Hands-on Gear Review

Teva Terra Fi 4 Review

Teva Terra Fi 4
Price:  $100 List | $99.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, good traction, lightweight
Cons:  Durability
Bottom line:  One of our favorite models for all-around use, this model performs well across the board.
Editors' Rating:   
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Sizes:  7 to 16
Weight:  1.34 lb
Sole Material:  Spider Original rubber
Manufacturer:   Teva

Our Verdict

The successor to Teva's original shoe, the Hurricane, the Terra Fi is essentially a beefier, sturdier version of the Teva Hurricane XLT. In addition to having more padding around the webbing, reinforced triangle rings, and a slightly thicker sole, the Terra Fi boasts the most aggressive tread that we tested, leaving us smiling by averting costly falls that weaker shoes would have succumbed to. Like the rest of Teva's open shoe designs, the Terra Fi is a no-nonsense shoe with a truly custom fit, a comfortable footbed, and a streamlined design, all while managing to not disregard support.

Updated Version
Teva replaced the discontinued Terra-Fi Lite with the Terra Fi 4, pictured above. Details on the new model below!



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Tommy Penick

Last Updated:
Thursday
October 3, 2013

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The Terra-Fi 4 vs. The Older Version


Teva informed us that the Terra Fi 4 is the latest version of this sandal. The main differences are in the sole and the price tag. Check out the comparative photos below, with the new version pictured on the left, with a summary of the main differences.

Teva Terra Fi 4
Teva Terra-Fi Lite
  • Redesigned Sole — The midsole and outsole are beefed up in the latest version. The molded polyurethane midsole lays on top of a nylon shank intended to increase lateral torsion and support.
  • Price Jump — The price of the Terra Fi 4 is $100, an increase of $15.
  • New Look — As with most product updates, this one comes with new patterns and colors.

We have yet to get our hands on the Terra Fi 4. While we do not expect major performance differences, the text below continues to reflect the previous version.

Hands-On Review of the Terra-Fi Lite


The Terra-Fi in an undemanding situation. Don't be fooled though  this sandal is built for any rough and tough terrain you can throw at it.
The Terra-Fi in an undemanding situation. Don't be fooled though, this sandal is built for any rough and tough terrain you can throw at it.

Comfort


The Terra-Fi Lite has an instantly comfortable footbed, with just enough squish to give it a cushioned feel, yet not forgoing stability. However, the magic of the Terra-Fi's comfort comes with time as your foot sinks into the footbed and creates a custom feel. Initially, the sandal feels a bit flat, especially in comparison to the beefy shoes in our testing fleet such as the Chaco Z/2 Classic. However, after miles of use, your foot will start to sink into the shoe, providing a comfortable walking surface.


The folks over at Teva added some additional padding in the webbing and in the ring area to make a more seamless, comfortable fit against the top of the foot. While we didn't find the non-padded straps of the Teva Hurricane XLT to bother us, it's a nice gesture, and perhaps folks with softer, less hobbit-like feet may appreciate the plush feel.

On the left  is the bare strap of the Hurricane XLT  while the plush padded strap of the Terra-Fi is on the right.
On the left, is the bare strap of the Hurricane XLT, while the plush padded strap of the Terra-Fi is on the right.

Stability


There's no hiding the fact that the Terra-Fi is a simplistic shoe — with only three straps it appears to be flimsy at best. The plastic triangular rings and foamy padding don't help them in the store, either. But don't worry; as this thing wears it only becomes better. Your foot will start to lock into the footbed with more security and stability after a few miles, and after a little more wear you'll feel like you got a custom molded footbed.


Adversely, the stiffness of the shoe itself is slightly lackluster in comparison to some of the more robust options we tested, such as the closed designs like the Keen Newport H2. Depending on your needs, this may or may not be in play as a decision. For most, the stiffness and stability of the Terra-Fi will be ample, but if you prefer the beefiest, strongest shoe possible, take a look at some of our stronger options. You will, however, be sacrificing weight for stability. The Terra-Fi and its little brother, the Teva Hurricane XLT, were the lightest shoes tested at .6 lbs a pair.

Fit and Design




Be patient while adjusting these straps. Try out some different configurations. You can really adjust where your foot will sit in the shoe based on the rear strap first (setting your front to back movement), then your front strap, and finally your main instep strap.

Durability


There's not a lot to go wrong on these shoes, except for the obvious. You can wear through the soles or the straps. That's more or less the only wear that's going to happen.


