I have been a west coaster for the majority of my life as I’m originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Would it surprise you if I said I come from an area that sees more rainy days than snowy ones? However, last year the GVRD actually accumulated enough snow to make me reconsider my winter boot game. My favourite pair of boots from Roots had seen better days, and being a dog-mom to a high energy ‘coconut retriever’ named Bear (who needs lengthy walkies) I began my search for new winter boots.
One of the brands that were recommended to me was Sorel, and so I looked into their winter lineup and decided to buy the Caribous. The Caribou boots are from Sorel’s pac boot lineup and are arguably one of their most popular and classic boot styles to date. At first, I absolutely loved these boots and happily wore them everywhere. I was invited to a hike in West Vancouver’s Cypress falls and decided to wear them (although they are not recommended for hiking as they are a little clunky), and anytime I needed to walk Bear, those boots were on. I even shovelled snow in them, I really tried to love them. After owning the Caribou boots for a year, and now being able to use them for a true Pennsylvanian winter (and in the midst of a nor’easter), there have been a few drawbacks to owning them:
The Details :
- MIDSOLE: 2.5 mm bonded felt frost plug.
- OUTSOLE: Handcrafted waterproof vulcanized rubber shell with Sorel aero-trac non loading outsole.
- INSULATION: Removable 9 mm washable recycled felt inner boot with Sherpa pile snow cuff.
- UPPER: Waterproof nubuck leather upper. Seam-sealed waterproof construction.
- HEEL HEIGHT: 1 1/6 in.
- PLATFORM HEIGHT: 5/7 in.
- BOOT SHAFT HEIGHT: 8 1/2 in.
- BOOT SHAFT CIRCUMFERENCE: N/A
- Measurements based on size 7.
- Please note: Laces and zippers incorporated in SOREL footwear are not waterproof.
- Uses: Heavy Snow
My first unpleasant experience with the Caribous came when I was shovelling snow in the driveway, I was on even pavement and I found myself slipping numerous times. I’ve also taken these boots out for grocery runs and experienced ‘slipping’ in an aisle that had a small amount of water. This is not reassuring after Sorel boasts the Caribous have a “Handcrafted waterproof vulcanized rubber shell with Sorel aero-track non-loading outsole”. I have read that the Caribou’s manufactured today are a little different, and this may explain why some reviews rave about the traction. The soles on my Caribous are best described as rubberized ‘nubs’ that are slick and do not provide the traction you need when walking on flat surfaces. If I can’t even maneuver in my driveway without feeling hesitant then I know the traction is terrible, and I do not recommend these boots to those of you who need a boot with grip. And, before you come at me and say no boot is safe on the ice, that is true, but my Root’s equestrian boots never failed me as much as these Sorel’s have, and those are a fall/ early spring style boot! I do hope to see Sorel work on their traction technology.
The removable liner is great in theory because you’re able to dry them when needed or have them replaced. The Sherpa look is also one of my favourite’s because it is synonymous with winter, and I love the aesthetic. One thing to keep in mind about the sherpa liner is that in the images on Sorel’s website, they appear to be able to cocoon themselves around your leg, that is not the case. The liner does not create a perfect seal and this allows snow to be able to get into the boot especially if walking in heavy snow. As for warmth, the liner was able to keep my feet warm in -15 Celsius weather, but I do see a problem if the temperatures are far colder. Of course, you can always wear warmer socks. My main issue with boots with removable liners is that they can come out when you take the boots off. My Caribous are notorious for the liners popping out often, no matter how carefully I take them off. I do own a pair of Kamiks that too features a removable liner and have not had the same issue.
Sorel’s Caribous are a little on the clunky side, but- and I know this may sound silly to some of you but one thing I do not like about these boots is that they make my legs look chunkier. I think that’s due to the height of where they may fall on your calves, but that is something to keep in mind if you are sick of wearing bulky winter gear. These boots are also impossible to ‘cinch’ with the laces and no matter how tight you tie up the laces the boots can allow snow to get inside and leave your feet wet.
I’m not going to lie about how much I love a good deal, and the fact that I want to get more for less money, but I do find these boots to be expensive especially in the Canadian market. If you’re insistent on purchasing these boots at least wait for them to go on sale because I do think they are a little pricey for what they are. In the US there are so many options to buy winter boots on clearance, as I recently picked up a pair of Kamiks for under 40 USD and so far I like them a lot more than my sorels.
I have read reviews in the past that stated the caribous are susceptible to their rubber cracking, I have not experienced this. I do try to take care of my boots when they are not in use by keeping them in a warm area in the house and not letting them sit soaking wet after use. As for recommending the Sorel Caribou boots, I personally would not go out of my way to re-purchase another pair in the future. I do think there are better winter boots on the market that offer better traction, style, and warmth for a fraction of the price. I do encourage you to do your research, but in my opinion, there is better out there for less!