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Sorel Caribou - Women's Review

A warm, bulky, and durable boot built for a lifetime of Alaska-grade winters but that isn't light or comfortable enough for extended use or mobile activities
Sorel Caribou - Women's
Credit: Sorel
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Price:  $200 List | $155.86 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Warm, great weather protection, removable liner
Cons:  Clunky fit, very heavy, not very stylish
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Liz Chamberlain and Amber King  ⋅  Feb 23, 2022
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 9.0
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 5.0
  • Durability - 15% 8.0
  • Traction - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

Entering the market in the 1960s, the Sorel Caribou has been a classic workhorse Pac boot for decades. It's a perfect compadre for shoveling snow or stacking firewood. It features a 10½ inch shaft with a removable 9mm felt liner that provides ample warmth in the double negative digits. The leather upper offers unbeatable water and snow protection for a winter boot. While the design is easy to pull on and off at the door, it is very heavy with a less than precise fit. Still, this is a tried-and-true footwear classic, ready to be worn in the coldest weather. Given its high durability factor, the Caribou is an excellent choice for doing the dirty work around the house.

Editor's Note: We performed an update on February 23, 2022, to include more information on our favorite boots and why we like the ones we do.

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Pros Warm, great weather protection, removable linerFull coverage protection, highly durable, reliable tractionCozy wool lining, very warm, highly waterproof, versatile constructionGood value, ultra warm, great traction, highly waterproofProtective, durable, very warm, breathable, excellent traction, high value
Cons Clunky fit, very heavy, not very stylishPricey, very heavy, retains moisture, difficult to drive inExpensive, slightly bulkyOnly ankle-high coverage, hiking-specific style, narrow fitLess stylish, somewhat heavy, stiff collar
Bottom Line A warm, bulky, and durable boot built for a lifetime of Alaska-grade winters but that isn't light or comfortable enough for extended use or mobile activitiesThis highly durable boot is completely waterproof and great at insulating, though it's a bit too bulky to wear on low-snow days or during high-output activitiesThis boot is the epitome of comfort and warmth wrapped in a versatile, high-performing, waterproof packageThis well-priced boot hits all the marks with a winter-friendly design that maintains great traction, weatherproofing, and warmthGreat for winter hiking on slippery trails thanks to incredible traction, support, and weatherproofing
Rating Categories Sorel Caribou - Wom... Muck Boot Arctic Ic... UGG Adirondack III Merrell Thermo Chil... Keen Revel IV Polar...
Warmth (25%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Weather Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
5.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Durability (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Traction (15%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Sorel Caribou - Wom... Muck Boot Arctic Ic... UGG Adirondack III Merrell Thermo Chil... Keen Revel IV Polar...
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 10" 16" 9" 6" 7"
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 10.5" 16" 8" rolled / 10" extended 6" 7"
Measured Weight (per pair, size 7) 3.78 lbs 4.59 lbs 2.36 lbs 1.79 lbs 2.41 lbs
Type of Boot All-around winter Winter workwear All-around winter Winter hiking Winter hiking
Fit Details Runs big Runs big True to size True to size True to size, wide
Lining/Insulation 9mm recycled felt liner Fleece UGGpure wool M Select Warm (200g) 200 grams KEEN.WARM Recycled PET
Removable Liner? Yes No No No No
Footbed N/A bioDEWIX EVA Kinetic Fit BASE EVA
Upper Material Waterproof nubuck leather Rubber Waterproof suede and leather Waterproof PU-coated leather and mesh Mesh and Leather
Toe Box Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber Leather
Outsole Aero-trac rubber Vibram Arctic Grip A.T. Molded White Spider Rubber M Select GRIP KEEN.Polar Traction
Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating Not stated Not stated -32°C/-25°F Not stated -32°C/-25°F
Temp Change in Ice Bath -6.9 F -9.5 F -7.2 F -5.2 F -3.8 F
Animal Products? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 11 5 - 12 5 - 11 5 - 12

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sorel Caribou is designed to perform demanding chores on hard days and keep you warm in blizzardy conditions. It is incredibly grippy and protective, but it lacks a precise fit. The boot scored well in nearly every category aside from comfort and fit. It won't be the most form-fitting or comfortable option for long walks and hikes, but it will keep your feet happy during low-output activities and errands when it's really cold.

Performance Comparison


Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the caribou is far too bulky and heavy to justify wearing on warmer...
The Caribou is far too bulky and heavy to justify wearing on warmer days or in snowless conditions.
Credit: Amber King

Warmth


Among the warmest boots tested, the Caribou features a 9mm felt removable liner in addition to a bomber outer that locks in warmth. The shaft height is 10½ inches with a Sherpa-Pile snow cuff that keeps the heat inside where you want it.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the 9mm removable felt liner is super warm. the ability to dry and...
The 9mm removable felt liner is super warm. The ability to dry and wash the liner will likely extend the lifetime of the boot for those with otherwise sweaty and stinky feet.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

This double boot system provides more warmth than most single-layer systems with a removable liner. The liners are easy to take out and dry if they get soaked or start to stink. According to Sorel, this boot keeps feet warm down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. While we can't verify that temperature, we were able to test the boots in -20 degrees, and they did indeed keep us warm. Not many contenders proved to be as warm as this one.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the outsole is super thick providing great insulation from cold...
The outsole is super thick providing great insulation from cold underfoot.
Credit: Amber King

Weather Protection


Equipped with a bomber nubuck leather upper and a removable liner, the Caribou offers excellent weather protection. In our cold water and puddle tests, it kept our feet dry to roughly ten inches. There was no leakage throughout the boot when properly laced up, and the material did not saturate or become less protective at any point during testing.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - here we take the caribou for a walk through the water to determine...
Here we take the Caribou for a walk through the water to determine how water resistant the upper leather and liner are. The answer? VERY waterproof!
Credit: Amber King

