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Astral Brewer 2.0 Review

An all around solid choice for water based activities, capable of near every adventure with an easy transition to town
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Astral Brewer 2.0 Review (We found these shoes to be incredibly versatile, and their traction and grip on set surfaces is impressive)
We found these shoes to be incredibly versatile, and their traction and grip on set surfaces is impressive
Credit: Jacob Clark
Price:  $125 List
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Manufacturer:   Astral
By Jacob Clark ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 26, 2024
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 25% 7.0
  • Warmth - 15% 7.0
  • Versatility - 15% 9.0
  • Sensitivity - 10% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Astral Brewer 2.0 stands out as a top performer in the water shoe category, combining the ruggedness required for water sports with a street-ready appearance. These shoes boast excellent grip on wet surfaces, thanks to their balanced geometry and G.15 rubber outsoles, making them a reliable companion for kayakers and paddleboarders. The Brewer 2.0s are lightweight and offer superior drainage, ensuring comfort and dryness during aquatic adventures. However, they may not be the best fit for those who need a shoe that can handle extensive hiking or rock scrambling, as their durability in abrasive environments is a compromise for their water performance. Priced competitively, they are a solid choice for water enthusiasts looking for a shoe that doesn't sacrifice style for functionality. To see how the competition measured up, see our men's water shoe review. For a broader look at both mens and women's options in this category, consider reading our insights on the best water shoes.
REASONS TO BUY
Works well in water and on land
Great grip on slick surfaces
Adequate space for layering
REASONS TO AVOID
Fabric doesn't hold up well with heavy use
Not great on sandy or loose terrain

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astral brewer 2.0
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Price $125.00 at REI
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Bottom Line A great option for going from water to land, and they look good enough for casual wear tooThis is a shoe that doesn't do great on land or in the cold but has the grip and drainage to make it excellent for a hot day of swimming or boatingThoughtful design creates a snug but adjustable fit and high performance around water and even around townThese warm and comfy booties are ready for a day on the riverA simple, affordable slip-on great for boats and days in the water
Rating Categories Astral Brewer 2.0 Xero Aqua X Sport Astral Loyak NRS Paddle Wetshoe Speedo Surf Knit Pro
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Traction (25%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Warmth (15%)
7.0
5.0
6.0
9.0
5.0
Versatility (15%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
7.0
Sensitivity (10%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
6.0
3.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Astral Brewer 2.0 Xero Aqua X Sport Astral Loyak NRS Paddle Wetshoe Speedo Surf Knit Pro
Measured Weight (per pair, US size 10) 1.2 lbs 0.90 lbs 0.95 lbs 1.70 lbs 1.18 lbs
Drainage Features Holes in fronts and backs of midsoles Top mesh, toe guard drainage holes Front/back/side holes, top mesh None Top Mesh
Removeable Insole? No Yes Yes No Yes
Footwear Closure Lace Lace-lock bungee system Lace Zipper, velcro Slip-on
Upper Materials Canvas, mesh Synthetic mesh, PU Hydrophobic canvas and Airmesh 3 mm neoprene Mesh
Midsole EVA None EVA 2 mm plastic shim EVA foam
Outsole Rubber FeelTrue rubber Siped G15 Rubber S-Trac Rubber
Relative Fit Regular toebox, medium volume midfoot and heel Foot shaped foot bed, fits true-to-size Wide toebox, medium volume midfoot and heel Wide toebox, and stretches to accomodate a wide variety of foot shapes Narrow fit

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Astral Brewer 2.0 is a standout water shoe that offers a unique blend of performance and style. Designed with the adventurous water sports enthusiast in mind, these shoes feature durable Cordura fabric, balanced geometry, and G.15 rubber outsoles for unmatched grip on wet surfaces. The Brewer 2.0's are crafted to provide the functionality needed for rigorous water activities while maintaining a look that won't be out of place in urban settings. The emphasis on quick drainage and lightweight design ensures that wearers can enjoy their aquatic pursuits without being weighed down, making these shoes a prime choice for those who move between waterways and cityscapes.

Performance Comparison


astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Comfort


The Astral Brewer 2.0 is engineered with water-ready comfort in mind. The shoe's interior features a hydrophobic canvas upper and a removable insole, which together create a comfortable fit that's both secure and easy to wear for extended periods. The balanced feel of the shoe allows for natural foot movement, which is essential when navigating the unpredictable terrain of riverbeds or slippery docks.


The Brewer 2.0's are designed with a roomy toe box and a heel cup that cradles the foot, reducing slippage and blisters. The midsole is crafted to provide enough cushioning for comfort without sacrificing the ground feel necessary for stability in aquatic environments. This thoughtful balance of features contributes to the shoe's overall comfort, whether you're paddling for hours or taking a casual stroll along the beach.

However, it's worth noting that while the Brewer 2.0 excels in wet conditions, its water-focused design might not offer the same level of comfort on longer hikes or rough terrain as a more robust hiking-oriented shoe would. The trade-off for its excellent water performance is less protection and support on land, which is an important consideration for those who need a hybrid shoe for both water and extensive overland adventures.

The Brewer 2.0's quick-dry capabilities and drainage holes at strategic points ensure that the transition from water to land is as smooth as possible. The shoe's design minimizes water retention, allowing for a lighter and more comfortable experience post-immersion. This feature is particularly appreciated by kayakers and SUP enthusiasts who value a shoe that won't feel soggy after getting wet.

In summary, the Astral Brewer 2.0 offers a level of comfort that is tailored for water sports and casual wear but may not be the first choice for those who require a shoe that can handle the rigors of more aggressive terrestrial pursuits.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Traction


The Astral Brewer 2.0 is designed with a G.15 rubber outsole that provides exceptional traction on wet surfaces, a vital feature for water sports aficionados. The siped outsole pattern is adept at securing a grip on slick rocks and boat decks, which is essential for safe and confident movement near or in water.


