Our verdict

For £60, we cannot think of a better summer option than the Teva Original Universal! This no-frills sandal delivers us all-day comfort while feeling non-existent on the foot. With its stylish and versatile appeal, we can wear this sandal from the trail to the beach or from a paddleboard to a coffee shop without worrying about fitting in.

Pros

  • Featherweight
  • Versatile in use
  • Comfortable strap system
  • Affordable
  • Cushioned for short hikes
  • Durable
  • Over 20 colorways and designs

Cons

  • Lacks traction
  • Texture is felt underfoot
  • Back strap is not adjustable

Audience verdict

85
Good!

Who should buy

The Original Universal lives up to its name by being a multi-use outdoor piece. We think that you will enjoy this Teva offering if:

  • you need all-around versatile athleisure footwear for the following:
    • light hikes
    • walking on the beach
    • swimming
    • paddle boarding
    • casual wear with a summer dress or a pair of shorts 
  • you prefer extra lightweight hiking sandals
  • you want a very affordable pair (at £60, it is way cheaper than the average £100 sandal)

Teva Original Universal review

Who should NOT buy

If you need a hiking sandal for the more strenuous types of hiking, we recommend the Teva Hurricane XLT2 instead. It offers better grip and arch support.

And if you want more cushioning and, therefore, less ground feel, we recommend Hoka Hopara.

Teva Original Universal lab test

Durability

Outsole hardness

For its price range and lightweight build, the Original Universal shows some promising outsole durability.

We measured the hardness of its outsole at 84.8 HC which is about as hard as some of the premium hiking sandals. Thus, we expect a reasonable shelf life from this Teva.

Teva Original Universal Outsole hardness
Test results
Original Universal 84.0 HC
Average 79.8 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
50.5 HC
Outsole hardness
85.5 HC

Outsole thickness

The thickness of the outsole is also impressive. At 3.6 mm, it is even a little thicker than average.

More rubber means that you won't wear it out as quickly.

Teva Original Universal Outsole thickness
Test results
Original Universal 3.6 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
3.6 mm

Weight

This Teva sandal is so light it's easy to forget that you are wearing it in the first place!

Tipping the scales at 6.3 oz (179g), this sandal is light like a feather. Given that most sandals weigh around 9-10 oz, the Original Universal is practically non-existent on the foot.

Test results
Original Universal 6.31 oz (179g)
Average 10.51 oz (298g)
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
6.31 oz (179g)
Weight
14.60 oz (414g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Using a caliper to measure the sandal's heel height, we found it to be 15.9 mm. This is a more minimal and grounded type of sandal.

Teva Original Universal Heel stack

But we still felt like there was enough cushioning and support in the sole to keep us comfortable for shorter distances of up to 6 miles (minus the heavy bag, of course).

We haven't experienced any discomfort or pain in our feet throughout the wear test.

Test results
Original Universal 15.9 mm
Average 25.2 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
15.9 mm
Heel stack
30.9 mm

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot, we measured the stack height at 13.8 mm, which is also expectedly lower than the average.

Teva Original Universal Forefoot stack
Test results
Original Universal 13.8 mm
Average 18.0 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
13.8 mm
Forefoot stack
22.6 mm

Drop

The Teva Original Universal also comes with a really low heel-to-toe drop. Based on our stack measurements, it is only 2.1 mm. The foot is nearly parallel to the ground in this sandal.

That means less impact protection in the heel but you do get a very natural, almost barefoot-like underfoot experience.

Teva Original Universal Drop
Test results
Original Universal 2.1 mm
Average 7.2 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
2.1 mm
Drop
11.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

This Teva sandal feels more on the firm side. This was confirmed in our durometer measurement which gave a reading of 35.1 HA, about 10% firmer than average.

Teva Original Universal Midsole softness

This is the primary cushioning layer which is meant to be firm to protect the foot from rocks and debris.

Test results
Original Universal 35.1 HA
Average 28.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
21.6 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
35.1 HA

Secondary foam softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The upper layer of cushioning which comes in direct contact with the foot is a softer one.

Our durometer shows 26.5 HA which is about the same as the average.

Teva Original Universal Secondary foam softness

Test results
Original Universal 26.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Textured underfoot

The only gripe we have about this sandal's sole is the textured cross-hatch pattern on top of it. This semi-rough surface made us feel as if we were walking on sand. But on the bright side, it does flatten out over time.

Teva Original Universal strap

Stability

Lateral stability test

The Original Universal is NOT a sandal for serious hiking. It has nearly zero support and is going to be a disaster if you attempt to hike in it. Especially with a backpack. Especially on rough terrain.

Torsional rigidity

This sandal bends like nobody's business. Twisting it in our manual test confirmed that support is not this Teva's forte.

But if you expect easy-going summer footwear that mimics being barefoot, this is the perfect option.

On a 1 to 5 scale where 5 is the stiffest, we rated this sandal's torsional rigidity as 1.

Midsole width in the forefoot

The Original Universal also has a fairly average landing surface. We measured the widest part of its forefoot at 112.6 mm.

Teva Original Universal Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Original Universal 112.6 mm
Average 118.8 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
112.6 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
125.1 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Back in the heel, our caliper shows 81.6 mm in the widest part. It's not narrow by any means but it is not as wide as some of the performance-oriented sandals either.

Teva Original Universal Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Original Universal 81.6 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
81.6 mm
Midsole width in the heel
100.5 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Teva Original Universal is unbelievably flexible. It must be among the most flexible sandals on the market.

It took as little as 7.0N of force to bend it to a 90-degree angle. That is... (wait for it) 213% more flexible than the average! Insanely bendy sandal.

Test results
Original Universal 7.0N
Average 21.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
7.0N
Stiffness
36.8N

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Don't expect the Original Universal to be a reliable partner for wet rocks and inclines. Its rather smooth outsole barely has any treading to keep you confident and surefooted in slippery conditions.

Teva Original Universal Lug depth
Test results
Original Universal 0.0 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Lug depth
4.1 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Using a caliper, we measured the widest part of this sandal's forefoot at 89.6 mm.

Teva Original Universal Toebox width at the widest part

But do take this measurement with a grain of salt because of the adjustable strap. There is plenty of wiggle room in the Teva Original Universal to welcome all kinds of foot shapes.

Teva Original Universal top view

Test results
Original Universal 89.6 mm
Average 100.7 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
89.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.4 mm

Comfort

Upper material thickness

We measured the upper strap thickness at 5.3 mm. This is enough material to prevent the strap from digging into the instep.

Teva Original Universal Tongue padding

Even though there is no strap padding in this Teva model, it still feels plush all around. This is due to the soft nature of the straps used in the Original Universal.

Test results
Original Universal 5.3 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
8.2 mm

Style...style is everything

Teva Original Universal seems to have outperformed many of the hiking sandals on the market when it comes to style. This model proves that a sandal can be a nice-looking and even trendy piece of footwear.

Someone mentioned that it looks more attractive than many other Teva models because "it is slimmer." This sandal is also offered in loads of different colours and patterns which makes it much easier to style with all sorts of outfits.

Teva Original Universal style

How to keep the Original Universal odour-free

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Soak the sandal in a mixture of two cups of water and a cup of antimicrobial mouthwash for 15 minutes.
  • Scrub it with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Rinse it with clean water (preferably warm) then air-dry.

If you want to help the sandal dry faster, wipe it with a towel or another moisture-absorbing piece of cloth before putting it out to dry.