Puma Deviate Nitro 2 Review: Interesting shoe, but with a few caveats.

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on
For this review, Solereview purchased the Puma Deviate Nitro 2 at full retail price; the proof of purchase (in CAN $) is here. We do not accept free samples for our reviews and have no ties to the industry.

The Puma Deviate Nitro 2 on road.

Puma Deviate Nitro 2
Puma Deviate Nitro 2 product box

OUR VERDICT: 83% – GOOD

The Puma Deviate 2 Nitro can wear many hats, but this isn’t that one shoe to do it all. The true-to-size upper fits very tight.

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  • Puma’s marketing pitch: Perfect for all distances, from sprints to ultras.
  • Upper: Engineered mesh, inner gusset.
  • Midsole: Softer Nitro Elite foam over a firmer Nitro foam heel plug, Pwrplate board with a prong-like front. 6 mm heel drop.
  • Outsole: Puma grip rubber.
  • Weight: 269 gms/ 9.5 Oz for a half pair of Men’s US 9/UK 8.5/EUR 42.5/CM 27.
  • Stack heights: 35 mm (heel), 29 mm (forefoot).
  • Available widths: D – regular (reviewed), 2E – wide.
  • Previous model: Puma Deviate Nitro.
  • Country of origin: Vietnam.
  • Recommended use: Tempo runs, daily training, half-marathons.
  • Footstrike orientation: Heel, midfoot/forefoot (full contact).
  • Median lifespan: 400 miles.
  • Recommended temperature range: Warmer than -5° C/23° F.

Pros

  • Soft and bouncy ride
  • Outsole grip
  • Secure upper
  • Highly reflective
  • Optional widths

Cons

  • Tight upper may not suit all
  • Limited retail availability
  • Not as versatile as advertised
  • Average ventilation

Also consider:

  1. Puma Deviate Nitro 2 Elite
  2. adidas Boston 12
  3. Brooks Hyperion Max
  4. New Balance Rebel V4
  • Use the Deviate Nitro 2 for daily training and tempo work
  • Use Hoka Cielo Rd or adidas Takumi 10 for intervals and short races
  • Use the adidas Adios Pro 3 or Hoka Cielo X1 or Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 for marathons

Puma Deviate Nitro 2 product box.

Most runners will buy one of the following Puma running shoes, not counting the Nitro Elite R, Liberate Nitro, and Forever Nitro.

At the top of the price pyramid is the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 – a narrow-fitting marathon racer with a plate that’s a lighter and more aggressive version of the Deviate Nitro 2. Its $200 price undercuts comparable shoes by a wide margin, and the ride quality is also a differentiator. That will change with the $230 Nitro Elite 3, though.

The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 on the sidewalk.

The tongue of the Puma Velocity Nitro 3.

The heel view of the Puma Magnify Nitro 2.

The Velocity Nitro 3 isn’t what it sounds like. It’s not a speed shoe per se, but a cushioned shoe with a peppy ride, tight upper, and grippy outsole. The upper half of the midsole uses the soft Nitro foam, whereas the base layer is a firmer EVA blend foam. The $130 price makes it a good value proposition.

On the cushier side of the spectrum, there’s the Magnify Nitro 2. Think of it as a less boring Brooks Glycerin with a stretchy upper and better outsole grip. The thicker stack does ‘magnify’ the cushioning, so there’s ample comfort for long runs at easy speeds.

That leaves us with the Deviate Nitro 2. It’s an interesting shoe that doesn’t fit into an existing segment. It’s built like a daily trainer, but with two layers of superfoam and a prong-shaped plate. ‘Deviate’ is a fitting name, indeed.

Puma advertises this shoe for ‘all distances, from sprints to ultra’. That’s not how we see the shoe.

The Deviate Nitro 2 does many things well, but it’s not quite the one shoe to do it all.

We explain more in this review, but here’s a quick overview. It’s a decent everyday trainer with tempo run capabilities, but it is not a speed shoe – despite Puma ‘sprint’ claim. Also, the narrow upper might not sit well with everyone.

1. HOW DO THE NITRO ELITE AND NITRO FOAM BEHAVE?

The Nitro Elite foam midsole of the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

The Deviate Nitro 2 has a very bouncy ride, more so under the forefoot than the heel. That’s because the forefoot gets most of the springy Nitro Elite foam.

The foam that comes closest in feel to the Nitro Elite foam is the New Balance Fuelcell foam from the older Rebel and SC Elite. It’s soft and bouncy without feeling squishy or flat.

The bottom layer under the heel is the firmer Nitro foam. It’s a higher-density version of the Nitro Elite. If we had to look outside Puma, we’d say it feels like a slightly softer version of what the Brooks Glycerin 21 uses.

Both foams are very lightweight, so they help offset the Deviate 2’s sturdy build quality. The 9.5-ounce (269-gram) weight also includes a thick rubber outsole, an inner plate, and a nicely kitted upper with trims and all.

As a result, the overall cushioning-to-weight ratio is excellent.

