REVIEW: Astral Hiyak

Astral Hiyak

MSRP: $114.95 (BUY NOW)

WEIGHT: 500 g (17.64 oz)/pair

SIZES: US Mens 7-13 (whole sizes only)

CONSTRUCTION: Cordura upper, EVA removable footbed, G.ss outsole

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The Astral Hiyak

The Astral Hiyak is the new king of water sports booties! This extremely durable, lightweight and low profile water shoe is ready for whatever adventure you can throw at them. Finding a quality water sports shoe that provides traction on wet rocks, holds up to the abuses of creek kayaking and allows my size 13 feet to fit, and have some resemblance of comfort, into small whitewater kayaks is an extremely tall order. Lucky for me, Astral has finally made my dreams a reality!

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Even with my Size 13 feet I managed to fit in the M JedEye with the Astral Hiyaks on. (Photo: Bobby Miller)

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The new Montrose WW Park is tons of fun! (Photo: Bobby Miller)

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The Smelter Wave in Durango is one of the best manmade WW play features in the country. Thanks to my Hiyaks I was able to do vertical moves without crazy foot pain. (Photo: Robert Waldron)

The first question I had, and every other serious kayaker had, when the Hiyak was introduced with Astral’s new G.ss rubber was: “How does it compare the 5.10’s Aqua Stealth Rubber?” Aqua-Stealth has been the the quality standard for sticky rubber on wet rocks for decades now (5.10 Water Tennie Review), so much so that the first Astral water shoes all utilized it.  When Adidas bought 5.10 they informed Astral that they would no longer be supplying the company with the rubber, which forced Astral’s lead designer, Philip Curry, to start a passionate pursuit for the next standard in water sports sticky rubber. What Curry developed is called G.ss, the “ss” is for “super sticky,” which is non-marking, has good abrasion resistance and is SUPER sticky, especially on wet rocks. The Hiyak utilizes this rubber in an outsole that has razor siping, toe and heal drain holes, provides excellent flexibly and provides great feel for the terrain you’re traveling over. I’ve used Aqua-Stealth rubber for years, and now the G.ss rubber for a summer full of kayaking, SUPing and hiking. While I can’t verify Astral’s claims of their rubber being stickier than Aqua-Stealth, I can EASILY verify that the rubber is at least as sticky, more durable, provides better sensory feedback and is non-marking. G.ss IS the new standard in water sports sticky rubber.

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Getting rowdy at Great Falls of the Potomac. (Photo: Corrine Walker)

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Creeking in the Hiyak is a pleasure in and out of the boat. Oh Be Joyful creek in Colorado never disappoints! (Photo: Bailey Masters)

Besides the amazing new rubber outsole on the Hiyak, the booties also utilize a number of other unique features that elevate them above the competition. The waterproof laces don’t absorb water and are covered with a flap, which keeps them from coming untied when getting in and out of a kayak, when walking through brush or getting on and off a SUP. The construction of the Hiyak has no neoprene, a main ingredient of most booties, which makes the bootie much more durable, which increases the longevity of the bootie greatly. The Hiyak also dries MUCH faster than traditional booties, which in turn also cuts WAY down on the VERY unpleasant odors these types of shoes can develop.

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Even in mucky slimy conditions the Hiyak have great traction.

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Hiking near Havasu Falls, AZ. (Photo: Corrine Walker)

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Seriously great traction on everything I could throw at these shoes. (Photo: Corrine Walker)

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This sole pattern is what helps make this shoe so great for most conditions.

While the Astral Hiyak is currently the best and most versatile water sports bootie on the market, in my opinion, for most applications, it also has some areas where it could be improved. My biggest complaint about the Hiyak is the severe abrasions on my ankles around the top of the booties that I received after going on a long hike, in and out of the water, in them for the fist time. The quilted air-mesh around the top edge is very sharp and easily abrades the skin (UPDATE: The air-mesh was constructed improperly on this first generation of the Hiyak. This has been remedied and should not be an issue moving forward). The quick and easy fix for this is to always wear socks with the Hiyak, which Astral now prominently promotes doing. I’ve also found that the drain holes at the toe and heal tend to drain a majority of the water that enters the bootie quickly, but still leaves quite a bit to slowly trickle out. The drains, especially in the toes, also tend to suck in sand and mud as you walk. A new drain system might be beneficial to the next generation Hiyak. These are probably not the best booties for carrying heavy loads over rough terrain for long periods of time, like hiking a loaded boat into a multi-day kayak trip, due to their relatively thin soles. The flip side to that is that the sole is slim in profile, provides great terrain feedback and is adequately cushioned for most adventures.

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Wear the Hiyak with socks! If not you’ll get some unwanted, and painful, abrasions where the top of the bootie meets your skin.

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For hiking in, around and near water the Hiyak is awesome. The booties worked great on a very technical hike/bushwhack to scout Cinnamon Falls in Colorado. While no one in our group fired it up on this day, it was a sight to behold!

PROS:

-STICKY rubber!

-Durable and long lasting

-Odor resistant and fast drying

-Great sensory feedback, which allows for sure footing anywhere

-Slim profile allows people with big feet to fit in small kayaks

CONS:

-Must wear socks

-Drains suck in debris

-Better options out there for hiking with heavy loads over rough terrain

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Besides the Hiyak I’m also trying out the Aquanaut. Review coming soon.

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An alternative to the Hiyak is the Astral Rassler. The shoe has a more aggressive sole and lower back. It is better suited to C-1 paddlers and long demanding hikes than the Hiyak, but is also much more bulky and wouldn’t work for my large feet in many boats.

Astral has upped the game in yet another segment of the water sports world with their entire footwear line, especially with their new G.ss rubber technology. The Hiyak is a game changer for someone like me with big feet and long legs who likes to playboat. I can now survive in a tiny playboat for over an hour without my feet completely falling asleep, as was the norm with any other soled footwear I’d tried in the past. So far I’m also loving my Astral Aquanauts as everyday kicks, and will have a review of them for you shortly. I might also have to get my hands on a pair of Astral Rasslers, for those more hardcore missions where a thicker more cushioned and protective sole would come in handy. Final words; the Astral Hiyak is the best all around water sports bootie on the market today.

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Some of the world’s top paddlers rely on Astral footwear, both on and off the water. Here Jordan Poffenburger navigates a slick log in the river in his Astral Rasslers.

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