I recently reviewed the Puma Deviate Nitro, Puma’s top-of-the-line flagship everyday running shoe and it was a great shoe. Now, I get a chance to review the lighter, better fitting, carbon plated, race-day-focused Puma Deviate Nitro Elite. Puma’s new star long-distance athlete, Molly Seidel, already set several PRs in the Elite. Can the Elite unseat the Nike Vaporfly Next% at the top of the road racing shoe pyramid? Let’s find out. Spoiler alert! they made our list of the best running shoes available and our best Puma running shoes list as well as our Best for Marathons and Best for Long Distances lists.
The Deviate Nitro Elite provides two layers of Nitro Elite foam sandwiching a full length carbon fiber Innoplate. Nitro Elite is a supercritical peba-based foam infused with nitrogen. It feels very similar to New Balance’s Fuelcell.
The amount of cushioning is relatively high with 28mm in the forefoot and 36mm in the heel. The resulting 8mm drop feels natural. The Elite sits slightly lower to the ground than the regular Deviate Nitro and packs an even better bounce. Think Saucony Endorphin Pro but just a touch softer. Though I didn’t get to race in them, I loved doing speed workouts in this shoe. The midsole works great for picking up speed.
For the outsole, Puma uses Puma Grip-LT, which is a lighter version of their new (and fantastic) Puma Grip. Grip-LT is not as tacky as regular Puma Grip but it’s race ready. It’s as good or better than anything else you’ll find on race day shoes.
The Deviate Nitro Elite eschews a heel counter but adds in synthetic suede midfoot straps alongside a wide base. The midfoot straps kept me on the footbed even on tight corners. It’s one of the more supportive race day options which again makes it very similar to the Endorphin Pro. If you need more security or frequent courses with lots of turns, this will be an upgrade from most of the current carbon-plated racers.
For this race day model, Puma used Men’s and Women’s specific lasts. In theory, that should help the fit feel more dialed in but is impossible for me to know.
But the fit on the men’s version is a very slim race day fit that’s tighter through the midfoot without any extra layers. The toebox features ample room for toe splay so you won’t feel cramped running the half or full marathon distances. The Deviate Nitro Elite fits true to size in both length and width.
The Deviate Nitro Elite sports an engineered mono mesh upper that’s see through — so you need fun socks to really get the best use of the upper. The mono mesh feels similar to the Vaporweave on the Vaporfly but more comfy.
I will say the Elite feels super, super light on foot. At 7.7 ounces, it’s an ounce heavier than the Vaporfly but you’d hardly know it. I’m still not really sure why this shoe feels so light but I enjoyed the feeling. I’d guess it has something to do with superior weight distribution but whatever it is, keep it up Puma.
At $200, the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is a lower-priced, carbon fiber plated race day shoe. It feels incredibly light on foot, has a nice bounce, solid traction, and above average support.
Getting your hands on a pair right now is hard, but if you can, try it out. Puma’s made a shoe that could very easily become your main race day shoe. It’s a shoe I think we’ll start seeing quite a lot on starting lines as races ramp back up in a post Covid world.
How to Buy the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite
The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is currently available at Puma and some local running stores.
Thanks to Puma for sending a pair to test. Puma was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.