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Astral Hiyak Review

- Friday December 4, 2015
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So you may have noticed that we are pretty fond of Astral over here at WeStroke. I personally rock an Astral Green Jacket, Brewer, Loyak, Rassler and now Hiyak. The reason is not because of some blind loyalty to the company but because, IMHO, they make some of the best whitewater gear on the market. They have been making amazing lifejackets for quite a while and then they decided to release a shoe line. Again, they knocked it out of the park and they have become pretty much the only shoes I wear now, both on and off the river. So on that note, let's take a look at their latest offering, the Astral Hiyak.

The Hiyak is Astral's completely new take on the river bootie. First, let's start with what got me hooked on Astral's river shoes to begin with. The traction. The Hiyak uses Astral's stickiest rubber, which they call They used to use Five Ten Stealth rubber when they started making shoes but soon switched over to their own compound. I have personally owned both kinds and definitely feel like the new compound is even better than the already stellar Stealth rubber. We are talking insane amounts of traction on wet rocks, etc.

On top of the stellar rubber creating all kinds of traction, the sole of the Hiyak is also flexible. This allows you to really grip the rocks for an even better purchase while traversing slick rocks, etc on the river. It's thicker with more padding than the Loyaks but not as thick as the Brewers. This flexibility also allows for a more comfortable fit in your boat. I can't even tell you how nice that is. Especially when you are bundled up for winter. 

Astral Hiyak Bottom
Click to see the gallery

Speaking of the cold, I decided to wait till winter to try out the Hiyak. One of the reasons is that the Hiyak uses a 3 mm quilted Airmesh. It acts like neoprene in that it traps air between you and the waterproof shell. The difference is, it dries out really fast, unlike neoprene. I can attest to the fact that this insulation does wonders in cold weather. Astral suggests wearing socks with the Hiyak due to some people apparently thinking that the Airmesh is kinda scratchy but I have not experienced that nor met anyone that feels that way. That being said, I am wearing mine with my drysuit so I primarily have a drysuit bootie between me and it.

Also on the inside, you will find a comfortable and removable insole. This really helps with drying as well as allowing you to go even thinner if you want. In case you are wondering, I've experienced zero slippage of the insole so don't fret about that. Astral's signature drain holes are also present and handy as usual. 

As far as fit goes, the Hiyaks feel pretty true to size. I usually wear an 11 in normal shoes and the same goes for the Hiyaks. I have enough room in them for a wool sock and a dry suit bootie, while still being very comfortable. As far as width, they appear to be a bit wider than the Rassler for example. 

For the outside of the Hiyak, Astral used 1000D Cordura nylon that is stitched and bonded directly to the outsole. This enhances durability versus the traditional method of bonded neoprene construction. I haven't had mine long enough to really test that durability but my other Astral shoes have held up insanely well and I expect the Hiyak to be no different.

For securing the Hiyaks to your feet, and keeping them there, Astral has gone with laces. They are a great way to tighten up your shoe but you also get a velcro lace cover to keep them from getting snagged, becoming untied, etc. I know openboaters will greatly appreciate that feature and as a kayaker, I do as well. 

So with all these Astral shoes out, where do they all fit in?  Before the Loyaks came out, I used the Brewers almost exlusively for all boating but now I have a bit more options.  For the warmer months, I have been rocking the Loyaks for around town and playboating.and the Brewers for river running and some light trail/wading action. Up until now, I had been using either the Brewers or Rasslers for winter boating. Rasslers for if it was gonna be some intense hiking/portaging/scouting. Are all those different shoes 100% necessary? No, but it is REALLY nice to have the perfect tool for the situation at hand. Plus, these shoes are so stylish and comfortable, I get a ton of use from them off the river as well.  

To sum up, Astral has done it again with the Hiyak. They have taken a fresh look at the traditional (and in my humble opinion, antiquated) river bootie and crafted something far superior. You get the best traction money can buy, quick drying and durable material, flexible soles for a better fit and let's not forget style. Astral brings serious style to all of their products and the Hiyak is no different. We affectionately call them "River Jordans" and hey, style on the river is at least 50% of the game. Right? Check out the Hiyaks over at, browse more of our reviews here at and SYOTR!


- Dat traction. Best money can buy

- Flexible sole helps with comfort and traction 

- Durable Cordura construction

- Airmesh makes for good, quick drying insulation

- Lace cover

- Stylish

- True to size


- They aren't free - $86+ at various retailers 

P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos. Creeking season is just starting for me. Plenty of pics to come later. 

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