The Brewess is lightweight and street friendly, which sacrifices ankle support and toe protection that can be important for paddlers planning extended hikes with their boats, or who desire more ankle support or toe protection in general. The Astral Rassler offers a little more support, and Five Ten’s Amphibious line can provide more ankle support as well as toe protection.
Do these shoes actually have grip, you ask? Do they hold up to the hype? Yes they do, overall. On dry rock they grip like a gecko and on wet rocks they are still great. They slide around a little bit on extremely slick rocks, but a whole lot less than shoes without G.14 or Stealth outsoles. I wore them while raft guiding in Maine this summer and their grip on rubber rafts is excellent as well.
Recently, I forgot the Brewess when I went to paddle the Nevados outside of Pucon and had to wear my Marmot hiking sneakers instead. I cursed myself for leaving the Brewess at our campsite, as I slipped all over the rocks in the wet canyon of the Rio Nevados. Other water specific shoes I have worn like the Keen Gallatin are certainly an improvement on regular sneakers, but the Brewess still takes the cake for grip over any shoes I have worn before.
The Brewess has an effective drainage system, and breathable Airmesh material prevent my toes from being super pruny at the end of the day, as they frequently are after a day in neoprene booties.
These shoes also dry pretty quickly because the upper materials do not absorb much water and there is no removable insole to trap moisture. They can dry in an afternoon if it is arid and/or windy, which is another benefit should you choose to wear the Brewess as a street and paddling shoe, which I have found really useful when traveling. The shoes pack down well for transport, and I’ve had no problems with smell so far.
Building a lightweight, durable water shoe is quite a challenge. Our paddling shoes are almost always wet and we often take them off trail in rough terrain.
After 40 or so days of clambering around through mud, over rocks, around rapids and through thick and thorny Chilean jungle, they have held up great. The only sign of wear they show is that some of the stitching is coming out just a bit where the upper meets the sole on the side of one of the shoes. This happened rather quickly after I got the shoe but has not progressed any further and seems to be purely cosmetic for the moment. It does not appear that the shoe is actually coming apart. I will report back if problems develop in the future.
Astral’s water shoes have only been on the market for a few years, but in that time they have not built up a stellar reputation for durability. In particular, paddlers seemed to have a lot of problems with Astral shoes from the first year of production. My pair, as well as Blister reviewer David Spiegel’s pairs, seem to be holding up fairly well over extended periods of use. This could be a good sign that Astral’s build quality and consistency is improving over time.
The Brewess is a multi-functional women’s paddling shoe that is great for navigating rocky river shores, as well as the streets in town. It lacks substantial ankle support, but this stylish shoe is made from strong and durable materials to withstand the rough terrain that I often slog through to get to my favorite paddling spots.