Teva Katavi 2 Thong Review
Cons: Heavy, not stylish
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Katavi 2 Thong performed quite well throughout our testing, though they aren't very stylish and might draw some disapproving looks if worn to your next formal event. The large lugged rubber sole provides excellent traction but also makes this one of the heaviest flip flops we tested. That isn't all bad, as the thick sole makes them excellently durable and able to hold up against the cruelty of time.
The Katavi flip flops aren't the most comfortable flops we tested this year, but they're close. The footbed is soft and compliant without being overly squishy. The arch support height is in the middle of the road, not too high or flat, which works well for most feet. If you absolutely have to have either a flat or high arch, there other options in our review that are excellent. The thong and straps are sufficiently comfortable right out of the box and don't need any break-in period. The combination of suede and synthetic form-fitting material make for a snug but compliant and comfortable fit.
Even with a huge rack of flip flops to test, we would often slip on the Katavi after a long day on our feet. Typically, standing and walking on hard surfaces such as concrete or hardwood can be brutal on the feet and knees, but these flips offer an excellent buffer. The straps are wide and snug, which keeps them in place when walking around and eliminates the frustrating toe flexing that some models require to keep from slipping around.
Support and Stability
As you would imagine from the rugged looks, the Katavi is unique in the flip flop world. The sole feels like a hiking boot sole with a thong attached and performs like it too. Sharp rocks and pointy sticks are imperceptible through the dense lugs, and the footbed is molded into the sole in a way that cups your foot firmly. The snug fit is a result of a deep heel cup, comfortable high arch, and wide snug straps.
While the Katavi is an overall snug, supportive, and stable sandal, the high heel makes it feel a touch more unstable than flip flops with a lower profile. They certainly aren't dangerously unstable, just significantly higher profile than most other flip flops on the market. That being said, they are perfectly capable on hiking trails and granite slabs but require a bit more mindfulness when walking on potentially ankle rolling terrain.
The large rubber lugs on the sole of the Katavi is one of the first things we noticed when we unboxed these monster trucks. As expected, the traction is excellent. Even some flip flops that have grippy soles end up being quite slippery underfoot, making the sole grip meaningless. The Katavi has nice wide snug straps and a reasonably grippy footbed allowing full benefit from the lugged soles. The marriage between snug straps, grippy footbed, and lugged rubber sole makes for some of the best traction we experienced while testing this group of flips.
The downside of having such a stiff sole and large lugs is losing a bit of traction in the wet. Essentially, because the tread pattern has such large gaps, less rubber is in contact with a surface. The only time we really felt the Katavi lacked traction was on a short creek crossing with wet mossy rocks. Admittedly, most flip flops would have struggled in this situation, so it didn't ding the Katavi's overall score too much, though there are flip flops that perform better in wet environments.
While the Katavi is mostly constructed of rubber and synthetic materials, the uppers are made from a mixture of nylon and suede. This suede layer doesn't like water too much and thus keeps these flops from being truly amphibious. That's not to say that some water exposure isn't ok, but if you're looking for something to wear on your next river trip, there are some other excellent all synthetic options that are more optimal.
That being said, we enjoyed using these flip flops for many applications. They are super comfortable after a long day when just lounging around the yard, and the chunky lugged sole makes them an excellent choice for hiking around on all kinds of terrain. In all honesty, the lugged sole could be grafted onto a burly hiking boot, and nobody would know the difference. We especially appreciate this thick buffer when using the flip flops between sport climbing burns. Where other flip flops might let pointy rocks at the base of the crag poke through — the Katavi, on the other hand, seemed impervious.
As far as flip flops go, these things are on the upper tier of durability. The all rubber lugged sole showed nearly no damage at the end of our months-long testing period. We romped all over rugged trails with sharp rocks, and these things held up quite well. Additionally, there was no sign of delamination of the footbed from the lugged sole or straps (a problem noted in some negative reviews we read).
In step with the heavy-duty soles, the straps on the Katavi are sufficiently tough with multiple layers of thick material and burly sewing to match. While there are a few pairs of flip flops in our review that feel a bit more durable, this one really holds up to abuse and will likely last a long time. The high level of durability also influenced our decision to make the Katavi one of our Best Buy winners. Some similarly priced flip flops, at the end of our testing period, showed significant wear. The Katavi, however, had no structural damage, the sole looked fresh, and there was no delamination or signs of straps detaching. The long-lasting nature of the Katavi lends itself to those wanting to get the most out of their hard-earned benjamins.
The Katavi flip flops aren't likely to make their way onto Lord Grantham's feet in an episode of Downton Abbey. The Katavi portrays a bit more of the adventure/outdoor backyard barbeque styling. An episode of Duck Dynasty? Maybe.
The lugged sole and beefy straps on these flips definitely give them an adventure-ready look that seems at home setting up camp and chilling around the campfire or perhaps at the crag for some sweet, sweet summer climbing.
The price/performance ratio of the Katavi is just about right. They aren't incredibly expensive, like some of the higher-performing models in our review, but retain the critical components we want in adventure footwear. They proved themselves to be durable, comfortable, and offer great traction out in the real world and did this without breaking the bank. It's a difficult task to dethrone past award winners, but the Katavi has done it indeed, earning its place as a Best Buy Award winner.
The Teva Katavi 2 Thong is well suited for prepping camp, hanging out by the campfire, or lounging during a backyard barbecue. It wins our Best Buy Award for a simple reason: the overall performance of this flip flop is competitive with some of the most expensive brands we tested. There are, however, situations we wouldn't use this flip, such as more formal events or in situations where you don't want to put off the "outdoorsy" vibe. Conversely, when you are being "outdoorsy," these flip flops are absolutely fantastic.
— Brian Martin