Monday, June 24, 2024

Puma Deviate Nitro 3 Review: 4 Comparisons

Article by Ryan Eiler

Puma Deviate Nitro 3 ($160)


Comfortable yet high performance engineered mesh

Responsive, energetic midsole capable of a wide range of paces

Top-notch durability and traction from Pumagrip outsole


Lateral midfoot feels too firm, especially as compared to V2

Heel lockdown could be better for a high performance trainer


Ryan:  The previous (V2) of the Deviate Nitro made it blatantly clear that Puma is capable of delivering a versatile, high-performance plated trainer. The standout features were its delightful engineered mesh upper, a moderate but soft midsole to inject some excitement, and a Pumagrip rubber outsole that is still holding up after 300 miles of running. A tough act to follow for V3. 

It slots into Puma’s lineup as a jack-of-many-trades type of shoe, with a plate that adds performance but isn’t stiff enough to scare anyone off.

Most comparable shoes 

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

Hoka Mach X

ASICS Magicspeed 4.


Spec Weight: men's 9.35oz / 265g 

Prior Version Weight:  men’s 9.24oz /  262g

  Sample Weight: men’s US9.5,  9.31oz / 264g 

Stack Height: men’s  39 mm heel /  29 mm forefoot (  drop spec) 

Platform Width: 83mm heel / 57mm midfoot / 105mm forefoot 

Previous version: 85mm heel / 65mm midfoot / 109mm forefoot 

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Ryan: The upper and the outsole of the Deviate Nitro V2 were best in class, so it was nice to open the box and discover that those attributes are again found in V3. 

A pleasant, high-performing engineered mesh accommodates the foot well, while allowing the forefoot to breathe and providing an adequate level of lockdown for a speedy trainer. 

The lateral overlays are thicker and stronger, while extending a bit further forward. The middle two eyelets connect to a reinforced overlay, helping to divert some lace tension further toward the rear, although this didn’t make a noticeable difference in my testing. 

A small but effective toe bumper retains the shape of the forefoot nicely in conjunction with the strong mesh. I’d say this toe box feels a smidge wider than V2, but it’s still fairly low, sitting on top of the forefoot as opposed to riding above it.

At the rear of the shoe, the level of padding is basically unchanged and on the more casual side for a shoe billed as a high performance trainer. I’d describe the heel counter’s strength as ‘moderate’, and I found myself wishing there was a little more control here. If you don’t make a concerted effort to ensure proper lace tension, you’re liable to have your heel feeling a bit floaty at firmer efforts. 

The tongue retains the same foamy, moderately padded feel from the prior version, which I particularly appreciate for its well-behaved nature and comfort. 

The fit is true to size, with a moderately accommodating forefoot width, and an upper material that will flex to most foot shapes.

Midsole & Platform

While not called out the Elite Nitro foam remains the top layer with the lower Nitro reformulated.

Ryan: The big, obvious change here is in the elevated stack height. What’s less obvious is that the lower, firmer section of foam now looks to extend all the way into the forefoot of the shoe, which was not the case (as far as I can tell) in V2. 

So while I understand that this may have been necessary to keep the shoe’s responsiveness at an acceptable level, it seems to interfere with the ride a bit. While V2 was pleasant and smooth right out of the box, 

I have to admit that V3 has given me slight hotspots on my lateral midfoot during my first three runs (fairly symmetrically, in both feet). Interestingly, this newer version is narrower in both the midfoot (57 vs 65mm) and forefoot (105 vs 109mm), so I wonder if the narrower waist here is also a factor.

All in all, the feeling is still relatively minor, and definitely not noticeable enough to spoil the party, but it does make me prefer V2 over this newer, taller version.

What will come as no surprise with the new stack height of 29/39mm, is an elevated depth of cushion (are we calling this the ‘modern’ approach to trainers now?). The shoe seems to have the same level of stability as V2, which is a great thing, but the few extra millimeters of height are definitely noticeable. As for the foam  its rebound and cushioning behavior is very similar to that of its predecessor. 

The upper, softer layer conveys a softness and pleasant initial footstrike, while the foam below the plate decidedly adds stability and control. While V2 felt closer to the ground and more ‘minimalist’ by today’s standards, this iteration feels like it’s joining the trend we’ve seen of creeping stack heights. It still turns over nicely though.

One of the standout features of the Deviate 3 (and V2) is the semi-flexible PWR Plate’s ability to perform at a wide range of paces. 

I’ve used this one for recovery runs, and it doesn’t get in the way. I’ve also used it for a couple pickups, and it manages to deliver some extra pep that no unplated shoe wouldn’t be able to. No, I wouldn’t use it for the most strenuous of workouts, but for anyone serious enough about running to be reading this, it probably can handle the middle ~80% of your pace range.


Ryan: Pumagrip rocks. It’s one of the most durable and confidence inspiring outsole compounds around today. My V2s are one of the few shoes I’ve pressed for over 300 miles without blowing through the toe rubber, and V3 looks and feels to be no different so far.

It’s of a fairly generous thickness, and is split into three spindles and the front, and two patches at the rear so as to not interfere with the midsole performance. 

