Article by Derek Li and Sam Winebaum
Puma Running Magnify Nitro SP ($140)
Sam: The Magnify Nitro is the 5th 2021 model in the brand new Puma Running 2021 Nitro collection. Each model serves a distinct run purpose with the Magnify slotting in as the max cushion easier to long run offering sitting right above the more daily training focused Velocity Nitro with Deviate Nitro the uptempo plated trainer, Liberate the very light race flat that can easily also be a trainer, the Elite as the carbon plated racer, and Eternity the stability trainer, sort of.
As the max cushion trainer in the lineup, the just over 10 oz Magnify has a big 38mm heel /29mm forefoot full stack height with the midsole mostly Puma’s supercritical Nitro foam, yes nitrogen infused and lively for sure. I say mostly as below the Nitro there is a layer of slightly firmer yet also quite energetic Profoam Lite, whose composition we are as of yet unsure of.
And below that we have a pretty much full coverage PumaGrip outsole whose rubber is shared with all the models and is among the grippiest and most durable we have seen.
The upper is a single engineered mono mesh with a gusset for the stout tongue and no overlays beyond the colored 3D Spectra printed overlays..
Quite a package of new tech at a very reasonable $140. So how do they perform and how do they match up to other big 2021 shoes?
Well balanced seamless gradient of softer springy Nitro through somewhat firmer Profoam Lite through to the outsole: so plenty of cushion and response without being over firm or overly mushy. Sam/Derek
Flows smoothly at slower and moderate paces with unusual for such a big stack front flexibility for an easy toe off Sam/Derek
Good value at $140 for a super foam max cushion shoe with a great upper and lots of durable grippy rubber-: Sam
Weight is more than OK at about 10.3 oz / 292 g US9 but full outsole coverage, plush collars and built up heel counter may add more weight than required to do the job. Sam
Heel could definitely lose some weight - Derek
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying to many fine New England IPA.
Approx. Weight: men's 10.3 oz / 292g (US9) / women's / (US8)
Samples: men’s 9.91 oz / 281g (US8.5) men’s US9.5 10.86oz / 308g
Stack Height: measured (Derek) 38mm heel, 28mm forefoot
Available now. $140
First Impressions and Fit
Derek: My first impression was “this is a big shoe”, which is saying something considering the behemoths like the Adidas Prime X and Nike Tempo Next% I have in my rotation. The colorway is something else. I am not sure it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Reminds me most of the recently released UnderArmour Flow Velociti, but with a linear pattern rather than the criss-cross design on the UA. It took me a while to figure out why the shoe feels big, but it turns out the last is actually a little long.
Comparing it to my Deviate Nitro, the shoe does appear to be a half size longer, so people who like a snugger fit in their trainers will want to consider going down a half size in this shoe. I’m not particularly bothered by long-ish shoes for training, so it works ok for me. Better long than short, I say. Walking around, there is a bit of give and squish to the midsole, but the underfoot feel is not what I would consider bouncy. It’s still a fairly stable shoe.
Sam: A bright clean look that doesn’t overdo the white with the 3D print Spectra pattern of longitudinal lines providing subtle multi color depth while also delivering an array of very foot conforming support.
The hold is secure but not suffocating and is anchored by a stout but not totally rigid heel counter with appropriate padding that, like the upper, doesn't overdo it.
The moderately padded tongue's outer mesh has some substance to it. In combination with a full tongue gusset which completely lines the shoe all the way to the front and the outer mesh I am securely and comfortably locked in. I would agree with Derek that they are a touch long but I personally would stay true to size and for narrower to moderately wider foot shapes.
The women’s version has a different last with a narrowed heel, lower in-step, and sculpted arch shape.
