Astral Brewer Shoe – Sneak Up on Simple

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.

Visit to the Heart of the Paddling World – Part 4 of 5

Chris Hackerd, VP of Store Operations and one of three ACK co-owners, is an avid mountain biker, birder, ‘yak angler and all around outdoors-man. Recently, Chris traveled east to North Carolina to celebrate his grand mother’s 80th birthday and took the opportunity to visit many of the manufacturers based out of the area including Confluence, Legacy, WernerEnoAstralFeel Free/Pyrahna. Below is part four of his trip. See part three here.

Trying on the New Astral Brewer

The guys at Astral were stoked to see me! There location is a stones throw from the French Broad and If I wasn’t in town with my 4 year old and celebrating my Grandma being 80 years young I would have been taking everyone up on their offers to take me paddling…I’m planning my return! I wanted to get to Astral because I was really excited about their new line of paddling shoes. I got to see them at Outdoor Retailer for a bit but I wanted to get up close. They didn’t have my size at OR to try on and I was hedging my bet that they would in their warehouse.

Just my luck they had a Brewer in black in my size 13.5. I slipped it on and was thrilled with how comfortable it felt. I wanted to go jump in the river and see how they drained but it was a little colder here than in Texas. I went to pull the shoes off to put them back in the box but they said they were mine! I was pretty pumped about scoring a pair of shoes but I think it was a quality thing and the fact that they were within smelling distance of my Crocs. Which, as Peter will tell you, I’m the only person who can make a pair of Crocs stink.

The shoes looked sweet and the Feel Free/Pyrahna boys were waiting for me to head out on the town! Before I left we talked about a PFD idea that I think will be huge for them and I hope to see it on the market next year. Just a thought but I think Astral should call it the HACK!

Chris@ACK

Next up, Chris visits with Pyrahna/Feel Free