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Astral TR1 Junction Review

These shoes are a jack-of-all trades that we feel confident using in practically any sport involving water.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $120 List | $93.71 at Amazon
Pros:  Extremely versatile, adjustable, excellent balance of support and flexibility
Cons:  Not the stickiest rubber, not the most durable
Manufacturer:   Astral
By Dan Scott ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 19, 2019
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Traction - 25% 7
  • Warmth - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 9
  • Sensitivity - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Our Editors' Choice for water shoes handily goes to the Astral TR1 Junction. We evaluated shoes for this review in a variety of environments, from canyoneering to packrafting and hiking in the pouring rain. No matter what we threw at these shoes, they never let us down. Their thoughtful design is comfortable and adjustable enough to pack in insulation for warmth, and they deftly balance foot protection with sensitivity. Their only drawbacks are their less-than-stellar traction and potential durability issues. That said, if we could only have one pair of shoes for all the activities we do in and around water, we would confidently pick the TR1 Junction.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $93.71 at Amazon$148.50 at Amazon$79.00 at Amazon
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$54.95 at REI
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$44.95 at REI
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Pros Extremely versatile, adjustable, excellent balance of support and flexibilityIncredibly sticky rubber, protective, warm, comfortable, durableHigh traction, flexible, snug fit, great drainageComfortable, warm, great traction on wet rockGood traction, very sensitive, sock-like feel, fun to swim in
Cons Not the stickiest rubber, not the most durableHeavy and stiff, no drainage, expensiveNot warm, not durableLittle support on rough terrain, no drainageSlip off feet slighty when walking, uncomfortable in rough terrain
Bottom Line These shoes are a jack-of-all trades that we feel confident using in practically any sport involving water.These shoes are the burliest, stickiest water shoes we've tested.These kayaking shoes are top notch for their flexibility and traction, all at a bargain of a price.These water shoes check all the boxes for what we are looking for in a shoe to wear for long days on the river.The Kickers are great for kayaking or swimming, but not protective or secure enough for much else.
Rating Categories Astral TR1 Junction Adidas Terrex Hydro_Lace Astral Loyak NRS Paddle Wetshoe NRS Kicker Remix
Comfort (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
5
Traction (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Warmth (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
Versatility (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
3
10
0
3
Sensitivity (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
3
10
0
6
10
0
6
Specs Astral TR1 Junction Adidas Terrex... Astral Loyak NRS Paddle Wetshoe NRS Kicker Remix
Measured Weight (per pair, in lbs) 1.6 lbs 3.2 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.9 lbs 1.8 lbs
Size Tested (US Men's) 13 13 13 12 12
Drainage Features Front/side holes, top mesh None Front/back/side holes, top mesh None None
Removeable Insole Yes Yes Yes No Insole No Insole
Available Widths Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Footwear Closure Lace Lace Lace Zipper Pull-on/elastic synch
Upper Materials Hydrophobic canvas with TPU Neoprene and synthetic textile Hydrophobic canvas and Airmesh 3 mm neoprene Neoprene
Midsole EVA adiPRENE EVA None None
Outsole G15 Stealth Siped G15 Rubber Rubber
Relative Fit Wide toebox, high volume midfoot and heel Medium toebox, high volume midfoot and heel Wide toebox, medium volume midfoot and heel Wide toebox, and stretches to accomodate a wide variety of foot shapes Wide toebox, and stretches to accomodate a wide variety of foot shapes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The TR1 Junction is a somewhat oddball shoe among other water shoes we've tested. They are low cut, like kayaking shoes, but feature a relatively high-cushion and deeply lugged outsole. They have great drainage, but also burly rubber rands to reinforce the upper. They aren't exactly specialized towards canyoneering, kayaking, hiking, or anything else. Instead, they combine some of the best features of kayaking shoes, canyoneering boots, and hiking shoes. The Junctions truly buck the notion that a jack-of-all-trades must also be a master of none.

Performance Comparison


These shoes perform surprisingly well in canyons  on the water  and on the trail.
These shoes perform surprisingly well in canyons, on the water, and on the trail.

