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 Review
By Chief Editor Matt Klein and Social Media Manager Bach Pham

While carbon plated and new age foamed racing shoes have been developing for several years, plated training shoes are a relatively new concept. With designs similar to their racing counterparts but features, particularly weight, more in line with a training shoe, these shoes tend to blur several lines. The Puma Deviate Nitro was designed as a companion training shoe to the Deviate Nitro Elite (REVIEW), continuing to feature a Nitro midsole and a carbon plate but with a stiffer and less aggressive ride. 

Puma Deviate Nitro in hand, light grey colorway with Puma logo stretching over midfoot in black

Specifications for the Puma Deviate Nitro (per Puma)
Weight: 9.4 oz / 268 g (men's size 9) 7.7 oz / 218 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 38 mm heel, 28 mm forefoot
Drop: 10 mm 
Classification: Carbon Plated Lightweight Trainer


The Puma Deviate Nitro is a carbon plated trainer for those wanting a stiffer shoe for mileage, uptempo and tempo days. A durable and grippy outsole provide excellent traction on road while a Nitro midsole provides protection and some mild bounce. The upper fits a bit long and loose in the heel, so for those wanting a little extra room length wise this shoe will work for you. The plate combined with the foam makes the Deviate Nitro best for uptempo days and workouts when you want to have the protection of a trainer and may compliment the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite well as a trainer/racer combo.


Matt: The Puma Deviate Nitro fits me slightly long in my normal US men's size 10. I would only suggest going down a half size if you have narrow feet as the toe box tapers enough that it almost feels true to size. The lightweight mesh fits normal to slightly wide in the heel, with a normal fit in the midfoot and a taper in the forefoot. The heel fits loose and required me to lace lock the shoe to prevent slippage. There is a split heel counter in the rearfoot and the counters are fairly flexible. I did not have any trouble with my calcani in response to them. The heel collar has a slightly sharp edge to it, which required me to wear socks with this upper as it dug into my ankle. With socks I was fine, but without had skin irritation fairly quickly. There is additional padding around the heel counter for security, however this did not prevent my heel from slipping. The tongue is gusseted and has additional padding, so it stays in place very well. The laces are a bit thin, so when lace locking the shoe they dug into my ankle a little on my right side. They stayed secure, but the pressure into my ankle is noticeable the first mile of runs. Overall the upper is fairly flexible with just a little structure, requiring extra lock down for some and socks for all.

Bach: I received a pair half sized up of the Deviate Nitro. The shoe itself runs true to size, though is a bit narrow through the midfoot. Anyone with a wider foot may want to half size up. The opening to the shoe is a touch narrow and the heel counter a bit rigid and uncooperative at helping the feet go into the shoe, but there's a lot of stretch to the upper opening around the tongue to help widen the shoe and get in. The heel overall was little loose for me, but unlike Matt I had no issues with the heel collar while wearing low-cut socks. I did have some minor pressure into my ankle from the tongue, which sits somewhat shallow. The laces when doing a runner's knot - which was essential for lockdown in the this shoe - sits over the top of the tongue, putting some downward pressure there. This was not deal-breaking to me, but noticeable. Those with narrow feet should be able to stay true to size, while those sensitive to the heel collar will either want to size up or do some cosmetic work to help remove the sharp edge if you stay true to size.


Matt: The Deviate Nitro has a stiff and slightly firmer ride. The carbon plate is immediately noticeable, particularly at the forefoot/toe off. The ride while running easy feels too stiff, but begins to shine as the pace picks up. The heel bevel feels and looks like it is more centered, which combined with the stabilizing rearfoot TPU plate makes rearfoot landings a bit stiff. The 8mm heel drop is somewhat noticeable, although this may be due to the fact that the Nitro in this model feels more dense/firmer. When the pace picks up, the ride begins to improve. When the plate has enough force placed into it, there is a nice pop forward during toe off. This is not a softer ride like the Deviate Nitro Elite, but is firmer and more resilient. The best use of the Deviate Nitro has been during uptempo runs, tempo runs and fartlek runs. It is too heavy to be used for fast intervals, but is not relaxed/flexible enough for easy miles (unless you want a stiff shoe for easy miles). The traction and durability though are excellent. I have 30 miles in my pair and there is almost no wear on the outsole (it is dirty though). The PUMAGRIP does a great job on wet roads and I had no trouble cornering during an early morning hilly fartlek in the rain.

