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Hands-on Gear Review

Sorel Tofino Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Winter Boots for Women

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 1 review. Most recent review: December 21, 2015
Price:   $160 List | Varies from $65 - $160 online
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Pros:  Great protection from the elements, stylish, comfortable
Cons:  Not super warm, narrow fit
Manufacturer:   Sorel
Review by: Amanda Fenn ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ December 21, 2015  
Overview
Our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Sorel Tofino is a high-performing boot that earned good scores across all our metrics. Although it doesn't shine in any one particular category, we think that it will offer the best all-around performance for the most women. This stylish winter boot has a somewhat narrow rubber toe box and a water resistant textile or quilted canvas upper (depending on which version you decide to purchase). Sorel topped off this tall model with a plush faux fur cuff and lined the boot with soft fleece and 100 grams of insulation. Although this boot is not as warm as competitors like the Sorel Joan of Arctic, the Tofino is much more comfortable for all-day wear and is a great option if you'll be doing a lot of walking around town.

Our lead tester loved wearing this boot all day to work and walking across campus to class. With its tall shaft, faux fur cuff, and narrow, waterproof toe box, this boot will keep you dry whether you are heading out to the bar on a Friday night or scraping off your car before an afternoon of errands. Although this isn't the warmest boot, our Editors' Choice winner earned good scores across our metrics and we think it offers a great balance of performance.

Not willing to sacrifice toe toastiness? Consider the Sorel Joan of Arctic, our Top Pick for Severe Weather. Not a fan of the faux fur cuff? The Sorel Tivoli High II has more subtle fur and is a great alternative to our Editors' Choice winner.

RELATED: Our complete review of winter boots - women's

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

A long-time favorite of our testers, the Sorel Tofino took home our Editors' Choice Award this year. This high-performing women's winter boot offers good comfort, weather protection, and warmth, along with a stylish appearance. We recommend this boot to women looking for an all-around winter boot for cold days in town. If you're looking for a comfortable winter hiking boot, consider the Vasque Pow Pow II.

Performance Comparison


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Out for snowy Saturday morning brunch in our Editors' Choice winning boots. The Tofino is comfortable enough to wear all day and stylish enough to fit in out on the town.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Warmth


Similar in construction to the Sorel Tivoli High II, the Tofino features 100 grams of insulation and is designed with a more narrow sole and toe box than the Joan of Arctic. While this reduces clunkiness and gives the Tofino a more streamlined look, it also reduces overall warmth. That said, we really liked the calf warmth that this model offers; the soft, insulated shaft on this boot measures 12.5 inches from the bottom of the sole. To top it off, Sorel added a fluffy faux fur cuff that creates a cozy seal against the calf. This not only seals warmth in, but also keeps snow and rain out.

As we mentioned above, the Joan of Arctic and a few other competitors (like the Tecnica Moon Boot) scored higher in warmth than the Tofino, so you may want to consider either those models if you are planning to spend lots of time standing out in the cold. That said, our Editors' Choice Award winner offers more warmth than products like the UGG Adirondack II and the Sorel Conquest Carly.

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This boot is unfortunately not the warmest we tested; however, it still earned above average scores and will keep your feet happy in all but frigid temperatures.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Comfort & Coziness


This model did not excel in comfort and coziness, but we also didn't feel like we were sacrificing on comfort. (With the Joan of Arctic, we definitely sacrificed on comfort for qualities like warmth and water resistance.) The Tofino's footbed is not as supportive as those in winter hikers, like the Ahnu Northridge or Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Titanium - Women's; however, because the footbed is more narrow, this model is easier to walk in and is lighter weight - similar to The North Face Nuptse Purna. Be sure to check out our Style & Fit category to learn more about whether this narrow footbed will fit your foot.

This model has a soft lining that is a bit fleecy, but it doesn't even begin to compare to the coziness offered by the UGG Adirondack II. The faux fur cuff on this Sorel model also adds an extra bit of coziness, but some of the leather detailing initially detracted from our overall comfort. Specifically, this boot has a leather strip that goes up the back of the calf. This adds an element of style and helps give the upper its shape, but it was a little bit difficult to break in. We found the shaft on the Tivoli High II to be more comfortable initially. Finally, driving in the Tofino was more comfortable than in some of the other tall boots that we tested.

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With its fleecy interior lining, supportive footbed, and cozy faux fur cuff, our Editors' Choice winner is plenty comfy.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Weather Protection


We were completely surprised at the high levels of water resistance that this boot had to offer. Although we experienced a slow leak at about three inches deep, the textile upper prevented flooding up to six inches deep. Moreover, the shaft protects against snow drifts over 10 inches high and the upper half of the boot has been treated with a water resistant finish. Rain and snow bead up and roll off of this part of the shoe and the faux fur cuff keeps wetness from seeping down into the shaft and footbed. We took the our Editors' Choice winner out in seven inches of fluffy, dry snow and were completely protected from the elements.

