Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure Review

I tested the Bedrock Sandals Cairn and this is my verdict.

November 29, 2022
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The Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventures are lightweight zero-drop sandals with one of the most secure-fitting strap systems of any sandal. They have a Vibram sole that grips well in most conditions that’s robust, yet thin, and protective enough to hike, run, and climb in.

Product Overview

Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure

Bedrock Sandals Cairn
Pros

✅ Durable

✅ Repairable

✅ Lightweight

✅ Protective

✅ Secure fitting

Cons

❌ Heavier than some minimalist sandals

❌ Velcro on the heel strap isn’t as secure (this has been fixed with Cairn Pro II)

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 15 oz (0.94 lbs) for a pair
  • Thickness: 14 mm
  • Heel Drop: 0
  • Material: Vibram® XS Trek Regolith Outsole, Nylon Webbing

The Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals are an extremely versatile sandal that has one of the most secure fitting, do-anything sandals you’ll find anywhere. They’re zero-drop with 14 millimeters of stack, so they have just enough support to make it possible to move over rough terrain comfortably, in sandals.

They have a Vibram® XS Trek Regolith outsole that is super durable and grips well on dirt, wet rock, and everything in between. The Cairns can also be repaired when the soles or straps wear out through Bedrock’s Re-Soul program. But, these sandals will last a long time before you find yourself needing new soles.

To see reviews on other hiking sandals, see our post on the best hiking sandals. For reviews on minimalist sandals, see our post on the best minimalist sandals.


Performance Test Results

bedrock sandals cairn review performance graph

How We Tested:

I tested a new pair of Bedrock Cairns in Colorado. I used them on several hike, on a short backpacking trip, and on several bike rides. Conditions were primarily warm, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 30s. I have also worn Bedrock Cairns since 2019, and have used them for everything from thru-hiking in Washington to bikepacking in Arizona.

Weight: 8/10

The Bedrock Cairns weigh 15 ounces for the pair, which is lightweight compared to many sandals. However, they are several ounces heavier than the most lightweight minimalist sandals.

The reason the Cairns weigh more is that the soles are considerably thicker than most minimalist sandals. However, I think the thicker sole is one of the best features of these sandals, so it’s worth the weight.

This 14-millimeter-thick sole is just thick enough to travel over any terrain without feeling rocks and sharp objects under your feet, and without being so thick that it makes the sandals feel heavy. It also has a Vibram outsole that’s durable and sticks well on most surfaces.

I find this sole to be one of the best outsoles on any footwear I’ve ever worn. I’ve often wished I could get this Bedrock sole put on a shoe for the wintertime and other conditions when sandals just don’t cut it. Compared to other minimalist sandals, it is the Cairn’s Vibram sole that really sets it apart.

running with bedrock sandals cairn

One pair of the Bedrock Sandals Cairn weighs 15 ounces or 0.94 lbs).

Price: 9/10

Bedrock Cairns are some of the most expensive minimalist sandals you can buy. However, these sandals are significantly more durable than other minimalist sandals. And they aren’t significantly more expensive than most minimalist sandals–think 10-15 percent more expensive.

The first pair of Bedrock Cairns I ever owned have over 3,000 miles on them and they’re still going strong. For this reason, I think the Bedrock Cairns provides some of the best value in a minimalist sandal. They have every feature you would want in a minimalist sandal while having nothing you don’t need.

hiker in mcafee knob wearing bedrock sandals cairn

The Bedrock Sandals Cairn costs $115.

Comfort: 9/10

The Cairns are the most comfortable sandals I’ve ever worn for hiking. There are more comfortable sandals for lounging around, but when it comes to minimalist hiking sandals, there’s nothing more comfortable than the Cairns.

These sandals are pretty comfortable right out of the box and get more comfortable as they break in. I’ve never experienced any chafing or blisters in these sandals (however, in nearly 10,000 miles of hiking I’ve only gotten four blisters in any footwear).

hiker wearing bedrock sandals cairn with socks

I find the Y-strap design very comfortable, overall. I can quickly tighten or loosen the sandals as I move over different terrain. The straps don’t have any sharp edges that chafe when they’re brand new, but they do get even more comfortable as they break in.

