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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Teva Itunda Sandals > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
Woman's Itunda Sport Sandals
Reviewer's Information Back to contents
Product Information Back to contents
Description of Product Back to contents
The women's Itunda Sport Sandals are labeled by Teva as sandal-shoes that will transition easily between "hiking the trails and navigating the rapids". The pair I received is a mix of various shades of grey, green, and black and they do look very sporty. The toe is closed in and protected by an abrasion resistant material called TPU. It feels a bit like rubber but apparently it's some kind of high-tech plastic. The body of the shoe is a mix of materials. The part contacting the bottom of the foot, the heel strap and half of the arch strap are made of EVA foam, which is also a little like rubber and somewhat spongy feeling. The other half of the arch strap is a nylon strip with adjustable buckle used to secure the sandal to the wearer's foot. Below the arch strap, covering a bit more of the top of the foot and upper toe section is a synthetic "mesh-like" material. This material is very stretchy and soft on the skin. Running across the base of the toe section is another adjustable nylon strap. The bottom sole of the shoe is made of Teva's Spider Original™ rubber and while it doesn't look overly aggressive, Teva claims this type of rubber provides "uncompromised grip in wet environments". Set above the outer sole at the heel is something called the "ShocPad". I gather this provides shock absorption for those rocky patches. Lastly, also at the heel section there are four little holes in the EVA foam that appear to extend into the foam and come out at corresponding holes (six total) on the side of the shoe just above the ShocPad. I'm assuming this is the "Drain Frame™ technology" mentioned in the product description on the manufacturer's website.
Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents
The Teva Itunda's arrived on April 3rd, 2010 in what looks like perfect condition, nothing of consequence to report at this time.
Only the standard shoe box info was included with the sandals; product name, size, color, etc. They're shoes so pretty straight forward as far as how to use them and adjust them. Most of the technical details on the shoe I found on the Teva website and on a YouTube video they had linked from their site. The "Technology" tab wasn't working on the website but the YouTube video was very helpful specifically with regards to the drain holes. I honestly had no idea that's what they were until I saw the video and read the corresponding commentary listed with it.
Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents
The Itunda's are nearly exactly what I expected from the website. The primary exception was the amazing out-of-the-box comfort. Having owned Teva sandals since the 90's I've come to expect an initial break-in period where the straps are a little stiff. The Itunda's went on my bare feet about five minutes after they arrived at my door and I wore them in blissful comfort for the next seven hours. I've since worn them off and on for the last week, just around the house and town, with no change in comfort level. I can't wait to see how they feel after they are properly "broken in".
I do have one observation I'd like to mention as one of several things I will be keeping my eye on during the field testing. After wearing the Itunda's for just a few minutes (without socks) I noticed my feet becoming very hot and sweaty. This is quite uncomfortable when wearing them for an entire day. It also brings up concerns about foot stability inside the shoe especially in situations where the terrain is sloped or uneven. The issue, I believe, stems from the EVA foam. A large portion of the inside of the shoe is made from EVA, which is not breathable or hydrophilic. Obviously at this stage I cannot tell whether or not this will be problematic until I get into the wild with them but I will be keeping a close watch and reporting about this and anything else of consequence in my Field Report. Please check back in two months for this installment of this test series.
Field Tests April - June Back to contents
To date I have worn the woman's Teva Itunda Sport Sandals on four day hikes. I have also been wearing them around town on and off for at least six of the ten weeks I've had them. Field testing looked like this:
April - Hike #1 - Two and half miles (4 km) along Cave Creek Wash in Phoenix, AZ, elevation 1,300 ft (396 m). Hike took place on a combination of dirt paths, sidewalk and sandy wash sections, no water. Weather conditions were overcast with a temperature of about 60 F (16 C).
This was my shake down hike with the Itundas, mainly to evaluate how well they'd do in our end of spring conditions. As summer approaches the Sonoran Desert all the little grasses and flowering plants previously abundantly in bloom start to dry out and get crunchy. This makes for lots of "hitch-hikers" jumping out and sticking into footwear, socks and in the case of a sandal wearer, skin. Admittedly these conditions are not the ideal venue for sandals but I thought since the Itundas cover a fair amount of my foot and toes I'd give it a try. Despite my hope for enough foot coverage to keep all the little nasties at bay, the sandals were not up to the task. On a positive note, when walking in evil plant free zones they were very comfortable and light on my feet.
