The Teva Universal Trail is a sandal that combines a classic style with a plush, comfortable footbed and the capability to handle nearly any terrain thanks to its aggressive tread pattern. Simple adjustability with padded straps and an EVA foam footbed makes for one comfy sandal. The only place this sandal falls short is in the footbed's strength and durability and the lack of an adjustable heel strap. This sandal, while not ideal for big, long days on the trail, will provide excellent daily use across most terrain. This is a simple, lightweight, comfortable, and value-filled sandal with retro aesthetics.Editor's note: This gear review underwent an update on March 25, 2022, to provide more insight into our favorite sandals and which are best for certain goals.
Teva Universal Trail Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Plush footbed, great traction, classic style, solid value
Cons: Average adjustability and stability
Compare to Similar Products
Teva Universal Trail
|Price||$49.83 at REI|
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$61.91 at Amazon
$64.57 at Amazon
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|Pros||Plush footbed, great traction, classic style, solid value||Lightweight, versatile, excellent traction||Solid construction, comfortable and adjustable, good traction, weighs less than typical Chacos||Very affordable, light, comfortable||Minimalist, flexible, featherweight, eco-friendly|
|Cons||Average adjustability and stability||Not best for high arches||Adjustment can be tedious||Less supportive than others, loses some traction when wet||Thin, lack of support, durability|
|Bottom Line||This sandal keeps the classic style Teva is known for, while adding in terrain tackling tread to the mix||This lightweight sandal is comfortable, durable, and capable of handling anything out on the trail||With solid all-around performance, this is one of the most dependable models we tested||Impressive comfort and solid all-around performance in a lightweight and affordable package||An amazingly lightweight sandal with superb comfort, flexibility, and a compact design|
|Rating Categories||Teva Universal Trail||Bedrock Cairn Adven...||Chaco Z/Volv 2||Teva Katavi 2||Xero Z-Trail EV|
|Specs||Teva Universal Trail||Bedrock Cairn Adven...||Chaco Z/Volv 2||Teva Katavi 2||Xero Z-Trail EV|
|Weight per Pair (pounds)||1.29 lbs (size 10)||1.10 lbs (size 10)||1.65 lbs (size 10)||1.36 lbs (size 9)||0.76 lbs (size 10)|
|Footbed Material||Ariaprene||Granite Grip rubber||LuvSeat PU||Contoured EVA||BareFoam|
|Midsole Material||EVA||Rubber||LuvSeat PU||EVA||TrailFoam|
|Sole Material||Vibram Mega Grip||Vibram XS Trek Regolith||Non-marking EcoTread||Durabrasion rubber||FeelLite rubber|
|Upper Material||Repreve polyester webbing||Premium webbing||Webbing||Suede||Polyester|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Teva Universal Trail provides excellent value and solid performance across most of our test rating metrics. This sandal offers plenty of comfort, versatility, and all-around performance for the average user. While not as stable or technically-minded as some competitors, this sandal should be a hit among Teva-loving fans thanks to its simple design and reasonable weight of 1.29 lbs (20.6 oz) for the pair.
The simple design of Teva sandals is why many users love them, and the Teva Universal Trail is no exception. The footbed features multi-layer foam construction and provides excellent plush comfort. From your foot to the ground, you start with a lower density, plush EVA foam footbed, followed by a slightly denser mid-layer, and ultimately a full Vibram tread on the outsole. This sandal needs no break-in time and is comfortable from the very first step.
The straps have padding to protect your feet from the webbing, where Velcro adjustments allow for a snug fit. The lack of an adjustable heel strap is one of the few comfort-related drawbacks with the Universal Trail. Other sandals with an adjustable heel strap allow for better customization. When paired with water, the footbed gets slippery, resulting in some foot slippage inside the shoe. Some very mild hot spots developed after a long day in wet conditions.
Traction is a critical factor for any piece of outdoor footwear. The Universal Trail put up a solid effort in this category. When considering outsole to ground contact, the traction performed well in various environments. The plush footbed, once wet, gets to be slippery and limits foot-to-footbed traction.
Despite the poor footbed traction, this sandal still did well on wet logs and smooth, wet rocks, thanks to its Vibram outsole. It provides ideal performance for shorter wet adventures such as climbing approaches or backpacking creek crossings. It makes for a great all-around performer but maybe a bit limited when it comes to longer, wetter technical pursuits.
The classic and simple design of the Teva Universal Trail struggles a bit with stability. The soft footbed that makes these shoes so comfortable comes at the expense of some stability. The softer show felt "loose" on steep slopes and uneven terrain. In particular, the plush padding on the straps and footbed gave room for the foot to move around when pressed. The balance of padding and stiffness in the sandals favors plush padding at the cost of stiffness.
While the Teva style is often known for its simplicity, it has its limits. The strap systems on other performance-driven sandals dial-in the fit for better foot support and stability. The precision present in the Universal Trail, or lack thereof, doesn't quite offer the same level of stability.
These sandals fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to adjustability. While the Universal Trail is especially easy to adjust with the Velcro design, fine-tuning them is a bit limited. The lack of fine-tuning is offset by the plushness of the whole sandals, from straps to footbeds. The style lends itself well to on-the-go adjustments as needed but doesn't provide the customization offered by other models.
The fixed heel strap leaves only two ways to adjust the sandal; a Velcro strap over the forefoot and one across the front of the ankle. Unfortunately, if these straps don't work to make these sandals fit for you, nothing else can be done. This model has user-friendly adjustments, but they aren't the most comprehensive.
The Universal Trail also scores mid-pack in the versatility ratings. This sandal was not particularly favored over rugged terrain or in wet conditions, but it still has plenty of other features to offer. We have noted the comfort and tread of these sandals and their overall simplicity. These qualities make it a great all-around option from town to beach to trail to even snow if you are an all-year-round user. Only under more technical or extreme conditions does the sandal start to fall short. Keep it casual, and these sandals will serve you well.
If your goal is to move over particularly rugged terrain, it might be worth looking into other sandals, given some of the weaknesses mentioned above.
Should You Buy the Teva Universal Trail?
The Teva Universal Trail has a recognizable style, paired with a lightweight design, comfortable performance, and excellent trail traction. If you're looking for a high-performance sandal with better support and stability, perhaps look elsewhere, but if you want a well-rounded, comfortable, and lightweight shoe with classic style, look no further. The Universal Trail provides a solid value with all-around performance and an average price tag. Other sandals will be better suited for your more rugged and extreme adventures, but for the price, this model is quite capable.
What Other Sandals Should You Consider?
If you love Teva for the same price, you can get the Teva Terra Fi 5. This shoe scores better in our tests for comfort and traction. With a similar strap pattern, this high-performing sandal could be the better choice depending on your goals. We think any traditional Teva lover will also feel the same about the Fi 5. If you simply want the best option in the review, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure offers the best traction in a comfortable sandal with impressive adjustability and versatility.
— Jacob Clark
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