Monday, December 19, 2022

Puma Fast-Trac NITRO Multi Tester Review: A No-Nonsense, Well Priced Door to Trail Running Shoe. 5 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark, Markus Zinkl, Jeremy Marie, and Jeff Vallliere

Puma Fast-Trac NITRO ($110)


Low cost: Renee/Markus/Jacob/Jeremy/Jeff V

Versatile daily trainer for road to light trail: Renee/Markus/Jacob/Jeff V

Relatively lightweight and runs lighter: Renee/Markus/Jeff V

Nice grip on different terrain: Jeremy/Jacob/Jeff V


Restricting forefoot and toebox: Renee/Jacob/Jeremy

High sitting heel counter: Renee/Markus

Not the most exciting ride: Renee/Markus//Jacob/Jeremy/Jeff V

Needs a few miles to soften: Markus/Jeremy/Jeff V

A bit firm, dull, at the forefoot: Jeremy/Jeff V


Official Weight: men's 8.94 oz / 272 g (US9)

  Samples: men’s 10.08 oz  / 286 g (US10.5)

women’s 8.31 oz / 236 g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 29 mm heel / 21 mm forefoot

Available now. $110

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: The PUMA Fast-Trac NITRO is a huge improvement from last year’s PUMA Voyager NITRO. The name is a bit misleading, it’s not that fast of a shoe. What PUMA has here is a no-nonsense, well-priced door-to-trail option. 

The upper is not a GTX (coming in 2023), and although it looks like it has some weather-resistance It is  a “ripstop mesh upper.”  I have the black-metallic silver color, which I think looks sharp and it hides dirt well. I ran in some light snow during single digit temperatures, and despite having on wool socks, moisture and cold air entered the forefoot. 

The fit is snug, which did not bother me as someone who is between half sizes. I wore a women’s size 8, which is slightly shorter and more narrow in the forefoot than comparable shoes in other brands. If between half sizes, definitely go with the half size up. Wide footed runners might find the fit too snug. The lacing stays put and tight without any adjustments, and the tongue is well padded.

The heel and heel collar sit higher on my foot than I would like, which might help some runners with stability, although I found it somewhat constricting for ankle movement while navigating through tree roots. 

Markus: I also got the black and gray version and like the design. The majority of the upper is the gray ripstop mesh upper with the overlays, midsole and laces black. The upper feels quite substantial out of the box. It is not as soft as your usual engineered mesh. I agree here with Renee, it feels as if it has some weather resistance. I didn’t have the chance to test it during heavy rain, but running through some small puddles was no problem and my feet  for the most part kept dry.. Furthermore, I also found the upper breathable and warm enough for temperatures from the thirties into the fifties. Around the toe and lacing area are some welded overlays to aid with protection and increase the tearing resistance. 

The tongue is fully gusseted and Puma added their so called “Formstips”, which are run vertically from the laces to the midsole on both sides. Both aid the lockdown of the midfoot. 

Speaking about lockdown, the overall fit is on the narrower side in the fore foot, which was no problem for my average to narrow wide feet. The lockdown is great with standard lacing. The ankle collars are quite high and are really at the limit for me. I sometimes tend to feel ankle collars at my ankles, but not to the point here where it cause any irritation. While the upper does not feel that soft out of the box, it was really fine on foot and quite comfy. 

Rounding off the upper, at the heel there is a loop out of two shock cords and on top of the tongue there is an elastic band to tuck the laces in.  

Jeremy I received the flashy yellow version of the shoe, which instantly labels it as a do-it-all running shoe. That’s fine for me, as…the Fast Trac is exactly that: a shoe aimed at being at ease on every surface. Like the Brooks Divide and Nike Pegasus Trail, Puma delivers its own door-to-trail shoe, at a fair price.

The shoe is built with a ripstop mesh upper partially doubled on the external side with what Puma calls “FormStrips”: what is used as their logo, those four fine lines, which are used to add some foothold. 

