Looking for a unique ride in a carbon plated shoe? Puma has what you need
While Puma recently released some crazy looking shoes – the Fast-R Nitro Elite and the Fast-FWD Nitro Elite (see multi-tester review here), most of their sponsored Elite athletes seem to be enjoying their more traditional racer. The Deviate Nitro Elite 1 was worn by Molly Seidel for her 3rd place in the 2020 Olympics but supply chain issues prevented Puma from selling it as well as they could have. We are now reviewing the second version and you should be able to find it much easier. But should you give it a go? Our testers will help you find out.
PUMA Deviate NITRO Elite 2 – Specs
Weight: 193g (US 8 W), 209g (US 10 W, US 8.5 M) – heavier that v1 for all of us
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 36/28, 8mm drop
The platform is narrow. For specific values, please check the Shoe Comparator in which you can compare the width for the forefoot, midfoot and heel against other shoes.
Heavier and still quite narrow
Alex: One of the first things to flag to our European readers is that the size charts are not aligned on other brands. My true to size (“TTS”) US 11 is an EU 44.5 in Puma shoes. Make sure you pick your US TTS. The second thing you need to be aware of regarding sizing is how narrow the forefoot is. This is almost a C last (very long for a US 11 and really tight toebox).
Silke: In my size W US8 the Deviate Nitro Elite2 weighs 193g. This is lightweight but for a racing model not ultralight like my Nike Vaporfly v2 and even my New Balance Rebel V2s, which are a bit lighter.
Ivan: I received a womens size US 10 (EUR 41), which at Puma usually equals a mens size US 8.5 (EUR 41). It runs true to size lengthwise. But the toebox is quite narrow despite being told that it’s a unisex version this time around. My sample weights in at around 209g which is more than 20g heavier than my v1 version.
A tight forefoot but an overall step forward in the upper of the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2
Silke: This is the second pair of Puma running shoes with Nitro foam I am running in. The Deviate Nitro Elite 2 feels like the total opposite of the Velocity 2. I did not have any problems stepping into the shoe. But the step in feel is like „oh this is meant to be a race shoe”. The mesh upper is very light, you can see through it and its very breathable. The first minutes on my runs in January I could feel the cold air on my feet. Not like other mesh uppers its not that flexible and when I took the shoes out of the box there were and still are (after 50k) some crinkles in the upper material on the medial side just right before the first eyelet chain. The toebox also feels race fitted and there is not a lot of space for your toes to move. The length feels alright and I would say its true to size, but if you like to wear thicker socks you should maybe size half a size up. I really like the PWRTAPE on the medial side, it helps to get a really good fit and the midfoot fit suits my footshape perfectly!
The laces are standard and the eyelets have a kind of plastic-like strip to give a bit more structure.
What I really love about the Elite 2 is the tongue. It is butterfly shaped, perforated (for weight and breathability) and to me has just the right amount of padding to protect my foot from the pressure of the laces and it keeps just in place even though it is not gusseted. The material used around the ankle is a bit rigid and I could feel it rubbing at my ankle when walking around the house. But when I was running I did not feel anything like that at all.There is a dominant heelcup that keeps your heel in place and avoids slipping. Even though the padding is just (like in my Vaporflys) a small padded band around the heel and there is no other padding at all. Still it feels comfortable enough for a racer. In fact after some kilometers I did not think about the shoe at all which I think is a very good sign.
Andy: Puma have added a little extra padding to the second iteration of the Deviate Elite, both sections are very welcome and add to the comfort and hold of the shoe. A little extra under the tongue helps the laces feel softer over the foot and an extra pad around the heel made it feel more secure and, for me, more comfortable. Both the upper material and the cover of the heel padding feel slightly coarse to the touch when removing from the box but once on foot, there were no unpleasant feelings to be found. As mentioned below, the PWRTAPE does add some more structure to the upper in comparison to the first version. It’s an upper which, toebox aside, hugged my foot in all the right places.
As Silke says, the fit is snug around the toes as expected in a race shoe. If my feet were any wider, it might have been an issue. It’s certainly a breathable upper for the cool winter months. I also found some wrinkling in the upper material around the bottom of the eyelet chain, however, this has not yet led to any discomfort or irritation on the foot. I received the shoe in my usual size and it fit accordingly although it definitely worked better with some of my thinner socks. I found no need to use a runners knot or the extra eyelet holes to achieve a good lockdown and had no issues with the laces coming loose or undone on any of my adventures in the shoe. It is comfortable but racy with a good initial step in feel.
Tim: Let’s start by the mesh itself. As already mentioned above, I also found it really thin and breathable. Even if the material feels slightly coarse to the touch, as Andy said, I didn’t encounter any issue due to that. Even if the mesh is quite unstructured, Puma wisely added an underlay – maybe even PWRTAPE – that helps with the structure and avoids having the upper crumbling on your feet.
