Anyone looking for a stylish trail shoe that checks several boxes should consider the Voyage NITRO 3s. Whether you’re training, racing, hiking or just enjoying outdoor adventures, this shoe will not disappoint.
I’d steer clear of these sneakers if you’re looking for a firm, low profile, racing shoe. Also, due to the all season upper material, they might be a bit warm for hot summer days.
Puma has made a resurgence in the last few years and offers shoes for every type of runner. The Voyage NITRO 3 is one of several trail shoes and as the name indicates, is in its third generation.
Substantially lighter than the previous version, Puma dropped the weight of the Voyage NITRO from 10.8 oz to 9.6 oz in the most recent model. Weight was a major complaint of reviewers in the 2nd edition so it’s refreshing to see Puma improve in this area.
One shoe that’s easily comparable to these are the Nike Wildhorse 8. Both are considered max cushion shoes and are built for covering miles.
The Voyage NITRO 3 are priced at $140 while the Wildhorse 8 will cost you $130. In terms of comfort, I’d give the edge to the Wildhorse 8, but the Pumas are a more durable shoe in my opinion.
Sticking in the Puma brand, the Fast-Trac NITRO offers a more responsive ride with medium cushion. If you’re looking for a competitive running shoe, check out the Fast-Trac Apex NITRO. These are all about speed on the trail.
My initial run was at a local trail system consisting of woodest paths, gravel roads and a few technical, rocky sections. I was immediately drawn to how light these shoes felt. Particularly for how much cushion they had to offer.
The ride was responsive and energetic and I was able to navigate around and over fallen branches and logs with ease. Towards the end of the run, there was a long downhill section which alternated between gradual and steep and packed dirt and rocks. This is where I discovered my only real issue with this shoe.
The toe box is quite a bit more narrow and shallow than other trail shoes. There was a fair amount of discomfort on my toes as I descended the trail. I would steer runners away from these shoes if they live in areas with a lot of elevation. The shoe could be a toenail destroyer if you use them on the wrong trails.
I don’t see this shoe as a racing shoe so many of my runs were steady endurance workouts where 80% of the run was a jog and the other 20% was hiking up steep terrain. I’d definitely feel comfortable wearing this shoe for marathon distance races or longer if the elevation change is minimal.
Another point to make is that I don’t view the Voyage Nitro 3s as a very technical shoe. Sure they can handle short sections of rocks and roots or steep climbs, but I wouldn’t choose them for that. Reason being is that they don’t quite have the support needed to endure mile after mile of rocky, debris filled trails.
An alternative option would be the Brooks Cascadia, which is better suited for long, technical trail adventures.
When it comes to projection, there’s plenty to talk about in the Voyage NITRO 3. It all starts with the mono mesh upper. I could tell very quickly that it would take a lot for this upper to rip or wear down compared to other mesh materials. Puma uses reinforced overlays called PWRTAPE strategically located in areas that need additional protection.
The NITRO foam midsole also plays a large part in ensuring the bottom of your feet have the protection they need.
With a height of 35 mm heel / 27mm forefoot, the midsole absorbs much of the abuse from small rocks and roots. These shoes do not have a rock plate which I really like in trail shoes.
Living in an area with rocky trails, I think a rock plate is a must. For runners with different terrain types, this shoe would be a great option.
Durability is one of the main features of the Voyage NITRO 3s. They were made to withstand trails and all types of weather, including the winter elements.
Starting from the ground up, PUMAGRIP ATR is the outsole rubber compound which thrives in poor conditions like ice, snow and mud. Another feature of the outsole is the lug design called PWRADAPT. I was unsure about whether it would hold up long term, but they have withstood all of the different terrains and obstacles that I’ve encountered.
The mono mesh upper design is another key feature responsible for the rugged durability of this shoe. I’d describe it as almost a reinforced ripstop. Thicker than your average trail upper and able to withstand collisions with rocks, trees or other surfaces that sometimes cause tears.
After covering over 60 miles of trails in these shoes, I’d rate them higher in durability than most trail shoes. Combine this with the added benefits of cold conditions means this shoe will be a go-to for a long time.
I was impressed with the ride of the Voyage NITRO 3s. They have the right amount of responsiveness combined with being a max cushion shoe. Although not built for speed, I found that picking up the pace for periods of time was sustainable in the right conditions.
One of the features that really helped with this is the PWRADAPT outsole design. I found the traction to be very good and they gave me confidence to push my speed when I wanted too. The lug pattern is simple yet effective and does not get clogged in muddy conditions.
These shoes are not built for racing, however I’d have no problem running a 5k or 5 mile race in them. They offer enough support and are light and fun for shorter distances.
Generally, the Voyage NITRO 3s fit very comfortably, with one exception. The toebox narrows down quite a bit from the forefoot and is rather shallow.
This resulted in restricted movement and caused some serious discomfort on downhill trails. My toes took a pounding and felt like they were jammed into the toebox.
Puma could make a major improvement in the future if they widened the toebox to allow for adequate toe splay.
On the other end, the heel counter felt a bit sloppy when I first put them on. Only after fully lacing them up, did they fit securely and properly lock down my heel.
Overall, I liked the fit and found myself grabbing these shoes for more than just trail running. Errands, outdoor games with my kids and more, they are a natural fit for many activities beyond running.
In the end, there are a few things that stand out to me about the Voyage NITRO 3s that would cause me to choose them over many other trail shoes. The build quality and materials are superior to many shoes on the market.
They have ample protection for rugged trails and other outdoor adventures.
Lastly, they are surprisingly light for being a max cushion shoe. If you haven’t checked out the Voyage NITRO 3s, I suggest you do!