Though I appreciated the fun press packet these came in, complete with little backpack and GoPro camera (which, true to form, I have still never used even once. Just not a camera person. Good thought though; next time send me a photographer instead), I hated the shoes as soon as I put them on. They’re ugly, they look like orthopedic corrective shoes, and they caused actual pain in my feet, so I gave them to Morgan who I thought maybe had a more open mind and different feet. This concludes my review, read on for Morgan’s more thoughtful assessment:
Sigh. This is the best way I can sum up my feelings about the Tevasphere Trail:
McKayla is not impressed. Neither am I.
Generally, I hold a “less is more” view on running shoes, especially for myself. However, I am the poster child of pronation and it took me quite a while to strengthen my gumby ankles after I stopped being a ballet dancer and started trail running. Fortunately, the smallest twig no longer spells my demise, but I’m constantly working to find the right balance between my belief that strengthening is better than artificially supporting and the reality that sometimes physical limitations just do benefit from an artificial boost.
Naturally, when I got the Tevaspheres I was curious and optimistic. I really hoped that I would love this shoe. When it comes to colors, I’m like a moth to light, so the orange sucked me in. What took hold of me, however, were the funky pods that are positioned on either side of the shoe. I was curious to know what Teva’s intentions were with this shoe so I looked up the description. The idea behind the shoe is a “not too heavy, not too light” all-around trail running shoe with “support pods” to help stabilize the foot on uneven terrain. Looking at the shoe from behind compared to a more traditional trail shoe, it looks to me as though they’ve basically shaved the bulk of the shoe off around the heel and moved the excess forward, to be more centered along the length of the foot. Essentially, instead of the wide platform being around the heel, it spans the mid-foot at the arch.
I walked around in the Tevaspheres for a while before I ran in them. It’s a comfortable shoe. I do like that the shoe is slimmed down without being excessively minimal. I didn’t feel every speck of sand I stepped on and I also didn’t feel like I had a huge chunk of hard rubber strapped to the bottom of my foot. The upper is made of two different types of mesh material which help the shoe breathe very well and dry quickly. I also like the concept of the rubber covering over the toes. Fortunately I never had to test that feature out, but hell hath no fury like a toe stubbed on a rock while running full-speed, so if nothing else, it’s comforting knowing a few layers of mesh aren’t the only things standing between your pinky toe and a solid, immovable object.
Once I started running it was another story, which is an issue since, well, this is a running shoe. The stabilizer pods were very uncomfortable. I could feel the inside pods pressing into my arches with every step, no matter what kind of terrain I was on. Probably the fact that I pronate contributed to the problem, but that very fact was the reason I thought this shoe would be a good solution for me in the first place (Head Geargal’s note: I am the opposite; I have high arches and don’t pronate at all, and still didn’t find these shoes worked for me). You might argue that this problem isn’t a good reason to denounce a whole shoe, but consider this; the issue with the pods started as soon as I began running. Think of how many steps you take in running just one mile. Now throw in a piece of rubber jabbing each arch for every single one of those steps. Not very appealing, huh? Plus, there’s more.
Teva’s claim that their Spider365 rubber “is made to grip like crazy” is about as bogus as their claim that this shoe helps you “conserve energy” when you run. I ran this shoe in both very wet and very dry conditions. In dry conditions, a tree root, rock, or sand may as well have been an ice skating rink. In the wet conditions, I lost all hope, telling my running partners to “just go, leave me here, save yourselves”. If I thought I could have tolerated a few miles of rocks and snow melt barefoot, I would have just taken them off (although maybe the real question here is why I was so
determined stubborn to go that far in the first place. I was determined to go to great lengths to give you the best gear review possible… Yeah! That’s it!). The fact that I found a very dry trail in Alaska is an achievement in itself. $120 is a lot of money for a shoe that I can wear on one-tenth of the trail runs that I do in the 4 months a year that there’s no snow on the trails. Really, no matter where you live, who wants to fear wet trails because of their running shoes?
So, as I said, overall I was not really impressed. At least not as far as trail running shoes are concerned. They’re comfortable walking shoes and I like the orange and brown color scheme, so I usually throw them on for my trip to the grocery store or when it’s raining and my sandals won’t cut it. I wore them to the golf course the other week because they were the only close-toed shoe in my car. I also spent more time corralling two dudes who mistook pitching wedges for putters because the wedges had a ‘P’ on them than I did actually playing golf, so my footwear choice was moot.
If you’re looking for a flashy, interesting looking shoe for picking up the dry cleaning or chasing goofballs around a golf course, the Tevasphere Trail is a good, comfortable option (Head Geargal’s note: I didn’t even like them for errand-running). If you’re looking for a good trail running shoe, this is not it. If you suffer from gumby-ankle syndrome like I did, let me tell you from personal experience that nightly 20-minute sessions on a wobble board for a few weeks will change your world in ways some “stabilizer pods” never could.