Sorel are renowned for their stylish winter boots and they have been making them since 1962! You have probably seen a bunch of them on the streets, often without even knowing it.
Baffin have come to the winter boot market from a different angle than Sorel, because their focus was first and foremost - warmth. Style mostly plays second fiddle to keeping your feet toasty and dry with Baffins, but they have started making some nice looking boots lately.
So, a quick comparison of these boots would be -
Now, let's get into a bit more detail about how they compare, and then check out some "head to head" boot comparisons to help you choose your next best winter companion :>
Comparison of Features
The following section is broken down to help you see how these boots compare regarding the main differences in features:
Warmth & Insulation
One of the biggest differences between Baffin and Sorel boots is there approach to insulation.
Sorel typically (it varies a little from boot to boot) uses a simple liner, either of felt or synthetic insulation.
It is usually measured in mm - millimeters (one mm is about 1/25 of an inch) to help you compare boots. In most cases the inners are removable, which is a good thing as you will want to dry them out after wearing them a lot. Whether it's sweat or the less likely snow that has melted into your boots.
Baffin uses a 7-layer foam-based system in their boots that is designed to be super-warm, while also helping wick away moisture.
They also included a heat relfection material in the footbed area to further increase warmth by re-using your own body heat.
These boots are designed to be warm and stay warm in cold winter climates.
You can check out their full layer foam system in the image.
Baffin also makes boots all the way from -4 to -150 F. So, you can really find the right boot for you local climate range and needs.
With Sorel the warmest is about a -40 F, which to be honest is ok for the majority of people.
Snow boots from both manufacturers are designed to be waterproof, which is clear from how they are designed.
Most of the time you will get wet in the snow from walking in slush/melted snow. This is stopped by making the boot sole quite thick (over an inch in most cases) and also having the rubber rim from toe to heel.
The upper is usually made of waterproofed leather or synthetic, with the tongue stitched all the way to the top, to prevent any leaks.
The fur cuff is the last line of defence, helping stop powder snow from entering the boot.
Baffin & Sorel also takes this a step further on some of their more extreme boots by having no tongue and a draw string cuff on the top to really seal the entrance to the boot.
So, although these boots are designed to be waterproof, bear in mind that if you are going to walk through rivers, the more stylish and open boots are not going to cut it.
Sorry, you can't have your cake and eat it too.
If you are looking at the more stylish "around town" style boots, then Sorel definitely have the edge. They have been designing great looking winter snow boots since they started.
Starting with the Caribou, the classic of Sorels, you get a great mix of style, comfort, grip and warmth (rated to -40 F/C).
Baffin focuses on strong and durable boots that are intended to be used outdoors doing all kinds of activities.
Sorel has more of a focus on style and fashion.
The difference shows in the soles of their boots.
The majority of Sorel's boots have a reasonable grip, but nothing amazing. You can see this in the first image - the Sorel Herringbone-style sole, which is found on a lot of their more stylish boots.
And if you go with their more extreme boots, the grip gets even better, like on the Baffin Wolf.
Of course, a lot of people don't need extreme grip on their city shoes and often go for Sorels. It just depends on what you are going to use them for :>
This one is always a matter of personal taste, but let me give you a few tips that might help.
First, with winter boots, you almost always have to size up. This is because you will want to include a thicker sock when wearing most of these boots (although some of the insanely warm Baffin's you might not). Always read the reviews on Amazon first, to see what other reviewers have said - to help avoid ordering the wrong size.
Second, Baffin and Sorel have completely different liners in their boots. Baffin has a foam inner that molds to your foot over time and can be seriously comfy to wear.
But, having said that, a lot of people love the felt inners in the Sorels. You just have to get the size more spot on, as they don't give as much as the foam does.
Made in North America?
Baffin tries to produce as much of their boots as possible in Canada. In today's "made in China"/low-wage marketplace, it is no surprise that they are not 100% made in North America. But, as well as making the boots, they also give to some worthy causes in Nepal to help those in mountainous regions who are far less well off than us!
Sorel on the other hand, used to make all their boots in Quebec, Canada, until they went bankrupt and were purchased by Columbia Sportswear. Now, it is more than likely that any Sorel boot you buy is made in China, or some nearby low-cost country in Asia.