Our verdict

The Puma Velocity Nitro 3, building on its predecessors' success, truly impressed us in our lab tests with its natural feel and exceptional PumaGrip outsole. Featuring a durable upper alongside the fantastic cushioning—all packaged in a surprisingly light frame—this trainer simply stands out. However, we also noticed some drawbacks during testing. The narrow forefoot and the firmer EVA carrier foam slightly dampened the ride for us. Despite these minor issues, at just $135, we're convinced it's a steal, making it a top pick for runners seeking a neutral daily trainer.

Pros

  • Versatile performance
  • Outstanding grip
  • Superb value for money
  • Suitable for long distances
  • Comfortable daily wear
  • Responsive Nitro foam cushioning
  • Reliable durability
  • Natural running feel

Cons

  • Slightly narrow forefoot
  • Firmer EVA carrier foam
  • Thin tongue

Audience verdict

87
Great!

Who should buy

We're convinced that the Velocity Nitro 3 is a stellar choice for:

  • Runners seeking a versatile, neutral daily trainer that offers exceptional value.
  • Those who alternate between asphalt or concrete and dirt roads, thanks to the outstanding PumaGrip outsole.
  • Fans of the previous Velocity Nitro versions, as the latest iteration retains the successful formula while enhancing its main features.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3

Who should NOT buy

After putting the Velocity Nitro 3 through its paces in our lab, we've identified a few scenarios where it might not be the optimal choice for certain runners.

For forefoot or midfoot strikers looking for a shoe with less drop, we think the Hoka Clifton 9, with its excellent value and cushioning, would be a better fit.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 parts

Furthermore, we believe the forefoot width of the Velocity Nitro 3 could be more generous. For those who thrive in wider shoes, the ASICS Novablast 4 presents a similar price but boasts a significantly larger forefoot area, ensuring more secure landings.

Breathability

Our initial focus on the Velocity Nitro 3 was its breathability—a crucial aspect for an all-rounder. Thankfully, our findings were positive, with the smoke test in the lab yielding a 4/5 score. That's impressive!

However, it's worth noting that not the entire upper boasts such good ventilation. The breathability is primarily in the toebox, while the medial part remains densely constructed, a deliberate choice to enhance stability, albeit at the expense of airflow. The light test proved to be the perfect method to highlight this, clearly showing the difference.

At a glance, the mesh didn't strike us as particularly extraordinary or groundbreaking. We decided to delve deeper with a microscopic examination to verify our initial impressions.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 microscope

What we discovered confirmed our thoughts—it's a straightforward engineered mesh, devoid of any fancy features, keeping costs down while still focusing on providing good breathability and durability. We've confirmed the former and will touch on the latter shortly.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 mesh

Upon a closer final inspection of the upper, we noticed it's not very stretchy.

Excluding the heel from this analysis, the padding is also less substantial compared to other daily trainers. This characteristic partially accounts for the lighter feel we experienced while testing the shoe.

Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 205 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Heading into the Dremel zone of our lab, we were cautiously optimistic due to the shoe's absence of large ventilation holes—often a precursor to strong performance in this test.

Following the Dremel's work, we were delighted to discover a score of 3/5. This result is notably impressive, clearly outperforming the average running shoe.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Toebox durability
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 3
Average 2.4
Compared to 139 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Next, we shifted our focus to the heel padding—a critical aspect for assessing durability in running shoes.

In this area, Puma again stepped up its game, earning a 4/5 score. This performance notably exceeds that of many other shoes that we have tested in the lab.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Heel padding durability
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 135 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Coming from the impressive results of the upper, we proceeded to examine the outsole, where we encountered the standout feature of the Velocity Nitro 3—the PumaGrip rubber compound.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 grip

PumaGrip has a solid reputation in the running community for being one of the most effective grips on the market, and our tests affirm its top-notch performance in all kind of surfaces.

