The other day, a friend asked me if I have a favorite pair of sandals. He was in the market for some since his other pair got the boot. Usually, giving a gear recommendation involves some follow-up questions, but this one was easy. I looked down at my feet and immediately typed out a text back to him: Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure Sandals.
I’ve tried all brands and styles of summer footwear, but nothing has risen to the top like this capable and comfortable pair of sandals. I’ve been wearing them constantly for the past three years. In fact, I’m wearing them right now.
What It Is
Based in Missoula, MT, Bedrock has been building a collection of beefy adventure sandals for the past 10 years. The Cairn 3Ds (priced at $115) are the middle ground between the minimalist Cairns ($105) and the mega-grippy Cairn 3D Pro IIs ($130), and they strike a great balance between low weight and durability. One sandal weighs an average of 10 ounces.
Designed for hikers looking for extra support during long hauls—but suitable for walkers, bike commuters, and everyday wear—the Cairn 3Ds feature a zero-drop, anatomically molded footbed that conforms to the toes and the arches of your feet. The outsoles are made with Vibram’s XS Trek Regolith compound, a sticky material that provides good traction and stability on rough ground (as long as it’s mostly dry). For more grip in wet conditions, you can upgrade to the Cairn 3D Pro IIs.
The Cairn 3D’s polyester and nylon straps come with adjustable buckles and military-grade Velcro, and they’re built in a y shape that runs up from your big toes and hugs the ankles. The design keeps your feet locked in place even when scrambling over choss or wading through a river. They’re flexible but not flimsy; indestructible but not overbuilt.
Why We Like It
After three years of testing, the Cairn 3Ds have proven to be the best sandals for every kind of adventure. I’ve probably logged more than 1,000 miles in them. I wear them everywhere: Walking to my neighborhood park or to the grocery store, hiking across deserts and mountains throughout the West, scrambling down to hot springs in Taos, biking to the farmer’s market or library, and wading into lakes and streams to get a respite from the heat.
I’m not the only one putting serious miles on these sandals: This guy hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail on a pair of Bedrocks.
Despite all the years and miles, my pair shows no signs of wear and tear other than a little dirt. With other sandals I’ve worn, I’ve had to replace them at the three- or four-year mark. But the Velcro, straps, and rubber on my Cairn 3Ds are all still in excellent shape. And once the soles wear down—whenever that happens—I can get the Vibram rubber resoled at a local boot shop.
Another perk: Unlike other sandals, the Cairn 3Ds don’t reek of dirty feet. I can just hose them down when they get muddy, dusty, or grimy, and they’ll be stink-free.
I loved them so much I bought a pair for my husband a year after I got mine. Now he’s a Bedrock fan, too. Other than running shoes, they’re the only things on our feet in the warmer months.
When I first took my Cairn 3Ds out of the box, they took some getting used to. They didn’t rub or give me blisters, but the thong-style strap and footbed texture felt strange and new on my feet. Like with most new shoes, expect a short break-in period.