Derek: Being from tropical Singapore, I am very sensitive to thick uppers. For example, I find the Nike Zoom Invincible to have a warm upper. The Puma Magnify Nitro upper is on the thicker and warmer side for me. You can read the technical description of the upper provided by Puma above. For me, the upper feels like a dual layer mesh, with a top layer showing that linear knitted appearance, and then with a secondary perforated mesh layer. This combination feels about 3mm thick by hand and has a bit of a spongy consistency to it when you squeeze it. It does not trap sweat very much, which is consistent with their reported aim to reduce heat by evaporation, but living in a very humid environment, evaporation never really works well for me, so in a way the benefits of this technology are somewhat stifled here. The material does not stretch, so you do get a fairly good lockdown in the shoe.
There are no added overlays in the midfoot, nor is it really required as the mesh as it is provides good lockdown already. The heel cup is firm, and wrapped in plenty of padding, with an external neoprene sort material. How solid is the heel cup? Well in this picture, you can see the heel perfectly balancing a 10.8oz shoe! There is no stuffing in there to hold up the upper in case you were wondering.
The tongue is thickly padded with a synthetic mesh. There are 5 rows of eyelets, which is perfectly adequate here.
The laces use the same textured non-elastic material as that seen in the Deviate Nitro. All this pretty much screams premium daily trainer.
For me, there is plenty of toe wiggle room as there’s a full finger length in front of my pinky toe at true to size, but at midfoot, things feel a little snug, even with my superthin Stiegen socks. I put this down to a combination of the thicker, non-stretch upper and a little bit of raised midsole sidewall at the midfoot. That said, heel volume is not low, and despite a fairly rigid heel cup, plenty of padding at the heel and the thick tongue, there is zero pressure around the heel for me.
When I run, all I feel is the midfoot lockdown, and the heel and forefoot are somewhat free-floating, which is quite nice for a trainer. Overall, the fit works ok for me. I think people with wider feet, especially at midfoot may struggle a little, as I do notice a bit of pressure (and aching) at the lateral midfoot when I am running.
Sam: Derek describes the repeat mesh upper well. I ran in moderately warm and humid conditions and while in no way over warm we must remember the gusset of the tongue is really a full lining from heel counter to toe of a stretch material that is decently thick and that is not a ventilated grid or open stretch mesh being almost sock like in feel. Umm... have to try them barefoot and will update!
The heel lockdown and feel is particularly fine: not rigid, soft but also not mushy, or sloppy, and very secure. Just there and unobtrusive in fee.
Part of the smooth rear feel and noted (felt this even before I asked) is less heat moisture build up at the collars, sockliner, and upper(assuming the inner gusset lining) thanks to Puma’s “Cool Adapt” tech. It is a finish that helps move moisture and enhances evaporation.
The lace eyestay and heel counter are all reflective material so Magnify has lots of reflective surface area, a very good and important add.
Derek: At first glance, you would think this is a single density, all Nitro foam trainer. Actually it is a dual density setup, with the Nitro foam above, and a firmer more stable foam called Profoam Lite below. I don’t have any information on this foam, but it feels like compression molded EVA.
This EVA layer is a little thicker at the heel and thinnest at the toes, so there is little bit of that firmer heel, bouncier forefoot feel when you run in this shoe. As mentioned above, the midsole does rise up a little at midfoot by a couple of millimeters, presumably to add a little more midfoot stability; it is a high stack shoe after all.
How does the midsole feel? The heel feels pretty firm and stable. Compared to shoes I have recently tested, it is closest to the Saucony Triumph 19 (and incidentally, I measured both shoes to have the same 38mm heel stack). That is to say, it is softer than Adidas Boston 10, but firmer than the Puma Deviate Nitro and Nike Tempo Next%.
The forefoot feels surprisingly similar to the Deviate Nitro. I think the firmer EVA of the Magnify and the carbon plate of the Deviate Nitro sort of cancel each other out. When you pick up the pace and load the forefoot, the Magnify feels like a slightly more flexible, more natural version of the Deviate Nitro.
The overall feel is that of a lightly springy shoe, more so in forefoot than heel, that has plenty of stability.