Comfort


The TR1 Junction features a mostly smooth, synthetic interior with minimal stitching. With a well-designed lacing system and good reinforcement design to allow easy flexion in the forefoot, we liked how our feet felt in these shoes, whether wearing thin socks, 5 mm neoprene socks, or even barefoot.


With 1 mm heel-toe drop and a wide toebox that is characteristic of Astral shoes, these feel like minimalist running shoes in terms of heel drop. The sole is moderately thick and is bonded to an outsole with decently thick tread and multiple layers of padding. The Junction's strike a nearly perfect balance between foot protection and sensitivity with this construction. Walking over and between boulders, we could confidently jam our feet in tight spaces and not worry about stubbing our toes.

Our lead tester jammed his feet in this crack during a slick  tricky downclimb next to a waterfall. A slip here would have been pretty gnarly  but the Tr1 Junction protected his feet comfortably and stuck well.
Our lead tester jammed his feet in this crack during a slick, tricky downclimb next to a waterfall. A slip here would have been pretty gnarly, but the Tr1 Junction protected his feet comfortably and stuck well.

Comfort in a water shoe depends a lot on adjustability, as you will likely need to alter your sock layers depending on water temperature. We loved the lacing system on the Junction because it was easy to adjust tightness throughout the midfoot and maintain our adjustments with the somewhat thick laces. For canyoneering, this meant easy adjustments for the approach and descent, making our feet more comfortable overall.

The Junctions also have a top lace hole that enables a lace lock  if you really want to clamp down your ankle.
The Junctions also have a top lace hole that enables a lace lock, if you really want to clamp down your ankle.

These shoes are designed with drainage in mind, with multiple holes around the perimeter of the shoe and a generously sized mesh panel atop the toebox. We could easily splash through streams in the morning and have bone dry feet just a few hours later.

After hiking through some mud in the middle of a rainstorm  these shoes dried off surprisingly fast.
After hiking through some mud in the middle of a rainstorm, these shoes dried off surprisingly fast.

Traction


As an all-around shoe designed for canyoneering, boating, and even hiking, the TR1 Junction's have an outsole that balances traction on soft and hard surfaces. Their tread is relatively aggressive compared to most water shoes, but just isn't as sticky as softer, sticky rubbers. This is one area where we feel the Junctions have the most room for improvement.


On soft surfaces, the deep, aggressive lugs dig in great. We had no problem ascending steep, muddy banks or running down sluffing trails.

The relatively deep lugs do very well on soft surfaces.
The relatively deep lugs do very well on soft surfaces.

On slick, wet rock, the outsoles didn't do quite as well as the stickiest water shoes we tested. This is an acceptable compromise given the performance of these shoes on a variety of surfaces, but we found ourselves wishing more than once (especially during sketchy downclimbs in wet canyons) that we were wearing stickier shoes. For 90% of the time, these soles will do just fine, but if you need uncompromising traction on wet rock, they might not be the best for you.

On slick  wet granite  the Junction's stuck well  but not quite as well as more specialized canyoneering or kayaking shoes.
On slick, wet granite, the Junction's stuck well, but not quite as well as more specialized canyoneering or kayaking shoes.

Warmth


For well-drained shoes, warmth is entirely dependent on adjustability. The TR1 Junction checks all the boxes we look for in terms of enabling layering within the shoe.


The lacing extends down to about the ball of the foot and is entirely separated from the tongue. This enables a lot of adjustability in the midfoot. In combination with the already spacious toebox and removable insole, we had no problem stuffing these shoes with insulation for cold days on the water.

These shoes had no problem accommodating 5mm neoprene socks.
These shoes had no problem accommodating 5mm neoprene socks.

Like any mesh shoe, these will allow running water to pass through the shoe quickly, which kept us from giving them higher marks for warmth. If you find yourself frequently boating or canyoneering in the winter, you might want something with less drainage and more warmth, but we think these shoes allow for enough insulation for most activities.

