Drying & Smell
The lack of a removable insole might just be one of the best decisions that Astral made in the design of this shoe. Removeable insoles can increase comfort, but they are typically very water absorbent and take a long time to dry, since the underside of the insole basically never sees the light of day unless you remove it after every session (I do remove mine every time from my Water Tennies). By electing not to include a removable insole, Astral has eliminated this problem.
The Rassler also has a noticeably wider opening for the foot than the 5.10 Water Tennie or NRS attack. This allows more airflow to cycle through the shoe.
Because of these factors, the Rassler dries noticeably faster and has less of a “smell factor” than many other booties / shoes that I have used.
After only 15 days of testing, I can’t really comment entirely on the durability of the Rassler. I will update this section after I test the shoe for a more extended time period. So far, however, I am fairly optimistic about the shoe’s durability. In the first two weeks, I am not noticing any significant signs of wear that would have me worried about weak points in the shoes.
The one feature that does have me slightly concerned is the drainage hole underneath the heel of the shoe between the upper material and the sole. This small slit seems like it could be a weak point after an extended period of use. Only time will tell, though, and so far the shoe is holding up great.
Overall, the Rassler is the most capable expedition paddling shoe I have used. Astral has made it into much more of a true shoe than its main competitor, the Water Tennie, but at the same time have managed not to make the shoe overly bulky.
There are many paddlers who will still benefit from the Water Tennie’s softer, thinner sole and lower-volume heel pocket. This would include paddlers who have trouble fitting their feet in the boat, or those whose arch or heel shape just don’t fit the Rassler. After using the Rassler for this trip, the Water Tennie feels like more of a “sturdy bootie” than a genuine shoe by comparison.
Paddlers who are looking for a high-traction creeking shoe with a lot of well thought out features should give the Rassler some serious consideration as a frontrunner in its class.