Who can forget Molly Seidel’s Olympic marathon celebration at finish line with her Puma shoes over her shoulder? Deviate Nitro Elite is the first super-shoe from Puma. It is the super shoe counterpart of Deviate Nitro which we have reviewed earlier.
It is a full package with Carbon Fiber plate and Puma’s PEBAX-based Nitro Elite foam. As with other super shoes, it is primarily meant for racing longer distances. It is however versatile enough to be used for distances from 5K to Marathon. The price point is attractive when compared to other super shoes, which makes it an excellent choice for speed training too.
So the question is how does it perform as a super-shoe?
In terms of geometry, it looks very similar to Deviate Nitro. Geometry is more traditional, the rocker effect is very minimal when compared to similar shoes from Nike and Saucony. What you notice immediately is how light the Elite edition is. At 190 grams for UK 8, it is one of lightest.
To compared, for UK 10 Deviate Nitro is under 274 grams, while Deviate Nitro Elite undercuts it by 60g with a weight of 213 grams for UK 10. The stack height is 36mm. The shoe has a heel-to-toe drop of 8 mm, which is ideal for mid-foot strikers but works fine for forefoot and heel strikers too.
Here is comparative view of weights of all the carbon plated shoes available in India. At 190 grams, it is one of the lightest, next only to VaporFly.
This is the most interesting part of the shoe. It is made of Puma’s take on PEBAX foam, called Nitro Elite. Nitro Elite is a completely different foam from Nitro foam which is used in other Nitro series shoes like Deviate, Velocity, and Liberate. The midsole is very soft and bouncy.
Here is a comparative view of how soft is Nitro Elite’s midsole is, when measured the softness with a Durometer. At 25 HA, it is the softest.
No super shoe introduction is complete without the mention of carbon fiber plate. The plate is curved and wedged within the two layers of the midsole. As soon as you step into the shoe, you will feel the plate.
The upper is one of the key highlights of the shoe, and is one of the best among the modern shoes. It is thin, transparent, and yet keeps its shape. It is extremely breathable, nothing like I have ever experienced before. Puma has nailed it to perfection. Liberate Nitro Cool Adapt edition also has a similar upper, but the upper here is much superior. The upper has several reflective elements and it looks glorious in the dark and is inspired by the Puma, the cat.
The tongue can cause inconvenience as it moves around, and is not attached to the sides. The Lacing system however is excellent except that the laces are too long.
The heel is as minimal as it can get. The padding is almost non-existant, but it feels better than Deviate Nitro. While one might feel heel slipping, it is not as pronounced. The heel has very minimal reinforcement and expect no support.
There is not much to talk about the bottom sole, when compared to the other shoes in Nitro series. PUMAGRIP of Nitro series is one of the best in the business. The variation of Puma Grip used here is called PUMAGRIP LT, which is thin rubber, and doesn’t offer much traction. The bottom sole has a cut-out through which you can see the Carbon plate.
I have been running in Deviate Nitro for a while. Despite the carbon plate and Nitro foam, I didn’t enjoy the shoe because of its weight and not-so-great heel fit. When I first heard from a friend about the release of the Elite version, I considered it a good candidate to replace my Deviate Nitro. A lighter shoe definitely will help me in my current training cycles which primarily involved building speed. An extremely good price point by Puma India helped me to seal the deal. In fact, I bought the shoe on the first very day of its release in India.
Given the purpose of the shoe, I have used it primarily for faster runs close to the race pace. I have also used them for speed training. I have so far run about 100km in the shoes. The runs included a couple of half-marathon distances at marathon pace, a 5KM race, Tempo runs, and a few VO2 max Interval workouts.
The shoe is comfortable no matter whichever distance and pace you choose to run. Nitro Elite foam-based midsole is well cushioned and yet bouncy.
For longer runs at my marathon pace (about 5 min/km), the shoe feels extremely comfortable in handling the distance. The lightweight nature of the really helps towards the finishing kilometers, keeping the fatigue in check. At this, you can’t feel the carbon plate effect much, but the bounce is pronounced enough to make the ride enjoyable.
Tempo effort runs at paces under 4:30 is when I really feel the carbon plate in action. One can feel the springboard effect at these paces. The shoe just responds as you hit the road harder.
I wasn’t in my best shape for the 5K race I ran in the shoe. But the shoe did a fantastic job with bounce and getting a good stride. However, the lack of rocker effect is evident to me. When compared to other carbon plated shoes I have used such as AlphaFly, and Endorphin Pro 2, the transition at push-off is not as enjoyable. The weak rocker effect is also the reason why the shoe also promotes higher cadence.
I am using UK 10, which is the usual size for me. The fit is perfect for me in every way. The Forefoot and toe box area are very roomy and never had any issues so far.
The laces are too long, but the laces work perfectly and keep themselves in place. The tongue moves around a bit, a minor inconvenience.
The heel slip feels uncomfortable at times, but it is not a deal-breaker. With a bit of lacing adjustment, it is managed well.
The upper is extremely breathable. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the shoe feels most natural as it is very light.
As with other super shoes, the shoe is a neutral shoe, and there are no pronation control measures in the midsole or at heal. However, with a reasonably wider base of the shoe, it feels quite stable. If you are looking for pronation control, this is not the shoe for you.
The grip is good enough for tarred roads. Unlike regular Puma Nitro series shoes, the grip doesn’t work very well on roads with sand, and construction debris.
During the launch, there is only one colorway option available. The white colorway with the Puma racing strip is flaunt-worthy. The reflective overlays at the heel, and around the laces gives it a cool look in the dark.
Through the translucent mesh upper you can see the socks you wear. So the color of the socks gives the shoe a distinct aesthetic. In a way, it gives plenty of options to match your shoe color to the apparel you wear.
Aravind is a techie, running geek, and a marathoner. He is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He loves all things technology and technology in running, with special interest in running form analysis.
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