The mesh used is quite supple yet feels sturdy and is not prone to tears.

I guess that’s also the reason why PUMA put an elastic about midway of the tongue, that you can use to tuck the laces in. I think it’s a nice addition, tha laces are quite long and using this prevents them from flapping around, getting caught in branches.

I find the fit to not really….fit me. The heel could use a bit better hold despite the hick padding. It’s comfortable but not really secure.

The ankle collar sits quite high and just a bit too high against my ankles. No luck here; it really falls in between being comfortably high, like a gusset collar that can be found in more and more shoes (NIke Peg 4 GTX recently) or “transparently” low and not felt at all.

The top of the foot, around the instep, is nicely held, but the front third of the shoe is way too constrictive for my taste. Even with loose laces I find it compresses too much on the side of my feet, and it’s even truer for the toes, where I lack room. The pointy shaped toebox is too tight and I find it uncomfortable.

And despite this global tightness, I feel like the shoe lacks in the foothold department. I would have accepted having a constrictive feeling, were my feet nicely held, but…that’s not even the case here. It reminds me a bit of the feeling I had with the Puma Voyager NItro GTX, tight but not secure. That’s a bit of a disappointment for me, considering how Puma road offering works nicely with my feet.

Jeff V:  I also received the yellow colorway and am still undecided on the look.  I do not mind loud shoes per se, but am still on the fence.  Beyond the superficial, the Nitro feels well constructed and has a high quality vibe, and especially so for $110.  It feels relatively light for a protective shoe, with a sturdy outsole and well constructed upper. 

I  will not rehash all of the technical details, as they have been covered well above, but I found the fit to be excellent for my somewhat narrow, low volume foot, with a secure heel, well held midfoot and a toe box with just barely enough room for splay and swell (but no extra).  

Foothold for me has been great and is very secure even on technical trails and running at faster speeds.  

While the upper is not waterproof, it seems to be somewhat water resistant, good enough to resist or delay saturation when running in snow, light rain or damp conditions.  


Renee: The midsole features a full-length NITRO foam and a layer of ProFoamLite. NITRO is a nitrogen-injected foam, meant to have “superior responsiveness and cushioning in a lightweight package.” The shoe is relatively lightweight and it runs much lighter than the weight suggests. The midsole is not what I consider responsive from a speed standpoint, but it does provide a good balance between cushion and ground feel for a daily trainer meant for light trails or road to trail. 

Markus: The midsole consists of ProFoamLite, an EVA based foam, and supercritical Nitro foam. The construction of the midsole has a Nitro core with ProFoamLite around it to stabilize for trail use.

I agree, with Renee, that it runs lighter than the scale weight would suggest. Out of the box, the midsole feels a bit firm, which could be the majority of EVA in the midsole or the substantial Pumagrip outsole. More on that in the ride section.

Jeff V:  Agreed with my cohorts above, the midsole provides a good balance between cushioning, ground feel and predictable stability.  It is certainly not the most responsive shoe, but it performs well on most terrain and can handle doses of speed just fine.  The midsole does lean on the firm side and I believe it is affected by the cold.


Renee: The outsole is PUMAGRIP ATR. I’ve enjoyed PUMAGRIP on many road outsoles, and overall the tread pattern is suited for light trails. The outsole pattern does not seem as grippy as the pattern on the PUMA Deviate NITRO 2, and I had some slipping while running in light snow. I think that was caused more by the shallow depth of the lugs.

For a $110 trail shoe, the outsole is fine, and especially so for a shoe meant for light trails while still being comfortable on road. If running through debris (leaves, loose dirt, mud), I’d choose another shoe. 

Markus: Since its inception, Puma’s proprietary Puma Grip outsole compound has been one of the top ones out there. The grip and lug pattern are able to handle road and lighter trails. When it gets muddy, the shallow lugs struggle and whilst not bad, the grip on roots and rocks could be better in wet conditions. The grip seems to be a bit better on their road shoes sucha as the Deviate Nitro 2. I don’t know if it’s a different compound overall or if the lug pattern makes for the difference.

