Moccasins and Mukluks: What's the Difference?

The Canadian North exhibits one of the most frigid and formidable climates in the world. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the country -- as well as the continent of North America -- was a stony -62.8 degrees Celcius (or - 81.4 degrees Fahrenheit), documented in the Yukon in 1947.

With such extreme temperatures, you can only imagine the difficulty that the locals have trying to adapt.

But that’s exactly what they have done!

And one of the main ways the Inuit and Yupik people of the Canadian North have adapted is through their clothing -- namely, their footwear.

The development of moccasins and mukluks have made life bearable for the Indigenous peoples of Northern Canada.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between moccasins and mukluks, then read on.


Did you know that moccasins are among some of the oldest footgear in the world? They have been popular for over 400 years. And yet, they are still pragmatic, snug, and in some cases -- even stylish.

A moccasin is a type of shoe made out of the hides of animals such as deer and buffalo. Comprising a sole as well as sides that are made up of a single piece of leather that is sewn at the ridge of the shoe.

Moccasins are soft and adaptable, and even though they were used by many European settlers and travellers, they are primarily associated with the Indigenous people of North America.

Today, there are countless types of moccasins that assist with keeping people warm and comfortable. The most popular among them being the Laurentian Chief Moccasin, as well as the wild deer and moose hide moccasins, sheepskin moccasins, and a whole host of others. And all of these varieties come in men’s, women’s, and kid’s sizes, which means there’s something for everybody!


Mukluks are a boot made from the soft and tactile hides of caribou or the skin of seals. Often worn by the Northern Arctic Indigenous people of Canada such as the Yuptik and Inuit, these boots help to insulate the feet and thighs against the frigid temperatures.

Moreover, other than protection, many mukluks also offer original artistry. The Indigenous people have added a creative flare to the design of some of these boots.

Incorporating certain animal sketches outlined onto the boot using different shades of fur, many of the mukluks have unique designs that add to their appeal. All of these varieties come in men’s and women’s sizes

The main distinctions between moccasins and mukluks

There are a few main features that separate moccasins and mukluks from each other. They are as follows:

Their Height

  • Moccasins were designed to simply cover the foot and only go as high as the ankle. Even though they fare very well in colder climates, they are definitely more suited to warmer temperatures simply based on their design.

  • Mukluks are more geared toward the bitter and hostile winters that accompany life in the unforgiving Canadian Arctic. Many mukluks will go as high as your knee in order to protect against any biting winds or frigid temperatures.

Their Warmth

  • Moccasins are generally for warmer climates. They can be utilized for winter weather as well, however, they are certainly not as effective as their mukluk counterparts.

  • Mukluks were produced with one thought in mind -- protection against jarring weather. Additional layers of materials and animal skin combine to create a much more heat absorbent brand of footwear.

Their Use

  • Moccasins have a much more casual application and are oftentimes sported in warmer and more temperate climates.
  • Mukluks are utilized in the great outdoors by the Indigenous people of the north. But they are becoming increasingly popular in modern day culture as more and more people are beginning to wear them.

Moccasins or Mukluks: Which is best for you?

The difference between these two options is pretty obvious once you understand their purpose. And deciding which one is best for you will be dependent on what your needs are.

If you want to keep warm in a chilly climate, then you’ll opt for the mukluks. If you desire a snug, comfortable and cozy shoe but still want a fashionable appearance, then you’ll want to choose the moccasins.

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