Astral Brewer Shoe – Sneak Up on Simple

| April 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Gear is great. Gear is good. Let us take it to the woods, and the water, and the pub.

Some folks think they need everything in the catalog to enjoy a day outdoors. Other prefer to keep it simple by asking: What are my needs? And what gear do I really need to meet those needs? For these folks, the utility of each piece of gear is key. I relate to the latter group more these days. And, I appreciate any gear that helps me sneak up on simple. 

So, when Austin Canoe & Kayak sent a complimentary pair of Astral Brewer water shoes, my question was this: Does this shoe get in my way, or does it get me closer to simple?

To find out, I wore the Astral Brewer for a full week. The Brewer and I went kayak fishing. We walked some 20 miles around Austin. We trained muaythai in a garage gym. We did a little trail walking and caught white bass at Lake Georgetown. We went wade fly-fishing. And, to cap it all off, we went straight from a paddle trip to a client meeting and back out to another paddle trip.

The verdict in one word:

u·til·i·ty [yoo-til-i-tee] noun | def. the quality of being useful

The Brewer was great on and around the water and solid everywhere else. Most importantly, the gear didn’t get in the way of what I was trying to do. Instead of spending my time chasing down boat shoes, bar shoes, business shoes, moo shu pork, and so on, I just went and went in comfort.

A few features that made it so:

  • Weight: The shoe weighs 7.5 ounces, which is well lighter than sneakers and many water shoes and boots. The weight makes them comfortable for all-day wear. And, as it turns out, the ultra-light weight makes them good shoes for training muaythai in a garage. I did not see that one coming.
  • Traction: The Stealth Rubber sole does a good job of sticking to concrete boat ramps, rocks, and wet wooden piers. It makes the Brewer a good shoe for wade fishing as well, though I didn’t test it in strong current and can’t speak to its performance there. They’re appropriately terrible footwear for two-stepping.
  • Quick-draining & Quick-drying: Water drains out of the shoe almost immediately through four drainage holes in the sidewalls and a larger silt dump in the heel. They dry quickly due to the Cordura® and AirMesh materials, both of which Astral uses in their personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life vests. The quick-dry feature allows you to move from one activity to the next in comfort. No one wants to wear wet shoes all day. I believe, too, that these features will lessen the chances of mildew and, ultimately, help the shoe last longer.
  • Breathable: The features that drain and dry the shoe quickly also help it breathe.The airflow is important in preventing sweating if you’re using the Brewer for more than just a river shoe.
  • Looks: It doesn’t scream, “Hey, look at me I’m a river shoe!” It doesn’t scream anything. So, you can wear it with just about anything and just about anywhere. Even the branding is subtle.
  • General Design: The low cut Brewer is more comfortable than a boot, especially when using the foot braces in my fishing kayak. The laces keep the shoe in place. Though it is not a walking shoe, the Brewer is surprisingly comfortable.
Room for Improvement:

  • The Brewer sole marks linoleum and other surfaces. Be mindful where you wear it.
The Brewer is Astral’s first go at a water shoe. It’s worth a look. You can get it at ACK.com for about $100. Men’s and women’s sizes and styles available.
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Race to 50 Paddles Update:
Good news: The Race to 50 Paddles project will be in book form before too long. FalconGuides will publish “Paddling Texas” in 2014. The book will include 50 beginner-friendly paddling trips around Texas rivers, streams, and coastal waters. Details to come.

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Category: Canoeing, Kayak Fishing, Kayaking, Product Reviews, Resources

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