Bach: The Deviate Nitro is certainly not a flexible shoe. The best way I could describe the feeling is like a lever that you are constantly pedaling. You can definitely sense the plate in the forefoot propelling you forward. Anyone who is a prominent mid-to-forefoot runner will really get the best out of the shoe, as landing midfoot-on really gives you a nice forward motion - not rolling necessarily like the Floatride Energy 3 with it's super smooth bevel, but a sense of pop to keep you going especially as you up your cadence. I run in an area that has a lot of gently rolling hills and found the shoe to be very easy to push up hills as the poppy forefoot helped spring me up. Conversely though, I felt the heel-to-toe rigidity to be a little more uncomfortable going downhill, wishing I had a little more flexibility to help control myself going down. I actually took a tumble in the shoe because I wasn't able to fully catch myself in the middle of a downhill segment (we should chalk this up to user error more than the shoe, but the shoe did not help the cause either).

Despite that, I really, really enjoyed the Deviate Nitro and found it to work for me at both easy and uptempo paces. The midsole here is not soft, but still more than protective for long mileage. The Deviate Nitro can certainly melt miles away with its taller stack helping provide plenty of comfort. There is over 80 miles my pair of Deviate Nitros, with very little wear to be seen. I ran over 100 miles in the Puma Velocity Nitro which also has a variation of the sticky Puma Grip outsole, and I'm confident both shoes will help get you through training for miles on end.


Matt: The Puma Deviate Nitro is a neutral shoe. However there are a few measures that provide mild stability. The TPU plate in the heel (the silver piece) does add rigidity and stability to the rearfoot. The midfoot narrows as the foot transitions forward, however the stiff carbon plate provides some torsional rigidity. The forefoot is very stable, sitting a bit wider and featuring the plate that reduces torsional rigidity. The slightly more medial heel bevel does not however add to stability. This offsets the stability from the TPU plate to a degree, making for a stiffer but neutral heel. The midfoot and forefoot plate may be too stiff for many, so some people may find themselves trying to move around it to get to toe off. The stability is better when moving at faster paces, but during easy paces I find my body trying to get around the plate, which is not optimal from a stability standpoint.

Bach: The combination of a firm midsole along with the plate helps make the shoe slightly more stable. The wider forefoot helps greatly when picking up the pace. My bigger concerns really fall into the upper, where I feel the heel could have a better lockdown. Even with a runner's knot and my midfoot feeling dialed in, the heel felt a little slippy and didn't really provide as much security as every other Puma Nitro shoe I've tried this year. The stiffness of the heel as well reduces the sense of control in the shoe while running. Anyone who is spending their time on the forefoot will be fine, but there is some awkwardness from the midfoot back that makes the shoe relatively neutral overall.

Pressing the shoe into the ground to display stiffness


When it comes to footwear prescription, we currently have no idea what the effects of running in carbon plated shoes are long term, let alone training full time in them. These are likely to be highly specific to each person, with some being great and others not doing as well. As we have discussed previously here, shoes are tools. The use of a carbon plate (or any plate for that matter) serves to stiffen the sole. Whether this influences performance is again person dependent, with older literature suggesting a 1% economy improvement at most with plates, newer literature suggesting that cutting the plate in half has no impact on the economy of certain types of racing shoes and that different amounts of stiffness in soles will benefit some runners and hinder others (Healey et al., 2021; Mcleod et al., 2020; Roy & Stefanyshyn, 2006). Additionally, there are many other components that influence sole stiffness and the perception of stiffness, including how soft or complaint the midsole, flex grooves, sole thickness and more. So whether a person can train full time in a running shoe with a plate will depend on several factors both within the shoe and especially within the person.

The Deviate Nitro joins a few other plated trainers including the New Balance FuelCell TC, New Balance Lerato, Nike Tempo Next% (composite plate), Saucony Endorphin Speed (Nylon plate), Mizuno Wave Rebellion (fiberglass plate), Skechers Maxroad 5 (carbon infused H-plate), Adidas Boston 10 (Rods), the North Face Vectiv series and a few others. The types of plates vary (carbon, composite, fiberglass, nylon, etc), but the function continues to be to stiffen to sole. Many shoes have had some form of a plate in them for years, with Mizuno's wave plate and On's speedboard coming immediately to mind.

