Is there such a thing as the perfect river shoe? Our paddling expert JR Jennings reviewed the Astral TR1 Junction river shoe and thinks it fits the bill.
"The TR1 is purpose-built; it's the kind of shoe that inspires confidence in any paddler."
I'm gonna shoot it to you straight: My Astral TR1 Junction water shoes hold up. I've worn them for over 4 months, including 21 days on the Grand Canyon. These river shoes are showing no major signs of wear.
One more time for those in the back: I took these shoes for 21 days of hiking, rafting, and kayaking through the Big Ditch and they look and feel like they are still new out of the box.
This shoe is quick drying with holes strategically placed around to drain the water. Astral offers these quality features on most of their river shoes, which is why they are beloved by all types of paddlers. No buckets + no mops here!
How does it compare to the fan favorite Brewer?
Astral noticeably beefed up the profile of the TR1 - especially the toe area. This additional piece of rubber on the TR1 prevents an accidental toe stub on a rocky portage.
While this extra rubber does feel sturdy, it can still be bent when paddlers needed to squeeze into a smaller kayak. I was able to comfortably paddle my RPM without sacrificing any mobility.
Long story short - the beefier design keeps you protected without sacrificing any performance.
The sole is durable with exceptional traction and grip. My footing feels secure when hopping around on wet rafts and rocks. I can feel confident in any river rescue scenario with these on. My TR1s offer as much security as I could get without putting glue on my feet.
The best part of the TR1 is simple: these shoes stay on your feet. It seems so obvious, yet a number of river shoes don't accomplish this basic purpose.
If you have had a big swim you know that keeping your shoes on your feet is essential. Water shoes, especially when worn with a drysuit, often find a way to slide off your feet in large hydraulics or eddy lines. As a boater, I want to feel confident that if things go south these will stay on me and not end up in some river cleanup social media post.
The TR1 is the best water shoe I have ever worn. These river shoes also come in a lightweight mesh version for more chill days on the river, and a hightop robust version for ankle support if you're the type of boater who takes a ton of side hikes. I personally like low top shoes and the Junction were the perfect fit for me.
Between rafting, kayaking and even SUPing, this is the top shoe for serious whitewater. They will forever be an essential in my quiver of river apparel.