Left: Deviate 2 / Right: Fast-Trac

Above, you can see the Deviate Nitro 2 and Fast-Trac Nitro’s outsole side by side. The tread on the Deviate 2 has some small nubs, whereas the Fast-Trac lugs are smoother and flatter larger surfaces. This could be the reason for the difference, but this is only speculation.

Jeremy: I can only concur with what my colleagues said about the grip and lugs of the Fast-Trac. Despite labeled as “PumaGrip”, I feel a slight difference between the compound used in the Fast-Trac and the one used in every other Puma shoe I’ve reviewed (be it roadshoes like the Liberate or Velocity, of the Nitro Voyager) and it seems to grip a bit less well on hard wet surface.

But let’s not be too tepid about it: it is still among the best outsoles for grip and durability.

Something hard to fine tune  with door to trail shoes are the lugs. It can make a shoe lean more on the “door” or road aspect than on the trail, or vis-versa.

The Fast-Trac settles in at a good compromise, with an outsole that is not felt too much on the road, remains flexible and not too harsh, while staying adequate for trail usage. Actually, this kind of lugs pattern is even perfect for any “middle of the road” trail, and can easily handle some gentle mountainous paths. 

It just struggles on light mud where the shallow lugs can't bite enough to ensure a reliable traction.

Considering the design goal of the shoe, I can’t really blame Puma for that and clearly prefer this compromise.

Jeff V:  I found this outsole to be versatile and grip better than expected over a wide range of terrain, surfaces and conditions.  While not the most aggressive outsole or lug pattern, the rubber compound is sticky and adheres well on wet rock, does relatively well on snow, slush and ice, is not the greatest in mud and is OK in loose terrain.  For a $110 door to trail type of shoe, I am impressed by the outsole.


Renee: The ride is no nonsense and very much what I expect from a daily training, road-to-trail shoe. The ride is not particularly fast, but the shoe runs light and can handle a variety of paces. The cushion might not be enough for quality long runs, but even up to a casual 20-miler, it’s fine forme. The toebox is a bit narrow and shallow, so the shoe is best for shorter distances. I liked it the more I ran it. The heel collar sits high against my ankles, which prevents some of movement and rotation to stay balanced on uneven surfaces. As a positive, the collars provide some stability on smoother surfaces.

Markus: As Renee put it, it is a no nonsense ride. Out of the box, they seemed very firm. But after only a few miles, they loosened and softened up quite a bit. This could be due to the majority EVA foam or the more substantial amount of Pumagrip of the outsole breaking in. 

Personally,  I would not take them a lot further than 15 miles, since I prefer a bit more cushioning for anything longer than that. The ride is not overly snappy or bouncy, which convinces me even more that there is only a small amount of Nitro foam in the midsole’s construction. But as a daily trainer it’s more than fine. Durability also seems to be a strong suit here. After 40 miles, the outsole has almost no signs of wear and the same for the upper. This rounds out my overall impressions that it is a good daily trainer.

Jeremy: Unfortunately, my tepid feelings with the shoe’s fit and the “meh” first impressions of the midsole stayed true during the run. 

I find them too firm out of the box, and this feeling is still here after 60kms, be it on the trails, dry or muddy (so softer terrain) or even more so on roads.

The Fast-Trac lacks a bit of cushioning upfront, where the feeling is very…direct. Not really responsive with a very flat behavior, which turns out to work better at faster paces for me. 

I don’t really feel the addition of the Nitro foam that I enjoyed so much on Puma’s road shoes. 

Is there too little of it under the EVA ProFoam layer, is it the same formulation as in other shoes using it, I can’t tell. But the result is a rather dull feeling while running.

