Just arrived in time for spring is the new Teva Terra Fi 4, a sandal with a bit of a difference: it's been designed with lots of European input to give decent underfoot grip and protection on softer terrain.
Here's the thing: Teva and most similar sandals have a heritage in white water rafting, where the primarily concern is grip on wet and dry rock rather than toothy all-terrain traction. That's meant that the default sole units have tended to use grippy rubber with shallow, siped tread blocks.
Traditional Teva Refinements
All that's changed with the Terra Fi 4. It has all the refinements we've come to expect from Teva's top-end sandals like the four-point fixed uppers with serious padding between foot and buckles, adjustment front red and behind the heel and Teva's super-cushioned, anti-microbial, inset foot bed and heel-saving Shocpad, but underfoot it's all different.
Not quite all, the shoe still uses Teva's decently grippy Spider Rubber, but where previous Terra Fi models had relatively shallow tread blocks, the new version's sole is a properly toothy, deep-lugged affair with tread blocks that are almost on a par with the Scarpa Manta Pro we've just reviewed, though admittedly that has relatively light tread for a winter boot.
The result is a sandal which should be every bit as warm-weather friendly as its predecessor, have the same level of PU-cusioned comfort, dry super fast and give great hot weather cooling, but should still keep you upright in the sort of wet, muddily slop that would have had last year's equivalent aquaplaning in a graceful Torville and Dean stylee.
All Terrain Capable
That might seem a bit counter-intuitive - if it's hot, it should also be dry, right? - but in real life and in the British hills, its never quite that simple. The end result, on paper, should be a proper, all-terrain capable hiking sandal that you don't have to fret about if the going gets messy.
On the foot they feel fantastic. We've been padding round the OM office in our test pair and they're great. Lots of underfoot cushioning from the integral PU footbed, proper soft comfortable padded security from the webbing straps, with not a hint of rubbing from the webbing or attachment points and thanks to the deep heel recess, a real feel of rear foot stability with no 'flip-flop' vagueness.
Mind Those Toes
Add in that grippy-looking sole unit and we reckon they properly qualify for the all-terrain tag. Of course your toes are still exposed, which may not go down well in scree, and the old gravel under the foot irritation is an inherent properties of sandals - remember, stones go out as well as in, however. But overall, they seem really promising for full-on UK walking use, at least once things warm up a bit anyway.
Bottom line: if you're after sandals for walking rather than just shlepping, we'd add the Teva Terra Fi 4 to your list. Weight is a chunky 426g per sandal in a size 43 and retail will be £65 once they're available this spring.
More information from www.teva.co.uk.