Since 1984, when a Grand Canyon river guide invented a unique sport-oriented sandal with over-the-foot nylon straps, the Teva brand has been synonymous with open-toe footwear of all kind.
But the company, a division of Deckers Outdoor Corporation, dabbles in shoes as well.
Indeed, Teva’s line of shoes for hiking, trail running and water sports — which includes more than two dozen models — is a spread of gutsy innovation that can occasionally suffer from the overshadowing of the company’s eponymous sandal.
Standouts in the Teva (www.teva.com) shoe line include footwear that employs felt padding and linen materials; insoles made of cork and poured latex; meshy, drainable running shoes; water shoes with articulated toes; and sprint-minded trail runners that weigh less than 10 ounces per shoe.
This summer I put two Teva models to the test, my favorite being the X-1/C, a feathery trail runner that balances support with speed. Weighing about 10 ounces a shoe, the $90 X1/C is not overly built and padded. Toe bumpers and heel protection is minimal. You can feel a sharp stone or root through the shoe’s sole upon impact.
But for their purpose — fast and unencumbered trail runs — I found the X1/C’s pared-down design to be about perfect. They support just enough and don’t overdo the protection. They breath well. The sole is minimal, though with just enough traction. The lacing system lets you dial in a good fit.
Experienced trail runners will feel fast on their feet and nimble in these shoes. Newbies may want to look to something with more support.
Durability, as with many featherweights, is mediocre for the X1/C. In my tests, after about 75 miles on the shoes, the outer rubber on the sole began to delaminate slightly on the edges in a couple places. These tiny dings do not affect performance, though they are aesthetically worrisome.
Teva shoe No. 2 in my closet this summer was the Terra Wraptor, a stable hiker that employs Gore-Tex XCR fabric to make the shoes waterproof. I stood in an icy mountain stream in these shoes for one full minute, and not a drop of water soaked through the shiny face fabric.
On the foot, the $125 Terra Wraptor feels solid and looks serious. Each shoe weighs about 15.5 ounces. A pull-cord lacing system cinches quick and easy, no tying required. Its over-the-top, ratchet-equipped buckle lets you click the shoes tight, keeping your heel firmly down and secure in the shoe.
The Terra Wraptor’s outsole is unique as well: Teva designed a flexible web of rubber studs interspersed with tabs of lightweight and soft felt-like material to provide grip and flexibility without the extra weight of a solid-rubber sole.
Hikers looking to switch from a boot to a shoe would do well trying out the Terra Wraptor. It has support, protection and breathability, though not an ounce of extra weight.