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Astral Loyak - Women's Review

This shoe has incredible flexibility and traction, and it is impressively comfortable
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Astral Loyak - Women's Review (The Loyaks allowed for adding wool socks and a drysuit on a cold winter boating mission, but it was tight. They drain...)
The Loyaks allowed for adding wool socks and a drysuit on a cold winter boating mission, but it was tight. They drain efficiently to avoid pruney feet and discomfort.
Credit: Ethan Kaandorp
Price:  $95 List
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Manufacturer:   Astral
By Monica Nigon ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 23, 2022
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 25% 9.0
  • Warmth - 15% 6.0
  • Versatility - 15% 7.0
  • Sensitivity - 10% 8.0
  • Durability - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

With incredible traction and sensitivity, the women's Astral Loyak is the go-to water shoe for kayakers. For a lightweight, low-profile option, the Loyak is the more versatile step up from a neoprene bootie. It scored high on comfort with a stretchy tongue, Flexi-grip outsole, and soft neutral footbed. The combo of comfort and traction functions well on short, slippery hikes when out of the boat, too. We also like their looks and don't feel the need to swap footwear before moving from the water banks to the bar. The main drawbacks are in durability and warmth — they aren't burly, and layering inside them was tricky for cold-water days. Despite these limits, this shoe performs at a high level otherwise and is our top option for kayaking. To see how the Loyak performed next to the competition, check out our best women's water shoe review.
REASONS TO BUY
Top-notch traction
Flexible
Snug fit
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks durability
Not warm

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Bottom Line For the avid kayaker, the flexibility and traction in this model is unparalleledWith stellar traction and comfort, we reached for the Xtratuf Riptides when navigating slippery terrain in all sorts of temperaturesThere's no match for the Salomons when it comes to comfort, whether in the water or hiking on landOur go-to neoprene river bootie, but not great for land excursionsThese shoes are an excellent beginner's water shoe, but probably won't hold up on rougher excursions
Rating Categories Astral Loyak - Women's Xtratuf Riptide - W... Salomon Techamphibi... NRS Kicker Wetshoe... DLGJPA Lightweight...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Traction (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Warmth (15%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (15%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
2.0
6.0
Sensitivity (10%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
4.0
Specs Astral Loyak - Women's Xtratuf Riptide - W... Salomon Techamphibi... NRS Kicker Wetshoe... DLGJPA Lightweight...
Measured Weight (lb per pair, US size 8) 0.87 0.94 0.55 1.7 0.44
Drainage Features Outsole is draining Mesh on upper Mesh on upper, holes on sole None Mesh on upper, drainage holes on sole
Removeable Insole? Yes Yes Yes No No
Footwear Closure Laces Drawcord Quicklace Velcro Drawcord
Available Widths Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium
Upper Materials Hydrophobic canvas Synthetic mesh Synthetic, textile Neoprene Synthetic mesh
Midsole 7mm thick, 45C closed cell EVA foam EVA, TPU EVA None None
Outsole Flexi-grip, G15 (Astral tech) Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber

Our Analysis and Test Results

The classic low-cut kayaking shoe, the Loyak blends remarkable traction and flexibility due to a minimalist design. They feature a stretchy tongue that is stitched around the heel and has thin canvas uppers. Their siped rubber soles were superior in traction on wet, slippery rocks and rafts.

Performance Comparison


astral loyak for women - the astral loyaks offer impressive traction and flexibility, and...
The Astral Loyaks offer impressive traction and flexibility, and transition well from the water to dry land.
Credit: Spencer Knutson

Comfort


The Loyak's soft footbed, thin uppers, and sticky soles make them feel like an extension of your foot. The tongue is integrated into the uppers, keeping the whole shoe snug around your ankle.


Its relatively thin footbed does make for a bit of an issue navigating sharp, poky hikes. While this gives it incredible sensitivity on slick rocks, it requires you to walk with care. Stiffer outsoles on other models kept our feet happier when walking across such surfaces. They were most comfortable with sockless feet; adding warm layers felt a bit cramped and were challenging to put on with the unique construction of the tongue.

While we walked gingerly on pointy rocks, they held up on short scouts and side hikes. We found them a bit too minimalist for more extensive walking, lacking arch support.

astral loyak for women - the shoes feel like an extension of your foot, but their thin...
The shoes feel like an extension of your foot, but their thin outsoles make them less than ideal for navigating sharp, pokey terrain.
Credit: Spencer Knutson

Traction


The Loyak is one of the stickiest shoes we tested. Coupled with its sensitivity, we strode confidently onto wet rocks and logs. We navigated a wet gear boat with ease and confidence in our footing.


