Teva Original Universal - Women's Review
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Teva Original Universal - Women's
|Price||$37.21 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Easy velcro adjustments, many color option, zero drop and flat footbed, good stability and traction, fairly lightweight||Decent traction, lots of colors, easy to adjust, comfortable on most feet, secure fit||Flexible sole, comfortable elastic heel strap, cork footbed is stylish and feels good||Supportive soles, comfortable to stand in, easy to adjust, very light||Exceptionally lightweight, very comfortable straps, squishy soles feel great|
|Cons||Straps can be scratchy, not accommodating to wide feet, no arch support, no half sizes||Very wide sole oddly doesn't fit wide feet, heel strap moves too much, footbed is slippery when wet, not the most stylish||Quite long and narrow, not enough traction for big adventures, no half sizes||Not great traction, pronounced heel rise, limited adjustability||Extremely narrow, not secure enough for long walks, poor traction|
|Bottom Line||For the casual adventurer and traveler who needs an adventure ready sandal that won't break the bank||Good for land-based adventurers who want extra traction, support, and security, without the excessive cost||A comfortable sandal that looks great, feels soft and flexible, and fits narrow feet well||Comfortable, squishy sandals that combat foot fatigue and remain securely attached without rubbing||These very narrow sandals are comfy like pajamas for your feet, though they're not up for serious wear|
|Rating Categories||Teva Original Unive...||Teva Hurricane XLT2...||Reef Cushion Rem||Skechers On the Go...||Sanuk Sling ST|
|Specs||Teva Original Unive...||Teva Hurricane XLT2...||Reef Cushion Rem||Skechers On the Go...||Sanuk Sling ST|
|Weight (per pair)||11.1 oz||17.2 oz||13.3 oz||11.0 oz||5.8 oz|
|Sole Material||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||47% recycled EVA foam, 6% straw, 47% virgin rubber|
|Upper Material||REPREVE recycled polyester webbing||REPREVE recycled polyester||100% recycled PET||Woven mesh||60% cotton, 40% UNIFI REPREVE recycled polyester|
|Footbed Material||EVA||EVA||Natural cork||Goga Mat||EVA|
|Midsole Material||Molded EVA||EVA||(Not specified)||5Gen||Soft Top Foam|
|Width Options||Medium||Medium, Wide||Medium||Medium, Wide||Medium|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Teva Original Universal is a velcro-adjustable casual adventure sandal. It has a rubber sole with an EVA footbed and molded EVA midsole. The straps are made of REPREVE recycled polyester webbing, and the size 8 we tested weighs 11.1 ounces. It comes in just one standard width and a plethora of colors and patterns.
The Origina Universall is a reasonably comfortable sandal with no break-in period — they feel good right out of the box. The soles are flat, with no arch support or other contouring, and are relatively flexible and squishy, making them pleasant to walk in. They're also reasonably thin while still protecting you from the ground underneath. If you need extra support from your shoes, whether arch support or a solid surface for aching feet carrying a large pack, the Universal isn't going to provide that for you.
The straps can be a bit scratchy with their wide velcro patches, but we only really noticed this when we cranked down on them. Worn a little loosely — which our testing team preferred — the straps feel totally fine and don't rub. The only issue we ran into is that some of our more wide-footed testers had a harder time wearing this shoe. They could still put them on and walk around okay, but the edges of their toes, where the straps cover, felt constricted for an overall less pleasant experience. But for most people, these sandals will feel great.
The varied tread on the Original Universal offers solid traction. These sandals did well on less challenging hikes over dirt trails in the mountains. However, the very flexible rubber soles aren't ideal on tricky ground, especially when compared to some of the beefier adventure sandals we tested. When scrambling over boulders and steep terrain, these soft sandals couldn't quite keep up.
We experienced something similar with the footbed texture as well. The Original Universal footbed is lightly textured EVA that works well with dry feet. However, once we crossed a stream — or had exceptionally sweaty feet — these kicks lost quite a bit of grip. Tightening the straps helped to stop our feet from sliding too far, but this isn't an overly comfortable fix. Overall, these sandals did surprisingly well in our light adventure testing, only falling short when it came to tackling truly challenging conditions.
The strap arrangement of the Original Universal is quite solid and securely attaches the feet to the soles, providing plenty of stability while walking. Because the footbed is completely flat, it doesn't maintain high stability when pushed to the limits. For example, our testers' wet or sweaty feet often slide inside these sandals, even when walking across flat surfaces. We also experienced sliding with dry feet when walking up or down very steep slopes.
Though we sometimes slid inside these sandals under challenging conditions, the straps very effectively stopped our feet from going over the edges — something we can't say about all the models we tested. These sandals are also very lightweight for an adventure sandal, which helps them to feel more secure. And because they're completely flat and the same thickness throughout, the Original Universal is also quite balanced.
It's hard to have an easier adjustability mechanism than velcro — that's why they put it on kids' shoes. The velcro strips on the Original Universal are extensive without being overwhelming. Two of the four main straps are adjustable: the strap across the toes and the strap across the front of the ankle. The other two (the heel strap and the longitudinal strap connecting the ankle and toe sections) are fixed.
We like this sandal a lot, even compared to other sandals with velcro adjustments. The velcro strips are very long and cover the whole width of the straps, ensuring everything stays securely fastened. Our only real complaint about adjusting these sandals is that they're generally less accommodating of wider feet because of the strap anchor points — even if left rather loose.
The Original Universal is what we've come to think of as an "adventure sandal lite." They're secure enough and have enough traction and stability for modest adventuring and all-day exploring. But when it comes to serious adventuring, they can't quite keep up with the level of support and grip required for intense activities. That said, we love them for traveling and taking them along as "camp sandals" because they're lightweight and easy to pack.
Though the Original Universal may not be everyone's favorite style, they give a retro, outdoor-chic vibe that we enjoyed rocking with a casual sundress or a pair of shorts and a linen shirt at the beach. They're versatile enough to be your one-and-only pair of sandals for all your summer hangouts, from beer garden patios to espresso bars. We also love that they come in dozens of colors and patterns, with a little something for just about everyone's style.
Should You Buy the Teva Original Universal?
These sandals have been a cult classic for years, and for good reason. They have just the right combination of traits where almost anyone can find something to love: they're lightweight, easy to wear, casually comfortable, come in a ton of colors, and aren't that expensive. They're a great option for everyday wear and traveling and even some light adventuring. The only people we wouldn't recommend them to are folks looking to do serious adventuring in more difficult or wet conditions and people who need more supportive footwear to be comfortable.
What Other Sandals Should You Consider?
If you want a pair of sandals that can take you farther, adventure longer, and offer more support, check out a pair of burly adventure sandals like the cute yet functional Chaco Bodhi or the rugged Chaco Z/Cloud 2. If you dig flat sandals and are curious about more lightweight options with minimal designs, the Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II and Xero Z-Trail may be what you're after. But if you're after a lightweight, versatile pair of sandals for casual wear and light adventuring, the wallet-friendly Teva Original Universal is an excellent choice.
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