For a model that offers even more winter protection, consider the Sorel Joan of Arctic, which can handle puddles up to nine inches deep. On the other hand, if a shorter boot is more your style, but you still want significant water and snow protection, the Vasque Pow Pow II may be a great option for you.

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Feet buried in the snow in our 2013 test model! Both then and now, the Tofinos were not the warmest boots that we reviewed, but the extra height did keep us warm and dry in deeper drifts.
Credit: Skiy Detray

Style & Fit


We really liked this boot's classy winter look. The tall shaft and quilted canvas upper give this piece a distinctive flair, while the faux fur cuff adds a bit of sass; however, the fur is a bit bushier than many of the other models, so it's not ideal for those who are on the fence about this detail. As we mentioned above, the sole and toe box are a bit more narrow, which makes this model a little more feminine, but may also decrease comfort for women with wide feet. If your feet run wide, you may want to consider a boot like the Joan of Arctic or even the Ahnu Northridge.

This boot runs a bit small. Our size 9.5 tester initially ordered a size 9.5, but had to return it for a size 10.

We really liked the look of the leather detailing throughout the boot, including the lace fixtures, pull tabs, and back leather stay. These were a bit more polished than those on the Joan of Arctic, giving the Tofino a more chic look. The other product that really gave this model a run for its money was the Sorel Conquest Carly. This model has a completely different look (and no faux fur) and earned our testers more compliments than any other model. Looking for a stylish boot without quite so much faux fur? Check out the Sorel Tivoli High II or the Baffin Loki.

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This stylish boot pairs well with casual outfits as well as business casual attire. The fit is fairly narrow, but we think this narrow profile also adds to its aesthetic appeal.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Traction


None of the Sorel boots in our review received high scores in traction. All of them (including this one) have rubber outsoles with somewhat shallow herringbone/zigzag tread. While none of our testers reported slipping or sliding in these boots, they certainly did not feel as stable over slick or rocky surfaces as they did in the models with Vibram soles. The Columbia Bugaboot earned top marks in traction and the short-cut Keen Elsa earned the highest score among the more stylish boots we tested.

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Testing the Tofino (front) and Joan of Arctic (back) side-by-side. Both have relatively poor traction, but the Tofino is overall much more comfortable.
Credit: Amanda Fenn
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The herringbone tread on our Editors' Choice winner just doesn't provide great grip on slick surfaces.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Ease to Take On & Off


We were surprised at how easy it was to take off this model given its tall shaft and narrow footbed. The fleecy lining makes the interior of the boot somewhat slippery and the laces are extra long so that you can loosen the laces enough to kick off the boots, but they don't come unlaced from the eyes. When you're ready to pull the boot back on, the leather pull tabs at the top are easy to grip and tug. Although the Tofino is not as simple to put on as the Baffin Loki (which is lace-less), you don't have to sit down and use brute strength to pull it on and off (like we had to with the Joan of Arctic).

Best Applications


We loved wearing the Sorel Tofino around town and out to dinner with friends. It is relatively versatile in that it will keep your feet dry while you're shoveling out your car and it will look great when paired with many different outfits.

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The Tofino is lightweight and comfortable enough for the bike ride home on this snowy Boulder Saturday. We loved its versatility.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Value


This model rings up at $160, which we think is a good deal. Our only hesitation in recommending this boot is that it is not the warmest in our review. Additionally, you really need to like the look of faux fur in order to appreciate it. But if you are ready to rock the faux fur and you don't have to endure super cold winters (or you're willing to sacrifice a bit of warmth for increased comfort) then this is a great choice.

If you're not completely sold on the look of this boot, and you want something just a little bit more affordable with comparable performance, the $150 Tivoli High II is another great option.

Conclusion


A stylish boot that provides stand-out protection from the elements, we loved our Editors' Choice winner. Although it fell short in our warmth and traction metrics, it made up for its shortcomings by earning high marks in style, comfort, and water resistance. This winter, shed snow and give your wardrobe a boost with the Sorel Tofino.

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Sorel paid attention to the details when designing this boot. We liked the leather and metallic accents, as well as the quilted canvas upper. This boot also comes in a textile upper instead.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

Other Versions


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Sorel Tivoli High II
  • Cost - $150
  • Cute and comfortable high boots
  • Stylish for around town on cold days

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Sorel Joan of Arctic
  • Cost - $170
  • Top Pick Award Winner for women's winter boots!
  • Very warm and very water resistant

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Sorel Caribou
  • Cost - $150
  • Classic Sorel look
  • Great winter boots for getting things done!

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Although this boot is not as warm as the Sorel Joan of Arctic or Vasque Pow Pow II, it still works great for outdoor winter chores like snow shoveling. Additionally, it's much lighter weight than the clunky Joan of Arctic.
Credit: Skiy Detray

Amanda Fenn


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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 21, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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