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Sorel Winter Carnival Review

A fashionable winter boot that provides style and comfort but is not necessarily the warmest, sturdiest, or most protective
Sorel Winter Carnival
Photo: Sorel
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Price:  $150 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Flexible, solid coverage, fashionable, warm
Cons:  Flimsy structure and support, looser fit, limited traction
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Liz Chamberlain ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 6, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weather Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Traction - 15% 7

Our Verdict

We really like the Sorel Winter Carnival for its stylish comfort and water-resistant outsole but were disappointed with the overall performance in our field tests. Despite a waterproof nylon exterior and a mid-high rise upper, the boot lacks waterproofness and weather protection on stormy days. The removable felt liner and rubber outsole kept us warm during active movement but didn’t do the job when standing out in cold temperatures for an extended period of time. If you’re searching for stylish footwear that works as a winter boot and won’t entirely break the bank, this is a solid option. But if you’re searching for exceptional traction, durability, and weatherproofness, you may need to look elsewhere.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Sorel Winter Carnival
Awards  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award 
Price Check Price at REI
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$190 List
$199.95 at Amazon
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
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Check Price at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Flexible, solid coverage, fashionable, warmFull coverage protection, highly durable, reliable tractionGood value, ultra warm, great traction, highly waterproofWarm, great weather protection, removable linerLightweight, super soft interior, durable leather exterior
Cons Flimsy structure and support, looser fit, limited tractionPricey, very heavy, retains moisture, difficult to drive inOnly ankle-high coverage, hiking-specific style, narrow fitClunky fit, very heavy, not very stylishUnimpressive outsole traction
Bottom Line A fashionable winter boot that provides style and comfort but is not necessarily the warmest, sturdiest, or most protectiveThis 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 well-priced boot hits all the marks with a winter-friendly design that maintains great traction, weatherproofing, and warmthA 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 activitiesOne of the most comfortable choices in our lineup, with a soft, heat-retentive interior and durable, waterproof exterior
Rating Categories Sorel Winter Carnival Muck Boot Arctic Ic... Merrell Thermo Chil... Sorel Caribou - Wom... The North Face Shel...
Warmth (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Weather Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort And Fit (20%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Sorel Winter Carnival Muck Boot Arctic Ic... Merrell Thermo Chil... Sorel Caribou - Wom... The North Face Shel...
Maximum Puddle Depth Before Major Leaking 6" 16" 6" 10" 7"
Measured Shaft Height (from bottom of sole to top of shaft) 10" 16" 6" 10.5" 10"
Measured Weight (per pair, size 7) 2.75 lbs 4.59 lbs 1.79 lbs 3.78 lbs 2.25 lbs
Type of Boot All-around winter wear Winter workwear Winter hiking All-around winter All-around winter
Fit Details Runs big Runs big True to size Runs big True to size
Lining/Insulation 6 mm recycled felt liner Fleece M Select Warm (200g) 9mm recycled felt liner Heatseeker Eco Pro (200g)
Removable Liner? Yes No No Yes No
Footbed N/A bioDEWIX Kinetic Fit BASE N/A OrthoLite
Upper Material Waterproof nylon Rubber Waterproof PU-coated leather and mesh Waterproof nubuck leather Full-grain leather and ballistic nylon
Toe Box Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Vulcanized rubber Vibram Arctic Grip A.T. M Select GRIP Aero-trac rubber Surface Control rubber
Company Claimed Cold Weather Rating Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated
Temp Change in Ice Bath -14.9 F -9.5 F -5.2 F -6.9 F -6.5 F
Animal Products? No No Yes Yes Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 12 5 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

We took the Winter Carnival all over Lake Tahoe, from river paths to post-storm hikes, to test the boot's performance in fluctuating winter weather conditions. We found it a comfortable option to spend the day in, and we maintained warmth when moving around. However, our field tests exposed issues with the upper being too flexible and thin to provide structure on uneven and slippery surfaces. The outsole traction is commendable on flat surfaces, but the wave pattern had us slipping around when trudging up snowy slopes. Additionally, exposed areas in the collar region allow snow to sneak inside, ultimately limiting the boot's insulation capabilities.

Performance Comparison


We consider the Winter Carnival to be a good adventure boot but not...
We consider the Winter Carnival to be a good adventure boot but not an exceptional one. It falls short on traction, sturdiness, and overall weather protection.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain


Warmth


The Winter Carnival had mixed results for this category. We anticipated that it might not live up to the Sorel Caribou, but frankly, it felt equally as warm when moving around outdoors. The Carnival's removable 6mm felt liner is thinner than the Caribou's 9mm liner, as is the nylon upper. While this didn't make a huge difference during activities, we did notice a difference in the boot's capability to retain warmth while stationary. After 1-2 hours of minimal to no movement, we began to feel our feet get colder and colder.

