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Astral Brewer Water Shoe Review

Posted by on August 9, 2013

Overview

“Technical performance and classic style blended perfectly to bring you the shoe whitewater kayakers have been waiting for.” –Astral Buoyancy

Astral Brewers

The Deets:

  • Durable Cordura Upper
  • Breathable Airmesh Vamp & Tongue
  • Balanced Geometry” Midsole
  • Stealth Rubber Outsole
  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Colors: Black/Lime, Navy/Azul, Grey/Maroon, & Black/White


 

Review:

Some may be surprised that the piece of safety gear most often left behind by paddlers is not a PFD, pump, or paddle float…it’s a good pair of water shoes! Close-toed shoes protect your feet from many ground-level hazards including sharp rocks, broken glass, and the occasional razor clam shell. I’ve seen my share of nasty foot wounds in my guiding days and you don’t want any part of dealing with them…that’s why I never step into my kayak without  my water shoes on and I require all of my clients to do the same. Unfortunately, a good pair of water shoes is hard to come by but I’m happy to report that I’ve finally found “the one” in the new Brewer water shoe by Astral Buoyancy! Why are the Brewers so great?? Well, because they’re wicked comfortable, highly functional, and they have that “cool factor” that makes paddlers want to wear them!

Astral Brewers 2

The one thing that I could never figure out about water shoes is why so many of them are so uncomfortable. It’s as if the designers focused so intensely on making a cheap shoe that could get wet that they forgot that the bones of the project was to make a SHOE that people will be walking around in. Thankfully, Astral recognized this and made their Brewer water shoes for walking! I’ll admit that the upper part of the heel rubbed me a little raw in places that first week but my feet got used to it and the experience was no worse than breaking into a good pair of hiking boots. Otherwise, I’ve found the Brewers to be extremely comfortable. The “balanced geometry” mid-sole is just that; firm enough to provide sufficient support while cushy enough to keep your feet happy. Next-in-line after Comfort is Peace-of-Mind which the Brewers provide in spades with their “stealth rubber” outsoles. The docks at the shop can get baby-$#!@ slick but the Brewers make it feel like carpet!

Stealth Rubber soles provide amazing grip!

Stealth Rubber soles provide amazing grip!

There are at least two tests in the function department that each of my past water shoes have failed. The first is to survive an entire paddling season without blowing apart at the seams. This is a tall order considering that kayaking is my life in the summer months and I tend to “put a lot of miles” on my gear. I won’t lie…I was concerned about the durability of the Brewers when I first saw them but they have put my anxiety to rest! I’ve been wearing my Brewers every day for the past two months. That’s everything from walking around the shop, kayaking, SUPing, even over to my girlfriend’s house for dinner. There’s not even a trace of wear on them including the stealth rubber soles which are just as gripy as they were the day I took them out of the box. We’ll see just how long they hold up but they’ve already exceeded my expectations!

However, I’m more impressed by the fact that the Brewers passed my second, more-important test…keeping the sand out! Sand has been the bane of my existence as a kayaking instructor. It seems to get into everything and I absolutely hate when it gets in my water shoes. Therefore, for a water shoe to be great it must keep the sand out. So I took the Brewers on a “death march” through the nastiest pond muck, mud flats, and sandbars that I could find with every expectation that all of these wonderful things would end up between my toes. The Brewers, mush to my pleasant surprise, actually kept the vast majority of all of that grossness out! This should be reason enough to make the Brewers your next pair of water shoes!!!

SUPing with Brewers!

SUPing with Brewers!

The “cool factor” that the Brewers bring to the table is not something to scoff at. If something looks cool then people are apt to wear it and when that applies to safety gear like PFDs and water shoes I’m a huge supporter of trendy! Case in point: a few weeks back I took a group of teenagers out for an Intro to SUP clinic. Like most teenagers, they moaned and groaned about how goofy their classic, slipper-style water shoes looked as they flashed the “unimpressed” face when I told them that they had to wear them. You should have seen their eyes light up when I showed off my new Brewers. “Those are water shoes?? They’re sooo cool!!” (that’s a direct quote). The skateboard style of the Brewers is certainly appealing and the broad color selection from inconspicuous black on white to flashy navy on azul provides something for every taste. Throw in the alternate pair of laces and you get all sorts of hip, mix-and-match options. True to form, Astral gets another A+ for style!

Now for the gripe section (I know, the Brewers are awesome but this has to be done). My first comment has to do with sizing. A lot of my paddling buddies have wide feet (there must be something in the water around here) and it would be great to see wider sizes so that they can experience the greatness of the Brewers on their feet. My second issue with the Brewers is that the laces pose a bit of an entrapment hazard as they could theoretically get caught on something as you attempt to wet exit your kayak. I mitigate this risk by tucking in my laces to help prevent them from getting caught but I could envision other closure systems that would be safer than laces. That it all.

Brewers in Kayak

Laces pose a potential entrapment hazard…tuck them in to be safe!

The Brewers are yet another great product that paddlers get to enjoy thanks to the folks at Astral. These are definitely the best water shoes that I’ve ever owned. They’re wicked comfortable, highly functional, and have style to boot! So far, I’ve been most impressed with the durability of the Brewers, the gripiness of their “stealth rubber” soles, and the fact that they actually keep the vast majority of sand and muck out.  You should buy a pair for yourself, your paddling partners, and even your fashionista teenage daughters. You will not be disappointed.

 

Happy Paddling (and wear your water shoes)!

-Kayak Dave

 

Pros: Comfortable, Durable, Stylish, Lightweight, Low-profile, Gripy sole, Versatile.

Cons: Wide sizes not yet available. Laces pose entrapment hazard.

Sizing: Fit true to size.

KayakDave Rating:

5 paddles

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