ProView – Astral Loyak
On a journey around the world, I realized that The Astral Loyaks were technical, stylish, comfortable, and durable shoes that I would happily purchase again and again.
Product Description: Our best shoe for a water and sun based lifestyle. Ultra-fine ripstop mesh breathes deeply while keeping debris out. Our level footbed, wider toe-box and sticky G® Rubber outsoles promote ninja-like performance in slippery places.
Offer price: MSRP: $90.00
Astral Loyak shoes are comfortable, stylish, low-profile shoes that perform in the water and land.
- Equally technical, stylish, comfortable, and durable
- Minimalist and have a natural feel, which helps feel and grip slippery river bottoms and makes them extremely packable.
- Closed-cell-foam insole leads to sweaty and stinky feet.
- Not as much support or protection as serious river shoes.
In the summer of 2017, I had a one-way ticket to Hong Kong with a job lined up as an outdoor educator for three months followed by three months of solo traveling. With only a 40L bag, I packed with minimalism in mind. On the company provided packing list was “close-toed water shoes,” standard in the outdoor industry. I did not have room in my bag for more than two pairs of shoes and nothing could be bulky. I started doing research searching for shoes that were lightweight, designed for the water, and stylish, which led me to the Astral Loyaks. The Astral Loyak’s slim profile and low weight made packing them into my bag a breeze.
In turn, these shoes made my travels a breeze. Over the next 6 months, I led kayaking trips for students in Hong Kong, hiked to waterfalls in Thailand, walked the beaches of Malaysia, and roamed many city streets, all in my Astral Loyak shoes. On a surface level, their classic sneaker style paired fashionably with all my traveling outfits. However, as technical shoes designed for the water, their many features provided versatility of use. Let’s dive in and explore their technical aspects.
The Loyaks have a comfortable fit and a minimalist, natural feel. However, the low-profile design does not offer much support or cushion and can lead to achy and raw feet after long walks. As someone with narrow feet, I value shoes that help my feet feel snug without constricting my toes. The Loyaks have a low volume fit with a wide enough toe box for me to wiggle my toes. Also, the stretchy mesh tongue and laces provide flexibility to keep the shoe snug.
The Loyaks do not have the kind of protection you would want for full-time river duty, but they are obviously designed for the water and performed well while sea kayaking in Hong Kong. The breathable mesh upper and low-profile draining points on the toe, heel, and sides of the shoes make drying out my feet quick and painless. On the other hand, fine sand and dirt can make its way through the mesh and small holes, which is difficult to flush out. The dense closed-cell foam insole holds up to abrasion from sand and mud well. However, these foam insoles cause the bottoms of my feet to sweat and become smelly and slippery when on land. These shoes have a minimalist sole with grippy rubber, which helps my feet feel and grip rocks and slippery river bottoms.
My favorite thing about these shoes is their versatility. Whether boating, walking or teaching students, I grab my Loyaks. I wear them with and without socks depending on the day’s adventure. Often, I will wear them as slip-on shoes by simply folding the heel down. I wear them everywhere.
As I was nearing the end of my time in Asia, someone at my hostel in Malaysia apparently loved the Astral Loyaks as much as I did. I woke up one morning and they were gone. Since I was traveling with only two pairs of shoes, losing the Loyaks was upsetting. Nonetheless, when I returned to the US, I promptly bought another pair. Since then, I have used them leading sea kayaking trips in Alaska, floating the Colorado and Arkansas Rivers, backpacking in the Rockies, approaching off-the-highway climbing crags, and rounding out an outdoor-casual outfit for the office.
An anecdote about Astral as a company: while leading backcountry trips for youth and living in my minivan last summer, I was wearing my Astral Loyaks daily. I decided to give them a rinse in a nearby stream to clean them, and I let them dry in the front seat of my van. After a few hours baking in the Colorado sun, the foam insoles shrank and withered (there was no defect, they just got extremely hot). I quickly contacted Astral to see if I could buy new insoles, and they sent me new ones free of charge even though I admitted that it was my fault. Astral is a company that cares about its customers and stands behind its products.
The Final Word
To summarize, the Astral Loyak shoes are comfortable, stylish, low-profile shoes that you will want to wear every day for any activity.
About the Gear Tester
Brent is an outdoor educator who has led trips in Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, and China, and is currently a Program Coordinator for Keystone Science School in Keystone, Colorado. Brent is a mountain and endurance enthusiast who loves backcountry skiing, mountain biking, and mountain scrambling. When he isn’t outside, Brent loves to cook and to sew his own gear.