Talking about shape and geometry, I really like the heel area where I feel comfortable, thanks to the generous padding, and find my foot secured without being too tight. Going to the lace cage area and the tongue, I also encounter the same feeling. It secures my foot very nicely and I never encountered any lacing issue; no laces that come undone or need to be tightened in the middle of the run nor any unpleasant compression. Speaking of that, I need to congratulate Puma about the tongue which is really thin with just enough padding in the middle section where I need it. It could even be one of my favourite supershoes (i.e. plated racing shoes) from that perspective.
Let’s now move to the forefoot area where it’s unfortunately a bit different. To be transparent I received a women’s version but Puma told us that the last is the same for both genders, and that the fit should therefore be identical. I would warn you if you have wide or voluminous feet. Personally it’s a massive issue as my pinky finger hurts me during and after every run I do with the shoe (5 for now).
In a nutshell, and as Silke said, it’s a very nice racing shoe upper which is unfortunately too tight in the forefoot for me.
Ivan: I have not always been a fan of the fit in my earlier Puma running shoes. Especially with the heel cups being way too roomy for my liking. I agree with the rest of the team that the fit in the heel section is excellent this time around. No heel slipping at any point. One issue I need to point out though, is the high sidewall on the lateral side around my ankle bone. It was felt immediately when putting on the shoe and was still noticeable all the way though my runs, despite not turning into any sorts of soreness or blisters. But definitely worth pointing out.
The engineered mono mesh is more structured than the upper used in the first version. It does come with a bit of weight gain, but it’s still light, breathable and holds the foot in place. Especially the midfoot wrap is great, helped along by the PWRTAPE reinforcements and the lightly padded tongue. Unfortunately they decided to used PWRTAPE also on the lateral side in the forefoot. As Tim mentioned this shoe has a narrow toebox and combined with these reinforcements, some pressure points around the pinky toe was noticeable for me as well.
Compared to the Deviate Nitro Elite v1, I can’t really figure out if the upper is a step up. I really did like the extremely simple, lightweight and form fitting upper of the first version. It felt more unstructured but it almost disappear on foot. It made the runs feel more agile which has become almost a trademark of the lightest Puma models, such as the Puma Liberate. However, I do enjoy that this second version just grabs my heel securely and feels a bit more secure on foot overall. Especially when doing tight turns at higher paces.
Alex: The main drawback – and the only one hence me starting with it – in the upper of the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 is the fit. My forefoot felt squished in the shoe. I did not get any blisters or any chaffing. It was just a sensation of snugness. The team nicely described many features and I can only confirm most of what was written. To me the biggest improvement compared to v1 is the heel, which feels more secure thanks to that mono-bolster. My heel sit in that heel cup during all of my runs and almost forgot what the meaning of slippage was. While the PWRTAPE reinforcements are certainly a nice feature, I do understand what Ivan says when he refers to the upper of v1. On v2 the upper feels more conventional and it does not disappear as much as it used to on the first version.
I know from discussions with Puma that the last was changed to be wider but I would definitely encourage Puma to widen it even further. One thing that wasn’t mentioned above is the insole. Puma goes far in terms of details and they included a Peba-based insole in this shoe for some extra cushion and soft feeling.
The ride of the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 sets it apart from other supershoes
Silke: So how does it feel to run in the Deviate Elite2? For a half marathon to marathon racing shoe the stack height in the heel is not very high and with a drop of 6mm you get what I would call a kind of natural ride with more ground feeling for a racing model in 2023. It even feels ok to run at my easy pace in this model. Which means I do not have to change shoes and can do the warm up and cool down in them. As I am a midfoot striker i found it very easy to. I am not a very fast runner and my faster workout pace is obviously the pace this shoe is designed for. When I did my sprint and hill workouts with them I got a feeling at what pace and impact this shoe belongs to. It pushes you forward without feeling unstable or too squishy.
Andy: Like Silke, I have run in several of Puma’s offerings in the past. I’ve used the Deviate Elite v1, Liberate Nitro, Magnify Nitro and the Deviate Nitro 2 (that’s the most I’ve ever typed the word Nitro in one sentence)! In each shoe, the Nitro foam has a different formulation and feel with my favourite so far being the Deviate Nitro 2.
This is the third pair of shoes with the Elite recipe of the foam for me. It has a responsive if not bouncy feel under my foot. It absorbs the shock but doesn’t feel like it is giving me much back. The stack height of the shoe is quite reserved in this time of modern midsole monsters and the ride reflects this with a more natural feel. My calves feel a lot less strained after longer efforts in this than they do in other race based shoes due to the drop and less aggressive set up of the shoe.
