The Astral Rosa sandal makes flip-flops more versatile by adding an optional “super-strap” around the heel to provide extra security in water.
I love flip-flops. For years I’ve felt that when I don flip-flops my feet are on a mini-vacation, even if I’m just running errands. I’ve tried all kinds of camp shoes and I always return to flip-flops, even though I know that stream crossings are safer with a more secure shoe. The Astral Rosa is pure genius for flip-flop lovers.
The Rosa sandals are designed for athletic movements in the water with a sticky bottom that grips slippery rocks firmly. The non-marking soles are siped, which means that thin lines are cut in a wavy pattern in the rubber to improve traction. The sipes aren’t obvious at first but if you bend the sole you can see them clearly. More obvious are the thicker lugs which are beveled to prevent mud from caking and sticking. The uppers are made from cushioned synthetic leather with an embroidery accent. The instep and heel is tapered from the arch, which has medium support (more than most flip-flops). The optional ankle strap may be used for river crossings, boulder hopping or other situations where a secure shoe is desired and in places where you don’t want to lose your shoes. The strap goes behind the heel and over the arch. Other convertible sandals just use a heel strap and it’s possible to walk out of the shoe, but with the strap also going over the top of the foot the shoe isn’t going anywhere the wearer doesn’t want it to go.
I tested the Rosa sandals around town and on a backpacking trip that had more than 15 water crossings. They were quite comfortable in daily use and felt lightweight on the feet. The surface against the bottom of my foot was soft and pliable. I wore them as flip-flops, without the optional strap, around camp on the backpacking trip, with and without my toe sock and they felt good on my feet. They were supple yet supportive. The first stream crossings were easy so I walked across without the strap. When the water got deeper and the creek wider I attached the strap, which felt sturdy and strong. The shoes, now converted to a secure sandal, provided excellent traction on the gravelly creekbed, mossy rocks and dry granite. There was no danger of losing a shoe, even when the muddy bottom grabbed at them with suction. Some of the stretches between creek crossings were short and I hiked with my 25 lb backpack on the singletrack in the flip-flops. They were comfortable on level terrain, even with the extra weight, as long as the path was relatively smooth. On a section with a small amount of clambering I didn’t have enough lateral support, which was not surprising since I was clearly operating outside of the intended use of the sandal. We passed a group of day hikers and I could hear one of them say, “Did you see that girl backpacking with flip-flops?” in an incredulous tone, which made me laugh. The toe piece was comfortable and I didn’t experience any chafing or blistering there, even with prolonged use. After a two-mile stretch between one of the longer segments I did start to notice some chafing at the wet crosspiece, on the inner aspect of my arch where the strap met the thong, which, again was not surprising under the circumstances. By then we were close to the end so I replaced the sandals with hiking boots.
For long distance backpackers, who are often obsessed with weight, the shoes might be a little heavy. At 12.5 oz for the pair they are more than twice the weight of my current 6.75 oz Teva flip-flop that I use as a camp shoe. However, for early season backcountry trips where rivers are likely to be raging, I would prefer the more secure Astra Rosa sandal for safety and security. I’d love to see this style made with lighter materials.
The founder of Astral, Philip Curry, sold his first business to Patagonia and started afresh with a desire to create a sustainable company that could support wilderness athletes in the least toxic, lowest impact way. First focusing on water sports, they eliminated toxic PVC foam from the personal flotation device industry, developed breathable lifejackets, designed innovative footwear designs, and created sticky rubber for use on wet rock.
The Astral Rosa sandal converts easily from a flip-flop to secure sandal with the addition of an optional strap. The shoes are dependable on wet or dry rock and are ideal for water use and comfortable enough for everyday use. The shoes are highly recommended for water crossings with the understanding that, for the weight conscious backpacker, there is a weight penalty compared to some alternatives.
Comes in four colors: red, black, gray and turquoise
Manufacturer weight: 334 g / 11.78 oz for 2 shoes (manufacturer reported, size unknown)
Reviewer weight: 363 g / 12 .75 oz for size 9 womens-2 shoes (weighed by reviewer using digital scale)
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
All photos by Inga Aksamit, unless otherwise credited.