Our verdict

PUMA's maiden voyage into the supershoe world delivers a fantastic performance at a reasonable price. Even though it's built as a marathon shoe, we think this modern-day racing flat excels for interval training and 5K/10K races.

Pros

  • Mighty fast
  • Stable
  • Racer fit
  • Natural ride
  • Secure heel clutch
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Looks amazing
  • Soft and bouncy midsole
  • Fantastic grip

Cons

  • Scratchy upper with subpar durability
  • Narrow fit
  • Needs more stack height for marathons

Audience verdict

92
Superb!

Who should buy

For those immersed in the PUMA universe or seeking a durable racer with excellent grip and stability, we've discovered that the Deviate Nitro Elite emerges as a top-tier option. In our tests, its versatility and plush midsole just shone. We found it's great for everything from short to long intervals, races, and even daily runs if needed.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite side

Who should NOT buy

However, we think that you should steer clear of this PUMA if you:

  • have medium-to-wide feet since the toe box is tight. ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ is a roomier alternative
  • favour high-stacked shoes for long-distance races—Nike Alphafly 2 is a better choice
  • aren't keen on using a carbon plate. Take a look at the ASICS Noosa Tri 14 instead!

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite parts

Breathability

The moment we picked up the shoe in our lab, we immediately sensed its fantastic airflow. Its upper, made of a plasticky material, breathes with minuscule holes that encourage airflow and effortlessly release heat.

Even under a crazy heatwave, running in this shoe resulted in neither blisters nor discomfort. The Deviate Nitro Elite it's definitely a safe bet even for our wild 20-mile summer long runs.

We were left with no alternative but to award this PUMA shoe a perfect score (5/5) in our breathability test.

The Deviate Nitro Elite design goes above and beyond, not only dissipating heat through the tongue area—like most running shoes—but also delivering superior airflow in its toe box, which is a must for long distance shoes.

The upper looked ultra-thin and almost transparent when exposed to light in our lab.

Now, let's move to one of our favorite tests: the microscope.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite microscope

The breathability secrets of the Deviate Nitro Elite reveal themselves under our microscope. As you can observe, thousands of ventilation holes result from the unique threading of this synthetic mesh. Air and heat can escape without any issue.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite microscope close

The PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite upper it's almost hypnotizing under our microscope, isn't it?

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 209 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

The Deviate Nitro Elite from PUMA doesn't just feel light—it's incredibly featherweight. Weighing a mere 7.1 oz (200g), it's a whopping 34% lighter than the average running shoe.

Toebox durability

Aside from a few exceptions, a thin mesh intended for racing typically implies that the upper isn't overly resistant to abrasion.

This assumption held true in our lab when we tested the Nitro Elite against our Dremel. The machine made one of the largest holes we've ever seen in this test. Unfortunately for PUMA, that results in a score of just 1 out of 5 from us.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Dremel Alphafly

The Nike Alphafly Next% 2 is one of those exceptions. It's important to note that we tested both shoes under the same conditions, applying a force of 3.2N at 10K RPM.

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 1
Average 2.3
Compared to 143 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Contrary to the upper, the heel tells a more impressive tale. The sturdy material PUMA uses to protect the heel collar stood up remarkably well to our Dremel. With an admirable resistance to wear and tear, it earned a solid 4 out of 5!

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite heel

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 139 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Transitioning to the outsole, we observed a notably low value (71.8 HC) in our durometer test, which is typical—and desirable—for a racing shoe.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite grip

Similar to car or Formula 1 tires, the softer the compound, the greater the grip. It's essential to remember this shoe isn't designed for everyday training—although PumaGrip it's a compound renowned for its durability, so it definitely can be used for that purpose.

Another standout feature of this PUMA shoe is the generous cover of rubber it boasts, more than you'll find on most racing shoes. This results in truly impressive durability, which makes this shoe also fantastic for interval training or running in other surfaces.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Outsole hardness
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 71.8 HC
Average 80.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
55.5 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole thickness

Of course, a racing shoe equals thin outsole. Adding thicker rubber would increase weight, which isn't ideal when the goal is to race as quickly as possible. A measurement of 1.9 mm aligns perfectly with other world-class competition shoes that we also tested in our lab, such as the ASICS Metaspeed Edge+ or the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Outsole thickness
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 1.9 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

The Deviate Nitro Elite from PUMA doesn't just feel light—it's incredibly featherweight. Weighing a mere 7.1 oz (200g), it's a whopping 34% lighter than the average running shoe.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Weight
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 7.05 oz (200g)
Average 9.35 oz (265g)
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Here's a time when our findings deviate considerably from what the brand says. Our meticulous measurements using a caliper revealed a heel height of 31.1 mm, which is substantially lower than stated by PUMA (36 mm).

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Heel stack
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 31.1 mm
Average 33.5 mm
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

We ran into a similar problem with the forefoot. PUMA's advertised 28 mm of foam fell short, with our lab measurements revealing only 25.4 mm. While not as huge a discrepancy as in the heel, it's still far from ideal.

For today's marathon-running standards, this under-30-mm thickness seems subpar, especially when most competition shoes boast a foam layer exceeding 30 mm in the same region in order to protect your muscles for the last third of the race.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Forefoot stack
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 25.4 mm
Average 24.9 mm
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

Considering these figures, the stated 8-mm heel-to-toe drop, in reality, measures out to be 5.7 mm.

While this isn't necessarily a drawback—many experienced runners, like midfoot or forefoot strikers, might even find it advantageous—it's essential for us to emphasize that this actual measurement doesn't align with PUMA's advertised specifications.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Drop
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 5.7 mm
Average 8.6 mm
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

At 3.3 mm, the insole is leaner than what we usually find in the lab. However, just like happened with the outsole, the need to cut weight in a racing shoe dictates this approach. Every gram counts, and indeed, the insole presents a good opportunity for such diet.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Insole thickness
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 3.3 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 275 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.

Our durometer tests reveal a pleasantly soft compound in the Nitro Elite foam that we measured at 14.8 HA of softness. This foam is crafted from a mix of PEBA and EVA, and PUMA takes this approach for two different reasons:

  1. Durability: By adding EVA to the equation, the midsole's lifespan significantly extends.
  2. Affordability: PEBA, while effective, is really expensive. EVA, on the other hand, is an ultra-cheap foam.

The end product delivers a soft and springy run, although it doesn't quite match the bounce level of the PEBA-only foams found in ASICS or Nike racing shoes.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Midsole softness
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 14.8 HA
Average 21.3 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 207 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Even after a 20-minute nap in our freezer, the Nitro Elite stayed as soft as a sponge at 19.9 HA.

However, there's a catch. While it's true the Nitro Elite remains soft in cold temperatures, it does harden up way more (34.7%) than its PEBA or TPEE competitors, which typically fall in the 5-15% ballpark. So, why does this happen?

The answer is quite simple! PEBA performs outstandingly under cold conditions, but EVA, unfortunately, does not. Since the Nitro Elite foam is a blend of PEBA and EVA, we observed a result that's pretty much what we expected—an average performance.

If you're interested in understanding more about how foams react to extreme temperatures, we have a detailed guide that covers everything you need to know.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 34.7%
Average 25.7%
Compared to 206 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

The stability of the PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite stands as one of its most noteworthy features when compared to other racing shoes. Contrary to our initial expectation of the typical instability found in racing shoes, we were greeted with a pleasant surprise by its secure ride.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite outsole shape

PUMA has incorporated design elements from daily training shoes into this racer to enhance stability. The noticeably wide midfoot, unusual for a racing shoe, is evident in the photo above. Its similarity to the Deviate Nitro 2—a training shoe—is pretty obvious.

Torsional rigidity

Whenever we encounter shoes with carbon-fiber plates in our lab, we anticipate a maximum level of rigidity. True to our expectations, this shoe delivers a 5/5 in our manual assessment.

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 258 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

This test shows the total opposite of the last one. Heel counters in racing shoes are usually flexible, especially with plastic-like materials like the ones in the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0 or this PUMA. So, the lowest score possible (1/5) is what the Deviate Nitro Elite ended up with.

If you experience any kind of heel slippage, try an alternative lacing technique.