The ride was very stable for me, at no stage in any runs did I worry about a sharp corner or an uneven road causing me to come a cropper. One of my usual workout routes has a very tight switchback corner and I had no issues approaching it at pace while wearing the Deviate Elite 2.It’s a shoe I found easy to pick up the pace for strides and shorter reps and my naturally high cadence was no issue to maintain.
One of my first runs in the shoe came on a Friday night after a long day of work and a run before breakfast. The foam and ride helped me bob along at a steady pace without realising how or feeling it in my tired legs which is where I think the ride of the shoe shines for me. It’s an easy, natural ride which helps swallow up distance.
As a mid to forefoot striker, I found the landing in the shoe a little firm and even harsh at times in my initial workout when pushing the pace towards the end of longer reps. The position of the carbon plate and the thinness of the forefoot foam, where I land on the ball of my foot, left my feet feeling a little banged up after some longer (3km) reps at my marathon pace.
I have also used the Deviate Elite 2 for a shorter rep session (10 x 2”//1” at closer to my 5k pace) and found that over the 52km I’ve run in the shoe, the midsole feels like it has broken in, softened a little and the shoe was much easier on my feet. I found it an easy shoe to get going in as it is light and agile but not a ride which is particularly propulsive which made maintaining the pace more of an effort than other shoes I’ve run in. The foam absorbs the impact and keeps the legs protected but the geometry/midsole set up doesn’t give me the feeling of much assistance.
My initial impressions are that it will be a shoe which works best for me as a long run and steady pace shoe with the midsole seemingly working better for me when not having as much power pushed through it. The lack of aggressiveness I feel in the ride means it will probably not be a racing shoe for me.
Tim: As mentioned by Silke and Andy, what I like about this shoe is how easy it is to run with it. From easy pace to intervals, including endurance and tempo paces, the shoes will give you what you need.
But is it a good racing shoe? Easy answer; it depends on your gait cycle. For me the shape isn’t aggressive enough (lack of rocker / heel to toe transition) and lacks some stack to be considered as a contender for racing.
I would argue that due to the geometry, the drop (6mm) and my totally subjective feeling that the foam is firmer in the heel than in the forefoot, I would say that this shoe is more for midfoot to forefoot striker than heel to midfoot ones. Therefore I would say that for this kind of runner this could maybe be a contender when you have to choose a racing shoe. Notice that at 220€ it is at least 20-30€ cheaper than the waste majority of its competitors.
Nevertheless I found the shoe really interesting for training especially for me at a pace between endurance and tempo and to a certain extent intervals. I agree 100% with Andy when he said that thanks to the shoe its calves feel a lot less strained. I’ve encountered the exact same thing and finished easily a session around 12-15 km. I usually find it quite hard without any tension in my legs and no ache the day after. Therefore I will say that the Nitro Elite foam plays very well its role speaking of shocks absorption and energy saving.
Ivan: I am very much a midfoot striker which created a few issues for me with the first version. The lack of a rocker geometry compared to other supershoes has been noticeable and the shoe never really worked for me for its intended purpose as a long distance road racing shoe. Too flat and harsh of a ride on the roads and always felt like I was bottoming out on the super soft nitro unfused PEBA midsole. However, I always try to figure out what other type of runs it could be suitable for and soon realised that it was amazing for me on the track and during hill repeats.
This time around I was really hoping that the Deviate Nitro Elite v2 would serve me better on the roads. Whether it’s because of the new upper, different plate or a denser foam compound, it just works way better for my biomechanics and gait cycle. It is probably a combination of the above, but I find it to be much more pleasant on the roads and even at various paces. I think it still lacks the cushion and aggressive nature of some of the best supershoes on the market, but instead it has some valuable qualities, that some of these other supershoes are lacking.
So far I have used the shoe for a wide variety of runs. From easy runs all the way up to 200m intervals on both the road, track and some light trail. While I still dont consider it a serious contender for those long distance races, I really like it at almost everything else. Doing track intervals, it might not be as aggressive and agile as the first version. But it’s still snappy and light enough to work quite well. On the roads, I really do enjoy that I can easily shift paces without the shoe feeling too unstable. And I even put it to the test doing a 34 km tempo run on a fairly hilly course on mostly gravel and dirt roads. Being quite soft and a bit more flexible than some other shoes in the same category, my calves felt more sore than usual at the end of that long workout. I suspect that it could also become a bit harsh on the longest workouts on the road, which I still have not done in this shoe. But the ride itself was really enjoyable at any point. Compared to other supershoes, you feel more in control and agile. The tradeoff being, that you have to put in a bit more work yourself which can lead to more fatigue.
