I’m going to begin the Astral Hiyak – review by saying a little bit about the boots I’ve been using most of the time – the Five Ten Water Tennies. They have been faultless and have become my favourite pair of paddling boots. The Stealth rubber is what really makes it. I have several pairs of shoes/boots and have probably tested/reviewed pretty much everything that is available on the market but for river use I always return to the Water Tennies.
Now to the Astral Hiyak. They don’t have the Stealth rubber from Five Ten but have Astral’s own G.ss rubber, I have seen the G.ss a number of times but have never been able to try it out, until now.
This particular pair of Hiyaks was ordered one size bigger than my normal shoe size to accommodate a thick/warm ski sock and my drysuit sock yet still remain comfortable. As the sizes of the Astral footwear range seem to be pretty spot on. There was no issue in making the order online without trying them on first.
Lets take a look at the specification of the Hiyaks:
Intended Use – Kayaking (all kinds), raft-guiding, river SUP.
Uppers – 1000D Cordura® Nylon with 1060D ballistic nylon reinforcement rand. High-top padded ankle protection with semi-rigid heel cup. 3mm quilted spacer mesh lining. Hidden laces with Velcro Over-Flap. Reflective logo at heel and tongue. Water resistant laces.
Midsole – Removable, 7mm thick 45C closed cell EVA foam.
Outsole – G.ss highest friction rubber with siping and drain holes toe and heel. Non-marking. 3.5mm thick.
Foot to Ground Distance: 12 mm heel, 11 mm ball.
Flexibility – Maximum.
Weight/shoe – 250g (8.82 oz.)
Sizes – Available in Men’s US Sizing 7-13 Whole Sizes Only.
Fit – Full sizes only (For half size, size down)
OK the Hiyak has all the bits and bobs you’d expect from a pair of boots from Astral that are to be used on/in the water. Plenty of drain holes and lightweight fast drying fabric.
The overall design is quite understated and reminds me a great deal of basketball boot designs of the late 70’s/early 80’s. The black fabric with red detailing looks smart and the little reflective enhancements front/back fit in well with the overall design.
I haven’t had enough time with the Hiyaks to indicate how robust they will be over time, however given the way that they have been constructed I think they will handle being abused pretty well. The Cordura material seems tough and as the sole is sewn and glued directly to the upper is should last for a number of seasons.
Laces allow for plenty of adjustment and getting the fit just right. The upper three lace holes have additional re-enforcing eyelets so you can give the laces a good pull without fear of damaging the fabric. There is also a Velcro based flap that covers the laces to help prevent the laces from being snagged.
The best thing about great gear is the fact that when you are using it you don’t have to give it a second thought. This is certainly the case with the Astral Hiyaks. Once on I forgot about them and the fact they didn’t have Stealth rubber.
Even on the most slippery surfaces they performed extremely well. In fact better than Stealth (did I just say that!). Since arriving a few month ago the Astral Hiyaks have become my go to water shoe, I can’t fault them. Only time will tell how well they hold up but there is certainly nothing to suggest that there would be an issue at this stage.
Now my next job is to get hold of some Loyaks.