First of all, this is (as will become painfully obvious!) my first review ever, so please bear with me if it doesn’t follow the accepted format. I’m sure there are plenty of reviews out there that will precisely score the shoes on build quality, technical makeup, shock absorption and comparison to other brands; on the other hand, maybe you’d prefer a less technical, totally impartial review with my honest thoughts on the new Tevasphere multi-terrain shoe. Having a husband who has been out of work for more than a year, I know that buying a pair of running shoes is a big financial commitment, and if this review helps even one person to make the right choice, then I’ll be very happy! So with that in mind, here’s how I got on…
When the parcel arrived, I was a bit disappointed at how light it was, thinking that it must be something other than the shoes that I was expecting, so I was pleasantly surprised to open the bag and find this lovely pair of trainers nestling within.
I currently run in a pair of Asiics trainers, and these Tevasphere Speed shoes are easily at least half the weight of them, if not less – hopefully this lightness was going to give me a bit of speed, always an added bonus. As a bit of a girly girl, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the colourway (grey with yellow and aqua highlights) but at least it’s quite a neutral look and won’t clash with the rest of your outfit! They also come in a fetching shade of pink/purple if that’s more your cup of tea (if you saw my cross-country spikes, you’d know that this is indeed the case for me).
The material of the uppers are made of nylon, and are of quite a dense mesh, giving the impression that they may be quite water resistant, although they’re only marketed as being quick-drying and easy clean; however, there are other models that are properly waterproof such as the Tevasphere Trail Event shoe. The shoe is described by the manufacturer as having a spherical heel and pod-arch system, both of which are designed to give a shoe which, although minamalist, doesn’t alter your natural running gait. However, the sole is not as rounded as I’d expected – as an ex-owner of a pair of MBT shoes, I’d expected the design to be similar. The gently rounded heel and toe of the Tevaspheres, however, are much more user friendly, and I didn’t once find myself falling over backwards in a moment of inattention (something which happened fairly frequently with the other shoes!)
The shoe’s construction is centred around two support pods (the pod-arch system), which provide support on all terrains, without being too weighty. I should mention at this point that I over-pronate quite badly (for those unfamiliar with the term, this means my ankles tend to roll inwards, mainly due to being flat-footed). However, I have always run in neutral shoes as I find arch supports to be very uncomfortable. I was pleasantly surprised to slip these shoes on and find that, although initially being aware of the pod support (surprisingly on the outside edge of my foot, not the instep where I would have expected to feel it), as soon as I began running the sensation of pressure disappeared.
Finally, the sole is constructed of a specialised rubber, Spider365, which is meant to provide excellent traction on a variety of surfaces. I think there’s only one way to find this out, don’t you? Enough of the technical stuff, it was time to hit the trail and find out just what this shoe is really made of!
My first outing in the Tevasphere Speeds was a day after a local harrier league cross country event, so my legs were a little tired to start with. However, I couldn’t wait to try the shoes any longer, so after studying my local area on Google maps, I decided on a route which gave as much variety of surface and conditions as possible, while still staying within a short radius of my house. Fortunately I live in an area which has a number of woodland trails, complete with streams and numerous fallen trees and branches, and this was where I headed first – I wanted to throw everything I could at them and see how they handled it.
I was a little worried about how well the Tevaspheres would fit, having obtained them by post, but was pleasantly surprised by how roomy the shoes were, despite my feet being quite wide. From the very beginning, these shoes felt really comfortable on my feet, and there was never a feeling of having to “wear them in”. In fact, even after my very first outing where they were really put through their paces, there were no blisters or chafed areas,
Heading out of the front door, I was vaguely aware of the feeling of the pods under the outside edge of my feet, but as soon as I began running, the feeling disappeared. I picked up my speed, running on tarmac paths as I usually do, and this is where I had my first negative impression of the Tevasphere. Although the heel is well rounded, I was still aware of quite a jarring feeling every time my heel impacted on the path. To be fair, I have to say that I had a headache at the time, so it may have been more noticeable because of the throbbing in my head, although a second run should clarify that for me.
