Founded in 1962 in Canada, Sorel’s reputation as a boot brand fuses heritage and expert craftsmanship with modern fashion. Often among the top-rated options for functionality, the brand fuses felt, wool, premium leather and flawless construction for “people who aren’t afraid to get their boots dirty.” The point being? If you live in a cold climate that gets a lot of snow, you need these boots. The Caribou has topped the list for warmest snow boots on countless review pages for decades. Mind you, these aren’t an easy commuting boot for light snows. They’re big, clunky and on the heavier side, but when you’re knee deep in snow or trudging through slush, you’ll find they’re worth it. The upper is made from waterproof nubuck and the interior features a 9mm washable recycled felt inner boot with Sherpa Pile snow cuff. The outsole features a handcrafted waterproof vulcanized rubber shell with Sorel aero-trac non loading outsole. Rated at -40 degrees Fahrenheit, cold climates call for the splurge on Caribous.
Best for: Anyone who lives in a cold, snowy climate (at least part of the year). The Caribous are fit to trudge through a half-foot of snow or more and will keep your feet warm and dry. Temperature rated at 40 degrees below zero, your feet will stay warm so long as the rest of your body can stand to be outside. Plus, the stylish look means you can keep them on all day.
Not ideal for: Mild winter days. Make no mistake: The Caribou are heavy-duty snow boots. Since they are a bit big and clunky, you will look like a survivalist if you rock them for a slight dusting. And while they have the style to wear around the office all day, your feet might be too toasty if you’re indoors.
Sizing: Most rate these boots as running a bit large and wide, so it is wise to order a half size down. Since the boots are super warm as is, you don’t need to factor in extra room for layers of socks. Do keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to go too snug if you want to have easy on-and-off coming in and out of the house with wet, salty boots.
Materials: Nubuck leather upper with seam-sealed waterproof construction and Sherpa Pile snow cuff on removable, ThermoPlus felt Inner Boot. Vulcanized waterproof rubber shell on thick rubber midsole to provide insulation and heat retention. 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug enhances grip on wintry surfaces
The Verdict: I can personally say the the women’s version of this boot (the Sorel Joan of Arctic) have been a lifesaver for many a treacherous Northeastern winter. Reviewers attest to their warmth and durability in cold climates, perfect for winter fun as well as cold-weather chores like shoveling. Many say they are just no replacing pairs from 15-20 years ago. At $150, they aren’t the cheapest option available, but you’ll be glad you have them when the first big snow hits and the temperatures dip below freezing.
The Caribou’s thick rubber midsole not only provides a warm barrier from the cold ground but it also offers great underfoot comfort, support and bounce back. The sherpa pile cuff boosts comfort and protection and the 9mm washable recycled felt inner boot hugs the foot for fit and adds underfoot comfort. The best part? If it gets sweaty after a few wears you can just toss it in the wash and air dry.
The only comfort setback on these boots is their weight. Each boot is a little over two pounds. So while you can stand all day comfortably, you may experience foot fatigue if you are walking long distances. But if you need to track through snow/ice, the AeroTrac non-loading outsole provides great traction. Be careful, however, on indoor surfaces as the rubber can be slick on tile.
Around for decades, the Sorel Caribou boot has great heritage style with that classic “duck boot” look. Available in Buff, Sage, Black or Bruno (a dark brown), the neutral colorways have a laid back look that goes with practically anything—except shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, of course. The New England look is the perfect match for jeans and a flannel and wool coat.
The Caribou’s stylish look makes them a great option for a commuting shoe that can be worn at work, but beware that your feet will be mighty toasty all day long. For any winter events, nothing is equally as functional and fashionable as the Caribous.
The Caribous are extremely durable and you can expect three or more winters out of them. For $150, that seems like a pretty sweet deal for great warmth, comfort and protection. Many Sorel devotees, however, lament that the quality isn’t what it used to be when the boots would last for literally decades without getting a new pair. Sadly, that seems to be the reality in lots of construction today. In the early 2000s, Sorel was bought by Columbia Sportswear and reviewers from that timeframe had major quality concerns about leaking and cracking rubber shell toes. Since then, the brand has regained the quality it is known for and the boots are built to last season after season, although the boots are still made in China, not Canada, as they were before the acquisition.
Pound for pound, the Caribou is a well-made boot. And, Sorel has a one-year warranty if you buy through an authorized retailer. Over time, the felt insert will wear out, but Sorel sells replacements for $35 so you can get a longer lifetime out of your boots. Outdoor Gear Lab found the Caribou to be the most waterproof boot in its review agains the Kamik NationPlus, ultimately awarding the Caribou as the boot to buy. Even though Kamik’s version is much cheaper ($85 retail), you need a winter boot to work, no matter what. It might be a bit more of an investment than competing options, but if you live in a place that dips below freezing, they are worth every penny.
This reviewer weighs in on the boots after three months of use shoveling and for winter play: