Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

Post Page Advertisement [Top]


PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Review: Top Tier Racing
By Chief Editor Matthew Klein and Contributor David Salas

PUMA is bringing the heat with the Deviate Nitro Elite. With aims of competing with the likes of the Nike AlphaFly/VaporFly and the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro the Deviate Nitro Elite features a Nitrogen infused PEBA based midsole and carbon fiber plate. The upper is minimalistic and track spike like. The shoe is impressive through and through. This is the elusive shoe that has been seen on the feet of Molly Seidel in her recent half marathon where she ran a personal best (and most recently won bronze at the Olympic Games Marathon. GO MOLLY!). Puma has risen from the shadows of the running world and is here with a shoe to not overlook.  

Puma Deviate Nitro Elite
Price: $200

Weight: 6.7 ounces (men's size 9) 5.7 ounces (women's size 8)
Classification: Elite Racing Shoe, Super Shoe

Drop: 8 mm drop

Stack Height: 36mm heel/ 28mm forefoot


Matt: A true addition to the super shoe category, the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite blazes onto the scene. Featuring a carbon fiber plate and nitrogen infused PEBA midsole, this shoe has some solid bounce. With a comfortable upper (no heel counter) providing more room than expected for a racing shoe, there is adequate room for swelling while providing enough lock down to go fast. The foam is the closest thing to ZoomX that I have experienced, but is far more natural and controlled. As the most natural feeling super shoe and one of the lightest, this is a serious shoe that currently checks the box as my favorite racing shoe in a long time for 10k to marathon.

The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is an immediate player in the new "super shoe" category. The shoe provides a really soft, bouncy, and responsive ride without feeling unstable. The shoe also features a carbon fiber plate that feels a little bit more flexible through the forefoot than some of the other companies in the industry. The midsole is a nitrogen infused PEBA based midsole and is the closest thing that I have personally felt to Zoom X without being overly soft. 


Matt: The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite fits me true to size if not a hair long in my normal men's US size 10. The translucent mono-mesh upper is extremely comfortable, although has a slight synthetic feel initially. There is plenty of room in the forefoot, with a tiny bit of extra length that I only noticed during my first few steps. It is slightly wide for a racing shoe. The heel and midfoot are fairly normal width. There is no heel counter and the heel collar rides up high. Despite this, I have had no heel slippage AND have not needed to lace lock the shoe. The reinforced suede pieces that run on the medial and lateral side gently caress the rearfoot seem to provide subtle security. There is are midfoot straps that connects into the laces. This interacts very well with the laces, which lock the midfoot down without any additional pressure on the dorsum of the foot. The tongue is free floating, but I have not had any major slippage. Despite being such a minimal upper, my foot has been fairly secure on the platform. This is despite the fact that there is the potential for extra volume in this shoe if you modify the laces. However this did not affect the security at all. Overall, this upper will work for a variety of foot types, with a bit of flexibility for those with slightly wider feet and the security for those with medium to slightly narrow feet.

The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite has one of the most minimalistic uppers out there. The upper is similar to Vapor Weave and the non stretch mono mesh upper in the Skechers Speed Elite, but still unique in its own way. The upper is translucent, see through, and incredibly airy. The material leans towards the synthetic side but still has a little bit of flex to it. The fit of the upper is very dialed in throughout but will accommodate a much larger variety of foot types I believe. There is no heel counter, but there is a reinforced suede piece that runs the midline of the heel up to the collar to help with structure and stability. The width throughout is normal in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot. The lacing however provides a great lockdown throughout and I had zero issues with any slippage or translation of my foot in any situation. I rolled my ankle at one point (not the shoes fault) and everything held together fine and the upper kept my foot attached to the foot bed. The midfoot has a strap that runs near the navicular region of the foot medially and surprisingly helps a lot with security and lockdown for how little material it is. The toebox is of normal width for most running shoes, and perhaps a little wide for a racing shoe. It has plenty of room for toe splay and for swelling late in a race. Overall this is a very impressive upper. Really the only thing I can think of is improving the tongue, for it slipped a little bit when I ran in the shoe. This in no way influenced the ride or security of the shoe for me though.  


Matt: The ride of the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is moderately bouncy and really smooth. The foam utilized is called Nitro Elite foam, which is a nitrogen injected PEBA foam. Compared to other shoes, it is much bouncier than Saucony PWRRUN PB, but is more controlled than Nike ZoomX. There is noticeable bounce and rebound even when jogging in the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite. The transitions at the heel, midfoot and forefoot are very smooth. There is some heel bevel, but the foam compresses very nicely creating a smooth ride. The midfoot transitions very fluidly into a stable forefoot. The toe off feels very natural. While there is toe spring, this is the most natural feeling ride of all the max stack, super foam, carbon plated shoes I have tried. The plate up front is subtle and seems to stabilize the bounce the foam gives you on toe off. The foam is moderately soft throughout the length of the shoe. I have used these shoes for almost every type of workout. Shorter intervals, longer intervals, tempo runs (uphill). These will excel at a variety of distances, but are primarily for workouts. The bounce feels slightly awkward at recovery paces, but for easy to moderate feels like I am cheating. So this shoe is best reserved as a race/workout day shoe only. Personally I would prefer this shoe for any race distance from 10k to the marathon as it does very well with longer efforts.

There is plenty of cushioning for uptempo longer efforts, hence the likely ability to excel at marathon distances and certainly at marathon pace. However the foam and plate respond well enough at intervals that it would do well down to the 10k. While still very light, personally this is more shoe that I would normally utilize for a 5k, however I think a majority of the population will do well using something like this for that distance compared to the more aggressive and low riding shoes I am used to using for 1 mile to 5k race distances. The Puma Deviate Nitro has one of the best and most natural feeling rides of the high stack, super foam and super shoe rides thus far and will work for almost any workout and race distance. I do have to note that this shoe is very durable. I have almost 40 miles on my pair and have still not made dent in the outsole and the foam has not broken down. So I expect a high number of miles out of this shoe!

There are three of us reviewing this so I'll try to keep this condensed. This is the closest thing to ZoomX and the Nike Vaporfly that I have run in. The foam is really soft and bouncy, but not so soft that it feels mushy. The shoe has a lot of rebound to it throughout and that rebound is complimented nicely with the carbon fiber plate. There is a small heel bevel angle to the shoe that is integrated with the INNOPLATE very nicely. The transitions through the heel, midfoot, and forefoot are all very smooth. The plate in the Deviate Nitro Elite does feel like it has a little bit more flexibility up front compared to the other plated shoes on the market but I really liked it. The shoe felt like it adapted to the forces you put into it, and not that it changed the way you run. The ride is the most natural feeling of the plush new racing shoes that I have run in. Don't get me wrong though, this has a lot of bounce and responsiveness to it. I've taken this shoe through paces ranging from 4:30 mile pace through 5:40 mile pace all for longer intervals of time and the shoe did very well.

I don't like to hype up shoes, but this is one of the shoes that speaks for itself once you put it on. This shoe does not have any exaggerated heel bevels or toe springs so this shoe will still have a pretty traditional ride/geometry to it for most runners. The difference is that it incorporates so many new age running shoe components to create a new "shoe shoe" in the market. The INNOPLATE itself is interesting for it has a flat bucket like construction in the heel and a spit in the forefoot. The split is similar to the Carbon X2 from HOKA ONE ONE but is lengthened out through the great toe region instead. The feel is a stable heel and a flexible forefoot.

Editor's Note: See how the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite performed during a 21.5 mile long run here.


Matt: With as much bounce as the Deviate Nitro Elite has, it is far more stable than expected. The upper, despite being so minimal, locks the down well at the midfoot and I did not have to lace lock it at all. This is a neutral shoe, however the plate, elevated but mild Nitro Elite creating sidewalls and mild sole flare at the forefoot provide some subtle methods of stability. The Nitro Elite, while very bouncy, is more controlled than ZoomX. The bounce is directed forward really well. This likely comes from the plate and potentially the split in the forefoot. A split like that may create a "path of least resistance" and the forefoot feels very stable and guided. The plate is also not overdone, so the roll through the forefoot feels very natural. Some plates can be so stiff that they can actually resist normal motion at certain speeds. The plate never felt like this and integrates very well with the foam. The sole flare in the forefoot also helps keep the foot centered. The mild sidewalls of Nitro Elite lock the heel in well. While not a stability shoe, there are some subtle elements here that will work well for those who need mild stability.

