“Technical performance and classic style are blended perfectly to bring you the shoe whitewater kayakers have been waiting for.” -Astral Buoyancy
- Lightweight, Minimalist Construction
- Durable Cordura® Upper
- Breathable Airmesh vamp & tongue
- Balanced Geometry Midsole (zero drop)
- Drainage at front sidewall and Silt Dump at heel
- G.14™ outsole
- Step-Down Heel
- Alternate lace color provided
- MSRP: $99.95 USD
I am pleased to bring you a “2014 Review” of the updated Brewer water shoe by Astral Buoyancy. While this review is technically a spin-off of Kayak Dave’s 2013 Review, keep in mind that this review comes from a different viewpoint.
I was very cautious about investing in a pair of Astral Brewer’s at first based on my experiences of past water shoes. From my prior endeavors I have found water shoes to nearly always:
1) Run too narrow
2) Have a very limited lifespan
3) Provide insignificant traction on wet/slippery surfaces
4) Lack necessary drainage and drying time
5) Trap debris and sand
6) Create rashes/hotspots while kayaking
7) Ugly/Outdated Styling
It is through seven axioms that I will review the Astral Brewer, a tight order for the Brewer to fill?… I guess you’ll see.
1) Run too narrow. For most individuals, I would say more than half, shoes that run narrow do not present an issue. For myself and a small cohort of outdoor enthusiasts, I have wide feet… very wide feet to be clear… 4E Width to be exact. So finding a pair of water shoes to fit, and to fit comfortable is a rarity at best. A representative at Astral presented the following reasons why the Brewer may fit a wider foot:
a) Our footwear is designed to be narrower in the heel and mid foot, getting wider in the toe box.
b) Our shoes are made without a strobel board. A strobel board is the static fabric stitched between medial and lateral sides of the upper. It is underneath the insole of almost all “normal” shoes. By not having a strobel, the EVA mid sole is free to adjust to your foot’s width width much more so than with a strobel.
c) Our uppers are made with textile and air mesh. Both of these are fabrics that have “give” and will adjust to your foot in a short period.
I purchased a pair of Brewers’ that were a half-size larger than my normal width. After wearing my Brewers for a couple of days, I found Astral’s assessment to be true. While snug at first within the break-in period, I found that the Brewers’ soon adjusted to the wide contours of my feet. They do not have any pressure points or areas where my feet feel “pinched.” I will note, however, that I wore my Brewers’ in the shower, allowing them to get wet with warm water and then dry on my feet. This helped to relax the upper fabric when forming to my foot.
2) Have a very limited lifespan. As Dave mentioned in his previous review, he has experienced the limited lifespan of most water shoes, knowing the misfortune of lasting only a summer or two before beginning to fall apart. After wearing my Brewers’ in a variety of conditions over the past 8 months, from kayaking, light hiking, and every-day casual wear, I cannot see the Brewers’ starting to fall apart anytime soon. I will be sure to keep readers updated on the longevity of the Brewers’ but I can’t see it will be negative.
3) Provide insignificant traction on wet/slippery surfaces. The Brewers’ are provide the best traction of any paddling shoe out there… hands down. Their newly updated G.14 outsole is like a gecko grip on all surfaces, even slick algae covered rocks. Astral definitely hit a homerun with the new G.14 outsoles, and if their next iteration is anything like these… the Brewers’ can only get better from here.
4) Lack necessary drainage/drying time. I have had the misfortune to sit in wet, cold paddling shoes for hours with no relief in sight. I can happily say that those days are over now that the Brewers’ have hit the market. Not only do the Brewers’ drain as soon as you exit the water, but they dry very quickly especially when kayaking. During the summer I would estimate that they dry in about 50-115 minutes depending on the humidity and level of activity. They dry even faster when sitting in the sun.
5) Trap debris and sand. While the Brewers’ are not perfect at keeping debris out, especially when walking around in dry conditions, most small debris will flush out upon entering the water. I have worn these to the beach and walked in wet sand up to my ankles to find that the Brewers’ do a moderately good job at keeping wet, loose sand out. While sand does enter the shoes from top, it easily washes away upon kicking your feet in the water. Larger debris can be an issue such as small pebbles and wood chips which I have found to get kicked into the Brewers quite easily. Unlike smaller debris which washes out of the rear ports, they must be taken off in order to remove larger pieces which does not happen with neoprene paddling shoes.
5) Create rashes/hotspots while kayaking. I have paddled in several races and paddling trips with the Brewers’, both wet and dry, and have yet to develop any type of rubbing or rash. They do a great job at protecting the food when inside even tight cockpits, and keep your feet elevated for great foot brace contact. The slight rocker of the toe allows for easy contact with the ball of your foot without impending proper torso rotation. If you are wondering why your foot position is important to proper torso rotation, see article Kayaking: A low-impact high intensity exercise.
7) Ugly/Outdated styling. This category should not need a lot of detailed explanation after seeing a pair of the Astral Brewers.’ These are so beautifully designed from top to bottom that 99% percent of people won’t even know they’re water shoes. Enough said.
Note about color options: I purchase the Black/White Brewer (as seen in the first photo), and the white portion does get very dirty and scuffed. While it can be cleaned to an extent, they show wear a lot more than their darker counterparts.
Keep on paddling!