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Sorel Caribou - Women's Review

A beast of a boot built for burly 'brr' inducing weather
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Price:  $160 List | $95.59 at Amazon
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 12, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 10
  • 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 9-mm felt liner that provides ample warmth in the double negative digits. The leather upper provides unbeatable water and snow protection, while the construct is easy to pull on and off at the door. It's very heavy with a less than precise fit. They are big and bulky, and you might feel like you are floating in boots, but they are classic! Wear it in the coldest weather or when mother nature truly pukes with all its glory. Given its high durability factor, it's a nice choice for doing the dirty work around the house.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sorel Caribou is destined to perform for dirty 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.

Warmth


Among the warmest boots tested, this Sorel features a 9-mm 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 warmth inside. 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. While we can't verify these temperatures, this is a believable claim due to the boot's thick liner and soles.

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

Not many contenders proved to be as warm as the Caribou. The Caribou is so toasty, so thick, and so insulated it is hard to imagine anything else keeping us as warm when temperatures dipped as low as -20 degrees.

The outsole is super thick providing great insulation from cold underfoot.
The outsole is super thick providing great insulation from cold underfoot.

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, we learned it keeps feet dry to roughly ten inches. There is 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 during the worst and coldest weather.

Here we take the Caribou for a walk through the water to determine how water resistant the upper leather and liner. No surprise that it was waterproof!
Here we take the Caribou for a walk through the water to determine how water resistant the upper leather and liner. No surprise that it was waterproof!

Comfort & Fit


Scoring low in this metric, this boot is not comfortable or well-fitted. It is extremely voluminous throughout the footbed and shaft of the boot, making it feel like you're wearing a pair of heavy clown shoes. The interior of the liner is soft to the touch, and it's removable for better drying capabilities. Weighing over 2 lbs per boot, our testers are not psyched to be wearing it throughout the day, and we found ourselves tripping over our feet on some occasions.

The Sherpa Pile collar is cozy and provides decent weather protection from blowing snow.
The Sherpa Pile collar is cozy and provides decent weather protection from blowing snow.

The footbed 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 & fit. Because of this performance, we only recommend 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.

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 together.
The laces are easy and with just one pull the entire boot comes together.

The liners are removable and 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, it features a unique outsole not seen in any other models 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 and 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 Sorels tested.

This outsole is bomber providing great traction over technical terrain.
This outsole is bomber providing great traction over technical terrain.

All other Sorels in this review feature a lug-less design with a wave-outsole that doesn't provide the best traction over most slippery surfaces. So it's not too surprising that it performed better than these competitors.

Value


This super burly boot comes with a hefty price tag. While perusing reviews online, we learned that for many, this boot has been a go-to mainstay that has lasted for years. However, recently, there've been reports of lugs wearing and breaking off after about a year of use.

Shoveling snow after a winter storm is a great application for the Caribou.
Shoveling snow after a winter storm is a great application for the Caribou.

While we didn't test this pair for a year or longer, these reports do concern us. That said, we didn't have any durability issues during our testing period, and in our experience, it's proven to be fairly durable. Aside from that, we would say this is worth the money for a super warm and protective Pac Boot.

Conclusion


This workhorse Pac Boot is designed to take on the elements. Classic in natural, it 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 last for many years with amazing protection and warmth  this one is it. It's just bulkier and heavier than most.
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.

Amber King