While the Brewer 2.0's traction is impressive on solid, wet surfaces, its performance on muddy or loose terrain is less robust due to the outsole's focus on surface contact over deep lugs. However, the tread pattern is efficient at shedding debris and mud once the shoes are submerged, quickly regaining their excellent grip once back on firmer ground.

Overall, the Astral Brewer 2.0 may not be the top pick for muddy hikes, but for water-based activities where secure footing is paramount, these shoes deliver reliable traction that water enthusiasts can trust.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Warmth


The Astral Brewer 2.0 is not specifically designed for warmth; its quick-drying canvas upper and ample drainage are intended to allow water to escape, which also means they don't hold in heat. This makes them excellent for activities in warmer conditions where water drainage and breathability are priorities.


For cooler conditions, the Brewer 2.0 can accommodate thicker socks thanks to its roomy interior, which allows for additional insulation. The insole can be removed to create more space, a useful feature when layering socks to combat colder temperatures. The shoe's design, with a spacious toe box, ensures that even with extra layers, your feet won't feel overly constricted, allowing for better circulation and, consequently, warmth.

However, it's important to note that in extremely cold conditions, the Brewer 2.0's lack of insulation and inherent breathability may not provide sufficient warmth. They are best suited for cool to mild conditions when paired with appropriate socks, or for water sports enthusiasts who are active enough to generate consistent body heat to keep warm.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Versatility


The Astral Brewer 2.0 is a hybrid by design, blurring the lines between a dedicated water shoe and a casual sneaker. This duality is what gives the Brewer 2.0 its versatile edge. On the water, they provide the grip and comfort needed for paddling, fishing, or any water-based activity. On land, their street-friendly aesthetics make them suitable for urban exploration or casual wear.


During our testing, the Brewer 2.0 proved to be adaptable across a range of activities. They transitioned seamlessly from kayaking to light hiking and even to social outings. While they may not be the first choice for technical terrains such as canyoneering, their durability and design can handle occasional forays onto more challenging paths.

Lightweight and collapsible, the Brewer 2.0 is an ideal travel companion. They won't take up much space in your luggage and can serve as a primary shoe for water activities or a secondary, multi-purpose shoe. Their slip-on nature also makes them an excellent choice for quick jaunts out of a tent or RV, embodying the essence of a good camp shoe.

While we don't formally evaluate style, the Brewer 2.0's often draw positive attention for their appearance. They strike a balance between function and form, making them a versatile investment. You're not just getting a reliable water shoe; you're also getting a shoe that won't look out of place at a café or during a casual workday.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Sensitivity


The Astral Brewer 2.0 offers a high degree of sensitivity, a feature that is particularly appreciated by paddlers and boaters who need to feel their footing on wet decks and rocky shores. The thin soles enhance proprioception, allowing for precise foot placement and a better sense of the terrain underfoot. This tactile feedback is crucial when navigating slippery or uneven surfaces commonly encountered in aquatic environments.


The flexibility of the Brewer 2.0's sole, combined with the siped rubber, allows a significant amount of the outsole to make contact with surfaces, increasing traction and stability. The shoe's low profile contributes to reduced drag in the water, making it suitable for swimming or wading when necessary.

Despite their light and flexible construction, which mimics the barefoot-style running shoe trend, the Brewer 2.0 maintains a balance between feeling the ground and providing enough protection to walk comfortably over small rocks and debris. The insole design, while unique, is easy to get accustomed to and aids in preventing the foot from shifting within the shoe during active use.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Durability


The Astral Brewer 2.0 is not invulnerable to the wear and tear of rugged environments, but it is built with durability in mind for its intended use: water sports. The construction features high-quality stitching and bonding, with the rubber outsole extending over the toe and around the sides of the shoe, acting as a protective barrier against abrasion and minor impacts.


While the mesh upper is not designed to withstand harsh abrasions, such as those encountered in canyoneering, it is sufficiently durable for the typical use cases of kayaking, SUPing, and casual wear. The Brewer 2.0's resistance to moisture damage is excellent, thanks to its quick-drying materials and effective drainage system. The snug fit also plays a defensive role, keeping out sand and pebbles that could otherwise wear down the shoe from the inside.

While the Astral Brewer 2.0 may not be the most rugged shoe in extreme conditions, it is well-crafted and durable enough for its intended aquatic pursuits. Its construction quality and material choices provide a good balance between durability and performance for water-based activities and everyday casual use.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Should You Buy the Astral Brewer 2.0?


The Astral Brewer 2.0 is a versatile water shoe that excels in aquatic environments while still looking the part for casual wear. With its excellent grip, comfortable fit, and stylish design, it's a shoe that will serve you well on river trips, paddleboard adventures, and casual strolls in town. The Brewer 2.0 is for those who want a water shoe that doesn't compromise on style and can transition smoothly from water to land. It's not the warmest or the most rugged shoe available, so if you're planning on tackling cold or exceptionally abrasive environments, you might want to look elsewhere. But for moderate climates and less aggressive terrain, the Brewer 2.0 offers a great combination of performance and aesthetics at a competitive price point.

What Other Water Shoes Should You Consider?


For those who prioritize warmth and are willing to sacrifice some versatility, the NRS Kicker Wetshoe or NRS Paddle Wetshoe provide more insulation, making either a better choice for colder conditions. And if budget is your primary concern, you might look at the Speedo Tidal Cruiser, which offers basic water shoe functionality at a lower price point. Each of these alternatives caters to different needs, so consider what environments you'll be exploring and choose accordingly.

astral brewer 2.0
Credit: Jacob Clark

Jacob Clark