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Bedrock Cairn Adventure Review

The Cairn is a well designed minimalist sandal that is ultra-resilient and ready for the long haul.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $105 List | $105.00 at REI
Pros:  Lightweight, versatile, excellent traction
Cons:  Not best for high arches
Manufacturer:   Bedrock
By Rob Woodworth and Nick Bruckbauer  ⋅  May 24, 2019
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88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Traction - 25% 10
  • Stability - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 9

Our Verdict

Yet again, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure secures the highest score among all of the sandals we tested, earning it the Editors' Choice Award for the third time in a row. Simply put, no other model performs as well overall. The Cairn features a unique and comfortable strap design that perfectly hybridizes the light, airiness of a flip-flop and the security of a proper trail shoe. The low-profile Vibram MegaGrip sole provides stellar traction while still maintaining a decent amount of "trail feel." The Cairn is no doubt a strong contender in every testing metric. No matter the objective or destination, we found ourselves preferring this sandal over all the rest.

If you want to take the minimalist sandal approach one step further, check out the incredibly lightweight Xero Z-Trail, one of our Top Picks. Barefoot enthusiasts may appreciate its barely-there sole and low weight, providing excellent trail feel and packability, although it doesn't grant the all-around superiority of the Cairn.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award    Top Pick Award 
Price $105.00 at REI$80.04 at Amazon
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$79.93 at REI
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$99.95 at AmazonCheck Price at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, versatile, excellent tractionComfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfacesExtremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stabilitySolid construction, comfortable and adjustable, good traction, weigh less than typical ChacosComfortable, good traction, quick-drying and breathable
Cons Not best for high archesSofter footbed means less stabilityHeavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustmentAdjustment can be tediousLack of adjustment points, doesn't slip on
Bottom Line The Cairn is a well designed minimalist sandal that is ultra-resilient and ready for the long haul.Tough to go wrong with a Chaco classic; especially when it's geared for comfort.This all-around workhorse comes from a pedigree of high-performance in rugged conditions; you can't go wrong with Chaco.With solid all-around performance, this sandal was one of the most dependable models we tested.With solid coverage and water friendly materials, this is our favorite closed sandal for water sports.
Rating Categories Bedrock Cairn Adventure Chaco Z/Cloud Chaco Z/1 Classic Chaco Z/Volv 2 Keen Newport H2
Comfort (25%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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8
10
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8
10
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9
Traction (25%)
10
0
10
10
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8
10
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8
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8
10
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8
Stability (20%)
10
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8
10
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9
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10
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9
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7
Adjustability (15%)
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6
Versatility (15%)
10
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9
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8
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8
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8
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8
Specs Bedrock Cairn... Chaco Z/Cloud Chaco Z/1 Classic Chaco Z/Volv 2 Keen Newport H2
Weight (in lbs per pair) 1.10 lbs (size 10) 2.05 lbs (size 12) 2.29 lbs (size 12) 1.65 lbs (size 10) 2.01 lbs (size 12)
Available Widths Medium Medium, Wide Medium, Wide Medium Medium
Footbed Material Granite Grip rubber LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU EVA
Strap Materials Webbing Webbing Webbing Webbing Polyester webbing
Midsole Material Rubber LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU Compression molded EVA
Sole Material Vibram MegaGrip ChacoGrip rubber ChacoGrip rubber Non-marking EcoTread Rubber

Our Analysis and Test Results

Upon first inspection, the Cairn Adventure might seem like a goofy, wannabe-thong type sandal not suited for extended trail use. You may even think that it caters only to barefoot enthusiasts. These are both valid first impressions perhaps warranted by the Cairn's unconventional design. However, it takes just a quick jaunt up your favorite trail to prove that these sandals are fully committed to getting after it.

We were curious how the Cairn would compare to the beefier Chaco models, like the Z/Volv 2, or to a similarly designed model in an even lighter package, the Luna Leadville Pacer. After months of testing, our testers agree that the Cairn outperforms both heavier and lighter models in almost any scenario.

Performance Comparison


The Cairn Adventure is an astoundingly rugged sandal for how light it is. It's capable of doing it all.
The Cairn Adventure is an astoundingly rugged sandal for how light it is. It's capable of doing it all.

Comfort


We were at first skeptical and then impressed by the Cairn's ability to provide comfort amidst challenging conditions. The unique strap configuration allows the user to find a highly-customized fit as well as easily make micro-adjustments on the fly. Combining a plugless toe loop, ¾ inch webbing, and a reinforced ankle strap, the Cairn perfectly blends open-air breathability of a flip-flop with the security of a proper sport sandal. The result is a minimalist design that eliminates hotspots and maximizes adjustability depending on the activity or foot type.


Comfort is gained not only from straps and toe loops but also from quality footbed materials and ergonomic shapes. The Cairn Adventure has a durable midsole material with zero heel-to-toe drop, meaning that it is more or less flat. This might seem like a bummer to folks with high arches or feet that require more support. However, our testing proved that this sandal is capable of providing ample support and comfort to a wide variety of foot types. The beauty of a thinner footbed/midsole construction is that with proper adjustment, you can get the entire sole to form around the contours of your foot.

The Cairn is so light and comfortable that you might even forget that you're wearing it.
The Cairn is so light and comfortable that you might even forget that you're wearing it.

Overall, we are satisfied with the less-is-more attitude of the Cairn. The only noticeable weakness comes on very pronounced rocky points or cruxes that can be felt through the thin sole. If you're on the hunt for a plushier, more supportive footbed, give one of the Chaco Z/Cloud models a try, or maybe the Keen Newport H2 if you're looking for more protective comfort.