It’s interesting to note that the stretch of lateral rubber on the lateral side that reached from the forefoot back to the heel now stops short of the midfoot, leaving exposed foam where there used to be rubber.

The pattern they’ve used for V3 is a bit smoother, with more minor ridges than the slightly nubbier found in V2. 

Here’s the V2 outsole for contrast:

This makes ground contact maybe a touch harsher than it was in V2, but it still delivers a very pleasant experience.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Ryan: I understand the pressure on brands to deliver more stack, more bounce, and more of everything these days. And to be fair, it often results in a better experience. This V3 of the Deviate keeps with its predecessor’s reputation of being able to handle an impressive range of paces, from moderate recovery to uptempo intervals. 

It’s still an excellent trainer at a very fair price point. The ride quality remains high, with a carbon plate which won’t scare anyone off. It still has a thoughtfully designed and uber-comfortable engineered mesh. It still has a top-notch slab of Pumagrip rubber to hug the asphalt, wet or dry. However, the addition of more stack height and firmer foam under the midfoot removes some of the simple, lighthearted magic that defined V2. 

While V2 was my favorite trainer of 2022, I don’t see this one recapturing that title this year. But if you were a big fan of V2, and you’re in the market for a snappy, versatile, and highly performant trainer at a fair price, the Deviate Nitro 3 is still worth checking out.

Ryan’ Score: 8.8/10 (deductions for degraded ride quality, heel lockdown)
Smiles Score: 3.5

4 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE Roadtrailrun 

Deviate Nitro 2 (RTR Review)

Ryan: For an in-depth comparison, you’re best reading the paragraphs above, but in a nutshell:

Version 3 of this shoe maintains a lot of what V2 did well — the upper which performs at a high level without sacrificing comfort, the tenacious and durable outsole, and the energetic but stable Nitrofoam paired with a somewhat flexible plate. There’s noticeably more stack here though, and this iteration doesn’t feel as simple or as close to the ground as V2 did. The dual-density midsole also seems to have been reworked in a way that feels a bit too stiff in the lateral midfoot of the shoe. As a result, the ride doesn’t feel quite as pleasant and special as did V2. However, there’s more bounce and more cushion in this one, if that’s your preference. The fit is similar, but with maybe a touch more width in the toe box. Ride aside, the versatility of this high performance trainer is still pretty impressive.

Hoka Mach X (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Mach X takes a similar approach to delivering a high-performance trainer, with similarities such as a strong, well-designed engineered mesh, a plated, dual-density midsole, and a generous amount of stable cushioning for tackling high mileage at an honest effort. The Hoka feels a little softer to me, and a touch blockier as well, giving the Puma an edge on turnover speed. Both uppers are pretty solid, and hard to knock. The Pumagrip outer is certainly the better of the two, both in durability and in grip. I described the Hoka as more of a “grand tourer” — solidly built to comfortably handle a wide variety of running, and I’m fine to stick with that descriptor. The Puma also touts a highly versatile personality, although it feels like the quicker shoe of the two, despite its practically identical weight and my qualms about its overly firm lateral midsole.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Saucony has a bit of an edge, weight-wise here, and that comes through. The Speed 4 is the snappier, more playful of the two, but it isn’t nearly as stable or solid as the Puma for quicker running. I think of the Saucony as more of a tempo workout shoe, whereas the Puma can be used for higher mileage and touts a wider range of capability. The upper of the DN3 is more refined and wins on build quality, and I prefer it slightly over the more minimal, conventional, and weight-conscious mesh of the Speed 4. Both outsoles perform very well, although I think the Puma wins by a smidge here, too. The Pumagrip rubber is just hard to top, although sometimes the thicker rubber can be noticed. Both fit true to size and will stretch to accommodate most foot shapes. Pick the Puma if you like a more solidly built, highly cushioned midsole which behaves well across a wide range of paces. Pick the Saucony if you want something more lighthearted, less stable, and snappier to turn over.

ASICS Magicspeed 3 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Magicspeed 3 (not to be confused with the drastically changed Magicspeed 4!) is the simpler, far lighter, and speed-focused shoe of these two. It doesn’t offer nearly the depth of the cushion that the Puma does, and its grip can’t match that of the Pumagrip outsole. The upper of the ASICS is far simpler, although it has a racier hold on the foot, especially toward the front. Its nearly 2oz advantage shines through on turnover, and although it also comprises a plated, dual-density midsole, it feels more stable and conventional underfoot. I used the Magicspeed for the majority of my indoor track sessions this past winter, whereas I don’t think I’d venture to do the same with the Puma because of its depth of cushion and weight. For longer mileage where cushion is at a premium, the Puma wins out. But for shorter, snappier efforts where speed is the name of the game, the ASICS is probably the better pick. The ASICS felt a touch shorter and is definitely racier/more snug in the forefoot.

Tester Profile

Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  Rya more recently has a PR of 2:14:23 from the 2024 Boston Marathon finishing 3d American and 15th overall, a  2:17:16 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, from the 2023 Philadelphia Marathon after two other 2:18 efforts in the last year.

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