Sam: Derek describes the heel as pretty firm and stable. Just firm and stable enough for me with a very well executed “gradient” of feel between the top Nitro, lower firmer Profoam Lite and the full outsole. Compared to the Velocity Nitro which includes a heel insert of firmer foam the feel here is more seamless and the insert not as firm.
The Nitro layer has a springy light feel to it while the firmer lower layer has denser a touch bouncy feel. As Derek says it could be compression molded EVA but I think it might also be a TPU EVA blend as while a bit difficult to separate from Nitro and the outsole I do sense a touch of bounce in that layer.
The package of foams and the small heel stabilizing clip, in combination with the nearly full coverage outsole delivers a stable, moderately lively feel superior in energy return to say Saucony PWRUN or ASICS FlyteFoam flavors other than Blast and one that is not quite as firm as Skechers Hyperburst in the Ride 9. Nike React is duller in comparison.
Derek: The outsole has plenty of rubber. The longitudinal cutout down the middle allows for just enough long axis flex to prevent the shoe from feeling clunky during transition, which is a big pitfall for high stack trainers. I have previously raved about the PumaGrip outsole of the Deviate Nitro, and really, it is just more of the same here. The outsole grip is excellent on wet surfaces, and is one of the best outsoles I have tested so far this year, right up there with the Adidas outsole in the Boston 10 and Prime X.
Sam: Puma has ruled outsoles in 2021 with great rubber and designs that work well with each model’s intended purpose. As we are looking at the bottom of the shoe, I think the longitudinal cutout Derek refers to could be somewhat deeper, broader or have a more substantial heel crash pad decoupling. While the forward flow from landing is stable and smooth at all paces a deeper groove might accelerate that transition and also soften the landings a touch .
Very interestingly given the full coverage of rubber and big 29mm forefoot stack after the first run a decent and snappy rear of forefoot flex point is in the mix. Without compromising the admirable forefoot stability and front response I would like to see a touch more flex further forward as well. In non rockered rigid shoes I personally like a forward flex point for final toe off ( a la many adidas and Nike’s Invincible Run)
Derek: The ride of the shoe is pretty good for a cushioned daily trainer. The weight is up there for sure, and you are going to feel it when you try to pick up the pace, but if you have the fitness to pull it off, the forefoot loads and recoils incredibly well, and even without any plate element, the midsole and outsole provide just enough inherent stiffness to give a nice snappy feel. The shoe is cushioned enough that it works well for easy runs, but will be just as comfortable for a medium effort sort of long run. Yes, I think this is more of a medium effort long run type of shoe.
Sam: I agree with Derek the Magnify’s sweet spot is medium effort longer runs. It does fine at slower paces but feels best when you can load that front of the shoe where one feels a combination of softness from Nitro at toe off, a touch of drop down and go also felt in the lower stack Velocity, and then response snap from the outsole, flex and Profoam Lite layer. The ride feel strikes a nice middle ground between overly soft and bouncy for many (Invincible Run) and quite firm and rigid Endorphin Shift. Stable and consistent with just enough return to give you a small smile the big shoe boring plodding feel is low here and the cushioning feel high.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Derek: The big battle seems to have migrated from the 9 oz arena to the 10 oz range now, with the Adidas Boston 10 and Saucony Triumph 19 leading the way. Brooks Ghost 14 seems to be a strong contender in this category as well. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. For overall cushioning and versatility, I think the Boston 10 is probably the best unless you are a big heel striker, in which case you might find the heel too harsh. In second place, I think the Puma Magnify edges out the Triumph 19 in that the Magnify feels more energetic at faster paces so there is a little more versatility there, but the Triumph has the easier fit for me so it’s a bit of a wash.
Derek’s Score: 8.68 / 10
Ride 8.9 (50%) Fit 8.6 (30%) Value 8 (15%) Style 9 (5%)
Sam: A big part of the story with Magnify (and with all the new 2021 Puma racers and trainers) is value across the line. Puma has delivered truly state of the art rides, uppers, and outsoles at very fair pricing.
