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Teva Original Universal Review

This sandal combines classic aesthetics with lightweight comfort and a lightweight price tag
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Price:  $50 List | Check Price at Amazon
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Pros:  Classic design, plush footbed, great value
Cons:  Poor wet traction, limited adjustability
Manufacturer:   Teva
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 1, 2020
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51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Traction - 25% 3
  • Stability - 20% 4
  • Adjustability - 15% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Teva Original Universal impresses with its retro style, supreme comfort, and throwback price tag. Surprisingly lightweight, these kicks are easily adjustable with their simple velcro straps and are quite comfortable with plush EVA foam underfoot. The tradeoff for this lightweight cushiness is that they came up a bit short in our traction and stability tests, particularly in wet conditions. While these might not be your top choice for crushing tons of miles or traversing slick or technical terrain, they make a versatile all-around sandal with their plush comfort, simple use, lightweight build, and great price.

New Strap Patterns

Shown above is one of this season's current colorways for this sandal. The shoe design remains otherwise unchanged.

May 2020

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Teva Original Universal provides excellent value for most users, with one of the lowest prices in our lineup. While these sandals might not always provide the raw performance of some of their fancier competitors, they do dish out plenty of comfort and capability in a surprisingly lightweight package, weighing in at 0.84 lbs (13.5 oz) per pair in size 10. Classic Teva lovers will enjoy the simple design and retro style.

Performance Comparison


The Original Universal combines cushy comfort and classic style.
The Original Universal combines cushy comfort and classic style.

Comfort


Perhaps the genius of the Teva Original is in their simple design. A multi-density midsole starts with a nicely cushioned EVA foam footbed, followed by a thicker and firmer main midsole, capped off with a Durabrasion rubber outsole. Add to that a subtle 3-D molding on the footbed, and you come away with a very comfortable product. The materials and design don't feel as high end as on some of the other models, but for simple old-school comfort, the Tevas get the job done.

The multi-density foam and subtle footbed contouring make these a comfortable choice.
The multi-density foam and subtle footbed contouring make these a comfortable choice.

The straps on the Original Universal complete the classic Teva look, with a fixed ankle strap, and adjustable velcro ankle and toe straps connected by a single fixed outside strap. The intuitive velcro strap design makes it easy to dial in the fit to your comfort level. While the webbing material isn't the softest against the skin, we didn't experience any rubbing or hot spots.

While these were comfortable in most conditions  some slippage with wet footbeds negated some of that comfort.
While these were comfortable in most conditions, some slippage with wet footbeds negated some of that comfort.

The foam material on this model is quite comfortable under normal conditions, but the footbed can become quite slippery when it is wet or sweaty, causing the foot to slide around a bit, negating some of the comfort.

Traction


For hardcore hiking footwear, traction can be one of the most important performance metrics. Unfortunately, the Universal falls a little short in that department. Where they excel in comfort, they struggle a bit with traction. We noticed that the same plush footbed and sole materials that make these so comfortable are what seems to limit their traction. The plush footbed becomes slippery when wet, and the outsoles just don't have enough depth or bite to keep up when the conditions get tougher.

The traction on these sandals was a little uncertain on smooth or wet rocks.
The traction on these sandals was a little uncertain on smooth or wet rocks.

While these kicks provide adequate traction under normal dry conditions, they start to struggle when things get wet and slippery. In particular, on a creekbed boulder-hopping hike, we found ourselves slipping around on some of the smooth, wet rocks. And in our "Slime Test" on slick beach steps, we found ourselves walking gingerly and keeping a hand on the sidewall. While we recognize some of the potential limitations of this product, it's worth pointing out again the excellent value these sandals provide with their skimpy price tag.

The Original Universal is a solid choice to wear around in all but the most technical terrain.
The Original Universal is a solid choice to wear around in all but the most technical terrain.

Stability


With their low weight, classic strap design, and soft, flexible footbed and sole material, the Original Universal struggles a bit with stability. Similar to the Traction metric, we found that the soft, flexible footbed that makes these so comfortable in most conditions is what limits these shoes in other situations. We noted that we didn't feel too confident in our footing when we took this model up, down, or across steep slopes or on rocky, uneven terrain.

This Teva model offers plenty of value and comfort in a lightweight package.
This Teva model offers plenty of value and comfort in a lightweight package.

While many Teva aficionados will appreciate the simple, classic strap design of the Original Universal, our testers found that this was also a limiting factor with their stability. The strap design has a cool, old-school look and is easy to adjust, but it doesn't quite keep up with the more intricate strap designs of some of the newer competition. We found that the straps weren't able to keep our feet from sliding around on steeper slopes or when our feet got wet.

Adjustability


These sandals score near the middle of the pack in our adjustability ratings. Our testers appreciate how easy this model is to get on and off, and how simple it is to adjust. While other sandals have more intricate strap systems, fancy buckles, and interconnected webbing, the Original Universal has a fixed heel strap, and adjustable velcro straps on the toe and ankle. This makes loosening and tightening a breeze, and on-the-go adjustment quick and easy.

The Original Universal (far right)  has a two simple adjustment points  but lacks some of the fine-tuning capabilities held by its competitors.
The Original Universal (far right), has a two simple adjustment points, but lacks some of the fine-tuning capabilities held by its competitors.

The flip side of this simple velcro strap system is that this model lacks some of the fine-tuning adjustability available on some of the other models. Unfortunately, if you're not able to find your correct fit by adjusting the two velcro straps, there really isn't much else you can do to achieve a comfortable fit. Other competitors receive higher scores in this area by having three or more adjustment points.

Versatility


The Original Universal also scores in near the middle of the pack in our versatility ratings. While this model probably wouldn't be your top pick for rocky approach hikes or wet boulder hopping, there are plenty of applications where these shoes are an appropriate choice. We note how comfortable these are under most normal conditions, how simple they are to get on and off, and how many people are fond of their classic style. This makes these shoes a great all-around option that you can take around town, out to lunch, to the beach, or the trail.

The OG Universal was quite comfortable for running around on flatter surfaces.
The OG Universal was quite comfortable for running around on flatter surfaces.

Since not everyone might appreciate the classic Teva style, and since we've already outlined some potential weaknesses, it's worth considering other options if your intended use includes more rugged adventures where more stability or traction is a necessity.

These guys can take you all around town in comfort and style  but be mindful if the terrain gets steep or slick.
These guys can take you all around town in comfort and style, but be mindful if the terrain gets steep or slick.

Value


With one of the lowest list prices in our lineup, the Original Universal provides incredible value for the right user. As we've mentioned, there are other models that would be better suited for your more rugged and extreme adventures, but for the price, this model is quite capable. If you appreciate simplicity and comfort with a classic style and without breaking the bank, we think you'll enjoy these sandals.

These kicks combine retro style with a retro price tag.
These kicks combine retro style with a retro price tag.

Conclusion


With recognizable style, low weight, and cushy comfort all wrapped into an affordable package, the Teva Original Universal is a great value. Our testers appreciate the comfort and style, and you'll appreciate the money you save. If you're looking for a simple, comfortable, affordable sandal, we recommend you check them out.

Nick Bruckbauer