Teva Original Universal Sandals

Teva Original Universal Sandals

Teva Original Universal Sandal (men’s)
Women’s Original Sandal
Price: £35
Country of manufacture: Vietnam
Weight: 424g a pair (men’s size 10/44.5)
Colour: green/blue

Teva Terra Fi 4 Sandal (men’s and women’s)
Price: £65
Country of manufacture: Vietnam
Weight: 900g a pair (men’s size 10/44.5)
Colour: grey/blue

A little while ago, an unexpected parcel arrived at grough headquarters.

Inside were two pairs of sandals and an invitation to try the footwear from Teva, the Californian brand that says it invented the sports sandal.

As there was torrential rain, gales and occasional frost at the time, we thought it best to await a little warmer weather before we put the Tevas to the test.

Teva women's Original Sandal

Teva women's Original Sandal

Teva’s publicity photos contain lots of bronzed people frolicking in rivers and on beaches and it didn’t really feel appropriate to slip on the sandals in typical British spring conditions. Call us soft, but we thought we’d bide our time.

Finally, with the arrival of something approaching summer weather, we were able to hit the trail in the Tevas.

It’s the 30th anniversary of the birth of the brand, when a Grand Canyon rafting guide grafted a heel strap on to his flipflops to create the first sport sandal.

We slipped on a pair of Original Universal Sandals, based on those created three decades ago, followed by Teva’s latest offering, the Terra Fi 4.

The Original Universals have a Durabrasion rubber sole, with an EVA midsole that provides a reasonable amount of cushioning under the foot.

Adjustment is via webbing straps over the toes and instep, which both fasten with hook and loop strips. The heel strap is fixed.

It’s easy to get a good fit and the sandals slip on to the foot quickly.

The base of the sole has a repeated triangular pattern, but the lugs are not very deep.

Grip on uneven gravel trails was quite good, however, although you are always conscious of the patterning on the top of the footbed which we think could become a problem over long distances.

The Original Universal

The Original Universal

The Original Universals make great pootling about sandals: on the beach, in the campsite, letting your feet breathe after a long walk on the hills. They will also cope with a short trail walk, though for anything serious we would recommend their big brothers: the Terra Fi 4.

These feel and look much more like serious trailwalking sandals.

The outsole has a proper aggressive tread and grip on rocky and gravel paths and tracks was at least as good as some of the boots we’ve tested. Not surprisingly, as the whole sport sandal concept grew out of the rivers and canyons of the USA, grip on wet rock was good too. Just don’t expect to keep your feet dry.

The outsole is made from Teva’s Spider rubber.

There’s much more cushioning, thanks to the Shockpad in the heel and a PU midsole. The webbing straps are beefed up too, and the heel strap also has hook and loop fastening and adjustment, in addition to the toe and instep straps.

The Terra Fi 4s enable a good walking gait and there was no discomfort from rocky sections of trails, thanks to the thick soles.

In fact, walking in the new Teva sandals is really just like walking in a pair of very comfortable trail shoes but without the uppers.

The Terra Fi 4

The Terra Fi 4

The worry comes, of course, in the fact that feet have less protection while walking in sandals.

While we certainly wouldn’t recommend scree running or walking on loose rock, on the trails we used there was no injury to the upper foot. And if your feet get wet, they’ll soon dry out.

Not everyone will want to walk in sandals. But if you’re heading this summer for some European trails, or even some of the UK’s maintained paths, and the weather warrants it, the Teva Terra Fi 4 is a good bet. It performs as well as a light boot or trail shoe underfoot and, of course your feet are much less likely to suffer from overheating.

The Original Universal is less of a serious contender for walking any distance, but is great for lounging around on the beach or campsite, or just to slip on after your feet have taken a pounding on the hill. At less than 500g a pair, they won’t add much to the rucksack weight either if you were undertaking a long-distance trek. Watersports enthusiasts will also find they fit the bill.

Teva wanted to show how much sport sandals have evolved over 30 years and the Terra Fi 4 certainly shows a marked improvement in comfort over its more basic predecessor.

Quality of both pairs was good too.

Footnote: because your bare feet are in contact with the footwear – and no, we definitely don’t wear socks with our sandals – there’s a bigger chance of bacteria build-up. Nikwax provided us with a sample of its Sandal Wash, which is a simple to apply cleaner that helps keep sandals clean and odour free. A 125ml bottle retails at £2.99.

Someone's going to get wet feet

Someone's going to get wet feet

grough rating:

Teva Original Universal Sandal
Performance 20/35
Comfort 25/35
Quality 8/10
Value for money 16/20
Total score: 69/100

Teva Terra Fi 4 Sandal
Performance 28/35
Comfort 30/35
Quality 8/10
Value for money 14/20
Total score: 80/100

More details are on the Teva website.