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 1
Average 2.7
Compared to 242 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Although the Deviate Nitro Elite is slightly narrower than the average shoe, at 109.8 mm we still view it as wide for its purpose. This smart tactic from the German brand enhances stability and positions the shoe competitively against its rivals, making it a clear selling point for many long distance runners.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 109.8 mm
Average 113.5 mm
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

This theme continues to the back of the shoe, where we found that, at 84.7 mm, it's 7.7 mm wider than the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0 and a jaw-dropping 9.7 mm wider than the Vaporfly Next% 2.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 84.7 mm
Average 90.3 mm
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Here's the deal. Running shoes with carbon plates are fantastic for racing, but they can be uncomfortable for everything else. That's why companies are introducing nylon plates in training shoes that aren't as rigid, yet still provide some carbon plate benefits.

Well, after our flexibility test, we found that the Deviate Nitro Elite, with its "PWRPLATE" carbon plate, finds itself squarely in between these two at 41N. It's significantly less rigid than your average racing speedster, but it's also firmer than the typical shoe and the majority of nylon-plated ones.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite flex

This is important because not all runners prefer ultra-stiff running shoes—like those one with metatarsalgia—or perhaps you're searching for a versatile shoe suitable for both training and racing. If that's the case, this shoe strikes the perfect balance.

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 41.0N
Average 29.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 262 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

The same scenario that we experienced about midsole softness happened with the Deviate Nitro Elite regarding stiffness. When we tested it in cold conditions, it exhibited a slightly more rigid behaviour at 57.3N, being less pleasant.

At 39.8% of change, the Deviate is keeping in line with the whole PEBA+EVA foam behaviour. We were gearing up for a typical, nothing-to-write-home-about change aaaand bingooo—that’s what we got!

Definitely not the world-class result that you should expect from a £210 shoe.

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 39.8%
Average 37%
Compared to 262 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

PUMA does another trick here in order to boost stability. We found that they mixed a narrow upper (91.6 mm) with a wide midsole, thus obtaining an stable and solid ride. However, there's a catch—it leaves less room inside the shoe. And that's a problem for many of us.

Our testing reveals that runners with medium-to-wide feet might find this shoe a bit tight, while those with narrow or narrow-to-medium feet will likely find them comfortable for racing.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 91.6 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

In an interesting move to add a bit of extra space in the toebox—and trying to please more runners despite its narrow toebox—the German brand designed the big toe area to mimic most training shoes. It's almost the average size at 72.8 mm, and that's a good thing.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 72.8 mm
Average 78.1 mm
Compared to 154 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Toebox feel

After some back-and-forth, we decided to label the fit of this shoe as "medium" for our test, but it’s teetering on the edge of being tight. Runners with medium-to-wide feet can try to go half-size up, and those with wide feet must stay away from this one.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Midfoot feel
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite Medium

Midfoot feel

The midfoot fit is truly impressive, positioning this shoe among the best options for those with flat feet. It's right up there with the ASICS Metaspeed Edge+ in this regard.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Midfoot feel
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite Normal

Heel feel

The heel is an absolute dream to slip into, especially for a racing shoe. We had no heel slippage during our test runs.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Heel feel
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite Normal

Tongue: gusset type

We've got to hand it to PUMA for their out-of-the-box thinking in many areas. Take the tongue gusset as an example. It's unique in that it's only fixed partially to the shoe on one side, leaving the other free. This unconventional approach isn't something we see every day in our lab.

Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite One side (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

Lace bite it's a common problem and it usually traces back to those paper-thin tongues in racing shoes. So imagine our reaction when we saw the Deviate Nitro Elite. Despite its racing approach, it sports a huge amount of padding in the tongue.

To paint a clear picture, let's crunch the numbers. This PUMA's tongue padding, at 5.1 mm of thickness, outpaces the competition by 4x or 5x. Let's put this into context:

  • It's a whopping 4.2 mm thicker than the tongue in the Nike Vaporfly Next% 2
  • It surpasses the ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ by 4.3 mm
  • It leaves behind the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 by a solid 3.9 mm

That's C-O-M-F-O-R-T... in a racing shoe!

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Tongue padding
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite 5.1 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Removable insole

Breaking away from the pack of racing shoes that often glue down their insoles—making them, in theory, non-removable—PUMA takes a different path. Third party insoles and orthotics are not a problem in the Deviate Nitro Elite.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Removable insole
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Deviate Nitro Elite offers us high-visibility, eye-catching reflective details for our fast-paced night runs.

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite Reflective elements
Test results
Deviate Nitro Elite Yes