Stiffening the sole can serve multiple purposes. It can certainly be a way to provide stability by increasing torsional rigidity. This can be helpful in shoes with very soft midsole materials to offset the instability of low durometer foams. Depending on the curve of the plate or the shape, motion can be facilitate or redirected in certain ways or into different parts of the foot. Biomechanically it can lengthen the lever arm, which in English means that with a high energy impact, more force may be translated in the direction of the plate. However there is a certain minimum force needed to optimally bend the plate. If you do not generate enough force, it is going to take extra force/work to get over the plate. Thus is my question regarding carbon fiber plated trainers. If you are going to put a stiff plate in a shoe that is meant for daily training paces and workouts, then it needs to have some degree of flexibility. This can also be accomplished with significant toe spring, which the Deviate Nitro has. However, the rocker starts later than necessary, make the ride more aggressive and stiff. The Puma Deviate Nitro is going to fit a very niche population of runners who want a very stiff and aggressive ride in a training/lightweight training shoe. Most others would be better off using shoes that either do not have a plate or have a bit more flexibility. As always, individual needs will varying.


Healey, L., & Hoogkamer, W. (2021). Longitudinal bending stiffness does not affect running economy in Nike Vaporfly shoes.

McLeod, A. R., Bruening, D., Johnson, A. W., Ward, J., & Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. 
Footwear Science12(2), 79-89.

Roy, J. & Stefanyshyn, D. (2006). Shoe midsole longitudinal bending stiffness and running economy, joint energy and EM
G. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 38(3), 562-569.


Matt: I have several suggestions for the Deviate Nitro. I think its purpose is clear, but the execution needs some work. The upper is rough and not optimal, so I would suggest redoing the heel counter, removing the edges from the heel collar and optimizing the fit. The slightly long size makes me think I am hitting the plate wrong, which will totally change the ride of the shoe. The upper is also not very secure and attempting to lace lock causes some additional pressure on top of the ankle. In regards to the sole, I do like the Nitro foam, the TPU heel plate and the general design. However, I think the plate is too stiff for a training or lightweight training shoe. Similar to shoes like the Endorphin Speed or Wave Rebellion, I would either modify the plate material, increase the length of the toe spring or make it more flexible. This will make it more versatile for training and workout efforts, rather than being so stiff it only works for people that need very stiff shoes and those running faster.

I actually really enjoy a lot about the ride of the Deviate Nitro. A change must be made to the upper though just to help redial the lockdown. Having run in the majority of the Nitro line, I think there is some kind of middle ground between the very minimal Liberate, soft and performance fit of the Elite, and trainer padding of the Velocity that the Deviate can pull from to help provide a balanced upper here. This change alone could be a fairly significant improvement for Version 2. Additionally, I think softening the foam throughout just slightly will help provide a little more flexibility and control to the shoe. I don't think it needs to be as soft as the Elite, as I personally like the foam here and the stiffness even, but as a training companion I think it would be valuable to see something closer in line to the Elite, and adding a touch of softness would help bring it closer in line.


Matt: The Puma Deviate Nitro is for those who want a cushioned, carbon fiber plated lightweight trainer for uptempo mileage and workouts. While some may be able to use this shoe as a daily trainer if they want a very stiff ride, others will want to keep this for days when the pace is picking up. The upper fits slightly long and is not the most secure, so some experimenting with lacing and locking the shoe down will be needed in the heel before starting the run. The ride is protective but slightly firmer, best for those wanting a very stiff shoe or those wanting a training companion to the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite.

Bach: I really enjoyed my runs in the shoe and would have no issues pulling this out again for just about any run as someone who tends to like a slightly firmer, but protective shoe and also one who likes to stay on their mid to forefoot. This is a good combination workout/daily trainer for anyone who likes a stiff, non-flexible ride. Within the Puma line, I think the Magnify would be a good daily to recovery day trainer that could go well with the shoe along with the Velocity Nitro for those who prefer a lower profile daily trainer. My personal favorite rotation has been swapping in the Maxroad 5 for extra easy days where I want a light shoe to just get some miles in or a couple of recovery miles here and there while also mixing up drop heights a bit. There's certainly some crossover between the two shoes in what they can do, but if I want a more aggressive workout or long run shoe, it's an easy choice to throw on the Deviate Nitro while I spend my easy runs in the more relaxed Maxroad.  This could also be a long distance racing shoe for someone who wants not a shoe for their next PR, but to get you through a half or marathon comfortably IF your preference is for a stiffer ride. It does a nice job of just keeping you moving steadily and keeping you fresh mile after mile. It's a nice gateway shoe into plated footwear as well at a fair price point - with the shoe being a bit older, you can even find it as low as $130 US some places today (November 2021).


