Ready for Adventure

Bedrock Sandals go everywhere active athletes envision.


Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Hanging out at Bedrock Sandals in Richmond, Dan Opalacz and Nick Pence looked every bit the rugged adventurers you’d expect to be running an outdoor minimalist sports shoe company. Scruffy yet scrubbed and calm yet driven, they wore shorts, lightweight outerwear, and their company’s footwear as they chatted.

Company co-founders Opalacz and Pence have been tinkering around with footwear ever since they did salmon conservation work together for AmeriCorps in Arcata in 2010.

Opalacz, a surfer and rock climber from Maine, and Pence, a runner and mountain biker from Virginia, liked Chaco sandals for the rivers and water they worked and played in but set out to de-bulk them. They bought rubber sheet sole material, got out their scissors and box cutters, and fashioned a crude, simple huarache-inspired, free-feeling flip-flop, using leather laces and improvisation. Successful Kickstarter funding took production to the next level, Opalacz said, adding, “We figured out a lot of things.” Their grown-up sandals, the Cairn Adventure Sandal ($98), now sport toe posts, adjustable nylon webbing straps via buckles, hooks, and Velcro atop Vibram soles. A fancier model, the Cairn Pro Adventure Sandal ($110), incorporates a sticky-rubber sole. “It’s a crazy light sport sandal. It’s not breakable,” Opalacz said. People hike, run, bike, paddle, knock around town, and more in them, and Bedrock, which uses American sources for many components of the sandals and has gained something of a cult following, offers re-soling and re-webbing services.

The sandals come in six colors and standard sizes and are made at the company headquarters. Most sales are online, where the Classic ($76) and Gabbro ($84) (closeout only) sandals are also listed. Bedrock Sandals are available at 27 outdoor retail outlets nationwide, and the co-founders are optimistic about the sandals appearing in a few REI flagship stores. One more thing: 1 percent of sales are donated toward environmental causes.


Published online on June 6, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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