The combination of high-functioning straps and a Vibram sole means that the Cairn is ready to hit the trail; regardless of your foot type.
The combination of high-functioning straps and a Vibram sole means that the Cairn is ready to hit the trail; regardless of your foot type.

Traction


Straight out of the box, you can tell that the Cairn's Vibram MegaGrip sole means business. The hard rubber and aggressive tread patterns gave us the immediate confidence to bring this shoe into more rugged terrain. Whether ascending, descending, or kicking around on your skate deck, the sporty Regolith outsoles provide an excellent grip on even the most unforgiving surfaces. While the Luna Leadville Pacer also employs a Vibram sole in their construction, the Cairn is much more capable due to its thicker soles and deeper tread design.


In addition to the savage trail bite provided by the outsole, we are also impressed by the footbed material. The midsole (footbed) layer is a softer but still robust rubber material that features a micro-diamond pattern that helps keep your foot secure when wet or dusty. The extra footbed grip was appreciated since the thong-inspired straps could sometimes cause our feet to creep forward on steep descents. If you're willing to sacrifice a little bit of traction for more overall support, give the Chaco models a look.

The Vibram MegaGrip soles really stood out in a variety of testing conditions.
The Vibram MegaGrip soles really stood out in a variety of testing conditions.

Stability


Stability is the only metric in which the Cairn comes up average—but we're still not complaining. The wide-open-and-free feeling found in a minimalist sandal comes at the slight cost of reduced stability. We more-or-less expected this from the zero-drop offerings in our review; not excluding the Cairn. However, not all is lost thanks to Bedrock's thoughtful design cues.


While there is virtually no arch support on the Cairn, it does feature "wings" on either side of the foot which work in conjunction with the ankle strap and over-the-foot webbing. These wings are an extension of the stiff rubber sole that keep the foot in place by hugging the instep. While this doesn't make up for the lack of arch support or around-the-foot security, it does provide a much more stable experience when the going gets tough. Combined with three separate points of adjustment and a grippy footbed, the Cairn earns a respectable amount of stability—especially when compared to the other lower scoring minimalist models.

Even though it features a thin sole  the Cairn has impressive stability thanks to secure webbing and an intuitive design that hugs the sole to your foot.
Even though it features a thin sole, the Cairn has impressive stability thanks to secure webbing and an intuitive design that hugs the sole to your foot.

Adjustability


The Cairn Adventure easily took the cake as the most 'adjustable' sandal. Our only qualm is the initial learning curve of dialing in the right fit due to its unique strap design. The heel strap is doubled-back and secures with velcro while the two straps running over the forefoot have independent points of securement. The inside of the foot features a hook and series of miniature webbing loops capable of varying the width or landing the toe strap in the most optimal position. Used more frequently is the buckle strap that runs on the outside of the foot which is used to tighten the adjoined pieces of webbing for a snug fit.


While tricky at first, we were ultimately very pleased with the unique adjustment scheme of this sandal. The three points of adjustment each serve a unique purpose that, when used in harmony, provide a highly customizable fit. While many other contenders employ three points of adjustment, they don't provide the same amount of security or mobility as the Cairn. When you've dialed in the velcro and hook adjustment points, the buckle strap allows for faster adjustment times and quicker removal as well. The Chaco lineup also has offerings with a high degree of adjustability.

Though tricky at first  we are very fond of how well the Cairn adjusts to fit different foot types.
Though tricky at first, we are very fond of how well the Cairn adjusts to fit different foot types.

Versatility


With go-anywhere traction, highly-secure webbing, and a minimalist profile, the Cairn was no doubt the most versatile and adaptable shoe in this lineup. The sporty yet low-profile design gave our testers the confidence to crush trail miles or span rocky rivers while also scoring enough style points to saunter into town after a big multi-sport day. Whether we were jogging, scrambling, skating, or swimming, we felt comfortable and at home in the Cairn.


Beware: the toe strap on this sandal will prevent you from donning the ever-dubious socks and sandals look. If that's a deal breaker for you, then we suggest you look at the offerings from Chaco or Teva—both classic options for wearing with your woolies. Otherwise, if you can look past this shortcoming regarding socks, we believe you'll find the Cairn to be highly adaptable to a wide variety of conditions and activities.

With impeccable traction  great stability  and a comfortable fit  there isn't much that the Cairn can't do.
With impeccable traction, great stability, and a comfortable fit, there isn't much that the Cairn can't do.

Best Applications


The Cairn Adventure could be described as a Swiss Army Sandal—ready and capable in almost every imaginable scenario. We are confident in labeling this a true do-it-all sandal. It is rare to find one set of footwear that can manage watersports and technical trails in addition to casual romps around town, but the Cairn is a radiant beacon of versatility.

Value


At $105 a pair, the Cairn doesn't automatically qualify as an "affordable" sandal. However, we think that this price point is a tremendous value for the quality and performance you will get out of this shoe. To be relative, there are more expensive sandals that do less.

Weighing in at only 1.1 pounds (size 10 US Men) and with virtually no heel drop  you may qualify the Bedrock's as a minimalist shoe. However  we found it to be the most capable shoe in this review.
Weighing in at only 1.1 pounds (size 10 US Men) and with virtually no heel drop, you may qualify the Bedrock's as a minimalist shoe. However, we found it to be the most capable shoe in this review.

Conclusion


It didn't take long for the Bedrock Cairn Adventure to stick out as a favorite among our testers. Reputable sole construction, quality design, and a highly adjustable yet low-profile webbing system give the Cairn an edge on the competition. In the end, the Cairn was favored in nearly every metric, earning it the highest overall score and greatest level of satisfaction with our testers. We challenge you to find something the Cairn isn't good at.


Rob Woodworth and Nick Bruckbauer