Alex: Long time followers of the Youtube channel will remember that I ranked the Deviate Nitro Elite v1 as one of my top3 shoes for 2021. Back then my gait cycle was really pushing me towards my forefoot in terms of striking. If you’re a midfoot to forefoot striker the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 will provide you with a similar experience. A flat, bouncy and energetic platform to push on without too much roll. Just a perfect pop effect at each toe off.
However in between 2021 and now, I had a metatarsal stress fracture and my gait cycle and footstrike changed a bit. To avoid putting too much load on my forefoot, I am striking a bit more towards the heel with a higher cadence to divide the load over more steps. I have no clue whether this will change or not but for now this is how it is.
Long story short, I took the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 straight out of the box for a 30km long run with some tempo reps. I didn’t regret my choice because like Andy and Tim said, the NITRO Elite foam is a very shock absorbing and leg saving foam. I got enough energy return from its compression to move through the gears and the run went well overall. But the sensations weren’t as good as what I remembered from v1. And I believe the shoes ride similar, I’m just not using them in the same way. Here v2 was feeling flat and unrockered whereas these were the specific reasons why I love v1. I was missing that midfoot rocker to take me from my strike to toeing off. I was also missing – compared to other supershoes – some foam in the heel. The claimed 36mm feel more like 32 or 30 and certainly way lower than the like of Alphafly, Wave Rebellion Pro or even Fast-R.
The best outsole in the running game at the moment
Silke: Another highlight of the shoe is of course the outsole. It is so grippy and perfect for slippery weather conditions.
Alex: Puma Grip! What else should I say? The switch from PumaGrip LT on v1 to this “traditional” PumaGrip was probably a wise decision to increase the durability of the shoe and add a touch more grip. The weight gain comes a bit from that t
Andy: Probably the best grip in the game at the moment. While my running is confined to the roads, I’ve encountered frosty mornings, slimy leaf mulch, stray mud and soggy cobbles. Puma grip bites through them all and gives peace of mind where other outsoles get a little skittish. Slightly more rubber and a different grip pattern might make the second version even grippier than the first. I hope that the outsole is more durable on the v2 than it was on the v1 which had some significant wear on my pair after 250km.
Tim: Puma knows how to make a great grip. Point. Speaking about durability, I’m also impressed. After nearly 40 km the rubber is nearly intact which is quite rare for me. This make me feel that the lifespan will not depend on the outsole itslef but maybe more on the midsole compound
Ivan: The PumaGrip has been solid on all surfaces. Even when doing some light trail running. As Tim mentioned, it seems to hold up well. In contrast to Andy, I have had almost no wear on the first version and I expect this one to hold up equally well. Especially considering the generous coverage.
An enjoyable shoe but not everyone’s first racing choice
Silke: When running again with the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 this morning I instantly remembered how much I love running in them. It feels so easy to pick up the pace and it just works with my foot stride. It has a narrower shape but then it holds my foot just right in place. The nitro foam prevents enough shock absorption to me and the energy return made me run 14k instead of 10-11k because I enjoyed it so much.
Alex: Running in the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 is fun. And I pick the shoe easily from the shelf, especially when I have some faster intervals in my session. Puma did a good job preserving the positives of v1 but still does not have a contender in the top tier of long distance racing shoes. I would not race a marathon in this shoe, simply because other options make me feel more efficient and would save more my legs for those last 10k in the race where freshness starts to matter.
Andy: Where does the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 sit for me? It is a comfortable shoe which is enjoyable to run in while being fairly versatile. It works for me at a range of paces although I prefer it as a short rep shoe at pace or a steady, long-run cruiser. I can see it becoming a Sunday favourite and being called into action on workouts where the surface conditions are sub-optimal. I look forward to more miles in the shoe toro see how the midsole changes over time.
Will it become a race day go to? Probably not for me as I feel it lacks a really fast, propulsive feel. Given the choice, I would probably opt for the Deviate Nitro 2 over its Elite sister as, for me, it seems to offer many of the same goodies but with a lower price tag.
Tim: Due to the issue I have with the narrowness of the forefoot, I will not continue to run in the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2. Nevertheless I enjoyed a lot of things in this shoe, including the heel and lace cage area as well as the leg saving feeling that makes me even more sad about leaving them behind because of the fit.
Ivan: Not every Puma shoe has worked equally well for me. The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 is everything I was actually hoping that the standard Deviate Nitro version would be. To me that one has been way too mushy and the fit not that great. Neither the first or this second version of the Deviate Elite is something I would consider for a race. No matter the distance. It just lacks some cushion and supershoe feel/propulsion to be competitive. But where this second version truly shines, is as a super comfortable and versatile trainer on most surfaces. No doubt that it excels at faster paces, but it also runs smoothly on those easy segments. Making it especially valuable to me for key workouts when shifting paces. All in all, I expect this update to be a great addition to my current rotation and a step in the right direction for Puma in general.
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