(By Judah Harms): The best pieces of gear are the ones that you don’t have to think about. You can trust that they are going to do what they do, when you need them to do it. In the case of boots, you need to be able to step on pretty much anything and know your footing is going to hold. The Astral Hiyak has does exactly this. With exceptional grip on rock, and comfort that makes you want to wear these all day, the Hiyak’s are a great choice for your next boot.
I’ve had the Hiyak’s for a few years now, and have never had to replace a pair. I’ve taken them on multi-days, the average home run, play runs, and more. Every time I’ve been kayaking the past few years its been with these on. Needless to say, while they’re well-worn, they are extremely durable. (The first thing to fall apart on them is the seams, but with a little Aquaseal, you’re good to go.) Only now have I started to notice a little wear on the main contact points in the boat.
Overall though, with good treatment, you won’t be needing another pair for a few years. And they’re lizard-like for moving around on rock. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stepped on a wet rock with doubts about my footing and been fine. The tread and Gerber rubber do a fantastic job at keeping you on your feet. Other great features include drain holes in the front and back drain water out of your shoe relatively quickly, and a Velcro strap, which keeps those laces from catching on anything. I find them incredibly comfortable, and often wear them barefoot. Their low-profile design allows me to fit them in pretty much every boat I’ve been in, plus the high top design protects your ankles on those bush-wacky hikes.
With all their attributes, in my opinion only two things could be improved. One, is the durability of the seams. Unless you AquaSeal them, they tend to fall apart much quicker, contributing to a deterioration of the boot overall. This is something that is easily fixed, but should be done to extend the life of the boot. Two, is the size of the Velcro area that the strap attaches to. I like to pull my Velcro strap pretty tight, and when I do so, there is only a small portion of velcro holding it on, making it easy for it to come off. If they had extended that portion of Velcro, or made the strap shorter, it would make the strap more secure, and allow for a tighter fit. This would keep the laces secure, preventing any unnecessary hook-ups or untying of the knot. Other than those two nitpicks, this is a fantastic boot.
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The Astral Hiyak is one of my favorite pieces of gear, and the one that I’ve used the longest. The overall comfort, durability, and grip of it makes it a great option for your next bootie. Info: www.astraldesigns.com