This article first appeared on TheTrek.Astral is a company more closely associated with watersports than thru-hiking. The company’s journey began in 2002 as the vision of a small group of outdoor enthusiasts seeking to create products that seamlessly fused form and function with as little environmental impact as possible. Their first effort resulted in four life jacket models made from PVC alternatives; recyclable polyethylene, phthalate-free NBR, air, and organic kapok.
In 2012, the company began producing footwear aimed at raft guides, kayakers, and trail runners. Understanding that outdoor enthusiasts engage in a myriad of activities, Astral crafts shoes to excel in a wide range of environments. This versatility is achieved through focused features such as exceptional traction, quick-drying materials, and durable construction.
Astral prioritizes sustainability and ethical practices in its designs, utilizing eco-friendly materials, minimizing environmental impact, reducing waste, and embracing environmentally conscious manufacturing processes.
Quite the endorsement
Jennifer Pharr Davis, a renowned long-distance hiker, AT record-setter, and friend of TheTrek, discovered the Astral TR1 shoe in 2018 and has since become a loyal advocate. Designed specifically for trails, the TR1 offers a balance of support, traction, and durability, allowing runners and hikers to navigate diverse terrains with confidence.
Its lightweight construction enables swift movement, while the quick-drying properties ensure comfort even in wet conditions. Pharr Davis’ choice of the Astral TR1 is a testament to its capability in meeting the demands of elite athletes and passionate adventurers. With an endorsement like that, I figured I had to try them for myself!
Astral TR1 Scuffler At-a-Glance
Weight: 251g / 8.85oz (each)
Outsole: G.15 high friction Rubber
Lug depth: Aggressive 5mm lugs with flex grooves
Stack height: 20mm
Drop: 0 mm
Material: 100% recycled 3D engineered mesh with TPU frame, protective toe and heel cap, padded collar and tongue, supportive heel cup, and removable Polygiene treated insoles.
Circumstances of Review
I tested the men’s version of this shoe, the TR1 Scuffler, during this year’s wet, late-spring conditions in Maine. The women’s version is named the TR1 Loop. I took them on trail runs and hikes in Acadia National Park, as well as on walks around town. Additionally, I wore them during a few days of light-duty work around the house. While testing, I took note of the fit and comfort, as well as breathability, durability, and traction, making sure to characterize all of these as I considered overall performance.
Astral TR1 Scuffler Features
- Versatile Design: Astral designed the TR1 Scuffler to be versatile, making them suitable for various outdoor activities such as hiking, trail running, and water sports. They are built to handle diverse terrain and are adaptable to different forms of adventure.
- Lightweight Construction: These shoes prioritize lightweight construction, enhancing agility and comfort, and minimizing fatigue. They are light and responsive.
- Breathable Mesh Uppers: In order to aid in moisture management, the mesh uppers were designed to be breathable and promote airflow for excellent ventilation. This airy mesh helps keep feet cool and dry, even during intense activities, or in hot weather conditions.
- Drainage System: To accommodate water-based activities, the TR1 Scuffler comes equipped with ample drainage. These carefully placed holes allow water to escape quickly, reducing waterlogging and time to dry, which makes them great for boating, or hiking in wet environments.
- G.15 Rubber Outsole: The G.15 rubber outsole is known for its exceptional traction. Astral’s proprietary rubber compound provides reliable grip on a variety of surfaces, including wet and slippery terrain, contributing to the shoes’ confidence-inspiring holding power.
Astral TR1 Scuffler Pros
Astral shoes were designed for wet conditions and it’s here that they really shine. The TR1 Scuffler’s innovative features incorporate strategically placed drain holes in the toecaps that allow water to quickly escape.
Additionally, the mesh panels in the upper promote efficient air exchange, which helps prevent sweat from accumulating. Combined, these rapid drying properties expel moisture with surprising ease, reducing the risk of blisters during extended wet runs or hikes with water crossings.
Wide toe box & zero drop
One standout feature of the TR1 Scuffler is its wide toe box, which provides ample room for toe splay and accommodates those who prefer a roomier fit. The extra space promotes natural toe movement, allowing for increased stability and balance during outdoor activities.
