Article by Sam Winebaum
Puma Voyage Nitro 3 ($140 )
The Voyage 3 Nitro is all supercritical Nitro foam midsole trail runner with a 35 mm heel / 27mm forefoot stack height, 4mm lug PumaGrip ATR outsole and a debris resistant upper. It has no rock plate.
We love Nitro foam at RTR having enjoyed it in a variety of road shoes. Puma is going all in with Nitro eliminating EVA from most midsoles as they do here in the Voyage 3.
I tested (RTR Review) the original Voyage in Gore Tex and it was quite heavy (11.75 oz) and had a central core of Nitro with an outer EVA carrier with a pleasant if a bit ponderous ride and thick fit.
Well the Voyage 3 is, based on my initial test run, a completely different cat with no only more stack, no EVA, a solid lightweight and secure upper, a more skeletal and flexible outsole and asignificantly lighter very competitive weight at 9.45 oz / 268g in my US 8.5 sample that is over 2 oz / 56g lighter than the original in GTX.
I took them for a first run on one of my usual test loops which includes gravel roads, smooth forest paths, a brief rocky rooty more technical section and some pavement and share initial impressions here.
Energetic, softer, fun ride with lots of cushion & smooth energy return from the Nitro foam: Sam
Competitive weight to cushion to traction depth ratio at 9.75 oz / 275g US9 Sam
Excellent upper hold and comfort without overdoing it Sam
Up to moderately technical trails capabilities with excellent smooth trails and road ride : Sam
Excellent door to trails, winter slop/mud, quick and fast all around daily trails trainer Sam
Att $140 very decent value for a versatile supercritical foam trail shoe : Sam
While plenty of front stack cushion the skeletal outsole and softer foam could benefit from a very thin “ground filter” for protection and propulsion: Sam
Approx. Weight: men’s 9.7 oz / 275g (US9) / women’s oz / g (US8)
Samples: men’s 9.45 oz / 268g (US8.5)
Stack Height: men’s: 35 mm heel / 27mm forefoot, 8mm drop
$140 Available August 1, 2023
First Impressions, Fit and Upper
Sam: The upper is a thin and dense debris mesh with several Puma technologies, some of which we see in their recent road shoes others new to me.
PWRTAPE is Puma’s name for underlay/overlay strips that unlike most also go lengthwise as opposed to vertically. The medial midfoot has a reverse L PWRTAPE while the lateral side a single horizontal external overlay with additional lateral support provided by a broad Puma logo overlay.
While the tongue is no “puffy” it is well padded with molded cushioning elements. Instead of the usual gusset from tongue to midsole the tongue is attached by rubbery mini gusset to the back of the broad suede lace eyestay.
Then, inside there is a full secondary quite thick somewhat stretchy bootie running from the area behind the broad eyestay all the way to the front of the shoe. I believe Puma calls this Optifit and I find the overall mid to front hold highly effective in comfort and hold if a bit warm.
More unusual design elements at the rear. Instead of a rear eyelet we have an orange softish plastic cover over the orange cord sewn all the way around the heel ending below the wide suede eyestay at the zig zag stitching. On lace up, this big “loop” of cord clearly draws the heel in and towards lace up and is very secure. It is always essential for good hold to connect the heel to the lace up and midfoot and here it is done very well. It’s not a showy gimmick!
The internal bolsters are far more extensive than usual in shoes without a traditional top rolled collar and reach all the way to the midsole. We have a mostly rigid heel counter in the mix. There is zero slip and a secure hold at the rear.
A design element catches the eye at the achilles.
The slightly stretchy reflective pull tab angles forward. It delivers a slight sense of security and hold and is noticed trying them on but not as much on the run. I would recommend socks that reach above it to be safe although while springy and soft it could irritate bare skin for some.
In terms of front fit the toe box is quite tapered to a point and low at the very front. The hold there is fantastic with the U shaped overlay and big toe bumper but could be a touch more rounded and less built up.
The area to the rear of the very front has plenty of volume and is very well held despite the pliable mesh. Credit I think to the PWRTAPE overlays and inner bootie. I am true to size and fine in medium to thin socks but those with a long second toe or broad very front of the foot may struggle more.
The midsole is all Puma Nitro supercritical foam with a full shoe stack height of 35 mm heel / 27mm forefoot, 8mm drop. There is plenty of cushion here for longer runs, yet at the same time the weight is low due to the Nitro foam.
The midsole is energetic and fun, the shoe flexible and easy to turn over even at slow paces. Nitro foam has a special softer yet stable feel that kicks back very pleasantly. It is for example softer than Brooks DNA Flash also a nitrogen infused foam and more smoothly energetic than Salomon’s mostly as soft Energy Foam, a non supercritical EVA/Olefin blend.
During my first run of 6 miles at mostly slower paces I wanted to go on and on as the midsole gave back so pleasantly and consistently.
The outsole is Puma’s always excellent PumaGrip here in an ATR configuration with 4mm lugs.
There are many cut throughs to the midsole to lighten and make the shoe flexible.
Grip as always with PumaGrip was excellent and as the platform is flexible, quiet on road and with no disconnect between the softer outsole and the rubber as the lugs deflect into the midsole and quite noticeably to pressing delivering in concert with the midsole an always pleasant and surprisingly stable rebound.
I do think a very thin front “ground filter” film or plate might give the shoe more protection and propulsion. I did not notice the relatively few rocks on my first run but clearly we have a soft forefoot with feel focus on the soft and flexible as opposed to big rock protection.
Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations
It’s early in testing, but I can say the Voyage 3 Nitro is a super pleasant riding shoe which delivers big smiles as it lets its Nitro foam midsole shine without compromising trail capabilities much and with its upper is pretty much any trail worthy and the outsole as well. It reminds me of the Fuji Lite 2 from ASICS, also a lighter trails to road option with a grippy outsole but here with yet more aggressive traction, a more energetic midsole and superior more trails focused upper. Its midsole also reminds me of the NNormal Kjerag, also with supercritical foam midsole and which is lower stack and denser but similar in feel and considerably lighter.
It should prove a very fine and very versatile option for runners who frequent forest paths, parks, easier trails with some road in the mix as well as potentially be a great option for rail trail type racing and snowy trails come winter (in GTX or not) due to its aggressive outsole. For the agile quicker trail runner it should prove a solid new option for smoother trails racing. So far I am feeling tha a bit more front protection and propulsion without compromising its flexibility would be a plus.
Full review soon with more comparisons after more runs but so far a minimum of 😊😊😊😊
Puma Voyage Nitro 3 will be available August 1, 2023
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.
Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’.
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