You could say this new mid-top boot has one foot in the water and one on the trail. (In fact, I just did.) It makes sense, since Astral started out making water shoes for kayakers who needed to scramble up rocky riverbanks and into the wilderness beyond. I found the TR1 Merge to be seriously cozy in warm Midwest weather, where burlier boots can lead to swamp-foot. The breathable canvas uppers dried quick, the side ports both shedding water and providing venting, and when it came to gripping power, the high friction G Rubber outsoles with fat lugs and flex grooves never let me down. (The only time I slipped while wearing them was on one particularly steep, wet, hard-packed mud shoreline.) Most of all, I liked the one-two punch of lightweight freedom and stable support. And, if I’m being honest, the style — hip without trying too hard. Heavy expeditions in cold weather will demand a more substantial boot, but for everything else, the Astral TR1 Merge is as dependable as it is comfortable.

Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine