Monday, September 11, 2023

Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro Review: 4 Comparisons

Article by Markus Zinkl

Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro ($150 )


Markus: After being somewhat underwhelmed by the Puma FastTrac Nitro, I must admit I didn't have the highest hopes for its successor. But when I laid eyes on the Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro, my optimism started to spark once again.

The FastTrac Apex Nitro claims to be a lightweight trail running shoe tailored for a wide range of challenging surfaces. Whether it's loose gravel paths, mucky trails, or technical mountain ascents, this shoe promises to conquer them all. 

With its potent combination of supercritical NITRO and PROFOAMLITE EVA midsole cushioning, a ripstop mesh upper, reinforced with PWRTAPE, and a grippy PUMAGRIP ATR outsole, the FastTrac Apex Nitro certainly seems to have the right attributes. 



  • Not much protection at all due to very thin upper (Markus)


Weight: men's 9.5 oz  / 270g (US9)   

Sample Weight: men’s  10.5 oz  / 299 g (US 10.5) 

Stack Height: 34mm heel / 26mm forefoot, 8 mm drop          

$ 150. Available now

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Markus: Upon unboxing the Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro, the first thing that caught my attention was the innovative laces. Puma seems to have hit the mark here, as these laces are possibly the best I've encountered to date. They strike a balance between stretch and hold that's simply impressive. Not only do they stay put securely, but they also don't need to be cinched too tight, eliminating any risk of that dreaded lace bite. This is particularly reassuring given the shoe's minimal tongue design.

Speaking of minimalism, the upper of the FastTrac Apex Nitro is impressively thin and light, giving the shoe an agile and nimble feel. 

The strategic placement of PWRTape, which serves to reinforce and stabilize the upper, is a welcome touch. It offers that extra support where needed without adding unnecessary bulk.

In the realm of comfort, the FastTrac Apex Nitro doesn't disappoint. Despite the minimal heel padding, I found the shoe surprisingly comfortable. It's clear that Puma has engineered these shoes with precision. Plus, they run true to size, so there's no need to second-guess your choice when selecting your fit.

Breathability is another highlight of this shoe, making it a top contender for hot summer runs. The thin, almost see through, upper, keeps your feet feeling cool and fresh, even during intense workouts.

The Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro's upper is lightweight and breathable but lacks strong toe protection. The toe cap is very thin, offering little protection. This design is best for easier trails and warm-weather runs. On rough or tricky terrain, be careful as it may not shield your toes as much as bulkier shoes would.

As for the fit, I was pleasantly surprised. The shoe offers a snug midfoot fit that provides stability and control. Moving towards the front, there's a bit more room for your toes to splay, but it still maintains a relatively narrow profile overall.

The thin Burrito-style tongue stays comfortably in place, so there's no need to constantly adjust it during your run.

One notable feature that enhances the fit is the excellent heel hold. Even without using a runners knot, the FastTrac Apex Nitro keeps your heel securely in place, preventing any unwanted slippage. This is a crucial element for maintaining control and stability on the trails.


Markus: The midsole of the Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro is where the magic happens, and it's dual-layered and combines two distinct foams to deliver a unique running experience.

First up, we have the PROFOAMLITE EVA, which has a Shore C 27.5 durometer score. This foam forms the base layer of the midsole and plays a crucial role in providing stability and support. 

The star of the show, however, is the nitrogen-injected NITRO foam. Puma markets it as a full-length layer, but upon closer examination, it seems that the NITRO foam is primarily concentrated in the forefoot region. This is where the foam's Shore C durometer score of 18 comes into play. The lower durometer rating (than the EVA) indicates a softer, more responsive foam, and it truly shines in the forefoot.

For runners, like myself,  who tend to strike mid to forefoot, the combination of PROFOAMLITE EVA and NITRO foam creates a harmonious balance. The firmer EVA in the rear and midfoot enhances stability and control, while the softer NITRO foam in the forefoot provides a delightful springiness and energy return. This translates into a running experience that feels both secure and lively, making it ideal for navigating varied terrains with confidence.

Whether you're tackling rocky descents or powering up steep inclines, the FastTrac Apex Nitro's dual-layered midsole ensures that your feet are well-equipped for the challenges ahead. The collaboration between the two foams not only supports your natural running style but also minimizes fatigue, allowing you to go the distance comfortably.


Markus: The Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro shares its outsole with Puma's road shoes, thanks to their PUMAGRIP technology. Despite its road rubber origins, it performs well on the trails.

The outsole's 4-5 mm lugs provide good grip, even in wet and muddy conditions. It handles mud and soft ground without any issues. The soft rubber also works surprisingly well on rocky surfaces, ensuring a comfortable experience.

It's worth noting that there's no rock plate, so you might feel some rocks underfoot, but it's not uncomfortable.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Markus: The Puma FastTrac Apex Nitro offers a great ride. Thanks to the NITRO foam in the forefoot, you get a springy feeling with each step. The slightly softer EVA foam complements it perfectly, giving you a fun and cushioned ride.

Despite being a trail shoe, it feels flat and fast, allowing you to connect with the ground easily. You can easily pick up the pace. The nice and springy NITRO foam and the overall lightweight package really encourages it.

