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

  1. Pros: The Vibram sole is light, yet the outsole is heavy duty and has an aggressive tread for reliable traction.
  2. 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.
  3. Price: $124 Cdn
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Helpful Hack: These sizes run quite small. Order one, or even two sizes up.
  7. Author’s overall rating: 8/10

The Test

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).

The Verdict

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.

Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandal
You will look cool in Bedrocks, even if, like Clare, you are not cool enough to have any tattoos.

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