Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite review – The nature of the beast

The most underrated super shoes in history

T3 Platinum Award
Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is a seriously underrated high-stack racer. The energy return the shoes provide is on-par with the Vaporfly, and despite the bold design, the Fast-R Nitro Elite is perfectly fine-tuned for high-octane training and racing. Not to be missed if you're on the market for your next race day shoes.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Lightning fast

  • +

    Amazing energy return

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    Race-tight upper

  • +

    Reinforced forefoot area for durability

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    I'll let you know as soon as I found something wrong with the shoes

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I received the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite review sample out of the blue in October 2022, if I remember right, after running the London Marathon. The race totalled my legs, and although I was super excited to try the shoes, due to the injuries sustained during the marathon (mainly because of the so-so training that preceded it), the testing of Puma's super shoes got delayed.

As time passed, new shoes started coming out, and I had to focus on testing/reviewing those to meet deadlines. I almost forgot about the Fast-R Nitro Elite, at least until January, when all of a sudden, I had plenty of time to test running shoes that I couldn't before. As soon as I got the Puma out of the box, I felt the urge to put them on and go for a run.

What followed was two weeks of daily sessions, ran almost exclusively in the Fast-R Nitro Elite. I couldn't get enough of the shoes; they were fast, stable, responsive, cool-looking, and thoroughly enjoyable. The more I used them, the more I kept thinking: how come not many people talk about these shoes? Even in the fast-changing world of the best running shoes, there must be a conversation about the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite.

So, this isn't as much of a review, more like a conversation started – we need to talk about the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite, which is worth the attention, even in the highly saturated (and hyped) super shoe market. I appreciate that everybody is busy with the launch of the Saucony Endorphin Elite – rightly so – but let's put those shoes aside for a moment, at least until after you finish reading this Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite.

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Price and availability

The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite was released at some point in 2022 and is available to buy now directly from Puma US and Puma UK for a recommended retail price of $250/£220. Well, it should be available in both countries, but I couldn't find the Fast-R Nitro Elite on Puma's US website at the time of writing. In the UK, the shoes are only available in one colour called Fireglow.

To put the price of the shoes in perspective, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 has an RRP of $275/£270, the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 $250/£220, the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 $225/£210, and the Metaspeed Edge+/Metaspeed Sky+ $250/£225 (all links to my reviews of the shoes). AU price and availability of the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite TBC.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Tech and specs

The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is a lightweight, neutral racing shoe with a cutting-edge, two-part NITRO Elite foam, PWRPLATE carbon composite plate, PWRTAPE upper reinforcement for increased durability and PUMAGRIP-LT high-traction rubber outsole. The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite weighs 8.7 oz./247 grams (men's US 11/UK 10) and has an 8 mm heel-to-toe drop. Stack height unknown; some sources claim it's nearly 40 mm under the heel, while others say it's closer to 35 or 37 mm. All I know is that the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite feels like a high-stack racer, however tall it might be in millimetres. 

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Fit and ergonomics

Even though I have wide feet, I found the fit of the upper on the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite spot-on for a racing shoe. It's race-tight but in a good way. The synthetic upper is light and allows for plenty of ventilation, which is essential in keeping the swelling to a minimum. And thanks to PWRTAPE reinforcement, I feel the upper will last pretty long, although I can't say for sure as I haven't been using these shoes for years (obvs). I'm dreading the moment the upper breaks, as I don't think I can deal with not being able to use the shoes. I found the Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite true to size and would strongly recommend sizing down, as some people do with their race day shoes. 

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Running performance

Two areas where the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite excels are responsiveness and stability. The Nitro Elite foam is fabulous and has a similar running dynamic to the coveted ZoomX (powering the Alphafly and Vaporfly series). The Nitro Elite is soft, bouncy and light – a joy to run in. As for stability, I appreciated the wide forefoot area; it's essential in controlling toe-off more precisely. The partially exposed carbon plate provides even more stability despite the comparatively narrow midsection.

Some carbon racers, including the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, are notoriously hard to harness due to the asymmetrical midsole, but probably thanks to the wider carbon plate, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is easy to handle. I wouldn't recommend the shoes for pronating runners – the Saucony Endorphin Elite or the Nike Alphafly 2 are more stable – but neutral runners will certainly enjoy the ride.

Speaking of ride: the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is blisteringly fast. I was super impressed with the energy return the shoes provided. It's like running on marshmallows; actually, it's more like how it would feel if you combined the softness of marshmallows with the bounce of a trampoline. It's energy return central. I detected no fatigue or sluggishness.

As a side note (this could be the result of how I run in high-stack running shoes, and it's by no means exclusive to the Fast-R Nitro Elite), I tend to slap my forefoot down a bit when I run in the shoes. I consider myself a pre-midfoot striker, and maybe due to the lack of foam under the midfoot, I land harder in the shoes than in others. Interestingly, this doesn't affect fatigue levels or running form too much – a mystery!

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Aesthetics

As I mentioned above, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite comes in only one colourway, Fireglow, but even without the striking colours, the Fast-R Nitro Elite would be instantly recognisable, thanks to the two-part midsole, exposed elements and OTT branding. It's as much of a statement shoe as the Vaporfly or the Adios Pro. I like running shoes with a personality, and the Fast-R Nitro Elite has loads of it.

Not to mention, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is chock-full of tiny little details that make the shoes even sexier. From the sparkly heel counter to the partially exposed carbon plate, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is all about attitude. What I like the most is that the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite could have gone very, very wrong; yet here it is, looking pretty and behaving like a stallion. I have the utmost respect towards the designers and engineers at Puma for creating these shoes. 

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Verdict

I really, really enjoyed and still enjoy running in the shoes. Of all the super shoes I tested in the last 12 months, I probably enjoyed this the most (well, I also really enjoyed the Edge+). The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite provides out-of-this-world responsiveness and has a bold design that's not only eye-catching but also works well. The exposed plate and the two-part midsole could have been a disaster; they aren't. I have been using the shoes for training so far, but I'm considering running the London Marathon this year in them. I have all the super shoes released from major brands last year, but still. The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is that good.

I wonder what's the situation with the shoes (looking at availability anywhere else in the world). I hope Puma hasn't given up on them, and we'll see more colourways and a Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 this year. I strongly recommend giving the shoes a try, even though I don't think any offers are available right now. If there will be any Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite deals in the future, the widgets at the top and bottom will pull the prices from whichever retailer is selling these shoes for cheaper. Just an FYI.

Puma Fast-R NITRO Elite review – Also consider

You may consider any of the super shoes mentioned in the price section of this review as a Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite alternative. If you're looking for a training shoe to pair with the Fast-R Nitro Elite, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Puma Velocity Nitro 2, one of the best training shoes from 2022. If you're after something faster, try the Brooks Hyperion Tempo or the Hoka Mach 5; both are fantastic shoes. Finally, if you're keen on having a propulsion plate of some sort in your running shoes, try the New Balance SuperComp Trainer or the Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.