The warmth capabilities of the Winter Carnival's 6mm liner was...
The warmth capabilities of the Winter Carnival's 6mm liner was noticeably different than its big sister, the Caribou.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

The exterior construction of the Winter Carnival is relatively thin for winter wear. Less material makes for a lighter weight boot, but it compromises heat retention. During our ice bath tests, this boot had the greatest internal heat loss of any model in our review, at -14.9 degrees F. We weren't necessarily surprised by this, though we were a little disappointed.

The Winter Carnival is one of the few boots in our review with a...
The Winter Carnival is one of the few boots in our review with a removable liner. You can wash the liner after a season or two if you get sweaty or stinky feet.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

At the end of the day, we would reach for this boot on the way to work or to quickly shovel snow in the morning. The black fur collar is a nice touch to retain some heat around the mid-calf region. It's fashionable and comfortable and looks good with pants and a puffy. Unfortunately, it's just not as warm or cozy as some of the fur-lined options.

Weather Protection


The Winter Carnival has a mid-high construction, with a shaft height of 8¼ inches with a ½ inch of platform height in the sole. This is one of the taller boots in our lineup, offering great coverage over pants or leggings. However, we don't love the tongue height. It reaches the top of the upper but does not extend past the nylon to cover the empty space between the fur collar. For those who can't tolerate the snow-in-the-pants feeling, this might bother you. That said, we frequently wore our snow pants over leggings and didn't seem to catch too much snow in the exposed area.

We weren't as impressed with the Winter Carnival's collar. Despite...
We weren't as impressed with the Winter Carnival's collar. Despite having a comfy faux fur outline, it doesn't do the best job of keeping snow out of the top of the boot due to the open space.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

The waterproof nylon exterior maintains weather protection, shedding excess snow with ease. The boot wicks away water from rain and puddle splashes, though we wouldn't recommend walking into rivers or using this as a rain boot. When tightened, the tongue and laces have a rather sloppy fit, limiting the boot's overall ability to protect from water entering through the front. Despite the boot's limited waterproofing capabilities, it does provide great coverage during snow-related activities.

Comfort and Fit


Comfort and fit for the Winter Carnival is good, though it didn't exceed our expectations or stand out from some of the other products in this review. It's a comfortable work boot that can maintain warmth while moving back and forth from indoors to outdoors. The felt liner is easy to slip into, and the flexible nature of the exterior makes it comfortable for long periods.

The fit is not perfect on this boot, but it works. It's a bit too spacious for narrow feet, though thicker socks help to fill out the extra room in the heel and underfoot. Luckily, the laces cinch down tight enough to keep you securely strapped in. However, the versatility of the boot is limited by the flexibility of the upper. The shaft is strong enough, but it is not supported by another stiff material to add structure. Paired with limited traction on the outsole, there is a higher probability of slipping and twisting an ankle on slippery slopes, rendering this a better choice for more urban locales.

The Winter Carnival collar is super cozy and will keep you warm all...
The Winter Carnival collar is super cozy and will keep you warm all the way up to the calf.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Durability


The Winter Carnival performed well throughout our entire testing period, but we feel that multiple seasons may prove to break this boot down with heavy use. Nylon is not the most durable material compared to leather and suede in regards to longevity. However, waterproofing treatments will help protect the boot from scuffing, scratching, and tearing. The rip-stop style interior is quite tough for abrasion resistance and is often seen in outdoor goods like camping gear and bike bags.

The waxed canvas on the Winter Carnival is not as indestructible as...
The waxed canvas on the Winter Carnival is not as indestructible as some of the other leather and suede exteriors. However, it is far lighter than some of the sturdier boot options.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Traction


The wave construction on the sole of the Winter Carnival proved to be a lesser-performing design than the protruding lugs of some of the burlier winter boots we tested. The wave is a good pattern for wet surfaces but is not quite capable of gripping snow. We found ourselves slipping backward or to the side when walking uphill in ankle-high snow. While the traction is better on flat surfaces, it still didn't impress us. Llugs are completely necessary for traction on snowy inclines and declines.

The Carnival (right) lost points in in the traction category due to...
The Carnival (right) lost points in in the traction category due to the wave patterned sole. We noticed we were slipping around more frequently than when wearing the Caribou (left) with thick lugs.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Value


We genuinely like this fashionable snow boot, but we can't quite justify the price tag based on its performance out in the field. Compared to other boots in this review, you can spend a little bit more for higher quality and functionality. We like that the Carnival is on the lighter side of snow boots in our lineup, but other options aren't much bulkier and have greater traction, weatherproofing, and durability.

Conclusion


Unfortunately, the Sorel Winter Carnival did not quite do it for us. We like the look, the lightweight nylon, and the removable felt liner, but its performance capabilities were limited, and it wasn't versatile enough for us to use outside of low-output activities. If you need a burlier boot that is reliable and keeps you upright in the most slippery circumstances, you may lean towards Sorel's heftier winter boot, the Caribou.

We like the color, lacing system, furry collar, and overall style of...
We like the color, lacing system, furry collar, and overall style of the Winter Carnival, we just wish it performed better in the snow and rain.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Liz Chamberlain

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