Versatile And Vegan Shoes From North Carolina’s Astral Designs

Art meets architecture in a Southern gem of a city nestled squarely into North Carolina’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m talking about Asheville, North Carolina. Ever been? If not, you’re missing out.

Great people, great food, great beer…oh, and great business too. One of those businesses calling Asheville home is Astral Designs—a company known for pushing the boundaries on low-impact, non-toxic, performance gear for wilderness athletes.

“We basically eliminated toxic PVC foam from the PFD industry, invented breathable life jackets, won awards for our paradigm changing footwear designs, and we’ve developed the stickiest rubber ever worn on wet rock – just to name a few.” – Astral Designs

Astral’s #NatureFirst focus manifests itself this season in not just a new take on technical shoes for outdoorsy types not afraid to get wet, but with an entirely new line of versatile, and VEGAN, footwear styles.

My wife and I are not completely vegan, but have gone through stints of trying to be. We cut out most meat almost two years ago but being from New England, can’t get completely away from seafood. And what keeps me from being a plant-powered athlete?

Still, we’re both totally passionate about animal rights and environmental conversation and thus, 100% align with Astral’s brand mission in sustainability. I was excited to try out the TR 1 Mesh ultra-light trail shoe, and Alex would give the Porter boat shoe a go.

Our Take On The Kicks

TR 1 Mesh M’s

I like the style of the TR1 Mesh a lot. They’re breathable, super comfy to wear as a casual everyday shoe, and they look great. I got the charcoal gray and they also came with spare white laces, in case I wanted to swap out the blue. Extra laces are a nice touch.

But where these shoes really shined for me was when I went for a light run along rocky shores of Duxbury Bay at low tide. Boston’s South Shore is notorious for being either rocky, or marshy. It seems there’s very little middle ground. And the TR1 Mesh trail shoe handled both terrain types beautifully—specifically those wet rocks.

I guess it’s no surprise that a company built around designing performance gear for water and wilderness athletes would make sure their shoes have great traction on wet surfaces. And they do.

On another note, I run a decent amount of Spartan Races where I need a shoe with enough traction to trudge through a muddy pit of water, and also be breathable enough to dry fast once I’m back on the trail running obstacle to obstacle. I know these are more designed to be a light hiker or water shoe, so maybe I wouldn’t wear them on the 8+ mile courses, but for shorter races I expect the TR1 Mesh would actually be perfect.

This summer, whether I’m taking the pups for a stroll on the beach, playing around the boats and paddle boards on the bay, going for a hike where I know there will be plenty of stream crossings, or just walking around the city, I expect these to be my go-to.

Tech Specs
  • Intended Use: Water, Light Hiker
  • Uppers: Ripstop 2D Mesh with TPU overlays at toe and heel cap. Supportive EVA heel cup. Removable Polygiene® treated insole. Heel tab. Includes alternate color laces.
  • Midsole: Level heel to ball, with Top Shank™ to reduce foot fatigue.
  • Outsole: G.15™ high friction Rubber with aggressive 5mm lugs. Non-marking.
  • Foot to Ground Distance: 21mm heel, 20mm ball
  • Weight / shoe: Men’s 9 = 301g (10.624 oz)
  • Sizes: Men’s US 8-14
  • Fit: True to size

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Porter W’s

From Alex –

“The Astral Porter shoes are not only super cute and compliment any summer outfit, they’re also comfortable, breathable, and I could wear them all day!

My parents live on the water and we visit them often, so having a solid pair of durable and quick drying boat shoes is a must. These are definitely one of the more comfortable pairs I’ve had. And I love the red/light rosa color. These shoes are a statement piece that look amazing with white jeans and get a lot of compliments. Plus, I’m ready for the Fourth of July!”

Tech Specs
  • Intended Use: Boat, Water, Casual, Travel
  • Uppers: Hydrophobic Canvas with 2mm Airmesh at tongue and vamp for ventilation. Slit at heel for sand drainage. 210D nylon liner, water resistant shoelaces.
  • Midsole: Balanced Geometry™ EVA foam with drainage ports at forefoot.
  • Outsole: G.15™ high friction G®Rubber compound with razor-siping and maximum surface contact, ideal for boats.
  • Foot to Ground Distance: 17mm heel, 16 mm ball.
  • Weight/shoe: Women’s 7 = 192g (6.768 oz)
  • Sizes: Women’s US 6-11
  • Fit: True to size

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Jonathan Ronzio
Jonathan Ronzio

Founder & Host

Founder, Explore Inspired | CMO, Trainual | Co-Host of The Stokecast Podcast | Mountain Athlete | Award-Winning Adventure Filmmaker | Keynote Speaker

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