I go to school in cold Vermont.
One of my first priorities was to purchase a pair of real snow boots for walking around campus. Unfortunately, I failed to make such a purchase until recently. I trudged through snow and over frozen walkways for a season and a half before buying these boots.
I own a pair of Coleman hiking boots (which are decent in cold weather) and plenty of sneakers and dress shoes. When it snows I usually wear the hiking boots. While they provide decent traction, they're nothing compared to these Sorels.
The "Conquest" boots really feel substantial. Just looking at them you can tell they're quality.
I ordered an 8.5 after trying a pair of Sorels on in a store (I'm usually a 9 or 10 (these are big sizes)). The fit is nice and snug and actually reminded me of a sprain in my big toe I had before. After a while though they broke in quite nicely. I've never had a problem with water or snow getting in; the built in gators work very nicely. When I lace them up loosely I can slip them on and off with ease, which is nice for everyday wear. When they're tight they're very snug, and the strap in the back provides extra support.
I'm not worried about wearing them out and in public as they're quite good looking and are very comfortable.
Normally I wouldn't spend so much on a pair of shoes, but I expect these to last many seasons.