The cat is back with something hot for the roads
The puma is a stealth and reclusive animal.
To be honest, this couldn’t be more symbolic of a brand whose presence in the running scene has existed mostly in the shadows in recent years. We all suspected they were still chipping away in the background, but glimpses of the Puma logo on a start line have been rare - with the exception of the track, where many of the fastest men and women in the world wear the brand.
That all changed at the start of this year, when out of nowhere Puma dropped a fresh ‘Nitro’ branded running range, and signed up numerous A-list track and road athletes to race for the brand. We’re talking US marathoner Molly Seidel, Gesa Krause, Aisha Praught-Leer, and local icons Gen and Ryan Gregson, Liz Clay, and more.
Life is good.
Editor's Note: This content is brought to you by Puma.
Puma’s re-entry into the mainstream running conversation consists of a five model collection based around their new nitrogen infused midsole (Eternity, Deviate, Deviate Elite, Liberate and Velocity), which we will go through in a moment.
This range has been developed with female runners in mind, with a gender specific last shape with a narrower heel on women’s models. Catering for all runners doesn’t just stop with the shoe anatomy though. Puma have taken aim at bridging the gender equality gap in sport, through helping charities via a newly established fund, the ‘Puma Running Spark Change Fund’. Kudos, Puma.
The prestige of the Puma brand is written in the history of athletics, through the feats of athletes like Abebe Bikila. The first back-to-back winner of two Olympic marathons, one of which he repped Puma shoes during (1964 Tokyo Olympic marathon - Gold. Bikila won his first marathon gold barefoot in 1960). Four years later, in 1968, Tommie Smith (famed for his part in the black power salute protest) won gold in the Mexico City Olympic Games 200m donning Puma spikes.
Then there’s Usain Bolt, or Tokyo Olympics 400m gold medallist and WR holder, Karsten Warholm, as just a couple of the modern examples of Puma’s connection to the cutting edge of footwear innovation.
But as we all know - it’s one thing to make good spikes. But if you want to be big in road running, there’s one critical thing you need to get right.
The number one ingredient to produce a ‘super shoe’ is the foam. To gain the super-foam reputation, brands must hit the prerequisite factors. I’m talking about the trifecta that is: A) lightweight, B) high energy return, and C) big stack height. Puma meets the mark through the creation of their nitrogen infused supercritical foam: Nitro.
If you don’t have a super shoe that’s going to ruffle feathers with the elite of carbon plated shoes, then you better be bringing something to the latest-most-unexpected category on the market.
Call them what you will, but whether you know them as ‘sub elite, wallet friendly racing shoes’ or ‘responsive daily trainers’, these bang for your buck models are something we never knew we needed until we had them on our feet. And now we don’t want to take them off.
This is exactly the type of shoe I reach for as I head out the door for a rolling long run, Tuesday morning workout or an easy shakeout.
A shoe that can do whatever you ask of it, but feels most at home when the pace picks up and the chatting stops. Running easy in the Deviate Nitro is like idling a sports car in a laneway - sure it can do it, but it was made to be opened up on the open road.
The Deviate Nitro is forgiving, lightweight, and responsive, all bundled into an affordable package and now in a hot new colourway.
The Deviate Nitro feels different to any other super shoe I have experienced. Historically, manufacturing costs have restricted the foams we run on. From EVA to TPU to now the PEBAX era, shoes are getting faster but also more expensive. Puma however, have opted to use nitrogen infused means to achieve the marriage of lightweight responsiveness. This means Puma can achieve something much lighter than traditional EVA foam but with a smaller price tag than PEBAX, while still gaining that desired increase in energy return.
Sharing the common characteristics of a rockered, plated and a reasonably high stack midsole, this shoe certainly feels more comfortable at faster paces whilst striking more on the forefoot. The PUMAGRIP outer has good traction on gravel and is grippy at aggressive paces on the road. Suede internal lining cushions the achilles with additional pillows, as seen in in the industry recently - and that’s something worth pointing out - from a bang for buck perspective, the Deviate Nitro has it all, there’s no shortcuts.
With an 8mm offset and weighing in at 257g (men’s size 10), the Deviate Nitro is one of the heavyweights in its class. That’s the beauty of this untamed category, countless options cater to a spectrum of stiffness, forgiveness, and snappy response.
Heel strikers are well looked after with a 32mm rear stack, stabilised by a TPU plate sandwiched between two plush layers of Nitro foam. The sparkle aesthetic of the Nitro forefoot topsole illustrates where the magic happens with a 24mm forefoot stack. A carbon infused composite plate named ‘INNOPLATE’ sits wedged nicely between two layers of Nitro cushion. Hints of racing-esque design visually radiate off the Deviate, with a fully gusseted tongue and a breathable mesh upper that rivals the best uppers we’ve seen on the market in recent years.
If you’re looking for a super shoe that isn’t noticeably squishy when you put it on and walk around, and you want something a little more structured, then the Deviate Nitro will undoubtedly enhance your quiver.
The Nitro range has now been globally available for six months. This special release Spectra colourway brings a white canvas coated in bands of refracted colour illustrating the essence of a fresh start for one of the sport's most respected brands. You can cop it here.