The Magnify is no exception taking its place as the max cushion trainer in what I see as a complete line up for all run needs. And as with the other models, each in their respective categories, it competes well, very well indeed It has a great upper, well integrated midsole and ride with some excitement and a copious durable outsole so slotting it in as the max cushion long run shoe and for some daily trainer if you prefer a big stack. It has plenty of response and get up and go for a shoe in its category.
I would like to see the weight drop below 10 oz / 283g from the current 10.3 oz, somehow, with the transition of the heel and all the way to toe off becoming a touch more fluid. Both could potentially be addressed with a more zonal rubber arrangement and a deeper central groove without impacting stability much if at all as below the Nitro we have a denser layer of stabilizing foam already.
Sam’s Score: 9.21 /10
Ride: 9.1 (50%) Fit: 9.2 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 9.5 (5%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Puma Velocity Nitro (RTR Review) also includes Liberate and Deviate Nitro Reviews)
The Velocity is the 2021 Puma closest to Magnify. It has a very similar construction and ride but with a lower stack height of 33.5/23.5, slightly narrower platform and as a consequence lower weight by a bit more than an ounce of 9.13 oz. It differs in having an EVA insert that is only at the heel and firmer as well as a more substantial plastic heel clip. It has a firmer heel feel but more agile forefoot with similar characteristic softness way up front (as all the Puma have) for a smooth toe off. Consider it a more all around daily trainer with the Magnify the max cushion easier runs companion, the Deviate Nitro the plated up tempo, the Liberate the race type "flat" that can easily also train and the Elite of course the top racer.
Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review)
Sam: The CTM Ultra takes a different approach from our Puma with a fairly conventional outer carrier of decently firm chemically modified EVA with a central core of very lively PEBA. With a yet higher heel stack on a narrower but very stable geometry, transitions are quicker and toe offs more agile. Weighing about an ounce less, the Craft has a aggressive light trails outsole (yet not great on any wet surface) and a very minimal very breathable upper with no structure beyond a relatively narrow stretch gusset tongue. For me it is more long uptempo even long racer than the more supportive steady Puma which is clearly more trainer.
Brooks Aurora-BL (RTR Review)
Sam: A key comparison. The Aurora-BL has equivalent stack height, an all supercritical nitrogen injected midsole (as Magnify has with its Nitro layer ), rubber in a zonal pattern, an unusual central across midfoot decoupling groove, a superb very light upper and weighs almost 2 oz less. The innovation, ride and light weight comes at a cost though.. $200 vs $140. The Puma has a snappier more flexible toe off front response and is a bit more stable (no cross groove) while the Brooks pulls ahead in every other area from bouncy energetic ride excitement, to fit, to speed and of course weight.
Nike Invincible Run (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. I find the Invincible overly soft and it gives me a hotspot under the big toe, so for me the Magnify is a better shoe. If you don’t have that issue with the Invincible, then I would say overall the Invincible is a more fun and forgiving shoe to run in. Both shoes have very padded uppers.
Sam: Invincible is for sure much more fun with its all Zoom X midsole (not even a lasting board in the mix) and thin rubber outsole. It all spring and soft energetic bounce. Not as stable and with not nearly the upper of the Puma, Invincible is a shoe to try and is a blast but is not as versatile.
Adidas Boston 10 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. Boston seems to have a more secure fit for me. I prefer the overall ride and versatility of the Boston 10. I am not a heavy heel striker so the firmness of the Boston heel doesn’t bother me. Instead, the rocker and efficiency of the Boston 10, makes it a faster and smoother shoe for me, even at recovery efforts. I definitely see myself using the Boston 10 a lot more than the Magnify in the long term.
Sam: Derek is correct in his take here but it depends.. If you are a less speedy, a heel striker, are looking for a more mellow paces long run to daily training shoe or need a touch of stability the Magnify may be a better choice. For speedier efforts I would for sure reach for the Boston 10 before Magnify but for all other purposes the Puma is more versatile and easier to tame.
