Astral enters the paddle sports footwear market with the “aqua-breaking” design of the new Brewer water shoe. Astral's strong reputation of innovation, construction quality and use of materials is well known in the PFD industry. Applying these same principles, combined with a ton of field-testing, the Brewer was born.
Are your feet enjoying your paddle sports adventures as much as the rest of your body or are they quietly grumbling, wishing they would receive more love and attention than your last worn pair of socks?
Let’s dissect how the Brewer stands out amongst other wet shoes.
Key Construction & Features
• Lightweight, minimalist construction, averaging just 214 grams
• Durable Cordura® Upper
• Breathable Airmesh vamp and tongue
• Natural Balance ™ Midsole (zero drop)
• Drainage at front sidewall and Silt Dump at Heel
• Stealth® Rubber Outsole
• Step-Down Heel
At approximately 214 grams, less than half a pound, you can almost sneeze these shoes across the floor. Though it’s unlikely you’ll engage your friends in sneezing shoe races you’ll find that when laced up, despite the lack of weight, the Brewer provides more than adequate protection for your pigs while at the same time giving you a comfortable, close to barefoot feel.
The uppers are made of the same durable quality Cordura® as their PFD’s, a proven high wear resistant material. The toe box is generously on the wide side so it lessens the cramped feeling on your pigs when stuffed in the bow of your kayak for long periods. As well, the extra room allows you the option of adding a lightweight paddling or dry suit sock for colder days. Breathability is enhanced with the use of Airmesh for the tongue and top of the toe box. When you’re out of your boat, portaging or wading the Brewer locks onto your foot better than any low ankle designed shoe I’ve ever tried. Soft, swampy stank-ass river or coastal mud will have to go hungry ‘cause the Brewers simply love to stay on your feet.
Sizing was accurate to my typical shoe size, however one cautionary note. When trying on a pair remember that the Brewer is designed to be snug across the top of the foot arch, which again helps the shoe stay where it’s supposed to be. It’s not so snug that it cuts off circulation or is uncomfortable but at first try may cause you think you need a larger size.
“Zero drop” is the term used to categorize the shoes’ closed cell EVA foam footbed angle, in this case zero, nada, flat. Flat is a good feature, especially for stand up paddling. The feel is natural, again almost barefoot but with an excellent dose of grip. Speaking of grip, the outsole is made of Stealth® rubber. While you won’t be caught walking up vertical buildings the grip and rigidity of Stealth® rubber is perfect for scrambling over slick rocks, protecting your feet with a good combination of stiffness and cushioning.
As much as you might like spending time in or on the water the skin on your feet has a definitive point at which it will rebel. Water trapped in a shoe will begin pickling the skin, slowly turning it to mush. Mush generates stink. Most people try to avoid stink. Astral remedies this with a host of drainage ports along the front sidewall and a Silt Dump slot at the heel. Water that would normally collect in the heel while in a seated position naturally and easily drains out the Silt Dump, drastically reducing the dry time. I’ve used the Brewer’s in rivers and beach-like sandy environments and although small debris like sand can enter through the drain areas it’s fairly easy to get most if not all out without removing the shoe.
The Brewers' heel can also be dropped or pressed down onto the footbed, turning the shoe into a casual slip on style shoe for when the going gets easy. After four months of use I have not had the need to douse the shoes with an anti-microbial odor fighter. Considering my feet normally turn typical wet footwear into weapons of war in short order, I’m impressed that my Brewer’s are still good for public exposure. In fact, you just might find yourself not changing shoes after your next outing, opting to wear them straight into your favorite watering hole without fear of being denied entrance due to the hordes of flies surrounding your feet, like in the old days of neoprene based wet shoes.
Colors and Sizing & Cost
Available in Black/White, Black/Lime, Gray/Maroon, Navy/Azul
Sizing varies by color, most from 6 to 13.5.
New for 2014 are a few updates discussed within the video.