Hands-on Gear Review

Bedrock Cairn Adventure Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $105 List | $105.00 at REI
Pros:  Great traction, superb durability, comfortable strap system
Cons:  Minimal cushioning
Bottom line:  Unique minimalist sandal with excellent traction and durability.
Editors' Rating:   
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Sizes:  6 - 13
Weight:  1.1 lb
Sole Material:  Regolith Vibram Rubber
Manufacturer:   Bedrock

Our Verdict

The Bedrock Cairn Adventure handily won our Editors' Choice award. They are impressively durable, comfortable, and performed well across a range of uses. Their simple strap system combines a flip-flop style thong with a more traditional sandal ankle strap. The footbed is slim and tough, with far less cushioning than most sandals we tested, yet enough protection to guard your feet from sharp rocks. We were impressed with the Vibram sole's grip on slick granite slabs and wet rocks. Whether you plan to wear them on steep scree slopes, long boating trips, or mellow jaunts around town, the Bedrocks will not disappoint.

If the Cairn Adventure seems a bit too minimalistic, we recommend checking out the heavier-duty Chaco Z/2 Classic, which features a much thicker footbed and more robust cushioning. If you want a more budget-friendly option, the $60 Teva Hurricane XLT lists for $45 less than the Bedrocks and is our Best Buy Award winner.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 31, 2017

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For those seeking a minimalist sandal that can be worn on the trail, in the water, and around town, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure can't be beaten. They balance a streamlined design with bulletproof components, making a sandal that is lightweight and incredibly durable. The Bedrock's Vibram sole had impressive traction and was only beat by one other model in our traction tests.

Performance Comparison



Comfort


The Cairn's well-designed strap system was comfortable in testing, and we barely noticed the thong strap. Because no strap runs crosswise over the top of your foot, you have plenty of toe mobility.


In contrast, the Chaco Z/1 Classic, Teva Hurricane XLT, and Teva Terra Fi 4 all have straps running over the top of the foot that can cause rubbing on the wearer's big and small toes, in addition to restricting toe movement. The Cairn Adventure doesn't rub over these areas; in fact, they were the best contender for avoiding blisters. Just short of wearing flip-flops, the Cairn Adventure is as close to being barefoot as you can get. Their straps are ¾" wide, which was enough to prevent hot spots and reduce pressure.

We had a hard time getting the Cairn Adventure to show wear.
We had a hard time getting the Cairn Adventure to show wear.

This Editors' Choice has a minimalist construction that complements their simple strap system. With little cushioning in their 8mm midsole, it took some time for testers to adjust to the barefoot feel. Despite not having the plush cushioning offered by Teva's sandals, we found ourselves reaching for the Cairn Adventure because of their more comfortable straps and footbeds. While wearers with high arches might find the flat footbed lacking in support, those adjusted to wearing minimalist footwear will appreciate the lack of an integrated arch support.

The Cairn Adventure has a much slimmer sole than the Teva Hurricane XLT.
The Cairn Adventure has a much slimmer sole than the Teva Hurricane XLT.

Stability


Despite their minimalist design, this pair of award-winning sandals were impressively stable over a range of terrain. Their 8mm Go Far midsoles, and Vibram soles make an incredibly tough sandal that offers robust protection from sharp rocks and roots. Even though they are thinner than the Teva Hurricane XLT's foam midsoles, the Bedrock midsoles felt much sturdier and offered more support. The textured footbed surface was grippy, and we didn't experience any slippage between our feet and the sandals. While the footbed doesn't break into the form of the wearer's foot like models with softer foam footbeds, the Cairn Adventure can be adjusted to perfectly fit a wide range of foot shapes and sizes, which improves sensitivity.


For those seeking maximum stability, we recommend checking out Chaco z/1 Classic or Z/2 Classic, which offer comparable stability but much thicker midsoles than the Bedrock model.

Fit and Design


The Cairn Adventure sizing tends to run small. But rest assured, there is plenty of information available online to make sure that you get the right size. On the manufacturer website, they advise customers that "some people find our sizes run slightly small especially in our smallest sizes. If you are deciding between two sizes, we typically recommend ordering the larger one." In addition to this statement, they offer a printable sole template, so you can get a better idea of what size will fit you best. This award winner accommodated wider feet but didn't feel too wide on testers with narrow feet. We recommend using the template to find your size. Our tester who typically wears a US men's 10-10.5 found the size 11 to fit perfectly.


