So, finally, I managed to set aside enough time and money to go out and buy some snow boots after deciding that, although brilliant on lighter terrain, the Clarks Tri Arc might not be tough enough to cope with tough icy, muddy, craggy dog walks (I haven’t actually tested this hypothesis, however, they might be amazing, but I didn’t want to risk £100 on shoes I had doubts on. If Clarks want to send me a pair to try out I would be happy…)
So I decided to stick with dedicated tried-and-tested snow boots. Over the last couple of years, many blogs and instagram accounts have been turning to Sorel for their snow-boot needs, and I can see why, they do look cool yet really tough. So, ever in the interests of discovering new footwear I decided to try them out.
First of all, I was a bit disappointed by the range of footwear they have on offer for actual serious walking. If you go to their website, it looks like a plethora of snow boots are winging their way on to your screen. However, not that many of these are waterproof (I’m not sure who these are for… people who want to look like they go outside without actually doing it?), but happily Sorel give you filters that allow you to pick the boots that would suit your needs best. Given that we never get heavy snow in the UK, I first set the filters for ‘heavy rain’, something we know very well. However, when I looked at the boots in more detail, I wasn’t that impressed with the sole.
It would certainly be fine for when it’s pouring in the city, and the concourse of your train station turns into an ice-rink, but the grip on these looks worse than the rejected Clarks Tri Arcs. I don’t think they’d last up to going out onto wet rocky slopes, and I walk in the tameness of the North Downs; I couldn’t imagine these on something unforgiving like shale.
So, the only boots I thought had the sort of grip that matched my old snow boots were the Sorel Caribou:
The Caribou are recommended for heavy snow, which I guess can be translated as heavy mud. They’re clearly a boot that means business — the sole is impressive with lots of rubbery nodules, so I can’t believe it’s the only boot that Sorel make with this sole.
I’ve been a bit busy as of late, so I didn’t have time to make a big journey to a Sorel stockist in central London, so I decided (as it was only one pair of boots) to order them online. In the end, because I had to wait for pay-day, the women’s boots had sold out in my size; fortunately, I am large of foot so I could order a men’s size 6 (which translates as a women’s 7 or EUR40).
I was very excited when they came as they are clearly a boot that meant business: they are BIG boots — so big I thought that they would never fit, but they did!
As I wasn’t sure whether I would keep them, I could only wear them around the house, but I could tell the soles are super-grippy. They’re also really warm, and they look great. However, they are also really heavy, there’s a lot of insulation, but I could tell from just walking up the stairs that these boots would be a drag over a proper walk, they were making my joints ache just inside the house. They are also too high for my needs; I think they really would be great in heavy snow, if I just really needed to survive getting from A to B, but they are too much if you wanted to be outside for a long period of time as the length up the leg is too restrictive over my arthritic joints.
I do think these boots would be good if you lived anywhere with clay soil, that turns into a water-logged bog in the winter, and I did consider keeping these boots for when I visit my parents as short boots don’t work on the farmland and I have to wear wellies; however that would be ridiculously decadent, and I wouldn’t then be able to buy boots I need to wear every day. I sent them back.
Incidentally, I did find the ‘Princess Leia on Hoth’ boots on the Sorel website:
They’re waterproof and look like a fantastic, warm alternative to wellies. They’re on my ‘decadent’ wish list, but first, the search for the perfect winter walking boots continues…