Undoubtedly Puma is no stranger to the running game. One of their prime athltes was Ethiopian Abebe Bikila who won the marathon of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo wearing a pair of Puma running shoes. Defending his title from Rome 1960, which he won without wearing any shoes. Having had a massive impact on the worldwide T&F scene with the likes of Linford Christie and legendary Wilson Kipketer, the company further increased their fanbase with the early signing of superstar Usain Bolt. When Puma signed Bolt in 2003, he was only 16 years old, but this deal certainly paid off.
Although being a recognized brand within the sprint scene, the company seemed to have forgotten its roots that, besides football, lies within running. In the beginning of 2021 a lot of professional runners switched sponsors and Puma appeared behind the name of a lot of recognized distance runners. With the Nitro range the company seem to hit the scene with new and promising products.
The Deviate range symbols Pumas homecoming to the serious performance side of running. The very first prototypes made a lot of noise within the scene and Puma marked their return to the market with their interpretation of a carbon-fiber plate road running shoe.
In 1924 Rudolf and his brother Adolf “Adi” Dassler formed the so called “Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory”. When they split in 1948, Adi went on to develop his own brand named Adidas and Rudolf established a new company called Ruda. Ultimately he changed the companies name into Puma and introduced the well-known symbol and the characteristic “Formstrip” in 1958. Until today both companies are situated in the small Franconian town Herzogenaurach in Bavaria, Germany.
Puma offers two high-end models. The Deviate Nitro that’s studied here and the Deviate Elite as the absolute top range model. The crucial alteration between these two shoes is the foam material. Back in the days, way before the carbon excitement, companies used EVA material as the attention was more on cushion then on rebound. Then the carbon-bouncy propaganda took over and nothing has been the same since.
The so-called Pebax material is the new reference class for springy shoes. Every company does use somewhat comparable. So does Puma for the Elite Version. The Nitro instead has a TPE sole. The presentation of this sole paired with the carbon plate is incredible. The structure and the placement of the foam generates a tremendously comfortable and lively piece of equipment. The Deviate Nitro is well-cushioned and the toe-off is speedy and energetic as you stride forward.
A very nice feature of the Deviate line is that there are specific models for women offered. These versions have slimmer heel sections, lower instep, and a carved arch for a specific fit. A feature that should be a standard by now.
A feature that made the shoe very comfortable for me, was this little feature in the back of the heel section. These pads are meant to lock the foot in the shoe and avoid slipping. Typically I tie my shoes very loose and this really made a difference to me, especially when running a bit faster.
The natural environment for this shoe is the road. And that’s what the so-called PumaGrip does best. A solid and sturdy rubber provides great traction on non-technical environment. I used this shoes also on lighter and dry trails and had no problems.
Despite the tendency of other running brands to use other expert rubber companies for the outsole material, Puma decided to create their own. The result is a good mix of rubbers that create a great and solid feeling for the ground and a material that appears to last well. I have about 400 kilometers on my pairs and it is astonishing how less wear this shoe has.
While I was training with the Deviate Nitro the last few weeks, some of my training buddies got curious and one of the most asked questions was if this shoe is a racing or training shoe. Until now, I do not really have an appropriate response to this question. The shoe is light, the shoe is speedy, direct on the ground it feels yet very comfortable. Would I race with it? I probably would. Until now I ran the Deviate Nitro during several trainings, from commute runs, long runs to track work and fartleks. I keep loving the shoe for it reliability during all these occasions. Pumas return to proper running shoes suprised me and it will be interesting to see where the brand goes from here.
Tune of the day: Brockhampton – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine