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Pushing the Limits of Open-Toed Shoes: Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals Review

As a climbing guide, I often do much of my scrambling in approach shoes, but the new Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals might just muscle in on easier exploits.
(Photo/Taylor Gerlach)
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After wrapping up a weekend of guiding rock climbing in Joshua Tree this spring, my coworker and I had some personal time to explore the National Park. We decided to try to find a little-known cave system called the Mojave Wunderground. The hike to the Wunderground is almost entirely off-trail; we scrambled over boulders, trudged through wet sand, and smeared our way up long granite slabs for a couple of hours.

Approach shoes would have been the obvious footwear choice for the adventure. With sticky rubber similar to climbing shoes, they perform well in uneven, rocky terrain. But after squeezing my toes into tight shoes all weekend while guiding, my feet were begging for a break.

I hesitantly strapped on my new Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals, unsure if they were up to the task. To my surprise, the sandals clung to the granite slabs and stayed secure while boulder hopping. And the best part? My sore feet stayed comfy the whole time.

In short: For the adventurous scrambler looking to free their toes, the Cairn Evo C Sandals are a highly capable, comfortable choice. They’re built with a thicker, softer footbed than the original Cairn Evos, but they retain the performance of the Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole. I was impressed with how well the rubber stuck to the granite, and I loved the extra cushion.

As a climbing professional, no sandal could completely replace an approach shoe, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well the Cairn Evo C sandals performed during many personal adventurous days exploring the desert. To see how the Bedrocks stack up against other hiking-capable sandals, check out GearJunkie’s Best Hiking Sandals for Women Buyer’s Guide.

Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals


  • Weight (per pair) 1 lb., 3.2 oz.
  • Adjustment zones Three
  • Closure Strap (buckle)
  • Arch profile Mild (1/4" proud)
  • Outsole 3/4" thick Vibram XS Trek EVO with 3 mm lugs
  • Best for Hiking, biking, and sidewalk cruising


  • Impressive traction from the Vibram outsole
  • Good amount of cushioning with thicker 'C' sole
  • Three adjustment points
  • Soles can be replaced


  • Y-strap design takes some getting used to, won't be for everyone
  • On the pricier side

Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals: Review

Both minimal and maximal, the Cairn Evo C’s stack a simple webbing suspension atop a cushy footbed; (photo/Katie Griffith)

Since the Cairn Evo C Sandals arrived at my doorstep, I’ve pretty much been living in them. They came just in time for my spring season of guiding rock climbing in the desert. While working, I spend all day on my feet — hiking to crags, scrambling or climbing to put ropes up, and standing while belaying. After a long day with my toes squeezed into approach shoes and climbing shoes, slipping on the ultra-cushioned Cairn Evo Cs has become a real treat.

In recent years, I’ve watched Bedrocks rise in popularity in my community of outdoor educators and guides. Friends have praised their lightweight footbed and great performance in variable terrain.

I had been itching to try a pair of Bedrocks for a while, but I couldn’t justify the high price tag when I still had a perfectly functional pair of Chacos. Finally, after years of use, my Chacos have fallen into disrepair, and I nabbed a pair of Bedrocks. 

As a Joshua Tree local, I had plenty of opportunities to put my new footwear to the test. In addition to the Mojave Wunderground adventure described above, I wore them on several other climbing approaches in Joshua Tree and Red Rock Canyon. I also took them to explore Joshua Tree’s Wonderland of Rocks, another off-trail route that navigates sandy washes, granite slabs, boulder fields, and prickly pear patches.

Beyond hiking, I found myself sliding on the Bedrocks for almost everything else — grocery shopping, driving, camping, and even going out for drinks. 

All Grip, No Slip

The Vibram outsoles on the Cairn Evo C sandals are no joke, and stick to just about anything I wanted to ascend; (photo/Katie Griffith)

I can’t stress enough the performance of the Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals. As the scrambling up Rattlesnake Canyon got trickier, I expected the soles to slip on the granite slabs, but the Vibram XS Trek EVO outsoles always stuck to the rock. I felt surprisingly secure the whole way, even as we explored the water-polished caverns of the Wunderground. 