The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is really stable for how soft it is. The upper security is done very well and I had no problems with lockdown or taking hard turns. I even rolled my ankle at one point and it held up very well (continued to still crush the workout). The platform is small, but the INNOPLATE stabilizes the foam and also has a unique construction to it. The plate has a flat bucket like construction in the heel and also a split in the forefoot. The plate design in the heel and the bevel are integrated really well with each other. They make for a really smooth transition through the heel and midfoot. The forefoot feels feels flexible at toe off where it should in a normal foot's gait cycle as well. The ride feels really natural but completely new age and "super shoe" like as well. If you look at the blow up diagram of the shoe you can see the bucket like construction throughout where each layer has its own elements of sidewall. The result is a really stable but not intrusive ride throughout. The shoe also has good traction with a nearly full contact oustole. 


The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite has components worth talking about from a scientific standpoint. The complete lack of a heel counter while still having a great lock down is fantastic. There are reinforcements around the heel, including the suede additions discussed previously. However, these are not rigid, yet still lock the heel in. For those with sensitive heels and Achilles insertions, this is one of the best option in the super shoe market. The toe guard is also done very well. Instead of using a rigid plastic piece, the outside, rather than the inside of the upper is reinforced with what looks like more of the same materials. This adds some durability up there without changing the consistency of the inside of the upper.

The interaction of the Nitro Elite foam and the plate are particularly good. We have discussed previously here that in these new age racing shoes, there is no one factor that makes it fast. It is the combination of variables: plate design, plate stiffness, foam resiliency, foam type, weight of the shoe, the mechanics of the shoe, the bevel, toe spring, etc that must all vibe correctly together to create these super shoes. The Deviate Nitro Elite is a great example where everything comes together smoothly. The Nike Vaporfly is also another example where the variables all clicked together, yet these shoes are unique from each other. Other companies have come up quite short as they are not taking into account all these different components. Sorry folks, life isn't simple and neither are shoes, human movement and performance. The Nitro Elite foam is soft, bouncy and is the closest thing to ZoomX on the market. The plate stabilizes the foam well, but is not so soft and the stack height is not so high that it is unstable. The plate also features a split in the forefoot, which I suspect may improve flexibility a hair and provide a bit of guidance. The slight increase in flexibility decreases the need for aggressive toe spring, making for a more natural feel during toe off. I am curious also to know that if splits in plates can provide guidance. This hypothesis would be based on the concept of the body following the path of least resistance.

For my mechanics, the Deviate Nitro Elite works much better than other shoes. The bouncy ride is something I like, but it isn't so bouncy that it is unstable. The upper is minimal, yet still locks the foot in well AND can provide some stretch for swelling. So for me, this is my favorite super shoe thus far. For others it may be a different shoe. The wonderful part about the speed at which companies are innovating is that there are going to be more options for people. People are very different and have unique needs. Whether you can fully categorize people to simplify those needs is another complicated story and one that a few of us are working on. - Matt Klein


Matt: The PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite is by far my favorite super shoe (of the ones I can talk about). It is one of the few that actually use a super foam/plate combo, feels natural, yet actually is comfortable and fast. My only suggestion is only in the upper. I would suggest connecting the tongue to the midfoot straps for additional security of both the midfoot and the tongue. Other than that there is little I would change. This is a great racing/workout shoe.

So far (March 2021) this is hands down my shoe of the year so far. I don't have a lot of recommendations. My only recommendation lies around the tongue region. I did have some slippage in the tongue. It didn't effect the ride, but maybe widening the tongue and creasing it a little more medially and laterally might help that lockdown a little better.


