Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Puma Deviate Nitro Review
Weight: M9.4oz, W7.6oz
Offset: 8mm: (32mm heel/ 24mm forefoot)
(This item will be available to order on 3/15.)
The cat has woken from its nap! Puma built a performance shoe that deserves attention as a long-distance, almost-race-worthy speed trainer for low-volume footed runners.
The NITRO Foam, Puma’s lightweight, rebounding midsole cushioning material, combined with a carbon fiber plate as a stabilizer, work the way other super shoes do, providing a responsive, energetic underfoot experience.
This is the shoe for you if…
You want to train long and at uptempo paces in a soft, rolling carbon-plated shoe, or if you are willing to forego some weight savings of other super shoes to race in comfort, assuming your foot is pleased with the fit of the narrow toe box and unique heel.
The test team was unanimously excited to see Puma back in the performance running game. The Deviate Nitro is an interesting application of supershoe technologies, in this case a carbon plate with gas-infused foam. Like Skechers’ Hyperburst or Brooks’ DNA Flash, the goal is lightweight cushioning for high mileage. As the name reflects, the NITRO midsole is infused with nitrogen gas through an innovative process designed to combine responsiveness, cushioning, 46% weight savings over standard EVA and 74–80% greater energy return. Testers found it ultra-cushioning with a powerful rebound, with both the softness and response largely unaffected by the weather (one tried them on a 3°F 4-miler).
The composite carbon fiber plate serves as a lever to propel the foot forward and increase efficiency by using the best propulsion aspects of Puma’s track spikes. One tester described the rocker experience: “It allowed for a stable stance on the metatarsals — where you feel the deep cushion underfoot — then it rolls away quickly as soon as your weight starts moving to the toes, directing the bounce-back response forward.” The plate’s split shape seems to enhance the effect of the big toe in stabilizing and propelling the push-off.
This combination of soft foam and rigid rocker is characteristic of super shoes, but creates a unique response in each iteration, given variability in materials, geometry, and tester’s stride. Describing the specific ride of the Deviate Nitro, one tester said, “I loved the ride when moving fast, or when running slow while maintaining a short, quick stride. But if I started to drift toward a slower, reaching stride, the shoe became a sandtrap that I had to muscle over.” Another found the foam “very soft but the plate gave lots of stability. The shoe didn’t push you forward but certainly held up at higher speeds.” Still another recognized that while Puma describes the Deviate as a max cushion shoe for long runs, she wasn’t sure they’d be everyone’s idea of a long run shoe, given, as one tester summed up, that the Deviate “greatly rewards running tall, landing with a forefoot-weighted stride and driving back with your glutes, but it can punish you a bit if you get fatigued and lazy.”
Where the Deviate received demerits, almost universally, was in the fit category, especially the heel, although testers also struggled with the forefoot’s stinginess when it came to toe box width. The heel has unusual side pads and virtually no collar, and the wonky fit caused agitation to some, lack of security to others, and was deemed “finicky, snug and uncomfortable” by another tester. Given the rather strong reactions to the Deviate’s fit, we strongly encourage you to try them on before you purchase a pair.
Note, the Deviate women’s shoes were designed with a gender-specific last with a narrower heel, lower in-step, and more sculpted arch shape. Female testers appreciated the more personalized fit, after they dialed in the lacing.
The shoe is slightly heavier than comparable super-shoe racers, a weight that is easily overlooked for those who appreciate the plushness of the ride.