Skechers Max Road 5 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. MaxRoad is definitely a much softer and smoother shoe. The upper also seems to breathe a little better. Where the Magnify wins is in the energy return of the forefoot; the shoe just feels snappier at faster paces, but the weight difference is significant and I definitely find it easier to maintain a faster pace in the MaxRoad than the Magnify. Another area where the Magnify shines is the outsole. The Magnify has a much grippier and more stable outsole than the MaxRoad. Overall, I think the MaxRoad is a more fun shoe to run in. MaxRoad wins.
Sam: Yes definitely softer with a lower feeling, and actual heel, as we are at 6mm with Max Road and 9mm for Magnify with less rubber (at the heel and elsewhere) and no firmer heel insert in the Max. Two full ounces lighter the Max Road 5, with equivalent stack height, it has a carbon infused mid to forefoot plate. Not nearly as balanced and smooth running at slower paces, faster paces off the heels is where it shines ( and is super fun) whereas the Magnfiy is more versatile for the main bulk of most runners' miles.
Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. Endorphin Shift has the smoother and faster transitioning geometry, but the Magnify has the more energetic and softer underfoot feel. Magnify also has a much better outsole in terms of grip and durability. If I were going for a steady faster long run, I would probably go with the Endorphin Shift, but for a slower more controlled effort, I think the Magnify is the more forgiving option.
Sam: Agree with Derek here. The denser, firmer PWRRUN midsole and more pronounced front Speed Roll on a rigid profile is my choice for very stable faster runs where cushion “feel” is less important than propulsion. Otherwise the Puma is a more pleasant ride. I would add that if grip and outsole coverage is a key factor for you the Magnify is clearly superior.
New Balance FuelCell TC (RTR Review)
Derek: I fit both these shoes best in US9.0. (My usual size is 9.5) The TC is the overall better shoe for me, in terms of cushioning, transition, versatility, all of it. I only wish the TC had a more structured upper but that is almost a non-issue unless you are running a very technical course. The price difference is significant at $200 for TC vs $140 for Magnify though, but it is so worth it if you haven't tried the TC before.
Sam: TC has a softer bouncier (and less stable) heel and a livelier, thinner carbon plated forefoot. It is not the choice for easier cruising miles as the Magnify is but when it’s time to move fast it is fantastic. It’s upper is comparatively more minimal but adequate if you can keep well aligned.
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite 2 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. The RC Elite 2 is the best shoe of the year so far for me, and it is better in pretty much every respect than the Magnify for me, with a softer, smooth underfoot feel, and an easier fit and lockdown. Magnify seems to have the better outsole though. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison because the RC Elite 2 is a super, super shoe, compared to the Magnify.
Saucony Triumph 19 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. Both shoes have similar underfoot feels, with Magnify feels softer at the forefoot. I think the Triumph fits me a little better overall, but the Magnify has the more interesting midsole feel. It’s a bit of a wash, but this is one of those cases where (especially in the middle of a long training run where you are tired and you just want to get it over with) you really want a simple fit where you are not constantly thinking about where you are feeling pressure from the shoe. In that respect, even though the Magnify rides better, the Triumph 19 is just a more straightforward put on and forget about it shoe for me.
Sam: I agree with most of what Derek says but while the Triumph 19 fit is outstanding I have no issues with the somewhat less structured Magnify’s.
ASICS Glideride (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes, though I probably fit a US9.0 best for the Magnify. GlideRide all the way for me. Such a unique midsole and ride from the Glideride. Glideride is softer, with a more subtle and more directed rockered transition, and is just as cushioned as the Magnify. Glideride outsole uses a little softer rubber so I think Magnify is probably going to be more durable, but the ride is just so much more special and unique in the Glideride that it overshadows everything else.
Watch Sam's Initial YouTube Review of the Magnify Nitro (15:47)
Shop for Puma Magnify Nitro and the entire Nitro Collection at Puma HERE
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