Bedrock Cairn Pro II Sandals – Perfect Minimalist Sandal
If you’re like me, once the weather becomes so much as mildly warm each spring, I trade in my winter boots as soon as possible for my trusty sandals and do everything in them. For the past 4 years my faithful kicks were the original Bedrock Cairns, surviving 4 seasons of working on the gritty rivers of western Colorado-Utah, slickrock desert romps, and many a harrowing night out on the town.
Bedrock Cairn Pro II Sandals Review
While they still have a lot of life left in them, I felt it was time to check back in with Bedrock and see what’s new. This time around it’s the Bedrock Cairn Pro II Sandals, and Bedrock has absolutely nailed it again with these versatile and minimalist sandals.
My testing of the Cairn Pro II’s has been primarily in southwest Oregon, wearing them daily on the job as ranger along the Rogue River, kayaking on my free time, and of course a few of those harrowing nights out in town (groceries mainly).
For such a minimalist style, the Bedrock Cairn Pro II’s provide ample adjustability for honing in the fit for each foot. The insoles seem pretty true to size with perhaps a slight skew towards narrower feet. To dial in the webbing fit, the Cairns have a heel and arch hook strap that are adjustable to your preferred heel length and arch height-width, while the main buckle is more for getting in/out of the sandal and cinching down tight.
Out of the box I took just a couple minutes of fiddling around with the two hook straps to really tune in the perfect fit. These adjustment hook straps are simple yet bomber, as I haven’t had to touch them since initial adjustment and I’ve never had one undo unintentionally on me. My original Cairn’s used Velcro for the heel strap, and while that Velcro is still doing well, I do think it’s a great move for the change to the hook strap system for durability’s sake.
Once they’re all adjusted, I’ve been quite pleased with the comfort of Cairn Pro II’s. The webbing is soft and wide enough to prevent chaffing or ‘digging in’ while moving, but not so wide as to feel bulky or add unnecessary weight.
One of the features I’m really grateful for is the use of only webbing for the harness-sole attachment points under the malleolus’ (those round protrusions on the sides of your ankle), as I’ve had past sandals that use square plastic risers in that location and have led to severe chaffing and cuts on the sides of my foot. Similarly, the webbing on the sandals seems to be a fairly tight weave as they don’t really hold sediment, which can lead to abrasion (for you and the sandal).
The toe thong is a doubled-over loop of cord which has a very natural feel to it. I didn’t used to be much a fan of thong style sandals, but Bedrock found a way to make the thongs on these strong, secure, and nearly unnoticeable while worn. The only scenarios I don’t find the toe thong too comfortable is on very steep downhills, where your foot begins to slide/rest more on the thong.
At the heart of the Bedrock Cairn Pro II is the sole. The sole measures in at skinny 14mm thick, which doesn’t look like quite enough at first glance, but after a few days out hiking and jumping around on rocks along (and in) the river I was well convinced on the effectiveness of such a minimalist sole. The Vibram rubber absorbed impacts and padded out rocky and sharp terrain well.
I have a somewhat moderate arch height and the Cairn Pro II’s certainly have a flat layup to them, however, because the sole is on the thinner side, it seemed to flex and conform to the natural shape and movement of my feet. I’ve done a couple of modest distance hikes, in the 4-5 miles range, and have no complaints regarding the sole support/padding.
After a while, you start to forget you’re wearing them because they’re so light and thin and they move almost like being barefoot, but pad out like a shoe. Additionally, to help connect you to the sandal, the insole has their Granite Grip pattern, a grid of triangles, that provides superb inside traction and slip prevention wet or dry.
Underneath, Bedrock uses Vibram’s Megagrip outsole, a fairly aggressive, angular tread pattern set into a strong and grippy rubber. This is ultimately what makes the shoe fun for me. I could hop around on wet rafts without slipping, wade through slimy river rock confidently, and the trust the rubber to stick while I smeared up polished slabs to scout the next rapid.
The deep tread handles loose dirt and grassy hillsides about as well as some of my dedicated hiking boots, which is no small claim. I know this seems like an awful lot of praise, but I mean it, the Cairn Pro II’s really punch above their weight class in this category. If I ever felt held back by the Cairn Pro II’s, it was almost always a matter of protection, not traction. There will always be a place for close-toed shoes, as a sandal can only do cover so much, but until then the Cairn does superb job.