The outsole is an incredible sticky siped rubber. The lugs are shallow, so while we loved navigating shallow river beds and slippery scouts, they struggled to dig into loose sediment, including sandy and muddy surfaces.

astral loyak for women - scrambling around a gear boat with confidence requires shoes with...
Scrambling around a gear boat with confidence requires shoes with soles designed for a lot of surface area contact.
Credit: Monica Nigon

Versatility


While the Loyaks transitioned well from the water to camp, they weren't comfortable over long periods of walking and standing.


They're almost as sensitive and flexible as neoprene booties, but you'd be more apt to wear these around town or to work. Given their ability to pack down to a small size and their low weight, they're a good pick for traveling or extended trips where space is scarce.

astral loyak for women - sensitive soles allow you to navigate murky waters blindly.
Sensitive soles allow you to navigate murky waters blindly.
Credit: Spencer Knutson

Warmth


While it took a lot of red-faced pulling to get a neoprene sock-clad foot into the shoe, the Loyak remained comfortable with layering once on. This ability is thanks to the wide toe box and stretchiness of the mesh. The insole is removable, allowing more room for those truly chilly days. Without adding layers, this model gets chilly quickly due to its thin upper. However, the mesh and hydrophobic canvas uppers make for an efficiently draining shoe.


Durability


Due to its minimalist design, the Loyak was not quite as durable as other products we tested. While the stitching and overall quality are sound, we noticed fraying in the canvas and mesh after testing them for a few months on the water. Our testers are aware that Astral has somewhat of a reputation for lack of durability, and this was beginning to show.


The Loyaks aren't meant to be a burly shoe, though. What they lack in durability, they make up for in sensitivity and minimalism. The design and durability of this shoe make it clear that it's not made for high-abrasion activities like canyoneering.

astral loyak for women - we noticed some fraying on the canvas after a month of hard use. yet...
We noticed some fraying on the canvas after a month of hard use. Yet what the Astrals lack in durability, they make up for in sensitivity.
Credit: Monica Nigon

Sensitivity


The sensitivity afforded by the thin soles of the Loyak was rivaled only by the neoprene booties we tested. It felt like your whole foot was making contact with surfaces, allowing for great balance and confidence navigating shallow creekbeds and slippery rocks.


These were some of the only shoes we tested that we felt confident would not come off in a whitewater swim. They curved around logs and rocks easily for better balance, given their flexibility.

astral loyak for women - thes loyaks are akin to a neoprene bootie when it comes to...
Thes Loyaks are akin to a neoprene bootie when it comes to sensitivity and flexibility. This allows them to pack down small as well.
Credit: Monica Nigon

Should You Buy the Astral Loyak?


With remarkable traction and comfort, the women's Astral Loyak is the go-to for the minimalist kayaker. They fit snugly with bare feet and warm layers, their canvas and mesh construction draining water efficiently. They offer sensitivity and flexibility on par with a neoprene bootie but are stylish-looking enough to be worn around town and to work. For a high-performing low-profile shoe, you'll want the Astral Loyak. Above the average performance of products we tested, the Astral Loyak seems right on target regarding their price. They are reliable on the water and look good in street clothes. Their water-to-street versatility makes them a great value. Coupled with Astral's stellar warranty, the Loyaks are a great kayaking shoe for those looking for the step between a more inexpensive neoprene bootie and a burlier water shoe. And we applaud Astral's successful attempt to make an athletic and aesthetic shoe.

astral loyak for women - as a minimalist and low-profile kayaking shoe, the women's astral...
As a minimalist and low-profile kayaking shoe, the women's Astral Loyaks offer excellent traction and drainage. They perform well on land and water, and they look great to boot.
Credit: Ethan Kaandorp

What Other Water Shoes Should You Consider?


If you aren't an avid kayaker but still love water-time activities of multiple types, you might find your niche in a different, less expensive shoe. The NRS Kicker Wetshoe is a simple neoprene bootie with a wallet-loving price tag and a useful design that can meet most needs with good traction and warmth. While not as high-scoring as the Loayk, the bootie could meet your needs well with a lower price if you don't need a substantial shoe. If you need something with a little more warmth, traction, and durability, and the cost is less of a concern, the Salomon Techamphibian 5 - Women's is one of our top scorers and is sure to please no matter what the activity on the water or nearby.

Monica Nigon