astral blue shoes desert canyon

Since 2002, Astral Designs has been committed to designing the best PFDs for men, women, children, and dogs with an emphasis on sustainability. Eight years later, Astral Designs whitewater footwear arrived and quickly disrupted the shoe industry by offering paddle-friendly shoes that can be worn in water and also have the necessary traction to climb slippery rocks.

Go to any take-out, put-in, or eddy and you're bound to see rafters, kayakers, and stand up paddleboarders all rocking Astral shoes and PFDs.

But which whitewater shoe is the best for kayaking? Rafting? SUP? And which is the best for hikers? 

Because the CKS Online Team is a group of rafters, kayakers, and stand up paddleboarders, we asked them which Astral shoes they use while adventuring on the water. 


Jake: Raft + River SUP

My Astral of choice is the Brewer 2.0 when rafting and the Hiyak for stand up paddleboarding.


I like the beefed-up sole on the Brewer for stepping in and out of rafts on rocky shores, and I don't feel like I'm wearing a bootie because of the lower cut. My Brewers often double as a hiking shoe when I venture into side canyons on a lot of rivers I run.
Jake leads his friends down Brown's Canyon in Colorado.
Jake enjoys the sun on a SUP in Split Mountain Canyon, Colorado in his Astral Hiyak shoes.
The Hiyak is the best men's and women's SUP shoe. The sole is thin and gives you a more natural grip to the board, kind of like how a climbing shoe contours to your foot for rock climbing. The high cut means that you'll retain this shoe easily if you swim, which happens frequently on SUP. This water shoe stays on your feet if you're standing in silty mud, are ankle-deep in snow, or wearing them over your drysuit socks. It is also a bit easier to swim in these thin-soled river shoes than in thicker-soled shoes, like the Brewer I mentioned earlier. The Hiyaks perform more like a surf bootie than a street shoe.

Jonny: Kayak

I love wearing my Rassler 2.0 water shoes for kayaking. The high cut on them keeps this whitewater shoe on through anything – including planned Class IV swims at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.  The burly build of the Rassler also makes it great for portages or rescue scenarios while on the river.

Inside this kayak are Jonny’s Astral Rasslers. We promise.


Paul: SUP + SUP Tour

 Astral's TR1 Mesh is my go-to river shoe for running rivers and hiking. Good fit, good traction, but not overly grippy on my SUP board. I measure one size higher than my normal "street size" so as to accommodate my drysuit booties and socks.

SUP multi day expedition

Peter: SUP Surf

I love my Astral Brewers 2.0 and have been wearing them for years. The footwear design on this Astral product provides great feel for SUP surfing. It is important for me to feel the texture of what is under my feet, while still offering padding. The sole on the Brewer has little slices in the rubber that give a ton of grip. It is a great river shoe for deepwater soloing and SUP.

sup sand protection shoes

Late season paddling for Peter means boardshorts, kneepads, and Astral Brewers.

Jack: SUP + Everyday

 For whitewater SUP, I wear the Hiyaks because of ankle protection and the ability to feel what's under my feet. The low profile sole allows me to feel and grip the board better than the thicker sole models.


If I know there will be a long hike in or out, I wear the Brewers. My wife also wears the Loyaks for SUP and rafting.

When I'm casually paddling on the lake or at the beach during the summer, I like to wear the Filipe men's flip flops for maximum comfort and to also get my toes tan.

Whitewater park stand up paddleboard rapid

Jack drops in on a stand up paddleboard wearing his Astral Hiyaks.

Julia: Raft, SUP, Kayak

I am definitely a one-shoe-to-do-it-all type of gal, and from everything I have tried the Brewess 2.0 is by far my favorite. The shoe itself is as comfortable as your favorite sneaker, and the soles are grippy and allow you to run around on slick rocks without worrying about wiping out or falling in. They also drain and dry very quickly (plus they float!).

I opted to go for my true size since I knew I would be wearing these shoes with bare feet as much as with a dry suit. This makes it initially hard to fit the shoes over my dry suit sock, but once they are on, I get them wet and they immediately feel painless and secure on my feet. The upside of this is that they fit amazingly while barefoot for those summer raft floats or SUP trips! You get the protection of a river shoe with the comfort of a sandal.

The Brewesses were all I needed for the popular side hikes in Grand Canyon.
 Canyon hike line early morning
If you'd like a river shoe that performs superiorly on the trail, make sure to check out the TR1 Loop Trail Shoe, it is a great hiking shoe for women. They’re super comfortable and I’ve never gotten blisters from them. The times I’ve paddled with them or hiked in the rain I found that they dried really quickly. The TR1s have a more rugged and sticky sole than the Brewer/Brewess line.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

About Us

We're a group of whitewater kayak, raft, and stand up paddleboard enthusiasts committed to stocking the highest-quality gear and deliver it to you as quickly as possible.

Learn more about us

Don't Forget About These

What else are we up to?

View all
Down and Dirty: 9 Items You Need for Your Dry Suit Repair Kit

Down and Dirty: 9 Items You Need for Your Dry Suit Repair Kit

GearJonny Ortiz
Whitewater dry wear is the largest apparel investment any boater can make. For those who want to extend the life and use of their dry suit (or dry top), it's best to keep a dry suit repair kit on hand. Read our 9 recommendations for the best dry suit repair kit!
Whitewater Kayak Paddle Buying Guide

Whitewater Kayak Paddle Buying Guide

Jonny Ortiz
Choosing the right paddle for whitewater kayaking can be daunting with all the available paddle options to consider. We are here to help! ...
All Aboard the Love Boat!

All Aboard the Love Boat!

Benjamin Thornton

Have you ever had a tough time convincing your family that your black eye isn't that big of a deal? Or spent an hour explaining to your Tinder date the difference between "homeless" and "houseless," just so they would understand why you brought them back to a tent in the woods? 

If you answered yes to either of these things, hopefully this blog can help avoid some of those awkward conversations!