Astral Brewer Water Shoe

Grip: G.14 Sole

The main reason I jumped at the chance to test the Brewers was Astral’s claim that they’ve developed a compound comparable to Five Ten’s Stealth rubber. I’ve tested the grip of the G.14 outsole in every way that I can think of: running across slippery rafts while guiding, rappelling down mossy cliffs while canyoneering, and hiking into rivers through lichen covered boulder fields in the Norwegian alpine.

David Spiegel reviews the Astral Brewer, Blister Gear Review.
David Spiegel in the Astral Brewer, Norway.

The verdict?

Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between the traction / grip provided by G.14 and that of Five Ten’s Stealth outsoles. But while I can’t say I think the G.14 is decidedly better, the fact that I cannot feel a big difference from Stealth rubber is a pretty big achievement for Astral. Matching the capabilities of Stealth is impressive, especially for a company that’s relatively new to the footwear game.

Astral also claims that their tread pattern is superior to Five Ten’s, and I will admit that less grime and grit seems to stick in the Brewer’s tread, but I can’t say the shoe’s tread pattern offers superior traction. Again, that’s not to say the Brewer’s traction isn’t very good.

I have found that I can place my foot with confidence on extremely slippery surfaces wearing the Brewer, even while carrying a 50 pound creek boat. This has come in handy when running the steep creeks of Norway, which often require a lot of scouting and portages.

Durability and Drying

Durability is a huge concern with paddling shoes, especially when they cost $100. Many paddlers reported that the outsole separated from the upper on their first edition Brewers.

More time will tell if this becomes an issue with the 2014 Brewers, but after about 20 days of use, I haven’t experienced any problems and I am not seeing any signs of the shoes coming apart at the seams.

Another potential issue, with paddling footwear especially, is the dreaded smell factor. Astral has done away with removable insoles on the Brewer and Rassler to combat this, which is awesome. This prevents moisture from getting trapped underneath the insole (as there isn’t one; the shoe’s outsole is its insole). My Brewers dry quickly and don’t smell nearly as bad as my Five Ten Water Tennies do. In a relatively dry climate, the Brewers almost always dry overnight.

Bottom Line 

The redesigned Astral Brewer has proven to be a simple, lightweight paddling shoe that offers just as much comfort as it does grip with Astral’s new G.14 rubber outsole. Though the Astral Rassler or the Five Ten Water Tennie is preferable for portages and scouting in rough terrain where a lot of ankle support is beneficial, the Brewer is great for kayaking day trips, raft guiding, SUPing, or hitting the bar.

1 comment on “Astral Brewer Water Shoe”

  1. I think that Astral might just be having sizing issues in general.

    Most shoes and sandals I wear a 10.5 (28.5 for ski boots), but I had to go up to 11, even for bare feet. Somehow they then expand just right for fitting a drysuit and light sock. I got a size 11 pair of Rasslers too that feel like they are going to be too small for drysuit + socks.

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