Matt: The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is an elite level racing shoe that comes onto the scene as one of the best distance racing shoes on the market. The ride is soft, bouncy, responsive, smooth, yet controlled for a variety of harder efforts. The upper is minimal, very comfortable, secure and allows for breathability and a little swelling with long hard efforts. This is the most natural feeling shoe of all the super shoes I have tried thus far as the plate and foam interact very well together. Best for 10k to marathon for me and a racing shoe for almost all distances for the majority of people. I am very impressed by what Puma is bringing to market and look forward to checking out the rest of their line.

The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is an elite racing shoe for someone looking for a plush, stable, and responsive ride to take their racing to the next level. The shoe to me feels the most natural of the plush "super shoes" and is the most flexible in the forefoot region at toe off as well. There is a lot of hype behind this shoe, and honestly I can see why. This is a really fun and exciting shoe that I keep reaching for.  


"The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite has been my favorite super shoe by a large margin. Despite some instability - this is still very much a neutral shoe - it's more traditional platform and centered rigidity helps provide just enough inherent stability for me compared to most super shoes I've tried. The ride is fluid and smooth, perfect for any of my personal paces as a typically slow runner. There is still some minor flexibility in the shoe which is nice for getting into rhythm easily and also helping again run the shoe at a variety of paces. The lockdown is excellent throughout and because second nature very quickly. I highly recommend the Deviate Nitro Elite to anyone who wants to try a super shoe that feels really familiar on foot. This really is a daily trainer packed with super shoe features, which is why I feel extremely at home in it compared to some of the other more wildly constructed, less stable racers out there today. - Bach Pham, Content Manager"



Fit: A (Secure but flexible upper. A little higher volume for a racing shoe, but laces/midfoot still secure. No heel counter but still stable)                     
Performance: A (The best and most natural riding super shoe I have tried. Very bouncy but controlled Nitro Elite foam. Super smooth transitions. Plate stabilizes foam well.  Best 10k to marathon for me but all race distances for most people) 
Stability: A- (Neutral shoe but nice stable ride. Gentle side walls, well placed outsole flare and split plate in forefoot guides foot nicely at faster paces) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Rationale for grade) 
Personal:  A (Super comfortable, bouncy without feeling weird. Very natural ride, super comfortable upper without heel counter.  2021 shoe of the year for me so far)
Overall: A (Incredible first racing shoe from Puma in this day and age. A fantastic shoe and one of my favorites in the shoe shoe game that still feels natural)         

Fit: A- (Great upper, minimalistic but still very secure. Just a little bit of tongue slippage)                    
Performance:  A
 (NITRO ELITE midsole is very responsive and protective, transitions are smooth, job well done) 
(Lockdown is great throughout, midsole constructed really well, full contact outsole helps, stable throughout) 
DPT/Footwear Science:  
(You can tell this shoe was well thought out. The midsole layers and geometry and work very well with each other and provide a responsive, protective, and stable ride.) 
(We joke that I always consider a racing shoe but then choose the AlphaFly, but that might change now) 
Overall:  (Phenomenal shoe through and through and an immediate player in the "super shoe" market)         


The team takes an in-depth look at the Elite and chooses their favorite racing shoes from 5k to the marathon. Interested in listening on the run? Check us out on Apple or Spotify!


Puma Deviate Nitro -
The training companion to the Elite
Puma Velocity Nitro - Meet the trainer of the new Nitro line
Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2 - A fast, bouncy, boldly designed follow-up
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 - Saucony's similarly lined up training companion to the Pro

Recently at Doctors of Running
Saucony Ride 15 - The Ride 15 gets a huge update with a bigger stack that still manages its stable neutral identity
New Balance Fresh Foam X Tempo v2 - A freshly updated model that provides a low profile, versatile training option
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3 - The latest update to the React Infinity dials in all the elements
Asics Noosa Tri 14 - The latest update to the coloful, ultra comfortable workout trainer
Reebok Nano X2 - The latest trainer out of the Nano series gets a great upper update

Thanks for reading!


Shop Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Huma Chia GelNatural and goes down easy. Powered Contributor Nathan Brown to his marathon
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!


Facebook: Doctors of Running
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
LinkedIn: Doctors of Running
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Puma Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!


Bottom Ad [Post Page]

// ]]>