Astral designed the TR1 Merge as a mid-cut, fast-drying boot. The outsoles include traction G® Rubber to create what they claim to be an excellent multi-season backpacking or expedition kayaking boot.
To me, it seemed this boot had potential as a burly kayak fishing shoe as well. Not everyone gets to launch and land on pristine beaches, so the ankle protecting TR1 Merge ($140) has its place. I went searching for it.
The intended use for these boots is hiking, backpacking or expeditionary kayaking boot. The uppers are designed with a breathable, quick-drying canvas, and an abrasion resisting TPU overlay coating on the toe and the heel. Built to shed water and protect against abrasion and protection.
TR1 Merge: Put to the Test
The TR1 Merge boots were utilized in Ohio and South Carolina on SUP’s, a canoe, and a variety of Hobie pedal driven kayaks. The boots were submerged into river muck, sandy banks, oyster beds, and the general riff-raff associated with outlying boat ramps of our favorite launching points.
The grip on the boots has performed well against the variety of conditions. Muddy hard packed slopes or icy conditions were really the only conditions they didn’t endure. But those generally* aren’t involved with kayak fishing. At no point did I feel the boots G® Rubber outsoles give way. Even covered in riverbottom much, the grip locked the boots into place.
Water shedding was a big concern. Raise your hand if you like water sloshing in the bottom of your boots. (looking through the crowd). I see no hands, so moving along. Dual drainage holes let water escape out the sides of the boot, while vents in the toe box also allow water and heat to escape. A little water was felt inside, but not enough to concern me for a full day of fishing on the water.
Not for Everywhere
While this boot does an excellent job at what it is intended for, it has some specific drawbacks. Namely, the weight and warmth. I chose not to take the TR1 Merge with me to the Florida Keys with me because it simply was not needed. There are a variety of other flats fishing shoes that would work well and be much less warm. But I wouldn’t take those style of shoes to gnarly riverbottom fishing either.
The Tr1 has a mission to protect and shed water, and it does that well. Match it up with it’s intended environment and you’ve got a great protective shoe.