Puma has always made good looking running shoes. And Puma has always had that something different too, from time to time. Like the Puma Hybrid Astro One8, for example. Just that Puma hasn’t been doing enough of this exciting stuff. But then again, we’ve just been through a year where everything is forgiven. The cat is back and is making its presence felt. If you are in the market for a new running shoe that is uncomplicated yet has all the modern-day goodness and tech infusions, you should certainly be considering the new Puma Deviate Nitro. These are part of the latest line of running shoes from Puma and are priced at Rs 14,999. That means these go straight into competition with the likes of the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 (around Rs 14,990) around the same price point.
Something that has remained a consistent element of Puma running shoes over the years, is the lightweight design. The Puma Deviate Nitro are no different, weighing around 270 grams. The mesh upper is incredibly breathable, and the texture feels quite smooth allowing you to wear these without socks if you need to. That being said, these aren’t the most generously padded on the inside, which kind of makes me feel that Puma is trying to get us a more sock-like feel for the shoe. The most apparent is the lack of padding behind the foot, where the Achilles is—this is one design element you may just have to get used to, if your older running shoe had some support there. Yet, that could just be the extra oneness with the shoe that some runners would appreciate. The shoulder and the Achilles are higher than on a lot of other shoes, and the slightly more elastic-esque fit at the top of the shoulder curves allow the foot to feel a tad more secure. Mind you, there is a generous padding on either side of the ankles and around the sides, just below the collar. The lacing eyelets are integrated in a thick plastic band on either side and the ends run quite high along the tongue, which means the fit can be very close to what you’d like. These plastic inserts aren’t felt inside at all, which is great. While the Puma Deviate Nitro does narrow up a bit at the front, the toe box still gets you a lot of wriggle room and good vertical space as well for the foot to not feel hemmed in.
The tech quotient really kicks in with what sits beneath your foot. First up, the battle of the midsole tech and composition that has everyone including Nike, Reebok, Asics, Adidas, Skechers and indeed Puma totally engrossed, begins the next chapter with the new Puma Nitro foam technology. The pursuit of the ideal balance between suppleness and responsiveness has gotten us this far, with the Nitro foam and the weight reduction being one of the primary reasons why the Puma Deviate Nitro is comfortably light to wear. There is that really likeable softness about this midsole as you walk around wearing the Puma Deviate Nitro, which gently hardens up as you start running and gather some pace. The result is improved responsiveness and feedback. The big reason for that is Puma’s carbon fiber propulsion plate called Innoplate, that’s integrated into the midsole. The thing is, there are midsole tech that use beads, for example, that compress and decompress to release energy and provide that little push for the runner which gives that assistance in the forward movement. But metal cannot really be replaced by anything else. The plate has a spoon-like shape and it looks like it is designed to scoop near the front. That is to provide a contour that goes well with your toes. While the mid onwards to the heel area delivers the bounce-back for your foot. I have to say that the changing characteristics of what’s underfoot in the Puma Deviate Nitro reminds me of how car steering wheels tend to nicely weigh up as the speeds increase. That’s what the Deviate Nitro also does. Walk or jog, and you’ll probably just enjoy the suppleness of the Nitro midsole. Speed up, and the rigidity of the carbon fiber place starts to show its necessary intervention. There is an 8mm offset, that is the heel to toe angle—its 32mm at the heel and 24mm at the toe, for that leaning forward stance.
The outsole integrated what is called the PumaGrip technology. This is, simply put, a durable rubber composition. The promise is of better grip on all types of surfaces. I haven’t been able to test these in standing water or even those slightly moist and yet nastily slippery hard surfaces, but from what I have experienced on the drier underfoot scenarios, the Puma Deviate Nitro does well and there seem to be no red flags. Under the toe is the large black chunk of rubber with a mishmash of grooves and treads. Beneath your heel is the coloured dual rubber insert pair, along with the pressure release cavity—the colour of the rubber here matches with your shoe. This rubber is specifically the Puma Grip outsole, and it seems quite robust and shouldn’t show any signs of wearing out even if used regularly on harder or rougher surfaces. If you look closely, you’ll be able to see the carbon fiber Innoplate mid-foot. And carrying forward the point of colour matching rubber inserts, you can buy the Puma Deviate Nitro in four colorways at this time. The one photographed here is the Yellow Alert-Puma Black option, while you can also choose from Puma Black-Puma Silver, Lava Blast-Puma Black and Gray Violet-Yellow Alert variants.
The Last Word: Welcome Back To The Game, Puma!
The Puma Deviate Nitro at this price point is joining some serious battles to get your attention and become your running shoe choice. It won’t be easy, because the rivals are quite well-stocked too, as far as the tech is concerned. Yet, the Puma Deviate Nitro is in perhaps the strongest position of any Puma running shoe so far. And the carbon fiber plate has a big role to play in that. There’s a lot else going for it too, such as the lightweight design and the supple and extremely comfortable midsole that makes this quite useful as a daily use shoe when you aren’t running. This is a performance running shoe and make no mistake about it, the Puma Deviate Nitro is seriously good.