A few years back Puma re-established its priorities, backing Nitro foam as the cornerstone of its new running shoe range. The Deviate Nitro was the shoe leading the charge, with the Deviate Nitro 2 now finally landing for review.
I loved the first Deviate Nitro, having said it’s the first Puma shoe in a long time that can go up against the best running shoes from the other brands. Does the Deviate 2 continue down this path?
Starting with looks
The Deviate 2 test pair Puma sent through sported the new Electrocharged colourway, combining an interesting shade of purple and off-neon green. For some, this might be the more conservative choice, following the fierce Sun Stream orange version the shoe was first introduced in. Puma has certainly figured out how to make good looking running gear, with my favourite design touch being the green dash on the toe cap. While running, looking down and seeing the little green flash streaking through every stride is pretty damn cool.
The original Deviate Nitro had a spartan look to it, with some complaining about the lack of padding around the collar. This has been amended with the Deviate 2, now with a regular padded collar, which in a way sacrifices the pacy look of its older brother.
The Deviate 2 runs true to size with mesh uppers that are nicely breathable, a non-slip tongue and laces that lock tight. However, if you need solid support around the heel, then the Deviate Nitro 2 might not be it. There’s no full heel cage, with the Deviate 2 rather offering a thickened area around the heel that for my running style wasn’t quite enough.
Midsole with more
At 277 g per shoe (UK10), the Deviate 2 actually knocks a few grams off the 280 g of its predecessor, even though it looks like a sturdier shoe. It’s easy to believe that the missing weight can be attributed to the use of Puma’s Nitro Elite foam, which the company notes offers both enhanced cushioning and propulsion and is also lighter than the regular Nitro foam. In the midsole then you’ll find a full layer of the Nitro Elite foam tech, with the regular Nitro foam appearing underneath the heel. This creates a bouncy feel to the shoe that livens up a run.
The Deviate Nitro 2 is a pacy shoe and performs best when you up the speed. It’s here where it feels like the carbon composite plate (Puma calls it the Pwrplate) is doing its best work. The Pwrplate provides energy transfer as it bends and returns to form during foot strike through to push off. And yes, the plate is noticeable, especially when you compare the Deviate Nitro 2 with the Velocity Nitro 2 (review) which doesn’t have the plate and feels more like a daily trainer than a full-on racing shoe.
Puma notes this is a shoe for neutral pronators and on the road with fresh legs kicking, the Deviate 2 provides stable movement throughout the foot strike, moving from heel to toe, very much down the centre of the shoe.
However, over longer distances when my legs weren’t as fresh anymore, the shoes started to run more inward with a tendency to overpronate - movement I didn’t pick up on the previous version of the Deviate. I’m unsure if this can be attributed to the lack of a fully supported heel cage that locks the foot in or the distribution on the midsole.
The stack height on the heel is a sturdy 38 mm and my 93 kg frame was fully supported by the midsole, not just during regular runs but also while heel-striking hard during intervals. With an 8 mm drop there’s certainly enough midsole coverage for the forefoot too, and this part never felt ‘flat’ during toe off.
Puma’s excellent Pumagrip is again doing duty on the outsole, with this being one of the best in the business in terms of grip and durability.
Thoughts and feelings
Puma’s Deviate Nitro 2 has all the qualities of a great trainer/race-day shoe, capable of PBs at pretty much all distances. With an impressive midsole enhanced with a carbon composite plate, the shoe is best suited for those with a faster pace. My concern is with the Deviate 2’s lack of proper heel cage and a tendency for overpronation when your legs get tired. It’s a shoe that needs you to up the pace to perform best.
At R3 600 the Puma Deviate Nitro 2 comes in cheaper than its predecessor’s initial price. However, if you are looking for something even more pro, the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 should be coming to South Africa soon, while Puma’s supershoes – the Fast-Fwd Nitro Elite (R6500) or Fast-R Nitro Elite (R6500) are also available.
DISCLOSURE: Shoes were received from PUMA South Africa and not returned.