Thomas all hot and bothered. He’s so predictable…
The midsole is made up of Puma’s new NITRO foam. It’s a supercritical nitrogen-infused (think Skechers Hyper Burst or Brooks DNA FLASH) material that provides a light and bouncy ride. Sandwiched between two layers of NITRO foam is a carbon-infused plate Puma has named INNOPLATE. It didn’t feel super rigid or harsh on my legs.
I really like the midsole in the Deviate NITRO. It’s soft on the feet, but not unstable. Running was made easy. My toe-off was snappy from the plate, and my landing was soft courtesy of the NITRO foam. Puma needs to come out with some daily trainers with this midsole material. It would be a bigger hit than Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” (did you know this song made it to #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100?!).
The underfoot feel is extremely similar to the FuelCell RC Elite but with slightly more room and support under the arch. Continuing the New Balance comparison, the Deviate NITRO weighs in at 9.8 oz. for a size 10.5, which puts it .1 oz. under the FuelCell TC. It never felt heavy, but it doesn’t fit in with the light carbon racer super shoe category. That’s fine though as the price tag is $160 and not $200+.
The outsole of the forefoot and heel are covered with a rubber compound called PUMAGRIP. Is it an original name? Probably not. But who cares. It does its job to a T. I’ve had zero slips while running in the rain, on leaves, or side-stepping into the grass to avoid other people (social distancing like a pro).
I’m digging the blinding orange color. I know some people find these bright shoes to be obnoxious, but it just makes it look fast. They’re like the Rudolph of my sleigh team – I can find them in the blink of an eye since they stick out like a shining nose in the depressingly grey fog of my wide foot running shoe color palette.
THOMAS: In my first run I noticed a little heel slip, but it isn’t that bad. During the second run I was on the treadmill, and the little slip turned into a small fire on my heel. On the third run, I made sure to use a thicker sock, and still I had some irritation.
The cushioning in the heel is somewhat unstable, likely due to the decently high stack of supercritical foam. It appears that Puma tried to give it more structure with a plastic plate that sticks out beyond the perimeter of the midsole, but it’s still a little squirrely for me.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: The heel is frustrating. I never surpassed 6 miles in the shoe. Not because of the width, but because of the heel. Not only is the collar loose and sloppy, but there is also padding present on each side of the heel. Even with the heel lock lacing, I’m getting some slip which causes rubbing on both sides of my heel on both feet. I’ve pulled the lacing so tight that it digs into my ankle. This helped, but by mile 4 or 5, my stride had turned into hopping around trying to run in a way that the shoe doesn’t move much.
Not to deduct any points for someone with standard width feet, but to my wide foot fam, this shoe is tighter in the forefoot compared to some of the other plated shoes I’ve worn.
Puma Deviate NITRO Conclusion
THOMAS: I am not sure where the Deviate NITRO fits into the running shoe line up. It’s pitched as a long run shoe; if so, it’s a very lightweight model thanks to the supercritical foam (which is good). That said, the high stack of foam that allows it to be a long-run shoe also serves as its weakness, rendering it a bit unstable. On top of that, the heel issues limit the distance on this shoe. That said, Puma is certainly moving in the right direction and I’m excited to see some of the other shoes in the Puma pipeline. If they have a version of the Deviate NITRO that is more stable and fixes the heel problem, I would be thrilled to try it. I am happy to see Puma back in the game.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: Puma came to the table with quite the pitch. The midsole is cushioned well and is comfortable. The PUMAGRIP outsole is fantastic. The look is hot. Unfortunately, the heel issues are too much for me. Puma claims it to be a high mileage/marathon shoe, but I can’t go more than 6 miles. I really hope that the Deviate NITRO 2 has a more traditional heel, because this could be a great long run shoe if those other problems are fixed. Get yerself some hiking socks if you’re trying to be the big cat in the wild.
The Puma Deviate Nitro releases on March 4, 2021 for $160.
Thomas is the founder of Big Run Media, Believe In The Run, and the Faster Bastards. His mission is to get everyone running. Life is better when you run and running is always better when you have the right gear.