I find these sandals to be the most comfortable when the main adjustment point, the ladder lock buckle on top, is cinched tight but not as tight as possible. This way, the straps aren’t squeezing your foot but are keeping it mostly in place. I think everyone’s sweet spot with these sandals will be different, but it might not be as tight as you’d expect.

bedrock sandals cairn top details

The soles on these sandals are just thick enough to protect your foot when walking over rougher terrain. I’ve said a lot about these soles already, but I think they are just thick enough to actually hike long distances in. I hiked across Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail in these sandals and found them to be very comfortable for hiking up to 20 miles a day. I would never attempt to thru-hike in most other minimalist sandals.

If you’re hiking really far every day, the Cairns might not provide enough cushion for some people. For me, I found 20 miles a day to be my limit in Cairns, but I know some people who consistently hike 20-25 miles or more per day in Bedrock Cairns with no issues.

hiker wearing bedrock sandals cairn

The soles are a dense rubber, and while they are good for protecting your underfoot on rough terrain, they aren’t cushioned. However, this can be said about absolutely every other minimalist sandal as well. The soles are supportive underfoot and feel more cushioned than minimalist sandals with thinner soles, but they aren’t cushioned like running shoes.

The soles are flexible but not as flexible as some minimalist sandals. Some sandals can easily be rolled into a tight spiral length-wise, the Cairns can be rolled like this, but not as tight. The soles are still flexible enough to feel like a minimalist sandal, but they’re certainly not the most flexible.

bedrock sandals cairn rolled

Stability & Versatility: 10/10

Compared to other minimalist sandals, the Cairns are the most stable. I don’t see any way these sandals could get more versatile, either.

These sandals are stable enough to sprint over varied terrain, making sharp cuts side-to-side. The strap system securely anchors your foot in place. And, the footbed is grippy enough that your foot doesn’t slide around much, especially when compared to other minimalist sandals. Since they are zero-drop and low to the ground, this makes them very stable as well.

climbing while wearing bedrock sandals cairn

The Bedrock Sandals Cairn can be used in climbing.

Compared to tightly laced shoes, these sandals are less stable. But, these are the most stable sandal I’ve ever worn. I’m able to move quickly over rocky trails in these. With other minimalist sandals, I end up moving slower overall than I do when wearing Cairns. They can even be tightened enough to climb in, which isn’t the case with most other minimalist sandals.

The Cairns are super versatile, too. They do great in the water. These are some of the most popular sandals with rafters, kayakers, and other water sports. The webbing doesn’t get too heavy when wet, and they dry quickly. The soles don’t get that slippery when wet, either.

bedrock cairns in water

The Bedrock Sandals Cairn performs really well when used in water.

There are versions of the Cairns with an even more grippy Vibram sole if you’re doing a lot of water sports, but the standard Vibram® XS Trek Regolith Outsole is grippy enough for hiking in wet conditions, river crossings, and the like.

These are also some of my favorite footwear for biking in as well. The outsole is the perfect amount of grip to hold onto a flat pedal without being too grippy to reposition my foot on the pedals when I need to. Since they’re also great for hiking, they’ve become my favorite footwear for bikepacking trips where I’ll be exploring areas on foot as well.

hiker backpacking with bedrock sandals cairn

Bikepacking while wearing Bedrock Sandals Cairn.

Adjustability: 10/10

The Cairns are some of the most adjustable sandals you can buy. They have three points of adjustability, two on the top of the foot and one on the heel. Many other minimalist sandals have one or two adjustment points, but few others have three.

The strap system on these sandals is a Y-shaped thong strap that runs across the top of the foot and attaches to the sole between the first and second toes and on either side of the ankle. The Y-straps anchor to rubber points on the interior and exterior of the ankle. These rubber points are an extension of the outsole and are extremely stiff and durable. The straps wrap around the heel and can be adjusted there with velcro.

hiker adjusting bedrock sandals cairn

The top of the Bedrock Sandals Cairn can be adjusted through a buckle (ladder-lock) and a hook (G-hook).

