Barefoot Shoes

Teva Zilch Barefoot/Minimalist Sandals

Teva is coming around and meeting me somewhere in the middle with their release of the Teva Zilch sandals. While I love my huaraches, I’m still willing to experiment so I purchased a pair of Zilch sandals to see how they perform as running sandals.

Before switching completely to minimalist footwear nearly a year ago and running daily in homemade 4mm-thick huaraches, I was a fan of Teva sandals. Now just the thought of stomping around in those thickly soled sandals makes my feet ache. Fortunately, Teva is coming around and meeting me somewhere in the middle with their release of the Teva Zilch sandals. While I love my huaraches, I’m still willing to experiment so I purchased a pair of Zilch sandals to see how they perform as running sandals.


As comfortable as my huaraches may be, they are very unconventional looking, and my wife refuses to be seen with me wearing them. The Teva Zilch sandals don’t have this problem. They are quite stylish in a variety of two-tone color schemes and stripe patterns conveying an athletic and high-tech feeling. They may be minimalist in design, but they aren’t in aesthetics. They hold up to the Teva design aesthetic of which I’ve been always been fond.


The footbed is very soft with a felt-like texture, and it feels great against my skin. It feels like a very thin layer of gel with just a bit of “squish”. Fortunately, it doesn’t suffer from an overly contoured footbed. There is only the slightest hump near the arch. There is a slight cup at the heel to keep your foot from slipping off the back — a feature I could use on my huaraches.

All strapped in to the Teva Zilches.

Sole and Ground Feel

The sole is made of Teva’s “Spider Rubber”, a non-marking rubber material that is very flexible so it allows your foot to flex easily. Ground feel is a good given the Teva Zilch sole thickness of 10mm. Traditional Teva sandals soles are very rigid and quite thick in comparison. I was able to handle some fairly rocky terrain in my Zilch sandals that would have left my feet a little sore in my 4mm huaraches.

The Teva Zilch is flexible for easy storage.


I wore my sandals out of the store and the rest of the day before running the next morning. I ran seven miles of a mixture of asphalt and rocky road berms. My biggest initial worry was the fit of the straps and the interesting big toe loop, which is composed of two pieces, a stretchy inner piece and the Teva Zilch strap material on the outside. During my run, one small blister had formed and been torn off on my left foot under the front strap (see the photo below). Otherwise, the sandals felt fine and were extremely comfortable, and that toe loop is surprisingly comfortable—probably the best feature of the Zilch.

I ran the same course the next day; however, this time, I had a new hot spot develop on my right foot. There are several stitching points under the straps which make contact with your skin. One of these points had rubbed my skin raw that morning resulting in a bit of unsightly bleeding. Since this didn’t happen the day before and never affected my left foot, I’m sure experimenting with foot placement or strap tightness can fix this. Alternatively, some mole skin or tape over the stitches would certainly help too.

Here’s an example photo of the Teva Zilch stitching that can rub my foot the wrong way


For running, I’m going to stick with huaraches when the terrain allows. However, if I’m setting out across rocky terrain, the Zilch would be a better choice. I’ll be sure to pack some moleskin and tend to hot spots immediately though. For walking around town, they certainly will be a top choice of footwear. They are comfortable, stylish, and they give me all the benefits of a minimalist sandal without any of the stares.

Huaraches win for minimalism (note the spot on my right foot still healing nearly a month after that second run)

Pricing, Availability

The Teva Zilch are available for $80 at retailers that carry Teva footwear.

By James

James's life was changed forever when he tried running in Vibram Five Fingers in July 2010. He'll occasionally go barefoot, but he primarily runs in his homemade huarache sandals. He loves to experiment with different types of minimalist footwear and has previously reviewed huaraches (homemade, Invisible Shoe, and Luna Sandals), the Teva Zilch, and the VIVOBAREFOOT Achilles running sandals.

15 replies on “Teva Zilch Barefoot/Minimalist Sandals”

When I was shopping for another ultra minimalist shoe/sandal recently I was torn between the Teva Zilch, Luna Sandals and the Terra Plana Achilles. I ended up going with the Luna Sandals despite their unconventional look because I wasn’t so sure about that toe ring thing on the Zilch and the whole split toe thing on the Achilles. I came up with a pretty good lacing pattern on my Luna Sandals that make them “look” a bit more conventional.

Love your version! Although I can see why your wife might not be seen with you in them 😉 Thanks for the review I saw these at REI and thought they were so much nicer than a heavy Chaco for instance, but I see your point with the stitching and plastic.

I love the concept here, I’m just not so sure about execution. It seems like great care would need to be taken with respect to those strap edges; I can see those making a real mess of my feet. That being said, if the price was right, I might give them a whirl. 80 bucks seems a bit steep though to be honest. . .

I also feel the price point is high for this kind of footwear–Teva makes “Nilch Water Shoe” (somebody review this) for about 60 bucks, and I don’t see that much difference in the type or quantity of materials used.

That said, they are still priced well under Chacos, so maybe they are going for the high-end sandal wearer. I would definitely buy a pair of Zilches if they could be had for under $60.

My footwear of choice in the summer is barefoot or TEVA Mush (I’ve worn them in so much, they are basically minimalist footwear)

I’ve got the Achilles sandals on order so I’ll let you know how they perform as running sandals. I also own some Lunas and while I’ve done several long runs in them and they did well, my motto remains less is more.

I was so happy when I finally found a barefoot style sandal. But alas, the toe loop is not one-size fits all. My toe would not even begin to fit in the loop – even when I tried a sandal 2 sizes larger than my normal 10.5. I have yet to find a barefoot style shoe/sandal that really fits us wide footed persons. I would love feedback if anyone knows if such a shoe exists.

I was in a market for a barefoot sandal, so I bought these online. After wearing them around the house for 20 minutes, I decided that I really dislike the big toe loop. I ended up returning them. Also, I feel they were a little too cushy.

I ended up purchasing the Achilles sandal, because I wanted something I can just slip on, and head out the door. I really like them. The split between the toes took some getting used to, but now I don’t think twice about it. Also, I started going barefoot more and more, and it’s convenient to just throw these in the car, in case I need to go somewhere where bare feet are frowned upon.

I picked up a pair of the women’s Zilch sandals. I loooove the sole, foot bed and flexibility. The toe strap is a little weird, but it’s not a big deal for me. What kills me is the strapping system across the top of the foot. The angle causes the strap to push forward on my foot. I’ve tried it loose. I’ve tried it tight. It leaves a painful red mark on the forward edge of the strap no matter what I do. I’m going to have to take advantage of REI’s return policy. These sandals are so close to perfection… and yet so far.

I purchased a pair right after they came out…the mint green and gray ones. The footbed is amazingly soft and comfortable, very flexible, and decent ground feel for a sport sandal. I don’t have any issue with the toe loop, and I actually just grabbed the inside elastic loop of it a few times and stretched it out to give me a little more room.

I had the same issue as akooser, but I found that strapping the middle strap as loosely as possible eliminated that problem. There are certainly a few bugs to be worked out, but I applaud Teva for being the first ones to develop a more minimal, flexible sport sandal. Now, if Chaco would just get on that… 🙂

Whew. I thought I might be the only one the with toe strap problem. I tried these on at REI a couple weeks back, and that darn toe loop is what prevented me from getting these.
I am rather wide-footed, as I’m assuming Michael Miller is, and my big toes are definitely a bit wider than my other toes. That doesn’t mix well with a toe strap which has little to no ability to be stretched out.
I was seriously disappointed with this let-down as I couldn’t wait to get a pair and go running in these after I saw the preview on here.
To quote akooser, “These sandals are so close to perfection…… and yet so far.”

i used mine to rotate with my bikias. love the tevas..yeah vaseline or tape work if u break it in. got a blister on my left foot on the first try.

Saw these for 60% retail so I had to pick up a pair. Great shoes for kicking around, much more socially acceptable than most of my shoes with zero drop.

hi folks, i had a pair of these and, while they were ok for walking around in, i tried to run in them..once.. and that was it> there was a design flaw as far as MY foot was concerned. The toe ring for the big toe was place so that it cut into my foot when my big toe shifted. so, fine for “whatever” wear, but test them out before buying for running.

I applied some kitchen shears and simply removed the middle strap (cut flush at the insertion points on the sole, without cutting the actual sole). Since then they have worked great for my wide feet. Toe loop and ankle assemblage is all that’s needed. 2.5 marathons (including training) & counting. Very durable & well worth the price. Best minimalist footwear I’ve ever owned (and I’ve tried VFF, Merrel BF, Luna Sandals, Xero Shoes, even gone completely barefoot for a couple marathons). I’m thinking of buying another pair just in case they get discontinued before my current pair wears out! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *