Sorel Caribou - Women's Review
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Sorel Caribou - Women's
$99.83 at REI
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$205.00 at Amazon
$59.83 at REI
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|Pros||Warm, great weather protection, removable liner||Ultra warm, removable liner, thick rubber outsole, impressive waterproofing, great traction||Full coverage protection, highly durable, reliable traction||Good value, ultra warm, great traction, highly waterproof||Protective, durable, very warm, breathable, excellent traction, high value|
|Cons||Clunky fit, very heavy, not very stylish||Somewhat heavy, bulkier design||Pricey, very heavy, retains moisture, difficult to drive in||Only ankle-high coverage, hiking-specific style, narrow fit||Less 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 activities||A comfortable, true to fit, ultra-warm and waterproof winter boot with a durable and structured exterior||This 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 activities||This well-priced boot hits all the marks with a winter-friendly design that maintains great traction, weatherproofing, and warmth||Great for winter hiking on slippery trails thanks to incredible traction, support, and weatherproofing|
|Rating Categories||Sorel Caribou - Wom...||Baffin Chloe||Muck Boot Arctic Ic...||Merrell Thermo Chil...||Keen Revel IV Polar...|
|Weather Protection (25%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||Sorel Caribou - Wom...||Baffin Chloe||Muck Boot Arctic Ic...||Merrell Thermo Chil...||Keen Revel IV Polar...|
|Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking||10"||9"||16"||6"||7"|
|Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft)||10.5"||10"||16"||6"||7"|
|Measured Weight (per pair, size 7)||3 lb 12 oz||2 lbs 8 oz||4 lbs 8 oz||1 lb 13 oz||2 lb 6 oz|
|Type of Boot||All-around winter||All-around winter wear||Winter workwear||Winter hiking||Winter hiking|
|Fit Details||Runs big||True to size||Runs big||True to size||True to size, wide|
|Lining/Insulation||9mm recycled felt liner||Comfort-Fit multilayer foam||Fleece||M Select Warm (200g)||200 grams KEEN.WARM Recycled PET|
|Footbed||N/A||EVA||bioDEWIX||Kinetic Fit BASE||EVA|
|Upper Material||Waterproof nubuck leather||Suede leather||Rubber||Waterproof PU-coated leather and mesh||Mesh and Leather|
|Outsole||Aero-trac rubber||Polar Rubber||Vibram Arctic Grip A.T.||M Select GRIP||KEEN.Polar Traction|
|Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating||Not stated||-40°C/-40°F||Not stated||Not stated||-32°C/-25°F|
|Temp Change in Ice Bath||-6.9°F||-4.1°F||-9.5°F||-5.2°F||-3.8°F|
|Sizes Available||5 - 12||6 - 11||5 - 11||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.
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.
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.
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.
The 10.5 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Should You Buy the Sorel Caribou?
This workhorse Pac boot is designed to take on the winter elements. A classic, the 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.
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. 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 is the better choice with a better fit and precision designed for hiking and movement.
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