The comparison with the Pegasus Trail 4 that I reviewed in the meantime gives the Puma a hard time. 

Combined with the relative discomfort of the shoe due to the narrow toebox, and even more the narrowness around the metatarsal region, I must confess that I have not really enjoyed my time in the Fast-Trac save for very short runs.

The grip is good on wet tarmac, as one can expect from the PUMAGrip compound, but it struggles quite a bit with the tiniest amount of mud. In comparison, the mugs of the Pegasus Trail are much more versatile for off-road conditions, without being more noticeable on asphalt.

Jeff V:  I found the ride to be smooth, reasonably responsive, though not speedy and a bit on the firm side.  I think overall the Nitro requires some break in and the more I ran in them, the more I like them, but they have remained on the firm end of the spectrum for me (again, I believe the midsole is sensitive to temperature and I have only run them in colder temperatures).  It will be interesting to revisit them in the summer.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: I appreciated the Fast-Trac the more I ran it. At $110 (relatively low for a trail shoe), it provides everything a runner needs in a daily trainer for a mix of road to easy trail surfaces. There are a few comparable shoes I would choose over the Fast-Trac, but they retail at higher prices. For a more casual trail shoe , it's a solid choice. My only real negative is the high sitting heel collar and counter and I also think some runners will find the forefoot and toe box a bit restrictive

Renee’s Score: 8.9/10 (-.25 smooth trail usage only, .50 high sitting heel collar/counter, .35 narrow forefoot/toebox)


Markus: Overall, I find the Fast-Trac to be a very good daily trainer for a mix of road and light trail. If you don’t run in too technical terrain and want a road to trail shoe , it is worth checking out. Especially at the low MSRP of 110$, which makes this shoe a great value buy. I would recommend trying them on, though, if you are on the fence to a more wide forefoot. You could find it a bit too restrictive.

Markus’ Score: 8.1/10 (Ride: 7, Fit: 9, Value: 10, Style: 9, Traction: 7, Rock Protection: 8)


Jeremy: The Fast-Trac Nitro is a miss for me. The ingredients all sound good, but the final recipe does not work. The outsole has a great grip as long as no mud is involved, the shoe has some Nitro foam, a tried and true lacing system, it's not too heavy…but it just doesn't work for me. The shallow fit, dull cushioning and lack of overall foot lockdown makes the Fast-Trac a shoe I did not really enjoy. That’s a big disappointment considering how much I like their road line.

Jeremy’s score: 7.25 (Ride: 6.5, Fit: 7.5, Value: 9 Style: 8, Traction: 7, rock protection: 7)

😊 (One smile for some short runs where the flat and dull feeling is not bothering)

Jeff V: I think this is a great shoe for the money.  For $110, you get a solid, versatile daily trainer that is high quality, durable, protective and has surprisingly good traction.  The ride is on the firm side and I personally limit my use of ti to just a few hours, but I think with some break in and warmer temperatures, it may be fine for up to a half day on the trails.

Jeff V’s Score: 8.6/10 (Ride: 8, Fit: 9, Value: 10, Style: 7.5, Traction: 8, Rock Protection: 9)



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

PUMA Voyager NITRO (RTR Review)

Renee: The Voyage NITRO is a heavy shoe better suited for hiking than actual running. The Fast-Trac is the better option for running. Sizing is comparable.

Jeremy: Much heavier, almost hiking-like feeling, I think I’ve ended to like them more than the Fast-Trac. Not the same purpose, but for long easy runs in winter I find the Voyager more responsive and comfortable.

Brooks Divide 3  (RTR Review)

Renee: At a retail of $100, the Brooks Divide 3 is another low cost option. As a trail shoe, the Divide 3 has a more stable ride thanks to the lower drop. The upper of the Divide 3 is more generous and roomy (almost too roomy for me). The upper of the Fast-Trac is better for narrow and low volume feet. 