Additionally, the TR1 Scuffler incorporates a zero-drop platform, meaning that the heel and forefoot of the shoe are at the same height. This design allows for a more natural foot alignment and encourages a midfoot, or forefoot, strike when walking or running. The idea is that stepping more naturally reduces strain on the feet and lower limbs, providing a more comfortable and efficient stride.
Despite zero-drop’s popularity among runners and hikers, there aren’t many shoe brands offering models with a wider toe box and zero-drop. With the TR1 lineup, Astral earns a spot next to Altra and Topo in that regard.
For hiking and running in the Northeast, exceptional outsole grip and durability are absolutely essential. All Astral footwear uses a proprietary G.15 outsole, which sets a new standard for traction and grip in outdoor footwear. This innovative rubber compound aims to deliver outstanding performance on a variety of surfaces, including the scourge of balance-challenged hikers everywhere, wet rocks and slippery roots.
Whether hiking or running on steep slopes, wet roots, and slick granite, I found that the G.15 rubber provided reliable traction, helping me to maintain stability and control. My favorite outsole material has long been Inov-8’s Graphene Grip, but Astral’s G.15 rivals it in terms of wet-surface traction. I exclusively wear Astral Loyaks, which also have a G.15 outsole, when whitewater kayaking, and can vouch for its quality in completely wet environments.
Astral TR1 Scuffler Cons
Potential durability concerns
Typically, lightweight breathability comes at the cost of long-term durability, and I am suspicious that Astral might have sacrificed too much in this regard. While I have only covered a few hundred miles in these shoes, I’ve come across reports of durability concerns with the TR1 Scuffler.
It would be easy to draw conclusions and attribute this to the extensive use of mesh in the upper, but anecdotes all benefit from a pinch of salt, and the rigors of specific use cases can vary drastically depending on the region and terrain. Desert dust demolishes trail runner mesh, but dirtless stretches of trail in Appalachia can preserve it beyond expectation.
Additionally, I am curious to observe how the G.15 rubber performs long-term, as there is often an inverse relationship between traction and the durability of outsole materials.
Not for desert environments
Although a reliable and versatile option for rugged and wet conditions, the TR1 Scuffler is not ideal for desert environments. The shoes’ mesh upper, although beneficial for breathability, may allow fine sand particles to penetrate and accumulate, leading to discomfort and potential irritation. As always, for adventures in dusty locales, it is advisable to consider footwear specifically designed for those conditions with features such as a sand-resistant upper.
I hate to say it, but the Astral TR1 Scuffler isn’t going to turn any heads. I find the overall aesthetics unappealing, with a disjointed combination of materials and a visually unflattering silhouette. Furthermore, the shoe’s bulkiness and lack of streamlining make it somewhat cumbersome to wear. Though it works well for thru-hiking and some running, personally, I wouldn’t make use of this model as a mountain racing shoe.
By integrating sustainability into their designs, Astral contributes to the preservation of the natural world that inspires their products while creating high-performance footwear. Their trail shoes, and specifically the TR1 Scuffler, present a mixed bag of features that help them stand out in a crowded category.
While their lightweight and breathable design offers immediate comfort, I have concerns regarding the long-term durability of the mesh upper. The performance of the G.15 rubber outsole in rugged terrain is exceptional, but, again, durability is something to consider with the trade-off between traction and durability.
Ultimately, I believe that the TR1 Scuffler is an exceptional shoe for wet and rugged trails like the AT, and for those who appreciate a wider toe box and zero-drop platform more than overall aesthetics.
Comparable Trail Runners
Featured image courtesy of Astral.
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Brandon Chase is a writer, endurance athlete, and guide based in Maine. He is a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and spent nearly a decade overseas serving at embassies in Egypt, Cyprus, and Pakistan.
Along with a 98-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, he has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked the West Highland Way, fastpacked in the Himalayas, and trekked around New Zealand and South Africa. He also regularly competes in ultramarathons at the 50k, 50-mile, and 100-mile distances. He is a Lead Guide for Andrew Skurka Adventures and the New England Outdoor Center.