The two adjustment points on top of the foot are a G-hook and daisy chain webbing on the inside of the Y, and a ladder lock buckle on the outside. To fit these sandals to your foot, you first adjust the G-hook side of the Y-strap, so the thong sits parallel to the inside edge of your foot (or whatever’s comfortable for you). Then, adjust the heel strap so your food is planted in the middle of the footbed. Finally, tighten the ladder lock buckle enough to keep your foot from sliding around.

After you dial in the initial fitting, you shouldn’t have to adjust the velcro or the G-hook. You can tighten and loosen the ladder lock buckle as needed and take the sandals off or put them on.

hiker adjusting bedrock sandals cairn

Adjusting the Bedrock Sandals Cairn using its velcro heel strap for the best foot position.

Material

These sandals have a dense rubber footbed and midsole with a Vibram® XS Trek Regolith Outsole. The strap system is made of 20-millimeter nylon webbing with a piece of paracord that goes between your toes to connect the webbing to the footbed.

The footbed has a textured crosshatched pattern to it that allows your foot to grip it better. I like how this footbed feels right out of the box, but this is the part of the sandals that increase in comfort the most as it wears in.

As you break in your Cairns, this textured surface will wear down and get smoother. Though this decreases the underfoot grip, I think it increases the comfort of these sandals. When I first put on a new pair of Cairns after wearing my old ones for so long, the difference between the broken in footbed on my old Cairns and the textured footbed on the new pair was striking. The textured footbed isn’t uncomfortable, but I do prefer how the footbeds feel after they’ve been worn for a few hundred miles.

hiker wearing bedrock sandals cairn

The materials of the Bedrock Sandals Cairns are Vibram® XS Trek Regolith Outsole and Nylon Webbing.

As you wear these sandals, the webbing straps get softer and more comfortable, too. They are quite comfortable out of the box, but they only get softer and more comfortable with age. These straps are extremely durable, too.

Overall, the materials used on the Cairns are very high quality and durable. The straps on these sandals will outlast the soles. My original pair of Cairns have a thoroughly worn-out sole, but the straps are still in great shape.

Overall, the materials used to make the Cairns are more durable when compared to other minimalist sandals. Bedrock uses slightly thicker straps and a more stout footbed than most minimalist sandals. Though this increases the overall weight of the sandals, it also greatly increases their durability and comfort.

Some minimalist sandals have very thin straps that don’t distribute pressure widely, other sandals have straps with sharp edges that need to be broken in before they’re comfortable. The Cairns has a strap system that is more comfortable than either of these.

bedrock sandals cairn in rocky surface

Durability: 10/10

As you can see from my original pair of Bedrock Cairns, these are very durable sandals. They’re constructed in a way that any components can be replaced if they break or wear out. So far, I estimate I have about 3,000 miles on my first pair of Cairns, and the straps show no signs of failing.

Bedrock also has a Re-soul program, where they will put new soles on your sandals when you’ve worn them out, also. However, these will last a long time before needing to be re-soled. After wearing my first pair for three years and putting thousands of miles on them on foot and a bike, I’m finally ready to send in my original Cairns to have the soles replaced.

bedrock cairns in water

Bedrock also offers a lifetime warranty on their sandals. If anything breaks on the soles or straps of these sandals from defective manufacturing, they will repair or replace them for free. Also, in case of accidental damage, they will still repair them for a reasonable charge through their re-soul program.

There aren’t many other minimalist sandals that will re-sole their sandals. Bedrock Cairns already stands out with their durability, but when you consider their repair programs this only further sets them apart from other minimalist sandals.

hiker wearing bedrock sandals cairn

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By Sam Schild (aka “Sia,” pronounced sigh): Sam is a writer, thru-hiker, and bikepacker. You can find him in Denver when he’s not out exploring in the mountains somewhere..

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