Sunday, April 22, 2018

Gear Review: My New Favorite Hiking Shoes

I’m exceedingly picky about shoes, and that’s especially the case for footwear that I’ll use when hiking day after day. Beyond being comfortable with a wide toe box, my ideal hiking shoes should be breathable, quick drying, and, most importantly, they must have a sticky sole. I’m obsessed with sticky (grippy) soles, ever since I hiked for two weeks in the Japanese Alps. On the last day, when trekking beside a river along wet, moss-coated rocks, my foot slipped and I ended up severely spraining my ankle. I made it out of the forest by first dunking my foot in the icy waters as I attempted to reduce the swelling, and then applying an ace-bandage. But, ever since, I was on the search for sticky soles that would allow me to trek sure-footedly on loose scree, slick boulder surfaces, and wet or moss-covered rocks. My search was finally over when I found Astral.

This company manufactures  the shoes of my dreams. Not only is this a US-based company with an eco consciousness -- they’re committed to a sustainable business -- but they are all about sticky soles. All the Astral shoes revolve around being able to engage in water sports and hiking. Perfect. I purchased the Tri1 Junction, a substantial shoe which has a sole made of dual materials: the periphery works well for loose trail dirt while the central portion works well for polished river stone (which could be more slippery?). Plus, no chance of wearing odiferous shoes after day after day of hiking. The materials are treated with silver-salts to prevent the buildup of odor-causing bacteria and fungi. The shoes are comfortable, and light; they don’t require a break-in period, and when walking across wet surfaces, they dried quickly, and gripped like I was wearing crampons. Who knew?