May - Hike #2 - Black Canyon Trail north of New River, AZ, elevation 2,000 ft (610 m). Eight and half miles (13.7 km) using desert trails with a few crossings of the Aqua Fria River. Weather was sunny with daytime temps between 75 F (24 C) and 95 F (35 C). The picture to the right is from this hike.
On this trek I decided to wear a pair of socks with the Itundas. This turned out to be a very good choice since the socks solved the grass and sticker invasion problem I discovered on my April hike. Additionally, the sweaty feet issue wasn't as pronounced as I had previously encountered while wearing them around town sockless. Incidence of rocks hopping on board during the dry sections of the hike was not noteworthy; it was very noticeable just after each river crossing, however. On those occasions where my shoes were completely wet they picked up what seemed like tons of sand and pebbles. Due to the closed toe box I was not able to clear the stones using leg flings or tapping the toe section on the ground, nor would the pebbles make their way out on their own. Taking a moment to stop and dump them out a few feet from the bank was absolutely necessary before walking continued.
Traction and toe protection in the water was decent. At all crossings the usual slimy river rocks were present but I never felt unstable and I didn't have any slips. The toe box worked great to protect my toes too.
This was the longest hike I've taken with the Itundas so far and I noticed I had to retighten the main arch strap off and on throughout the hike, especially after water crossings. It wasn't a nuisance per se but I'd rather it just stay put. Despite this, I was very happy with their overall comfort.
The Itundas were marginally dirty after this hike; mostly trail dirt mixed with a little green algae residue. I washed them that evening and they cleaned up pretty well. Upon my post cleaning inspection I noticed a few cracks in the green "paint" used on the heel ShocPads and some darkening of the glue used along the edges of the arch and heel straps. The picture just below shows both the paint and the brownish glue on the curve leading down from the heel strap.
May - Hike #3 - New River Wash in Peoria, AZ, elevation 1,200 ft (366 m). Two miles (3.2 km) in and out of the water, 0.5 of a mile (.8 km) on sidewalk. Weather was sunny, windy and mild with temperatures in the low 80's F (27 C).
Although I had previously experienced comfortable and functional hiking in and out of water wearing socks with the Itundas, I decided to give the sandals a go without socks this time around. This decision wasn't altogether bad, it just wasn't as efficient because I had to clear the shoes of debris so often. In that I was hiking basically down the middle of a shallow creek much of the time it wasn't surprising I had lots of problems with sand and small rocks getting trapped between the bottom of my feet and the shoes. Once caught, however, they didn't dislodge themselves very easily even with my efforts to shake my foot under water and/or out of the water. Again the toe box worked well to protect my toes but it hindered the pebble extraction process. The sides of the sandals were also working against me in that they have very few openings leaving just the heel section open for stones to escape. Unfortunately, backwards toward the heel is generally not the direction rocks move once caught under foot.
As for traction I had one slip on a muddy bank while trying to exit the creek. Not sure if I can blame the shoes or my two canine hiking partners who were pulling me in two different directions. I will endeavor to put myself in a similar situation again without the dogs to give the Itundas a second chance.
After returning home I rinsed and inspected the Itundas and found a couple of small pebbles lodged in the heel drain holes. I was able to remove both with tweezers so not too big a deal. More importantly I didn't notice this obstructing the draining system.
May - Hike #4 - Four miles (6.4 km) next to Cave Creek Wash in Phoenix, AZ, elevation 1,300 ft (396 m). Hike took place on dirt paths, sidewalks and grassy sections, no water. Weather conditions were sunny, breezy and hot; highest temp while walking was about 90 F (32 C).
One word, blisters! Yikes! I have no idea why all of a sudden I got them but I did. The walk I took was quite easy on very flat terrain around a local park. Again I wasn't wearing socks but wasn't at all worried about performance since I wear the Itundas all the time when zooming around town without socks and I've never had a problem with blisters. For whatever reason this time they gave me two pea sized blisters one on each foot on the inside of my ankle about two inches (5 cm) up from my arch. I inspected the shoes near the assumed problem area but did not find any reason why all of a sudden that particular area was rubbing my foot the wrong way. Obviously, I could not wear the sandals for a few weeks while the blisters healed but as of this writing I am back to wearing them and so far no issues, although I have yet to take another longer walk in them. Will do so soon and report my findings in the Long Term Report.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Aspects I'm pleased with…
Aspects I'm under whelmed with…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
Over the last four months the woman's Teva Itunda Sport Sandals have spent quite a lot of time on my feet. Almost daily around town and on ten field trips in and out of water, the last six taking place during these last two months of testing. Four of these treks were day hikes ranging between 2 and 4 miles (4 - 6 km). All took place in Phoenix, AZ at local washes or desert/grassy parks at elevations right around 1,500 ft (450 m). Temperatures fluctuated between hot, hotter and if you stop moving your shoes will melt to the ground hot (105 - 112 F)(40 - 44 C) with weather either sunny or thunderstormy with light rain.