Despite having relatively few straps, the Cairn Adventure can be easily adjusted to fit a wide range of foot shapes and volumes. The front thong strap is fixed, but all three straps around the ankle and heel are adjustable. Bedrock even has an online adjustment guide to help you dial in the perfect fit.

The Cairn Adventure by Bedrock was one of the most adjustable sandals that we tested.
The Cairn Adventure by Bedrock was one of the most adjustable sandals that we tested.

Durability


We put the Cairn Adventure through ample abuse in testing, and they proved to be some of the toughest sandals out there, with a lifespan that would impress a giant tortoise. Their Vibram soles withstood extensive travel over sharp rocks and gritty slabs that wore down other models in our review. The straps are connected by a cord, which makes them tougher than models with straps that are held together by plastic, like the Teva Terra Fi 4 and the Teva Hurricane XLT. Even though Teva's components held up through testing, the Bedrocks are less likely to break in the long run.


One tester wore them for a twenty-four-mile backpacking trip in King's Canyon National Park, which involved extensive cross-country travel over jagged scree slopes, 11,000-foot mountain passes, and rough granite slabs. The Cairn Adventure showed almost no signs of wear after this trip, and the soles were in surprisingly great shape despite long stretches of travel over rugged terrain.


Traction


The Cairn Adventure demonstrated excellent traction over a wide range of surfaces; from sandy granite slabs to muddy riversides to loose scree, it provided exceptional traction. Their Vibram outsoles even stuck to wet rocks, which would have been treacherous while wearing most other sandals that we tested. Despite having shallower lugs than the Teva Terra Fi 4, they still performed well on loose terrain and were much less susceptible to getting clogged with mud or small rocks. The outstanding traction of the Cairns can mostly be attributed to their Vibram rubber outsoles. While both Chaco models, the Z/1 Classic and Z/2 Classic, also have Vibram outsoles, they had much less aggressive tread patterns and offered less traction than the Bedrocks over mud and sand.


Best Applications


The Cairn Adventure are versatile contenders that truly shine while hiking or backpacking. They are as durable as any hiking shoe out there, and we preferred them to more conventionally designed sandals like the Teva Hurricane XLT. With a minimalist strap design, the Cairns felt much less restrictive than any other competitor that we tested. They're also light enough to carry on your pack if you want a camp shoe.

Value


With a list price of $105, the Cairn Adventure are among the most expensive sandals that we tested. The Bedrocks live up to their high price tag; their outstanding durability ensures that you'll get at least $105 worth of enjoyment over years of intense use. The combination of high performance and ruggedness justifies their relatively high cost. If you're on a budget but don't want to sacrifice much performance, we recommend checking out the Teva Hurricane XLTs, which list for $60 and won our Best Buy Award. They aren't as durable or stable as the Bedrocks but performed well in our tests and offer excellent versatility at a low cost.

Conclusion


The Bedrock Cairn Adventure is the best overall competitor in this review. Our testers loved wearing them and were impressed by their balance of a minimalistic design with high-quality components. We couldn't find terrain too rugged for the Cairn, which says a lot, given how much use they saw in testing. Between their superb traction, solid durability, and lightweight comfort, the Cairn Adventure will easily handle anything you throw at them.

Steven Tata

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 10, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Runner

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   Nov 10, 2017 - 05:57pm
ryanbraski · Runner · Utah

No compliants at all! Love these. Living in Utah they are my go-to footwear 9 months out of the year. Being so light make them great for packing for an adventure. I have been really impressed with their durability. I had a question a while back and was blown away by Bedrock's customer service. Really rad to see such a high-end product.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Backpacker

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   Nov 4, 2017 - 10:12pm
tremperj · Backpacker · Greenville

I moved to the South 9 years ago, and was never much of a sandal person. It took me a loooong time to get over my Michigan roots. I had friends hike with me in Chacos, and I loved the idea, but couldn't get over how HEAVY those things are. I like my shoes minimal, but wearing true minimalist shoes on the trail can be painful. Bedrock hits the middle line PERFECTLY. You can feel the ground, but it doesn't hurt. The strap adjustments took me one hike to get dialed in, where I did have some hot spots on my foot but no blisters, even after 7 miles on very uneven terrain. Now they are easy to slip on and do anything. I have done short jogs with the dog, steep uphill hikes, and days on the lake without them missing a beat. It's the first time I have ever loved sandals.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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