On this rappel-assisted slide  the Junctions let through a bunch of water  but that wasn't a big deal considering that we had such an easy time fitting in thick neoprene socks.
On this rappel-assisted slide, the Junctions let through a bunch of water, but that wasn't a big deal considering that we had such an easy time fitting in thick neoprene socks.

Versatility


These shoes are kings of versatility. We would happily reach for these shoes for canyoneering, hiking, running, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, cragging, and hanging out around town. That's an impressively long list for a single pair of shoes.


With how lightweight they are, they're an easy shoe to justify bringing on trips. On the water, they have an ideal combination of drainage to manage moisture and temperature on hotter days along with a huge range of adjustability to enable insulation for warmth on cold days. On land, they support and protect your feet while providing excellent ground feel.

We loved having both comfortable and sticky footwear  as we splashed through puddles and ponds on this hike.
We loved having both comfortable and sticky footwear, as we splashed through puddles and ponds on this hike.

While we like to have very specialized shoes for certain activities, it can be really nice to have a single shoe that can do it all without letting you down. From short days to long epics, these provide the support and comfort needed to keep feet happy in a vast range of conditions.

Sensitivity


The Junction strikes a nice middle ground between highly flexible and thin-soled booties and burlier canyoneering boots. We were initially dubious that we'd like such a compromise, but it ended up winning us over.


The flexible sole is paired with moderately stiff but relatively thick cushioning. These don't feel like a maximalist shoe by any means. Instead, they felt more like a traditional running shoe, with a slight bounce but plenty of stiffness to prevent ankle rolling when walking over cobbles.

The Junctions feature an easily flexed sole that provides good proprioception for walking on uneven surfaces.
The Junctions feature an easily flexed sole that provides good proprioception for walking on uneven surfaces.

We found that it was still easy to feel the undulations of rocks surfaces and wrap our feet slightly around logs. While some may prefer stiff boots for canyoneering or creek walking, we loved this moderate support for the balance it provided between proprioception and foot protection.

With a moderately flexible sole  we could easily wrap our feet around logs while creek walking.
With a moderately flexible sole, we could easily wrap our feet around logs while creek walking.

Durability


As with most clearly high-performing shoes we tested, we really tried to beat the crap out of these things. After all, all the performance in the world doesn't mean much if your shoe will fall apart after a few uses.


After a day of canyoneering, we only managed to fray and break the laces on these shoes, and that was after probably over 100 ft of sliding down abrasive granite (i.e., scraping the sides of the shoes down the rock descending waterfalls). The brass eyelets wore down a bit, but the cordura took it like a champ.

After a bunch of sliding in Dingford Creek Canyon  we cut the laces but didn't manage to do any serious damage to these shoes.
After a bunch of sliding in Dingford Creek Canyon, we cut the laces but didn't manage to do any serious damage to these shoes.

While these are marketed as a canyoneering shoe, our experience in canyons tells us that they'd probably crap out after a solid season of use in abrasive canyons. Even after a couple of months of use, we managed to tear some of the stitching. If you are comfortable with shoe repair, these would be easy to glue and keep from totally falling apart for a little while, but don't expect them to hold up like burlier canyoneering boots.

Value


While these are on the higher end of the cost spectrum for the water shoes we tested, they provide a lot of performance and versatility for their cost. Booties and low-cut kayaking shoes are generally cheaper, but nowhere near as versatile. Canyoneering boots, while extremely high performing, are only really useful around water. These shoes combine some of the best aspects of many types of water shoes and offer them at a reasonable price.

Conclusion


The Astral TR1 Junction is a cross between a canyoneering shoe, a hiking shoe, and a kayaking shoe. With excellent design and comfort, they provide a stable and protective ride over rough terrain while still maintaining the sensitivity we value in water shoes. While they aren't the stickiest out there, they are good enough for most activities and have the construction and materials to last in tough environments. Whether you are looking for a dedicated wet hiking shoe or a shoe to just have fun around water with, these will not let you down.

On the fence about these shoes? Don't be - whatever you need them for  they will do just fine.
On the fence about these shoes? Don't be - whatever you need them for, they will do just fine.


Dan Scott