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Sorel Caribou - Women's Review

A beast of a boot built for burly 'brrr' inducing weather
Sorel Caribou - Women's
Photo: Sorel
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Price:  $170 List | $127.46 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, great weather protection, removable liner
Cons:  Sloppy and clunky fit, heavy, not very stylish
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 13, 2020
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 15
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Weather Protection - 25% 7
  • Comfort & Fit - 25% 3
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Traction - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Entering the market in the 1960's the Sorel Caribou is the classic workhorse Pac Boot. It's a perfect compadre for shoveling snow or stacking firewood around the house. It features an 11-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, while the design is easy to pull on and off at the door. It is, however, very heavy with a less than precise fit. The Caribou are big and bulky, and you might feel like you are floating in them, but they are a tried-and-true classic nonetheless! Wear them in the coldest weather or when mother nature truly lets loose. Given their high durability factor, these are an excellent choice for doing the dirty work around the house.

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Pros Warm, great weather protection, removable linerProtective and durable, very warm, breathable, excellent traction, great for hiking, high valueSuper cozy liner, completely waterproof, cute style options, comfortable, warmQuality leather construction, warm, waterproof up to the cuff, beefy traction, stylish for town or city wear, great trail performanceVery protective, warm, durable, excellent traction on icy surfaces
Cons Sloppy and clunky fit, heavy, not very stylishNot the most stylishExpensive, shaft lacks stabilitySmaller volume through the toe box requires a half size upExpensive, bulky and heavy, reported issues with leaking after long-term use
Bottom Line A warm, bulky, and durable boot built for getting winter chores done around the houseA versatile winter hiking boot that boasts excellent traction and warmthWrap yourself in comfort and versatile functionality all winter longA winter hiking boot that boasts a city slicker style but also works for any adventure on the trailsProtective warmth built into a tall neoprene winter boot
Rating Categories Sorel Caribou - Women's Keen Revel IV Polar - Women's UGG Adirondack III Mountain 600 Insulated Arctic Ice Tall
Warmth (25%)
9
9
9
8
9
Weather Protection (25%)
7
8
9
8
9
Comfort & Fit (25%)
3
9
9
9
4
Ease Of Use (15%)
7
7
6
7
10
Traction (10%)
8
9
8
9
9
Specs Sorel Caribou -... Keen Revel IV... UGG Adirondack III Mountain 600... Arctic Ice Tall
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 10 inches 7.5 inches 9 inches 6 inches 15 inches
Measured Weight (one boot, size 9) 33 oz 22.7 oz 21 oz 19.8 oz 37 oz
Type of Boot Outdoor work and chores All-around winter All-around winter Hiking boot Outdoor work and chores
Fit Details True to size True to size, wide True to size True to size True to size
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft, size 9) 11 inches 7.5 inches 10 inches 6 inches 17 inches
Lining/Insulation 9 mm recycled felt inner boot with Sherpa Pile snow cuff 200 grams KEEN.WARM Recycled PET UGGpure wool 200 grams PrimaLoft Fleece lined & 5mm of neoprene
Removable Liner? Yes No No No No
Footbed 2.5mm bonded felt frost plug EVA EVA OrthoLite Removable contured PU
Upper Material Waterproof nubuck leather Mesh and Leather Waterproof suede and leather Leather Neoprene 8mm & rubber
Toe Box Rubber Leather Rubber Leather Rubber
Outsole Vulcanized rubber KEEN.Polar Traction Molded Spider Rubber Vibram Nisqaully Arctic Grip Vibram Arctic Grip
Cold Weather Rating (company claimed) -40F -25F -32C Not stated Not stated
Animal Products? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 12 5 - 12 5 - 11 5 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sorel Caribou is destined to perform your demanding chores on hard days. It is extremely warm and protective, but it lacks a precise fit. Use it to shovel the driveway or walk around town, but don't consider it for a winter hiking boot.

Performance Comparison


The Caribou is a workhorse boot built for winter chores.
The Caribou is a workhorse boot built for winter chores.
Photo: Amber King

Warmth


Among the warmest boots tested, the Caribou features a 9mm felt removable liner in addition to a super bomber outer that locks in warmth. The shaft height is about 11 inches with a Sherpa-Pile snow cuff that keeps the heat inside where you want it.

This boot features a 9-mm felt removable liner that is super warm...
This boot features a 9-mm felt removable liner that is super warm and durable.
Photo: Amber King

With a removable liner, this double boot system provides more warmth than most single-layer systems. The liners are easy to take out and dry if they get soaked. According to Sorel, this boot keeps feet warm to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. While we can't verify that temperature, it is a believable claim due to the boot's thick liner and soles, and we were able to test and stay warm in -20 degrees. Not many contenders proved to be as warm as this one.

The outsole is super thick providing great insulation from cold...
The outsole is super thick providing great insulation from cold underfoot.
Photo: Amber King

Weather Protection


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

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. The answer? VERY waterproof!
Photo: Amber King

Comfort & Fit


The Caribou scored low in this metric because it is not particularly comfortable or well-fitted. It is extremely voluminous throughout the footbed and shaft, making it feel like you're wearing a pair of heavy clown shoes. Weighing over 2 lbs per boot, our testers were not psyched to be wearing this beast for long days, and we found ourselves tripping over our feet on some occasions.

The Sherpa Pile collar is cozy and provides decent weather...
The Sherpa Pile collar is cozy and provides decent weather protection from blowing snow.
Photo: Amber King

The footbed of this hefty number has little to no support, the heel is large and not fitted, and the shaft of the boot can't tighten down very far. This boot earns the lowest score of any in our selection for comfort and fit. Because of this performance, we only recommend it for winter chores around the house or the odd errand around town. It's not ideal for all-day wear at work or while hiking technical winter trails.

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.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Use


Our testers found this boot easy to slip on for a quick excursion outside. The laces are a quick one-pull system that doesn't bunch or bind. The leather outer holds its structure well, so you don't have to make too many adjustments. It also features a handy pull-on tab on the back.

The laces are easy and with just one pull the entire boot comes...
The laces are easy and with just one pull the entire boot comes together.
Photo: Amber King

The liners are removable — getting them in and out can be a bit of a hassle, but you only need to do that if they are really soaked. Other than that, it's a pretty straightforward construct. And, since we couldn't get a precision fit anyway, we often left ours loosely tied for super easy in-and-out.

Traction


Utilizing a vulcanized rubber composite, the Caribou features a unique outsole not seen in any other models we tested. The lugs are long ball-like shapes, resembling the outsole of a strange-looking cleat. We found this boot to grab most surfaces well. We trudged over snow, ice, sand, and dirt, and it proved to grip nicely on all surfaces. During our snowy hill tests, it grabbed the slope better than any of the other Sorel boots we tested, which feature a lug-less design with a wave-outsole.

This outsole is bomber providing great traction over technical...
This outsole is bomber providing great traction over technical terrain.
Photo: Amber King

Value


This super burly boot comes with a hefty price tag. However, while perusing reviews online, we learned that, for many, this boot has been a go-to mainstay that has lasted for years. That said, recently there have been reports of lugs wearing and breaking off after about a year of use. This is concerning, but we didn't have any durability issues during our testing period, and in our experience, this boot has proven to be fairly durable. Overall, we would say this is worth the money for a super warm and protective Pac Boot.

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.
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


This workhorse Pac Boot is designed to take on the 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.

This boot is ultra-protective and burly. If you need a boot that'll...
This boot is ultra-protective and burly. If you need a boot that'll last for many years with amazing protection and warmth, this one is it. It's just bulkier and heavier than most.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King