However, we did find the rings to be a potential failure point, and found a user with a broken ring — it came from a high-speed skateboarding accident, an activity most likely not endorsed by the good folks of Teva. Still, the point remains, these rings could fail. However, throughout our testing both on the Terra-Fi and the Teva Hurricane XLT we had no issues of this sort.

Traction


The Terra-Fi's impressive tread pattern left us feeling confident on even the most treacherous surfaces, winning the Best in Class for traction. Rather than large, heavy lugs like on the Newport H2, or a flat surface with tire-like tread as displayed by the Chaco Z/2 Classic, the Terra-Fi has hundreds of smaller, sharp teeth, built to hold onto almost anything we tried.


Even as the teeth lose their sharpness and wear to little nubs, the excellent proprietary rubber compound used on Teva's shoes is really impressive. Though the softer compound might wear a bit faster, you'll be thanking yourself for it when you don't fall in some Class V river somewhere.

(front to back) The tread pattern of the Teva Terra-Fi  Keen Newport H2  Teva Dozer (discontinued)  Chaco Unaweep  and Chaco Yampa.
(front to back) The tread pattern of the Teva Terra-Fi, Keen Newport H2, Teva Dozer (discontinued), Chaco Unaweep, and Chaco Yampa.

Best Applications


The Terra-Fi Lite feels equally at home along (or in) the banks of rivers as it does on a trail, or even kicking around town. With the low profile, we even left them on as we were jumping off waterfalls, since the lack of bulk didn't slow us down while kicking around in the water.

Value


Listed by Teva at $85, the Terra-Fi Lite is a great value for the quality of shoe you'll be getting. If $85 seems too steep for you, take a look at the Terra-Fi's little brother, the Teva Hurricane XLT, which offers almost all of the same features but lists at only $60, and our best in class winner for value.

Conclusion


Between the traction performance, overall intelligent design and impressive price point of the Terra-Fi Lite, how can you go wrong? For us here at OutdoorGearLab, performance with a shoe like this is absolutely critical. Slipping off a rock while portaging a rapid, or sliding down a rock face is just not an option. Without a sturdy and grippy shoe, you're simply putting yourself at risk. The Terra-Fi gave us the confidence to approach the sketchiest of terrain with ease.

Tommy Penick

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Most recent review: August 8, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (3.5)

50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 33%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Hunter

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Oct 25, 2015 - 07:44am
Tex · Hunter · Arlington

Wore these sandals on a hike today: worst mistake of my life. Ever since I started wearing sandals, I've been a Chaco man, but I decided to give these Teva sandals a shot since they're the Editor's Choice on OGL. BIggest mistake ever. They're held onto your feet by three Velcro straps. If mud or sand gets in the Velcro, the sandals are pretty much useless and will fall right off you're feet. I ended up doing the last 5 miles of the hike barefoot. I know not everyone hikes in sandals, but I've been on plenty of hikes in my Chaco's and have no doubt that they could've taken me the whole way today. You really don't realize how much stability the strap around the big toe provides until it's gone. Not sure Teva even offers sandals with a strap around the big toe. Even just hanging around the house, the Velcro is annoying because it sticks to the carpet and everything else.

Bottom line: the sandals are good for a ten-minute trip to your local Home Depot to pick up a new screw driver and that's about it.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Hiker

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   Aug 8, 2017 - 02:14pm
quester · Hiker

I completely agree with this being "editors' choice". I've been wearing this model ever since it came on the market, and to me these sandals are irreplaceable. Exactly as stated in the editors review, they are superior in almost all respects : weight, traction, comfort, adjust-ability of fit to foot, and value for price.

I wear them all year in extreme desert conditions, so the bottom sole usually starts to wear out after a year - but I don't know of any shoe/sandal that lasts longer in the conditions I use them. Their traction on dry surfaces is simply fantastic. Your foot slowly forms its niche in the upper layer, so the sandal becomes extremely comfortable, your foot does not slide in it, and the sandal becomes part of your foot - after a while you don't even feel it. You can tighten/loosen the (strong) velco straps to make a perfect fit, and adapt the sandal's grip on your foot to the walking conditions or your personal preference. Shocks are absorbed well.

Teva has done very well in designing this sandal. One minor fault is that small sand particles can enter the body of the sandal through the small slits where the straps enter the sandal - if too much gets in, the bottom sole can start to bulge. If needed, I can clear this out with compressed air, but no reason that Teva should not design a better seal for these areas on the sandal.

Always room for improvement, but in the meantime these are indeed the best walking/hiking sandals to be had, at least for me.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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