If you’ve been anywhere near the shoe industry these days, you’ll notice lots of new shoes coming out. Some are huge and squishy and feel like you have 2 feet of foam attached to your feet (like the Hoka’s) and others so thin with no support they feel like you’re running around in your bare feet (like the Vibram Five Fingers). Some people are advocating no shoes and to actually run barefoot. Then some are saying it doesn’t matter what you wear. Whatever your preference there is probably a solution that fits exactly what you want. Whether it’s cushion or control or weight or drying speed, the running shoe manufacturers have got you covered.
A new entry into the trail running market is Teva with their TevaSphere line. And remember it’s pronounced T-e-vah, not Teevah. I was blissfully unaware of how to say it properly until I started doing more research into their shoes and reading all the marketing material. I guess there are enough people out there that pronounce it wrong that they have to spell it out for us.Ok. On to the gear review. Here’s what we’re going to look at:
- What is the TevaSphere?
- What I like about the TevaSphere’s
- What I don’t like about them, and
- Wrap-up: Who should try the new TevaSphere line
What is TevaSphere?
If you haven’t already caught on, TevaSphere is a new line of shoes from Teva. You’ve probably worn their sandals at one point in your life. I think everyone has had a pair at one point or another. They’re branching out now and they have some radical new running shoes. And I mean radical in the proper meaning of the word, not just, “It’s rad, d00d.” I got to review the new TevaSphere Speeds. The “Sphere” in the name is all about the spherical heel they have. Most shoes have quite a sharp angle where the back of the heel comes down to meet the sole. When you put your foot down, the first part of the shoe to hit the ground is that point. According to Teva there are a couple issues with this. First, that point is too far away from your heel to be stable. The closer the ground your foot is the better. The second issue is that sharp angle forces your foot down onto the ground quickly instead of smoothly rolling onto it.
The second big innovation in these shoes are the “pods” on either side of the arch. They’re the first thing you notice with these shoes and they make them look a bit odd. The practical point of the pair of pods (too many p’s?) is to stabilize the shoe. They stick out farther from either side of shoe than the front or back of the sole, making them the widest part. This makes the shoes extremely stable.The whole idea is having the rounded heel roll the foot into the stride, then the pods take over and balance side to side, gripping the ground, and giving you a more stable platform for your next push.
What I like about the TevaSphere shoes
TevaSphere Five Fingers
Testing the TevaSphere’s I hiked the 42km Baden Powell trail over 2 days. It was a slow hiking pace so it took my buddy and I nearly all of both days. We went up and over several mountains. The trail was extremely rough in parts then easy double track in others. It was never flat. I thought it a perfect place to test out the stability of the TevaSphere’s.
One section was a massive rock field on an 35 degree slope. Not one of the boulders were small enough to pick up. Many were bigger than my car. There was not a flat, even surface to in sight.
The sharp edges of all the boulders and the incline slowed us down considerably. I noticed standing on the rock edges the pods were providing a lot of stability, much more than a normal shoe. Standing on the edge of a rock on the arch of a shoe would normally be pretty uncomfortable. The rock would dig into your arch and the throw you off balancing on the thinnest part of the shoe that has no tread. But it was quite the opposite with the TevaSphere’s. They were more than comfortable in that position. The nylon shank in the midsole offers good support in this situation as well.
Neutral foot position
No matter how you normally step, the rounded heel and pods on the TevaSphere will roll your foot into the right position. There is no other place for your foot to go.
The upper on the TevaSphere is all very breathable fabrics (unless you get the waterproof one). This lets them drain quickly after you’ve been tromping through puddles and streams. They are no sandal though. The shoes were a little squishy for a time after.
Grippy Spider365 rubber
The Spider365 rubber on the bottom sole is impressively grippy. On those rocks on the Baden Powell trail I never noticed that I was losing grip, even at high angles. I haven’t had a problem with other trail running on slick rock and trails.
From the front to the back of the shoe, they have a 4mm drop. That means the heel is 4mm higher than the toe. A lot of running shoes are transitioning to a lower drop in their shoes with some going right to a 0 mm drop, essential a flat shoe. That doesn’t mean the shoe doesn’t have support, it just means the heel and the toe are at the same height. The Vibram Five Fingers don’t have any drop to them (they hardly have any sole either!)
What I don’t like about the TevaSphere shoes
They aren’t very minimal
There was some talk online about how the TevaSphere’s are minimal shoes. I don’t think I’d call them that. They are lighter than other runners I’ve had in the past but when you are comparing them to Vibram Five Fingers, they don’t even come close. They are lighter than many runners though so if you are looking for something to transfer into from your heavy running shoes, these might be for you. The nylon shank adds to the weight, as do the pods. On the other hand, I’d imagine the rounded heel saves a bit of weight.
Forced neutral foot position
This one is a bit of a double edged sword. If your foot rolls in or out much when you step, it’s going to take a bit to get used to these shoes. You can’t roll them much with the pods. They keep you in place and stable while on the trail but if you have never run like that in your life, it might be be hard to stop cold turkey tomorrow. I pronate a bit with my right foot and I had no problem with running with them on the first day but I did notice the correction.
Who should have the TevaSphere shoes?
Hikers looking for a stable, lightweight shoe should definitely check these out. The stability and lightweight stiffness they have are a great option for hiking. There isn’t much thickness to the midsole though if you like thick-soled shoes.If you’re a runner looking for a new shoe you’ll have to test these out a bit. The rounded heel and support pods aren’t for everyone. If they do fit with your running style, awesome, you’ve found yourself a solid pair of trail runners. If you roll your foot a lot in your step when running and won’t be changing that style, then I don’t think these are for you. My step is quite neutral so they worked well for me.
Also if you’re looking to transition into thinner soled, lighter weight shoes but don’t want to make the leap yet, the TevaSphere’s are a good stepping stone. They have a thinner sole than many shoes and a 4mm drop from heel to toe. They still have a good sole on them and a nylon shank for stiffness so don’t expect to be feeling every single rock on the trail yet. But maybe that’s what you’re looking for.
That’s it for this review. What do you think? Would you run with the Teva’s? Are they amazing? Do they have some work to do? Let us know on the Facebook Page.
A huge thanks to Teva Canada for supplying the shoes to review.