In 2009, CEO Philip Curry moved to Vietnam to create Astral’s first-ever shoes. While he had arrived in Saigon with the goal of making his shoe designs a reality, he hadn’t anticipated the influence that life in Vietnam would soon have on his designs. That influence–a combination of French and Vietnamese fashion and history, plus the rainy highland landscape of Vietnam–would lead to Astral’s newest shoe, and its first-ever breathable, waterproof boot: the Pisgah.
Like most expats arriving in Vietnam, Curry made the obligatory trip to check out the Cu Chi Tunnels just outside of Saigon. It was here that he saw the footwear worn by Vietnamese soldiers, which were styled from the French legionnaires. These were simple, two-piece canvas uppers bonded to outsoles formed from scrap motorbike tires. The Viet Cong moved nimbly along thousands of miles of rugged temperate rainforest using these breathable boots with level footbeds. Meanwhile, the Americans were hampered by foot rot caused by their non-breathable and clunky military boots. To Curry, these simple boots were a brilliant example of elegant design and appropriate technology combining to produce the most superior product–principles that Astral has always embraced.
A few years later, it was time for Astral to build a boot appropriate for its home terrain, specifically the temperate forests and cities of both Southern Appalachia and the Pacific Northwest. Inspired by the French and Vietnamese boots from his Saigon era, Curry confidently set out to create Astral’s version of the perfect town and trail boot. It had to be refined, durable, breathable, and waterproof (in that order). To that end, Curry set about looking for the right materials. For unparalleled traction he would use Astral’s Trail Grip outsole, with 5mm directional lugs and super-sticky G® Rubber. To make the boot both breathable and waterproof, he would need to find the right kind of canvas. As part of Astral’s goal to put Nature First, Curry selected a 100% recycled post-consumer polyester canvas with a thin, breathable, waterproof membrane attached.
With the design now complete, Astral named the boot the Pisgah, after the National Forest that surrounds Astral’s Asheville HQ. Comprising over 500,000 acres of protected forest, Pisgah is home to old growth forests, whitewater streams, cascades, and waterfalls. It’s warm, wet, and full of trails–the kind of place this new boot was made for.