As a climbing guide, I should add that my comfort for difficult scrambling is higher than average, but any hiker can test their own limits in the Bedrocks. I also mainly used them while scrambling on the coarse granite of Joshua Tree; they might not be quite as grippy on sandstone or other rock types.

After a pretty rainy spring, there was quite a bit of running water in Rattlesnake Canyon and in the Wonderland of Rocks. In some spots, I couldn’t avoid walking through small streams or puddles, which was another reason I was happy to be wearing sandals instead of approach shoes. I confidently trudged through puddles and found that the Bedrocks dried out in just an hour or two after finishing the hike. 

The only drawback I encountered while hiking in the desert is that sand tended to get stuck between my foot and the shoe. This was mainly an issue when I was traveling through sandy washes; this wouldn’t be a problem on a hard-packed dirt trail or solid rock. 

Fit and Feel

The Y-strap system secures your instep with an excellent hold, and is adjustable in three ways; (photo/Taylor Gerlach)

Part of the impressive capability of the Bedrock Cairn Evo C sandals is how securely they fit. As soon as I tighten the buckle into place, I can trust that my foot won’t shift around on the footbed. There are adjustable hooks on the inside of the sandal straps that help dial in a more comfortable fit, and the Velcro heel strap tightens down to keep the foot in place. 

Before I ordered my pair, friends who have owned these sandals recommended that I size up. But starting in 2024, Bedrock updated its sizing to be more true to U.S. sizing. I typically wear a women’s size 8, which I found to be the perfect fit. 

At first, I was worried that the Bedrocks’ Y-Strap design would cause pain in between my toes. My Chacos don’t have a toe strap, and I did experience a bit of discomfort when I first started wearing the Bedrocks.

However, after the first or second wear, I didn’t notice any rubbing, and I never got any blisters, even when the canvas straps got wet during hikes. The one drawback of the Y-Strap is that I can’t wear these with socks in the winter!

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Comfort and Weight

Wet trails were no issue for the Cairn Evo C sandals, which dried quickly; (photo/Katie Griffith)

After experiencing the plush cushion of the Cairn Evo Cs, I don’t know if I could go back to the original Bedrock Cairn Evos. I’m more accustomed to the beefy footbed of Chacos, and my feet feel better with a bit more support.

Several years ago, I tried out a more minimalist model from Luna Sandals; I loved how lightweight the Lunas were, but I experienced some foot pain when I tried to wear them for longer hikes or scrambles. 

What really sets the Cairn Evo Cs apart is how they maintain comfort while reducing weight. I have been looking for a capable sandal that’s lighter and less bulky than my old pair of Chacos, and these perfectly fit the bill.

I even strapped them to the back of my climbing harness to wear while descending off of a climb; at 9.6 ounces per sandal, I barely noticed the extra weight while climbing. 

I’m also excited to bring these along to use as in-camp shoes on my next trip into the mountains. They’re light enough to strap onto the outside of my backpack, sturdy enough to wear around camp, and the added cushion will help my feet recover after a long day of hiking.

Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals: Conclusion

These sandals changed how I think about open-toed footwear; (photo/Katie Griffith)

For outdoor adventurers pushing the limits of their open-toed shoes, the Cairn Evo C Sandals from Bedrock are an obvious choice. The lightweight yet supportive design is what ultimately convinced me to ditch my Chacos. As someone whose feet appreciate a little more cushion, I was sold on the plush footbed of the Evo Cs. 

One big factor that I can’t speak to quite yet is how their durability compares to Chacos over the lifetime of the sandal. I wore one pair of (hand-me-down!) Chacos almost year-round for about 4 years, and only then was the heel strap starting to fray.

I’ll be curious to see how the Vibram XS Trek EVO outsoles hold up season after season, especially since Bedrock claims they are “ultra-durable.” Similar to Chacos, the sandals are also resolable, to extend their lifespan even after heavy use. 

For now, the combination of performance, comfort, and weight takes them up a notch from any other adventure sandal I’ve owned. And while no open-toed shoe can truly replace an approach shoe, I was blown away by just how well they performed on approaches and descents to climbs with moderate scrambling. I’m looking forward to letting my toes see the light of day in my Bedrock Cairn Evo C Sandals. 

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Katie Griffith

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