Don't worry, you won't sacrifice comfort for speed. The shoe still provides a comfy ride, whether you're on a quick workout or a longer run.

Additionally, the shoe's firmer EVA part of the midsole keeps you stable, even on uneven terrain. This balance of responsiveness and stability makes the FastTrac Apex Nitro a fun and reliable choice for your trail runs.

In summary, this shoe is a great choice for versatile trail running. With its balanced midsole and breathability, it's a solid option for various trail adventures. Puma has crafted a pleasant trail surprise with the FastTrac Apex Nitro , which I did not expect after the first FastTrac Nitro model. 

Markus’ Score 9.4/10:

Ride: 10 Fit: 10 Value: 9.5 Style: 8 Traction: 9 Rock Protection: 7


4 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Puma FastTrac Nitro (RTR Review, German Review)

Markus: The Apex Nitro is a completely different shoe. While the FastTrac Nitro is an ok shoe for road and trail, the Apex Nitro is definitely more focused on the trail. The completely different lug pattern and depth alone already shows this. The upper of the FastTrac Nitro was very stiff and not pliable at all, whereas the Apex Nitro’s upper is very thin and pliable, making it a much more comfortable shoe as well. The ride of the FastTrac Nitro felt a bit too firm and dull for my liking. The Apex on the other hand has a lot more spring to it. While the FastTrac’s outsole feels more at home on the road and hard packed trails, the Apex Nitro caters more to the trails. Wet and muddy conditions are no problem for the Apex Nitro whereas  the FastTrac Nitro really struggled here. 

Saucony Peregrine 13 (RTR Review)

Markus: The Peregrine 13 got a bit softer, so in terms of overall midsole cushion offers a bit more than the Apex Nitro. Fit, with my narrower foot, is better in the Apex Nitro for me. The soft and minimal upper really conforms very well to my foot. On the grip side of things,  the Apex Nitro takes the edge again over the Peregrine 13. I would prefer the Peregrine 13 on really technical terrain due to a bit more protection. For everything else I would prefer the Apex Nitro.

Saucony Xodus Ultra (RTR Review

Both weigh almost the same on my scale. Both have a supercritical foam core. Both have similar stack heights. So you could think, same shoe. It’s the contrary. The Xodus Ultra feels like it has much more stack and much more cushion. The midsole of the Xodus is a bit softer and less reactive/bouncy than the Apex Nitro’s. I don’t have exact info on the Nitro distribution in the Apex Nitro, but it feels like the majority is in the forefoot, which makes for a great toe off. I would use the Xodus Ultra for longer/slower and the Apex Nitro for shorter/faster runs. Due to the better grip in wet and muddy conditions, I would prefer the Nitro here as well. Also to mention, I didn’t have the best experience with Saucony’s outsole durability. 

TNF Summit Vectiv Sky (RTR English Initial Review, German Full Review)

Markus: Due to the carbon fiber plate, the Vectiv Sky has quite a bit more pop than the Apex Nitro. However the spring of Nitro foam does not fall far behind. For uphill efforts I do prefer the Vectiv Sky. Fit wise, I prefer the Apex Nitro, the upper is much more pliable and forgiving. The grip of the Apex Nitro was also more versatile. The lugs of the Apex Nitro are 1-1.5 mm deeper than the Vective Sky, making it better in wet and muddy conditions. If you only want to go fast, especially uphills, I would go with the Vectiv Sky. The more fun and versatile shoe would be the Apex Nitro.

Tester Profile

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 completing the Via Alpina in Switzerland this summer. 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.

The sample was provided at no cost by Puma. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Europe only: use RTR code RTR5ALL for 5% off all products, even sale products 



Find all RoadTrailRun reviews at our index page HERE 
Google "roadtrailrun Shoe Name" and you can be quite sure to find just about any run shoe over the last 10 years

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by Following RoadTrailRun News Feed

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing these! How do they feel in terms of ride and comfort compared to Puma's Velocity Nitro 2? I know I comparing road and trail shoes, but I've greatly enjoyed the nitro foam on the VN2 and wondered if Puma Nitro trail shoes have a similar underfoot feeling.

70's Teen said...

I'm surprised you didn't compare them to the Voyage Nitro 3, which are lighter and have a full Nitro midsole that Sam fully enjoyed in his initial review.

Markus said...

Yeah, the Velocity Nitro 2 are also one of my favorite daily trainers. They kind of similar , however the Apex have a bit more spring at toe off. The Nitro Foam in the Apex's forefoot seems a little bit more responsive.

Unfortunately I didn't run in the Voyage Nitro 3, so I couldn't compare.

Stefan said...

Great review. This mimics my experience almost exactly. I was surprised how much ground feel you have yet when running over quite jagged rocky terrain I could feel the foam dampen the sharp rock completely. It was an odd sensation but reassuring. The one negative I had is it is a narrow shoe. Less narrow than it looks but it tapers in a lot at the third toe and I had sole contacting there. Overall though a great trail shoe that doesn’t need a plate.

Anonymous said...