The 10½ inch shaft puts the Caribou at the second tallest option in our lineup, which means it provides ample coverage to break trail and pummel through tall snowdrifts. The construction of the tongue and upper effectively keep snow out of the interior, and the faux fur collar provides a thin barricade for keeping snow out as well. Unfortunately, the protection isn't 100% bulletproof. When we tested the Caribou with just a thin legging underneath, a bit of snow entered through the accordion-folded tongue area. We found the key is to cinch down the laces as tight as possible to maintain the closest fit to your shin.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - deep snow would pile up on the collar of the caribou but almost...
Deep snow would pile up on the collar of the Caribou but almost never seemed to get inside of the boot.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Comfort and Fit


The Caribou scored low in this metric because it is not exceptionally comfortable or well-fitted. It is voluminous throughout the footbed and shaft. For those with narrow feet, it may feel like you're clunking around in an old pair of ski boots. Weighing almost 2 pounds per boot, our testers didn't love wearing these for long periods. We felt weighed down and even found ourselves tripping over our feet on some occasions.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the sherpa pile collar is cozy and provides decent weather...
The Sherpa Pile collar is cozy and provides decent weather protection from blowing snow.
Credit: Amber King

The felt liner serves as a footbed for this hefty number, leaving little to no contoured shape in the heel or the sides of the foot. Wide feet may find this to be an okay fit, but for those with narrow heels or high arches, you may need to stray away from this boot. Some testers felt they had to hang on by scrunching their toes or picking up their knees when walking. Not only is the fit spacious, the boot actually feels like a size larger than its claimed shoe size.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the pull tab makes it easy to put this boot on and pull it off.
The pull tab makes it easy to put this boot on and pull it off.
Credit: Amber King

Durability


Structurally, we give a big thumbs up to the Caribou. It is stiff and taught with a long, strong shaft that will undoubtedly maintain structure for many seasons. The thick waterproof nubuck leather has a tried and true design that is triple seam-sealed over the three-layer Aero-trac rubber outsole. The test of time has proven these boots worthy of the price tag. The Caribou can handle rough play out in the snow without showing significant signs of wear and tear in the finer details. We went as far as to kick rocks, scrape up against trees, and leave the boots out overnight in piles of snow.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the caribou has one of the stiffest shafts in our lineup which...
The Caribou has one of the stiffest shafts in our lineup which easily supports the boot's heavy materials and keeps a sturdy structure around the upper.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Nubuck leather comes from the outer layer of a rawhide, while suede comes from the inner layer. Nubuck tends to be thicker and more durable than suede, so long as the grain, fat, and oil composition is conducive to exposure to, in this case, the winter elements. In the case of the Caribou, the exterior upper is a stiff, thick, high-quality layer that we trust to maintain a durable structure for years to come. The boot feels nearly indestructible paired with a vulcanized rubber composite in the outsole.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the caribou is a bulky beast that is frankly too much boot for low...
The Caribou is a bulky beast that is frankly too much boot for low snow activities. The boot feels extra clunky when you aren't barreling through snow fields.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

Traction


The Caribou has long ball-shaped lugs, measuring about ½ inch in depth. We trudged over snow, ice, sand, and dirt, and it proved to grip nicely on all surfaces no matter the incline. The rubber compound is stiff enough to limit stickiness on pavement and warmer surfaces. While the boot's weight may be irritating, the burly base is trustworthy on various slopes. For this reason, we gave the Caribou one of the highest scores in the traction category.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - the unique 1/2 inch rounded lugs on the caribou outsole are enhanced...
The unique 1/2 inch rounded lugs on the Caribou outsole are enhanced by thicker lugs around the edges to maintain grip on uneven surfaces.
Credit: Liz Chamberlain

From other users, there are reports of lugs wearing and breaking off after about a year of use. We haven't experienced this issue in testing, though it's possible that the rubber outsole is not as indestructible as we hope.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - this boot is ultra-protective and burly. if you need a boot that...
This boot is ultra-protective and burly. If you need a boot that will likely last for many years with amazing protection and warmth, this is one to consider. It's just bulkier and heavier than most.
Credit: Amber King

Should You Buy the Caribou?


This workhorse Pac boot is designed to take on the winter elements. A classic, the Sorel Caribou provides ample warmth and weather protection through the coldest days of winter. Use it to collect firewood or shovel the driveway, but leave it at home for long hikes in the wilderness. The bulky, burly Caribou comes with a bit of a hefty price tag. However, many Caribou owners have found this boot to be a go-to mainstay for years and years. It proved to be durable, protective, and warm throughout our testing period, though the weight bogged us down enough to limit our overall usage. If you're okay spending money on high-quality winter footwear, this will do the job, but you may find cheaper options for similar, if not better, performance and versatility. There are better options to add to your footwear lineup.

Sorel Caribou - Women's winter boots - shoveling snow after a winter storm is a great application for the...
Shoveling snow after a winter storm is a great application for the Caribou.
Credit: Amber King

What Other Winter Boots Should You Consider?


If outdoor chores or simple standing are the order of the day, we like the less stylish but just as warm, Muck Boot Arctic Ice Tall AGAT - Women's. This work boot offers better weather protection and traction and rides higher for deeper snow. With a higher price tag, you may need to work outside more to justify the added expense, but we think most outdoor chores are better with the Muck and the design makes it one you will feel better about getting dirty. If your goal is walking or hiking in the snow, the Merrell Thermo Chill Mid WP - Women's is the better choice with a better fit and precision designed for hiking and movement.

Liz Chamberlain and Amber King
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