The other two longer trips were away from the valley. One was a moonlight paddle on Lake Pleasant followed by a night hike. Lake Pleasant is a man-made lake located northwest of Phoenix, AZ. It sits at about 1,600 ft (488 m) and is surrounded by desert. Weather conditions were clear with temps between 98 - 80 F (36 - 26 C). The Itundas were the only shoe I wore for the entire trip which lasted about 8 hrs. The other was a creek exploration day with my sons along West Clear Creek near the town of Camp Verde, AZ; elevation 3,700 ft (1,130 m). Weather was humid, warm in the mid 80's F (29 C) with thunderstorms dropping rain off and on throughout the day. The Itundas were on my feet for about 10 hrs that day.
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
The woman's Teva Itunda Sport Sandals have, for the most part, been a joy to test. I've had a few ups and downs but the positives by far outweighed the negatives. I wouldn't call them THE perfect sport sandal but they ain't too shabby either. I'll definitely continue to use them for around town use and water activities in the future.
Right out of the box they were comfortable and have continued to be so. On trails, in washes, and in and out of creek beds the ShocPad and the EVA sole was enough to take the blows and keep my feet feeling good. Apparently that lone episode back in May where I ended up with dual blisters on my ankles appears to have been an anomaly. I have not had any further issues with blisters in that specific area or anywhere else. It's very strange. It may be important to note, however, since the blister event I have been diligent to wear socks with the sandals on any outings I know will involve continuously walking more than a couple miles/kilometers. Perhaps this has helped.
Regarding socks vs. no socks I found socks were a fantastic complement because they solved the three issues of contention I had with the Itundas: sweaty feet, managing debris and worry of another blister breakout. The look of the shoe is drastically altered with the addition of socks and that's a bummer but on the practical side it's totally worth wearing them if it makes the sandals more functional.
Speaking of functionality, I would certainly agree the Itundas live up to Teva's claim that they effortlessly transition between "hiking the trails and navigating the rapids". I didn't experience any rapids personally but using them kayaking where my time was split between paddling and hiking I can say they were very much in their element. In fact, I liked them more than my other open-toed Tevas for this activity because my toes were far better protected while on shore and entering and exiting the water where the crawdads and broken bottle shards live.
I can also say they were quite at home in a riparian environment as well. In the course of this test series I did three hikes were I was walking in a flowing creek for the majority of the trek. I never once had issues with scraping my toes, slipping on mossy rocks, or my feet sliding inside the sandal. I did, as previously mentioned, have lots of problems with sand and pebbles getting trapped in the shoe which is obviously not comfortable. As I said above though, socks did manage that type of debris well enough. Given that I was happy with their performance as a trail to water hiker.
As a hiker alone, my results were mixed. Not all environments are good for sandals and the desert is really one of the not so great places especially in summer when everything is dry and brittle and easily attaches itself to shoes and socks. On harder packed dirt trails or paved paths they were fine but off trail through dry grasses, pineapple weed, fiddleheads, etc. protection was lacking. That is to be expected of course so I don't fault the shoes.
With regards to durability they have held up well. I've made it a practice to wash them out in my bathtub after hikes to remove any hitchhikers and keep the inside of the sandals clean. The EVA material is easy to keep clean and thankfully hasn't retained any odor. The heels and black toe guards look a little worn but not more than I would expect after four months.
I think Teva has a good concept in the Itundas. They performed well for me in the intended environment and with the addition of socks they worked even better. My biggest peeve surrounded the difficulty in extricating small rocks from the shoe without stopping to take them off and dump them out. The slowly loosening arch straps could also use improvement. My favorite aspect of these shoes was their instant and continued comfort. I foresee many more months of use out of the Teva Itunda Sport Sandals. Thank you Teva and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to be part of this test series.
-Jamie J. DeBenedetto - 2010
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