Get Your Feet Wet!
I am always looking for better shoes for everything I do. Shoes are, in my opinion, the most important part of your outdoor gear infrastructure, unless your activity is better done barefoot. I spend a lot of time on the water as a Paddleboarder but I spend an equal amount of time in the woods hiking on the Cumberland Plateau. Having just read Born To Run, which talks a lot about barefoot trail running, I decided to test the barefoot theory mid-hike. That day I wore my super cushy Altra trail shoes thinking that those would be the best for my healing back. I was wrong. Halfway into my hike, my hip started hurting, so I took off my shoes and started down the trail barefoot. What an awesome feeling!….at first. My hip magically stopped hurting and my feet felt free and unencumbered. But unfortunately, my feet are super sensitive, perhaps from years of wearing shoes, and I winced every time I stepped on a rock. It slowed me way down and I finally put my shoes back on and the hip pain came back. Then I discovered Astral footwear. I got in touch with Christie Dobson to talk business and found out she is now part of Astral. I told Christie more about my SUP business and she told me about Astral’s footwear and how I may be interested in some shoes to paddle in. She suggested a couple pairs but after looking them over I realized she also had a model that would be perfect for my hikes. Christie generously offered to send me a pair! How awesome is that! I got my pair of Aquanaut trail shoes in the mail within a couple days and immediately went out that afternoon to see how they would perform. I was really stoked because they have the zero drop footbed that I love in Altra’s shoes. Unlike my Altras, they are much flatter and less cushioned which I have learned is better for me. The trails on the Plateau tend to be super rocky and wet after a big rain event and can be quite challenging to maneuver. The Aquanauts proved to be an excellent choice. I picked Raccoon Mountain because of its technical terrain to test them out. Within minutes the Aquanauts molded to my feet. I felt one with my shoes and the earth as I progressed up the trail. It was like being barefoot but with protection. The wet slippery rocks were everywhere but they proved to be no match for the sticky, grippy outsoles. I never slipped despite moving very quickly in the fading light of a winter afternoon. Though the water was cold coming off the mountain, the air was quite warm so I purposely stepped right in to the stream to see how the shoes would perform. They stayed in place on my feet and the water drained instantaneously as I pulled out of the water. I can’t wait to try them out when temps rise again this spring! Thank you Astral!