2. THE RIDE QUALITY IS INTERESTING, BUT NOT OPTIMAL FOR SPEED

The Pwrplate inside the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

The forefoot midsole design matters a lot on a running shoe that’s designed for speed. Along with a secure upper, a speed shoe needs to have at least one of the three things – a) A firm midsole, b) A defined rocker c) A firm outsole to push off from.

The Deviate Nitro 2 has a great upper lockdown and a mild rocker effect, but its soft midsole dilutes the intensity of the toe-offs.

Let’s unpack the midsole architecture first. A pronged plate is embedded inside the Nitro Elite core under the forefoot, and rests over the firmer Nitro foam under the heel. The forefoot gets the softer foam, with the firmer Nitro foam in the back.

If there was no plate inside the Deviate Nitro, the midsole would have been just a very cushioned stack of bouncy foam. The midsole has decent stack heights (35 mm heel, 29 mm forefoot), so there’s a lot of ride comfort. But there is a plate (PWR plate), and that makes all the difference.

The plate adds stiffness to the midsole and counterbalances the softness. It makes the heel springy and helps with the transitions. However, it doesn’t behave like most plates do.

The front of the Pwrplate is split into two, and while it’s placed closer to the ground, there’s still a thin stack of soft foam under it. So while the transition benefits from the plate, the rocker effect is rather mild.

Along with the toned-down rocker effect, the forefoot outsole is also soft. There’s also a groove under the forefoot, so the outsole also tends to ‘piston’ in when loaded.

As a result, the push-offs are more sluggish than you’d hope for. The foot momentarily sinks into the Nitro Elite core, the outsole pistons inwards, and the pronged plate doesn’t roll the foot forward like a full plate. It takes a brief moment for the foot to find its footing, and this is where the Deviate Nitro comes up short during sprints or intervals.

The forefoot outsole of the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2.

Unlike the Deviate Nitro 2, the Deviate Elite 2 has a fully covered outsole.

The Deviate Nitro 2 Elite, on the other hand, has a solid rubber outsole (see above) under the forefoot.

In the absence of context, the Puma Deviate Nitro 2’s ride is excellent. It has the comforting softness of a cushioned everyday trainer, but is made unboring by the assisted pop of an inner plate. The tight upper is good at directing power to the midsole.

But it helps to temper expectations. A sprint shoe, this shoe is certainly not. Sorry, Puma.

3. THE TRUE-TO-SIZE UPPER IS NARROW, POINTY, AND SHALLOW

The top view of the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

Puma sells an optional wide in the Deviate, but its availability will be scarce. Most runners will have to deal with the standard model and its upper fit.

And that fit happens to be narrow, pointy, and slightly shallow inside the toe box. The tongue has minimal padding, so the lacing top-down pressure is also felt.

The heel collar of the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

The heel grips securely and is surprisingly comfortable. The stiff counter isn’t tall, so that leaves the upper heel collar soft and gentle over the Achilles.

And is the ‘Pwrtape’? It’s just a piece of fused fabric on the outside to reinforce the inner upper. It means different things in different Puma shoes, though. The Deviate Nitro Elite 2, for example, has a reinforced inner midfoot.

CAN THE DEVIATE NITRO 2 DO EVERYTHING? NOT QUITE.

The Puma Deviate Nitro 2 in a road race.

The Deviate Nitro 2 is too soft to be a speed shoe, and the upper fit is too aggressive for an everyday trainer. If you’re a narrow-footed runner, that would work in your favor.

There’s a thin line between a secure upper and a narrow one, and the Deviate Nitro 2 leans towards the overly tight territory.

The narrow upper isn’t going to be liked by everyone, and it also limits the Deviate 2’s capabilities. For example, the fit is too aggressive when you just want to take the Deviate on a long jog at slow speeds – which the cushioned midsole is perfect for.

What about tempo runs?

Tempo runs have little to do with a fixed number in speed and more to do with individual capability. So a ‘tempo’ run for one runner might just mean a slow jog for another.

If we had to put a hard number to the Deviate’s speed limit, it would be 4:00 min/km or 6:30 min/mile. If you want to go quicker, the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 does sub-4:00 min/km runs well.

STABLE AND NEUTRAL MIDSOLE

The heel midsole of the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

While you won’t get Brook Glycerin levels of stability, the wide base makes the midsole supportive. The cushioning is neutral without bias.

The midsole sidewalls also create a mild cupping action to keep the foot locked in over the removable insole.

THE PUMAGRIP OUTSOLE IS A TRACTION MONSTER

The Puma Deviate Nitro 2 on road.

Move over, adidas Continental. Here’s another German brand with a proprietary outsole rubber that sticks. Be it rain or shine, the PumaGrip outsole delivers exceptional traction.

And it’s not just about the traction; the outsole also lasts long.

The ventilation isn’t great

The interiors of the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

The upper doesn’t breathe very well, even in mild summers. The mesh isn’t very thick, but the upper fit is very narrow.

This kind of fit limits the airflow, so that’s something to keep in mind during the race season.

Excellent low-light visibility

The reflective heel of the Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

The upper has a large reflective panel over the heel as well as high-visibility bits on the forefoot. That makes it easy for the Deviate Nitro 2 to be seen in the dark.

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