Yet, it's common knowledge that increased grip often comes at the expense of durability. Could this be the case here? In our initial tests with the VN3, the durometer reading of 72.8 HC suggested a particularly soft rubber, hinting at the delicate balance Puma has struck between grip and longevity.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Outsole hardness
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 72.8 HC
Average 80.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 256 running shoes
Number of shoes
55.5 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

But a single measurement alone isn't conclusive without a proper wear test. This is why we deployed the Dremel for a third—and final—evaluation in our lab.

Following the application of the Dremel on the PumaGrip rubber, we observed a 1.0-mm indentation. While this might seem average at first glance, we consider it quite good, especially given the softness of the rubber.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Outsole durability
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 1.0 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 117 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

In our final step, we measured the thickness of the Velocity Nitro 3's rubber using our vernier caliper, finding it to be 3.0 mm.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 PumaGrip

Although there are a few exposed sections, the overall coverage is great, especially for heel strikers.

This thickness aligns with what's commonly seen in daily trainers and is perfectly adequate for this shoe.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Outsole thickness
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 3.0 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Right from our initial steps, we sensed that this shoe leaned towards the lighter end of the spectrum, a feeling that was later confirmed by the scale.

Weighing in at 9.3 oz or 264g, this is an impressively low figure for a daily trainer, especially one as durable and with a moderately high stack height as this. Puma has indeed done a great job here.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Weight
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 9.31 oz (264g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

This daily trainer hits the mark in so many aspects, and its stack height is no exception.

At 34.8 mm, it might not fall into the maximalist category by current standards, yet it offers ample cushioning in the rearfoot to accommodate every runner, including those on the heavier side.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Heel stack
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 34.8 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot maintains a consistent theme in design and execution, presenting a standard stack at 25.5 mm. It performs adequately, suitable for a wide range of users, and strikes a balanced height that avoids extremes.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Forefoot stack
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 25.5 mm
Average 24.9 mm
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

Calculating the difference from our previous two measurements yielded a 9.3-mm heel-to-toe drop, which leans towards the higher end and may particularly benefit heel strikers, though it's versatile enough for any runner.

This figure slightly deviates from the official 10-mm specification, but the discrepancy is minimal. In our experience, it's common to encounter more significant variances.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Drop
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 9.3 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The insole boasts a substantial thickness of 5.9 mm, enhancing the shoe's comfort and providing a soft sensation underfoot.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Insole thickness
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 5.9 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 272 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Transitioning to the midsole, the Velocity Nitro 3 showcases a dual-foam setup. The main foam—and the one closer to the foot—is the tried-and-true Puma Nitro foam, a supercritical blend that impresses us with its lightweight yet resilient nature.

Our durometer reading of 17.9 HA confirmed the midsole's ability to provide a plush yet not overly soft ride, striking a balance that benefits comfort yet prevents the sensation of bottoming out.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Midsole softness
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 17.9 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 203 running shoes
Number of shoes
9.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Secondary foam softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The layer of secondary foam, positioned nearer to the ground, is a notably firm EVA, which we measured at 36.0 HA.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 EVA

Its purpose is to enhance both durability and stability, effectively insulating the Nitro midsole from direct ground contact. However, it falls short in energy return and somewhat mutes the ride. Therefore, for the next iteration of the Velocity Nitro, we would prefer a full layer of Nitro foam.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Secondary foam softness
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 36.0 HA
Average 25.2 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Difference in midsole softness in cold

To assess how the Nitro foam holds up in cold conditions, we placed the VN3 in the freezer for 20 minutes before re-evaluating its softness. We were thrilled to find that it only became 16.8% firmer—a remarkable performance that truly exceeded our expectations.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 16.8%
Average 25.7%
Compared to 202 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Turning our focus to stability—a key aspect many runners prioritize—we conducted many tests on the shoe.

Our findings suggest it's most suitable for neutral runners, though it may accommodate those with slight pronation issues. However, for such cases, we would lean towards recommending a more specialized option, like the Hoka Arahi 7.

