Upon first glance at the Astral TR1 Trek, I will admit to a certain amount of skepticism when confronted with the claim that record-setting long distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis backpacked in a pair last fall. They looked pretty minimal, even by thru-hiker standards – less like the kind of shoes you’d use to grind out miles than ones you’d wear to kick around the neighborhood.
As it turns out, I was wrong.
Not only did Pharr Davis wear the Treks during her recent thru-hike of North Carolina’s 1,175 Mountains-to-Sea Trail, but I also realized that these lightweight trekkers are sturdier than they look. Here’s the rundown.
Upon first glance, the Trek looks like a hybrid running-lifestyle shoe, with a low profile, heel tab, and distinctive design pattern. A closer inspection shows a surprisingly sturdy lugged sole, and an array of materials including hydrophobic canvas and TPU overlays that provide some extra rigidity in spots. The color profiles vary from quiet tonal shades to brighter colors in the women’s range, and each pair comes with an additional set of colored shoelaces.
The Trek has a roomy fit (good for those of us with wider or more high volume feet) that is easily adjusted with the simple lacing system. The cushioned heel cup seemingly defies the roomier toebox by keeping heels locked in the shoe, offering the best of both worlds for folks who want both comfort and a precise fit. The shoe is designed with a minimal drop – drop being the distance between the heel and ball of the foot. The 1mm drop mimics the foot’s natural state, but may take some adjustment for people who are used to a more cushioned heel.
The Trek is a fairly lightweight shoe, but it still manages to feel plenty sturdy on the foot thanks to a midsole shank. They were comfortable straight out of the box – in fact, I went on a combination hike and run, and my only issue was minimal pressure on my right big toe underneath one of the shoelace eyelets; a lacing adjustment solved the issue.
I tested the Trek on a mixture of dirt fire roads, pavement, and steep, rocky single track – and they held up well across the board. I was especially impressed by their grip – the 5mm lugs chewed through scree, and the sticky G.15 rubber held steady during steep ascents. The Treks are made to be “water ready,” not “waterproof,” meaning that every single one of the materials used in manufacturing is meant to wear well in wet situations. They dry quickly, and a bacteria-repelling insole keeps any funk at bay. I also loved how breathable the shoe felt, even on a sunny, hot afternoon; the only downside is that the mesh portions allow fine dust inside the shoes – you might want to consider using a running-style gaiter while wearing these.
The Astrak TR1 Trek is a versatile light hiker perfect for day trips, wet hikes, canyoneering, and even ultralight backpacking (if you’re used to wearing a minimalist shoe).