Luckily the first section of woodland was very close (less than 200m) and I started a fairly steep descent of a dryish, leaf and branch strewn slope which I negotiated with no trouble at all. I felt sure-footed and confident in the shoe’s ability to hold me on the slope without slipping, and once on this softer surface, I was no longer aware of any jarring feelings – in fact, I felt immensely comfortable at this point. Towards the bottom of the slope, where it approached a stream, it became damper and very slightly muddy underfoot, but again the shoe was more than a match for the terrain.
From then on, the footpath began to disintegrate due to the large amounts of rainfall over the winter, and in places there was no path at all, just a gaping space which had to be jumped over. This was no mean feat, given that due to the rain, the conditions ranged from muddy to quagmire in places, but I felt incredibly agile in these lovely lightweight shoes, and took on jumps that I probably wouldn’t have attempted in other shoes. My landings were always sure, and I managed not to land face-first (or worse) in the thick mud, always a plus point! Just to give you an idea of the consistency of the ground, here’s a quick picture of the sticky, clay based mud!
I deliberately went through the thickest parts, and splashed through puddles whenever I came across them, as I was intrigued as to how waterproof these shoes appeared to be. It wasn’t until their third or fourth soaking that a little water and mud finally began to seep through onto my socks, but compared to my cross-country outing the day before, it was nothing! As I said, these aren’t marketed as being waterproof and indeed they aren’t, but they are pretty mud and water resistant and I was very impressed. In addition, even after a soaking, I wasn’t aware of any increased weight from the water, which suggested to me that they must be drying very quickly, or not absorbing the water at all.
Following the woodland trail, I came out in a long-grassed area, which had lots of tussocks, vines and unexpected holes to cope with, as well as tree roots, molehills and the occasional boggy area. Again the Tevaspheres coped admirably, and I really enjoyed running over surfaces that I wouldn’t usually have attempted. This area eventually took me down to the river, where a hardcore footpath was laid down through a short grassed area. I ran along the path for a couple of hundred metres, but found the going to be much more comfortable by sticking to the grass verges.
Again, this was due to the firmness of the pathway and the relatively firm soles of the shoes causing a jarring feeling through my ankles and legs.
The footpath varied in width and composition for almost a mile along the banks of the river, and I tried to avoid the tarmac areas wherever I could, although sometimes it was unavoidable. At this point I was beginning to wish I’d popped a couple of headache tablets before I set out! My ankles and knees were beginning to feel the strain a little, and my poor head was definitely not feeling its best, although the latter was not, of course, caused by the shoes! After looping back on myself, I faced the last challenge of a steep tarmac path back up towards my house. Fortunately there were accessible verges along almost the entire length, and I ran along these whenever I could, which had the happy side effect of further testing the endurance of the shoes through mud and grass. Finally, a quarter of a mile to run along proper paving then I was home – both myself and my Tevaspheres had survived the rigorous route, but what, if any, damage had there been?
Well, as you can see from this picture, I made sure the Tevaspheres got good and dirty, as an important aspect of a shoe, for me anyway, is how easily they clean up afterwards. Despite leaving them for almost a week before attempting a clean-up (replicating the conditions that my sons’ trainers have to cope with on a weekly basis!), I found them very easy to restore to their former glory. A quick rinse under the tap and a light scrub with a nail brush was all that was required, and they dried very quickly afterwards, ready for me to take them out for another session!
So, what is my opinion of the Tevasphere Speed shoes, and can I recommend them?
If you plan to do a lot of training on roads or pavements, I’d suggest that you look at other options, or buy a second pair of shoes that are designed solely for harder surfaces in addition to the Tevaspheres. Possibly I’m being unfair here, as my overpronation (and headache on the day) may have influenced how both the shoes, and my legs, felt on the harder surfaces, but as I said at the beginning of the review, I plan to be as honest and open as possible in this and any future reviews I may do.
However, these shoes do have a lot of things going for them – a high tech pod-arch system which gives support without weight, a tough exterior, a high degree of comfort, a superior grip on a multitude of surfaces, and an easy clean finish. If you’re planning on doing a lot of off-road running, then I can wholeheartedly recommend the Tevasphere Speed as a first class multi-terrain shoe.
As a final note, I’d just like to point out that I’d never have attempted to jump this… and make that landing in any other running shoe I own – testament indeed to the confidence I felt in their gripping ability and lack of weightiness. I’m looking forward to many more exciting off-road adventures with my Tevaspheres.