As mentioned, I’ve been using the Cairn Pro II’s as my main rafting-water footwear and have a few thoughts on their water specific performance. While the webbing harness can seem a bit dainty, the main buckle-strap can actually be cranked down really tight for a snug and very secure fit.
Simply put, I’ve never felt like these sandals were going to slip off unexpectedly when I needed them, such as swimming. The webbing will stretch some once they’re wet, like most shoe fabrics, and is easy to re-tighten. Due to the sleek profile of the Cairns, swimming feels unencumbered nearer to bare-foot than many other water-shoe models. Again, thanks to the triangular grip pattern on the insole, the insole rubber still feels tacky and responsive when submerged.
I have had the Cairn Pro II’s for about 3 weeks now using them daily, and I feel the sandals are merely broken in now, much less showing any signs of wear. My intuition on their durability is anecdotal from my previous pair of Cairns, which are still going after 4 years of heavy summer use, and my impression is the newer Cairns have the same great quality if not better.
The webbing on my original Cairns is still soft and stitched tight, though the rubber riser where the webbing meets the sole on one foot is beginning to crack. The sole on the original Cairns is wearing down close to flat under the ball of my feet, and the insole has worn smooth in the same spot making for a slippery contact with my foot when wet now. Again, that’s the amount of wear I’m seeing on my original Cairns after four years of living in those sandals, which is an incredibly long-lived piece of footwear for what I’m used to in similar styles, the Cairn Pro II’s seem just as solid.
If by chance your Bedrocks are starting to look a little worse for wear, or accidentally beat up, Bedrock has a great warranty and repair program. Worn out Vibram Footbed/Outsoles can be replaced while keeping your original webbing straps for about half the cost of a new shoe, and torn up straps can be fixed as well. If you’re not sure if the damage/wear falls under the warranty, just shoot Bedrock a message on their warranty page with some photos and they’ll let you know.
After several weeks of romping around in the Cairn Pro II’s I’m still very much a fan of Bedrock Sandals and their excellent quality. The Cairn Pro II’s are comfortable and secure, while maintaining a light and sleek profile, and are perfect for running rivers, big side hikes, or just takin’ it easy around town. If you’re looking for one sandal to do it all in, give the Bedrock Cairn Pro II’s a try, I’m glad I did.
Bedrock Performance Split Toe Sock
Tailor made for their thong style sandals, Bedrock offers their Performance Split Toe Socks for those brisk days and camp comfort. Made with Injinji Midweight technology, I’ve found these socks to be great for those brisk mornings when shoes feel like too much of a hassle but so do cold toes while I’m waiting for the day to heat up.
The fabric is a mix iof Nylon, Coolmax, and lycra that combine into a super comfy sock that stretches well, adds some padding, and doesn’t seem to hold much odor. While of course good for warmth, they’re still light enough to be worn as sun protection in modest heat.
One of the uses I’ve been really grateful for, is the extra mosquito protection the Split toes afford in my Cairns, as I often don’t bring another pair of footwear on river trips, but my normal socks don’t wear well with my Bedrocks. If, like me, you just can’t stand to part with your bedrocks when it’s cold, sunny, or whatever reason, grab a pair of their Performance Split Toe Socks and keep the adventure going.
A transplant of the Midwest, Austen immigrated to the promised land of western Colorado in 2012 in search of good climbing, deep snow, quality rivers, and a college degree when his goofing off allowed. He learned pretty quick the difference quality gear can make on the outcome of a day (or days) in the mountains and began looking for the best gear to abuse.
In the summer Austen is an avid whitewater kayaker, bouncing his boat down the steep, rocky waterways of Colorado, trad climber in search of the route less traveled, and works as a federal river ranger along the Gunnison River. During the winter Austen spends his time telemarking around the backcountry of western Colorado and working as a ski patroller up on the continental divide.
Austen says, “A hundred days of skiing and paddling each per year and you’ll figure out what is wrong or right with your equipment, especially when your lively-hood depends on it.” Austen also has his American Avalanche Association Professional Level 1 avalanche certification, EMT-B, and ACA swift-water rescue cert, as well as a member of the Search and Rescue team in Gunnison County for 6 years.