They say it’s good to walk a mile in a stranger’s shoes every now and then. So we asked our stateside editor Clare Menzel to take a hike in the Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandal. Here’s her review.
Hailing from Richmond, California, Bedrock launched in 2011 with a successful Kickstarter bid. Co-founders Dan Opalacz and Nick Pence, both employed in the outdoors industry, led “adventurous minimalist lifestyles,” and wanted a sandal to match. Their design theory can be boiled down to their stated goal of harnessing “our natural human-inherited flow of movement” in the simplest way possible. They now make three shoes, all variations on the same theme, with the huarache-inspired toe-thong design.
Snapshot: Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandal
- Pros: The Vibram sole is light, yet the outsole is heavy duty and has an aggressive tread for reliable traction.
- Cons: Two words: toe socks. Though the merino wool blend injinji toe socks Bedrock sells are the least nerdy model I’ve ever seen, they’re less warm than my preferred bulky, uber-warm camp sock.
- Price: $124 Cdn
- Who Should Buy: A backpacker or thru-hiker who needs a water shoe that packs light, or general explorer in life who wants a rugged sandal that works for the everyday.
- Who Shouldn’t Buy: The brand says the Carin is built for “all adventures,” but if you plan to travel over uneven terrain—off-trail, or somewhere choked with rocks and roots—you may value a thicker sole over lighter weight.
- Helpful Hack: These sizes run quite small. Order one, or even two sizes up.
- Author’s overall rating: 8/10
I took these along on backpacking trips in Northwest Montana and in Upstate New York state’s Adirondack Park this late summer and fall. I primarily use sandals in the backcountry during river fords and at camp. There are people that like to hike distances in sandals; I am not one of them, but a lot of those people seem to love Bedrocks for this purpose).
I‘ve long been Team Teva, and Northwest Montana, where I live, is solid Chaco Country. I’d say the Bedrock, as a relative newcomer, is a solid contender in the outdoor-sandal ring. According to the online reviews, scores of Chacos converts are going bananas for the Carin Adventure, and its burlier friend, the Adventure PRO. I’m a convert, too.
They’re more durable, functional, and comfortable than the Teva original; sleek and weighing less than 8 oz, they’re more than two ounces lighter than the women’s Z/2 classic Chaco. For my uses, this is an excellent balance between the features. The equation is simple: to get lighter, the Bedrock has a thinner sole. (Compare 23 mm with 50 mm at the arch for the same Chaco Z/2 sandal.) Both sandals perform great, but you just have to choose if you value weight or sole thickness more.
When compared to more direct competitors, like the minimalist LUNA, also with a Vibram sole, the Cairn seems to be more adjustable and rugged. Though Chacos probably take the cake on customizable fit, thanks to the famous single-strap system, there is enough to fiddle with on the Bedrocks that I found a bomber fit, and it’s definitely more snug and secure than Tevas. Bedrock’s patent-pending strap system includes a corded-toe strap and three adjustment zones. New for 2018: an anatomical arch will take Bedrock next level.
The price point is comparable to Chacos; the Teva original goes for about half. But the company also offers a really neat repair program, Re-Soul. Send your sandals back to the factory in California, and they’ll tack your old straps onto a new sole unit, or replace your straps, and ship ‘er back. If you’re proud to be repairing worn gear instead of sending it to the landfill, they’ll also sew a very cool RE-SOUL patch over the Bedrock brand label. (Putting its money where its mouth is, Bedrock also donates 1 percent of your purchase to environmental non-profits.)
Finally, I really like the style— the plain colors feel old school, and it’s simple, per brand philosophy.
When I need to slip sandals into my backpack, for crossing rushing rivers and crushing camp time on summery nights, the Cairn Adventure will henceforth be my go-to.
Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandal: The Deets
- MSRP: $124 Cdn
- Copper, black, jasper, light denim, river runner, charcoal, trail blazer (with new, patterned colors to debut in 2018)
- M 6-13, W 7-14
- The size 9 weighs 7.8 oz
- Vibram outsole, polyester and nylon webbing upper, metal and acetal plastic hardware, US military-grade Velcro