Jeff V: Agreed with Renee.  Both are great low cost options, but overall I prefer the Divide for its more relaxed upper and overall softer underfoot feel.

Saucony Ride 15 TR  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Ride 15 TR is another road-to-trail shoe with a 8mm drop. The midsole of the Ride 15 TR has more bounce and more cushion for long runs. The Fast-Trac has better ground feel and has safer traction on deep inclines or declines. Neither are technical trail shoes. For calmer trails or roads, the Ride 15 TR is the better choice. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. The Fast-Trac runs smaller and has less room in the forefoot. 

Jeff V:  Renee sums it up perfectly and will add that I found the Ride 15 TR to be more narrow and less forgiving in the forefoot.

Nike React Pegasus Trail 4  (RTR Review)

Renee: Probably the closest comparison. The Peg Trail 4 also has high drop, and it runs like a higher drop shoe. Despite that, the Peg Trail 4 navigates technical terrain better than the Fast-Trac, and its midsole/ride are faster and more fun in run feel. The outsole of the Peg Trail 4 is not great on wet terrain-the non GTX version with the GTX having improved rubber compound traction  (RTR Review). The Peg 4’s tread traps mud and small gravel, which is not an issue with the Fast-Trac. The Peg Trail 4 is my choice between the two, although it costs slightly more. In the same size, the Peg Trail 4 has more room in the forefoot and toe box. 

Jeremy: I have the GTX version. There’s no comparison here. The Nike is more responsive, better fitting, has better traction and cushioning, and is more stylish…The Fast-Trac might just take the nod on stability due to its lower stack and firmer midsole. But I can’t think of a situation where I would choose them over the Peg Trail 4.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Renee and Jeremy on most counts, but I think the Nitro has better traction, at least on the terrain I have run on.  I always have to say that the Peg 4 is THE most comfortable shoe I have ever worn, from the upper to the midsole, it is pure joy.

Salomon SLab Pulsar (RTR Review)

Jeremy: This might sound strange, but the SLab Pulsar still has the crown for the most efficient, fast and comfy door to trail in my arsenal. It’s 50€ more expensive than the Fast Trac, but is more cushioned, way lighter, has a way better fit, and runs much more easily on every surface I can think of.

Inov-8 PARKCLAW G 280  (RTR Review)

Renee: Both shoes have short/constricting toe boxes, with the PARKCLAW G 280 running a half to full size short. Otherwise, the midsole and responsiveness is better in the PARKCLAW G 280, and it offers better traction, all at much higher cost of $180.

Puma Velocity Nitro 2 (RTR Review)

Markus: The Velocity Nitro 2 is a dedicated road shoe, although its outsole also makes it applicable for lighter trails and gravel. Both shoes seem to build on the same last. Though, the Velocity 2 has a much softer engineered mesh upper and the softer ankle collar does not go quite as high as the Fast-Trac one. Weight wise, both of my 10.5 US weight the same. The Velocity 2 overall has a bit softer and more energetic ride than the Fast-Trac. The outsole of the Fast-Trac is the better one, if you want to use the shoe more on the trails than on the road. If the majority of your running surfaces are hard packed trails and the road, I would recommend the Velocity 2. 

Puma Fast-Trac NITRO is available from PUMA US HERE


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Tester Profiles

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Markus from Germany is mainly a recreational runner, currently running about 5 times per week. He runs about 50:50  on trails and roads. He is also an avid hiker with a focus on ultralight and fast. This is where his geek for gear and shoes comes to light. Likewise, he loves the mountains and tries to spend as much free time there as possible.

His only preference in terms of shoes is that they are not too heavy. Other than that, he runs in everything, from zero drop Altras to high stack Vaporfly. Racing times for the 10k are 39:48 min and 1:51:32 for a half-marathon.

Jeremy MARIE, French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km - 4’30/km. He has an un-official marathon PR of 2h54 (solo) and 10K PR of 36’25. He does few timed road races.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better.  He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors.  Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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