When Astral decided to expand its product lineup to include footwear a few years ago it made waves in the kayaking community. The first few shoes released, the Brewer and the Rassler, were designed with kayakers in mind, and made to be worn on the river. They’ve sold like hotcakes. With their huge success Astral has decided to expand outside the world of watersports and introduce a line that focuses on dry land performance.
The Astral Donner is the newest shoe on the market. Designed to be a year-round light trail performer, the Donner was crafted with with emphasis on durability, traction, and weather resistance. I tested these shoes in Crested Butte as a lifestyle shoe around town and on some of the easier trails closer to town. There’s still a bit of snow around so terrain varied from muddy, to snowy, to rocky, and back into town.
Fit and Style
Straight out of the box I found the Donner’s to fit very well and true to size. It’s definitely a wider shoe, but even with my relatively narrow foot I found it comfortable for daily use and some light hiking. The footbed feels balanced, and did well to correct my pronounced pronation. Something my Brooks Cascadia’s have never been able to do. The weight is similar to a performance trailrunner.
Style is spot on for what Astral wanted this shoe to do. It’s made to be worn around mountain towns where late-night (or early-morning) shenanigans might take place in less than ideal conditions. It goes well with any outdoor casual outfit, and, at least in Crested Butte, is just as at home in a board meeting as it is hiking up to an easy overlook.
I do have one small gripe on the fit of these shoes. The tongue is short and makes the shoe difficult to slip on and off, even if you tie them loose.
Performance in this shoe is a little bit unbalanced, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The canvas uppers provide a lot of durability and water resistance. Even in a late May snowstorm my feet stayed dry and warm. The issue is that on trail it doesn’t breathe well. On a summer day they left my feet in a soggy mess that likely would give most other people blisters.
The unbalanced part comes from the sole. The shoe seems made to be worn around town, but the sole is beefy. While the shoe is not heavy by any means, the lugs and grip are above and beyond what I need. They provide great grip on snowy or wet concrete around town, but might be better served on a full-on approach shoe. I’m excited to test them next winter on more ice and snow, and I may change my mind after that.
What I love about the Donner:
- Stylish and made for a mountain lifestyle.
- Good traction from the Agro Grip Outsole.
- Weather-resistant uppers do well in snow and through puddles.
- Fit is true to size and very comfortable.
- Lightweight and won’t wear you out.
Areas for improvement:
- Not breathable enough for true trail performance.
- Tongue is too short to slip the shoe on and off.
- I kind of hated getting them dirty.
This is a great shoe for the workday or a lazy Sunday in any mountain town. If you wanted to take a hike in them, they would perform. If you wanted to hang out at a barbeque, they would perform equally well. While not a shoe I would purchase in the future, I know a lot of mountain folks that would find this shoe appealing for general every-day use.
Daniel Kreykes is a part-time dirtbag and outdoor marketing professional based out of Crested Butte, CO. He loves water in all it’s forms, and has been a ski and whitewater kayak instructor for a variety of programs across the country. When he’s not skiing or kayaking, he enjoys practicing mindfulness with long-distance backpacking and stalking wild trout on tiny streams.