Fit: B-/C+ (Slightly long fit, poor heel security, laces that cause extra pressure when secured and a heel collar that digs slightly into the skin. Best to wear socks with this shoe and try before you buy)
B (Stiff at slow paces, but shines at faster paces. A pure workout trainer)
Stability: B (Good heel and forefoot stability. Narrow midfoot and plate that is too stiff causes motion to redirect off the plate. So those who do not like shoes that are stiff may find this unstable in the midfoot)
DPT/Footwear Science: C+ (Good use of TPU plate in heel for stability, however carbon plate is too stiff for this shoe to really be a training shoe. May benefit from a longer toespring to facilitate forward motion)
Personal:  C+ (The subpar fit in the upper and overly stiff sole make this shoe difficult for me to reach for. Carbon fiber plated trainers have not worked well for me so far, but this shoe may be of interest if that is something that you do well in)
Overall: B-/C+ (Some issues with the fit and ride prevention this shoe from being as good as it has the potential to be. Puma is on the right track, but there are some things that need to be modified. Right now, this is best for those who aren't concerned about the fit and want a stiff carbon plated ride for easy days or a training shoe for workouts).

Fit: C+
(Between the heel security, Matt's issues with the heel collar digging into, mine with the tongue and the way the laces tie over them through a runner's knot, have to give it a lower grade)
(On its forefoot where it is at it's best, one of the most enjoyable rides I've tried this year)
Stability: B 
(For it's purpose as an uptempo workout trainer, more than fine with it's wider forefoot. Going back to upper and the stiffness of the heel though, it gets a relatively average score)
DPT/Footwear Science: B
(Considering this within Puma's line, this is certainly a big step up in performance. Just some redialing needed to become a really great shoe that will work for a broad audience)
Personal:  B+/A-
(I have a preference for firmer rides like this. The forefoot is a lot of fun and despite a fall, I had fun in every other mile of the shoe despite the issues with the fit)
Overall: B
(Some design issues to work through, but a lot of promise is in the package here. Puma has some easy changes to make for 2022 if they continue the Nitro, but all the same as the shoe gets discounted for the holiday season, it is worth a pickup for anyone who likes a rigid, fun forefoot ride).

Find the Puma Deviate Nitro at

Shop Gear We Love
Mizuno Wave Rider 25: New full length Enerzy is a simple joy. Soft, flexible forefoot is unique
Rabbit Running Clothes: Incredibly soft, high quality clothing for your next run
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Spring Energy Gel: Smooth and goes down easy. Great flavors
UltraAspire Fitted Race Belt: Fantastic fitting belt that's durable, quick-drying, and comfortable
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Coros Pace 2 Watch: Excellent watch for various running goals and a massive battery life
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs


Visit the Entire Puma Lineup for 2021
Velocity Nitro -
The neutral daily trainer. Very stable for a neutral shoe, with a nice underfoot feel
Liberate Nitro - The lightest of the line, a very flexible trainer for fast workouts. Tough feet needed.
Eternity Nitro - Their stability model, using RunGuide to provide a centered running experience.
Magnify Nitro
- Their max cushioned daily trainer. A firmer, but smooth rolling shoe
Deviate Elite Nitro - Their race day model, the most natural of the super shoes in fit and feel which may fit a lot of runner's needs

Recently at Doctors of Running
Sacuony Endorphin Pro+ Review
- We look at the remodel Endorphin Pro, featuring a new lightweight upper
Newton Gravity+ Review - Newton's fastest distance trainer/racer, featuring a new plating system
Reebok Floatride Energy Adventure - A new upper helps add a layer of stability for some minor off-terrain running
Hoka Rincon 3 Review - New outsole rubber and a lighter upper highlight the latest Rincon

Thanks for reading!


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


Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 

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 purchased from Puma USA with a medical discount.  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!
Contact us at


Bottom Ad [Post Page]

// ]]>