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!


Next up, Chris visits with Pyrahna/Feel Free