Torsional rigidity

As a daily trainer, the Velocity Nitro 3 turned out to be stiffer than anticipated, scoring a 3/5 in our rigidity test—whereas many of its rivals typically fall into the 1/5 or 2/5 range.

This rigidity directly contributes to the impressive stability we experienced with a neutral running style. However, it does compromise comfort during relaxed paces, a trade-off that merits attention.

Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 254 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

In our stiffness test, the heel counter of the shoe achieved a 3/5, adopting a balanced approach that avoids the overly soft feel of many competition shoes, yet stays clear of the rigid, stone-like feel characteristic of some stability footwear. We like this approach for a daily running shoe!

Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 238 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Upon taking precise measurements of the shoe, we were taken aback by its narrowness, which isn't immediately apparent at first glance.

The forefoot measured only 107.7 mm in width, which is notably narrower compared to similar models on the market. This unexpected measurement sheds light on Puma's decision to incorporate additional stability features, such as the firmer EVA carrier foam at the base of the midsole, to enhance the shoe's overall stability and performance.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 107.7 mm
Average 113.5 mm
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Measuring the heel at 89.8 mm, we found it to be slightly wider relative to the average shoe, considering the forefoot dimensions, yet it still trends towards the narrower side.

This design choice positions the shoe as an ideal pick for those who appreciate a sleek, traditional daily trainer, steering clear of the bulkier, maximalist designs that are becoming increasingly common among brands.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 89.8 mm
Average 90.3 mm
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Once we completed the measurements, we transitioned to another section of our lab to evaluate the shoe's stiffness using our standard 90-degree bend test.

The outcome was 25.4N, aligning with our expectations for a daily running shoe that aims for a middle ground, avoiding the extremes. We can affirm that running in this shoe feels natural, partly due to the absence of a rockered geometry. Additionally, it's versatile enough for other activities such as walking or gym workouts.

Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 25.4N
Average 29.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 259 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Our initial measurement of the toebox at its widest point revealed a spacious 99.4 mm, theoretically making this shoe highly appealing for a broad range of foot widths.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 99.4 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

However, we found a significant taper in the toe cap area, measuring just 76.1 mm during our second assessment. This suggests that runners with square-shaped feet might face challenges with the Velocity Nitro 3. In such cases, we recommend considering the Saucony Triumph 21 as an alternative.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 upper

But it's not all discouraging news—many runners actually prefer a more aggressive taper in the toebox for reduced toe movement and a snugger performance fit. Ultimately, it boils down to individual foot shape and preference. What works best for you?

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 76.1 mm
Average 78.1 mm
Compared to 150 running shoes
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
91.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

A standout feature we've noted in the VN3, which isn't common in all daily trainers, is its gusseted tongue—a truly commendable addition for a $135 shoe.

We've observed that this design significantly enhances the lockdown by securing it to the sides, elevating the overall fit and comfort.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Both sides (full)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue is thin, measuring a mere 3.2 mm, which falls short for those who favor a more cushioned and plush feel.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 tongue

The tongue had an unexpectedly odd shape, and the laces turned out to be longer than we preferred.

In our testing, we discovered that if you're seeking that extra padding under the laces, you might be better off with a shoe like the Adidas Supernova Rise. This model offers triple the padding for your instep, though it comes with the drawback of added weight.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Tongue padding
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 3.2 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 274 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

Although we didn't find a finger loop tab, there is a slightly extended heel collar that facilitates grabbing the shoe from that area, while also providing some relief for the Achilles tendon.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Heel tab
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Extended heel collar

Removable insole

The insole is non glued, allowing for easy replacement. Given its thickness, those requiring additional vertical space in the upper might consider swapping it out for a slimmer one.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Removable insole
Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

We were pleasantly surprised by the Velocity Nitro 3! In a world where many brands are moving away from reflective elements, it's refreshing to see this feature shine through.

Our testing revealed that this attention to detail really makes a big difference, especially for those late evening runs in winter!

Test results
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 Yes