I bought my first pair of Teva sandals when I was 22, en route to summer camp in upstate New York. They weren’t cheap even over there but have lasted better than most of my outdoor gear. At 31, I’ve only just replaced them with another brand last year that just didn’t deliver the goods!
My Tevas served me well for five months of daily use at summer camp and during three subsequent years of active outdoor education work and social rock climbing. From then on, they entered the realm of recreational fishing and have largely remained there ever since.
Teva footwear comes in a variety of styles and models, each designed to meet the needs of a particular outdoor pursuit: river rafting, bushwalking, sailing, climbing. There are even casual models for your promenading when you’re off the water.
Complementing the footwear range, which consists of leather and nylon models, are shirts, pants, watches and everything you need if you’re someone who dislikes brand mixing your outfits.
I’m not especially image conscious so my Teva collection consists of sandals only. Both are made of nylon, rubber and Velcro so they cope well with regular water use in the fresh and the salt.
My most memorable Teva moment was while working at a school camp at Lake Eppalock. Each year, the students visited the camp and embarked on a 3km run along a dirt road. Generally, as they got older, race times dropped as they tried to beat their previous year’s time.
I hadn’t intended to run with the kids but, having been a part of the cross-country team in my youth, decided to join in just seconds before the gun went. My sneakers were in my tent so the Tevas were called upon.
I’m sure they’re not designed for running but the Tevas served me well. I even beat my own race record from Year 11, when I’d last taken on what was commonly known as the ‘cattle grid’ run.
More recently, during long fishing sessions on casting platforms, I’ve found that back soreness is reduced if I wear sandals. And that is despite a preference for operating foot-control electric motors with bare feet.
Last summer, while fishing on the Murray River (NSW) in my new Christmas Tevas, mate Andrew told me a story about a trip to Nepal. On the first night of a fortnight long expedition, his walking boots were stolen from outside his tent. He’d brought along his Tevas with him as comfortable footwear that allowed his feet to breathe at the end of a long day on the trails.
Without a lot of alternative options, Andrew put on some warm socks, adjusted the straps and proceeded to walk the entire trek in his Tevas.
While his footwear adventure didn’t impress the seasoned barefoot antics of some Sherpas, it says a lot about these sandals and the comfort they offer.
While showing off my Christmas Tevas to some of the Fishing Monthly crew in January, other staff conveyed stories about their Tevas. Both Boothy and Morgan told MIA (missing in action) stories, accompanied by a list of probable suspects.
Needless to say that when sandals of all things start to go missing, you know they’re highly regarded and that the thieves are prepared to accept the indignity of someone else’s smelly feet.
My new pair of Tevas came with about 4 labels, each of which described special features. One of these, as explained to me by a helpful Hawthorn salesman, is a treatment that reduces bacterial growth and foot odour. A simple wash and a gentle scrub were the instructions from the shop to keep these nasties at bay and my feet smelling reasonable enough not to have to leave my sandals outside (where they’d probably get stolen).
Amongst the many fringe benefits of working for a fishing magazine, particularly as an editor who sits in front a computer more often than you all think, there’s the joy of not having to dress formally in the office.
Given this flexibility and the fact that I live close to work, I get the pleasure of walking to the office most days. It’s about 3km each way and unless it’s particularly cold, I’ll wear my Tevas four days out of five. On the fifth day, you’ll probably find I’m wearing my Asics, which gives you a further indication of how seriously I take my footwear, and how favourably I view Tevas.
Rafting the Tully River in far northern Queensland a few years ago I found that the Velcro fasteners weren’t gripping solidly, and that in high flows, they’d come undone. The sandal was still attached to my foot, care of other straps, but it was a distraction I could have done without. I think the problem was in my court to fix because one side of the Velcro had become infested with grass seeds, which reduced its ‘sticking’ qualities.
My new pair of Terra-Fi sandals have taken some getting used to. They feature a rising piece of rubber for improved arch support, similar to my Asics sneakers. At first, it felt quite strange but I’ve broken them in since and don’t notice it anymore.
The straps are also very ‘sticky’ on the new sandals, to the point that exposed Velcro tends to catch and stick to the top side of other straps (when you’ve got your feet crossed) causing some fraying when pulled apart. If I can find some black ‘female’ Velcro patches to cover the exposed ‘male’ parts of the strap then problem solved.
Want to Know More?
Tevas US website (www.teva.com) contains a wealth of information about their sandals, shoes and clothing, some of which is brought into Australia and available at reputable outdoor shops.
About the Inventor
Mark Thatcher had always been an outdoors fan. He graduated from high school in Florida in the early ‘70s and spent some time living as a nomad in Israel. He studied engineering at Northern Arizona University but found most joy working as a river guide on the Colorado River. He worked as geophysicist, spending much of his free time outdoors, until he was retrenched in 1982.
Noticing the increasing popularity of outdoor sports, and having spent many hours on the river himself without adequate footwear, he developed the first modern sport sandal that he named Teva, which is Hebrew for ‘nature’.
Thatcher began selling his amphibious footwear to outdoor stores and enthusiasts, moving only 200 units in his first year. Now available in 140 styles and throughout the world, annual sales exceed $56 million per annum.
Teva sandals range in price from $99 for some of the more basic nylon webbing models to $170 for leather models. I bought my most recent pair of Terra-Fi Tevas on sale for $129.95. While they’re not the cheapest outdoor sandals on the market, I’ve paid more for other brands that have not offered the same comfort. And I have no qualms about Teva’s quality; I got 10 years out of my first pair and haven’t thrown them away yet!