Sorel have been making warm and fashionable winter boots since 1962 and are probably one of the most well-known boot brands out there. They make great looking and warm winter boots that will last you for years.
Pajar have also been around since the 1950s in Canada and produce a great selection of winter boots too. With the more recent Pajar boots releases (if you check their website), they are pushing in a more formal and expensive direction. But you will still find some of their more everyday shoes on Amazon that you can wear outdoors and keep warm easily.
Below I will focus on some of the features so you can compare these two boot companies, and then do a few head to head boot comparisons.
The boots below are a few head-to-head comparisons that show you how these boots stack up both in look and features. They are all quite similar, but as you can see from the images, look quite different. Pajar have not copied Sorel in any way (or vice versa). So in many cases the look will determine what you buy.
Women's Stylish Snow Boots
Women's Stylish Low Snow Boots
Men's Classic Snow Boots
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
Sorel typically uses a simple liner, either of felt or synthetic insulation that is removable in some of their models (great for drying out after a day out). Their midsole (the stuff between your foot and the sole) is usually a felt plug construction to help insulate you from the cold.
Pajar most often uses a synthetic insulation with wool lining (but sometimes a nylon one) that is also not removable. They make a removable midsole that uses wool or memory foam in most models.
So, in essence, both these boot manufacturers are quite similar, except for the removable liner which is a huge bonus on most bigger Sorel boots.
They also both have temperature ratings on a similar level (depending on the boot of course) around the 30 F / 20 C mark, but some Sorels do rate a bit higher (-40) however often you will struggle to get that low a temperature or tell the difference (as boots and people vary so much).
Water & Snow Proofing
Both are typically very waterproof, but there is a difference in how they do it.
Sorel waterproofs their leather and usually has a rubber liner at the bottom.
Pajar always add a waterproof membrane inside (called Pajar-tex) to help keep things well sealed and they also seam-seal all the stitching.
Of course, it depends on which boot you buy, but rarely does anyone complain of water getting into either of their them (Sorel or Pajar).
Another area you might want to pay attention to is the top of the boot. If you plan on being in deep snow (snowshoeing, walking with the dog) the way the top of the boot is sealed is crucial.
Sorel rarely worries about a closed top of boot as they are fashion focused. But some of their boots do have it (like the Bear Extreme) but these are really for serious outdoor people.
Pajar have it one some more day to day boots like the Grip which still look great.
Another important thing in deep snow is the height of the boot. Pajar offers quite a few more boots that go to 13" or more. Sorel, even with their higher boots, are usually around mid-calf in most cases.
So, Pajar is really the way to go for day-to-day boots that are suited to deep snow (or covering your whole lower leg).
Sorel boots have decent grip in snow and on slippery surfaces, but their herringbone grip will only get you so far.
As you can easily see in the images here, Sorel does offer some better grip than that on boots like the Caribou and the more outdoor/hiking focused boots. But, their more fashionable boots (which most of you will want) only have the herringbone sole.
** Check the images of the Sorel sole on Amazon when you buy
Pajar on the other hand, having been founded in a very cold environment (Montreal in Winter can get super-cold, and icy). So, they know what it takes to keep you upright in winter conditions.
Their boots tend to be a little better on grip, and they also offer a studded boot grip for those who face more icy conditions.
Check out the Men's IceGrip boot, it has a ring of studs which can be flipped out when you need it, and hidden when you don't! How cool is that :>
Sorel usually win on the style front as far as winter boots go, but don't discount Pajar just yet. They have a lot of options too.
Pajar also have some stylish boots, but their most popular boot is the Grip or Zip Grip, which is a very high and well designed snow boot for deep snow.
They also have a very fashionable and more expensive range, including popular boots like the Davos (the white one in the image, but comes in other colors).
They also have lots of lower cut options like the Iceland (a very cost conscious boot) and the men's Trooper.
Comfort & Fit
Both manufacturers make some nice fitting boots, but there are a few things that can make the difference.
Calves: if you have muscular calves then you might struggle with the Pajars as they tend to have a very limited circumference in that area. This is an issue, especially since many of their boots are so high. Sorels often have more space in this area.
Toe box: likewise, many reviewers have said that the Pajars have a far smaller toe area than the Sorels, as they are often not as wide in that area. Not always an issue, but if you have a wider foot, then Sorels might be better.
Overall fit: I suggest reading a few reviews on Amazon before you buy to get a feel for the boot you are interested in as some run small. Overall, when ordering winter boots it is always a great idea to buy a half or whole size larger IF you intend on using thick or multiple pairs on socks. This is mostly an issue if you either tend to get cold feet, or are planning on head to very cold places up north and standing outside for long periods. I was once in -40 in the Yukon helping out in the Yukon Quest dog sled race at 4 in the morning and you will appreciate the extra socks in such conditions :>
Made in North America?
Rarely does any manufacturer source or make all their boots in their home country anymore and this is definitely true here.
However, Pajar based in Montreal do make some of their premium boots in Canada. A lot of their cheaper boots tend to be made overseas.
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.