Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $150 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Very warm and water resistant, Stylish
Cons: Heavy and clunky, Not very comfortable
Best Uses: Around town in deep snow or cold conditions, Snowmobiling
If you endure long winters, regularly slog through the snow, or just want a winter boot that is going to keep your feet warm and dry without making you look like you completely gave up on style for the entire winter season, then the Sorel Women's Joan of Arctic boots are exactly what you need. We thought that boots this awesome would cost an arm and a leg, but the Joan of Arctics will only set you back $150. We were excited to find out that such a high performing boot was also so affordable, which is exactly what we're looking for in a Best Buy Award winner.
The Joan of Arctics were the only boots in our review that had a removable liner; these help increase warmth and allow the shoe to dry more quickly if they somehow end up getting wet inside. Additionally, these Sorels earned the highest scores in our water resistance metric. We were thoroughly impressed with many aspects of this piece, but were disappointed that they weren't lighter weight and more comfortable. For an ultra comfortable tall boot, check out the techy Ahnu Northridge. Looking for a stylish tall boot and willing to sacrifice a little on warmth? Consider our Top Pick Award winner, the Sorel Tofino.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
An amazing winter boot for cold cold days, the Sorel Joan of Arctics measure 13.25 inches from the base of the sole to the top of the shaft. With their faux fur cuffs and removable felt liners, they will keep your toes warmer than any other boot in our review. Add affordability to the list of pros, and we can't resist our Best Buy Winner: the Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots.
We wore the Sorel Joan of Arctics around Boulder during the "arctic blast" that brought single digit temperatures to the entire country. Even during that super cold week, these boots kept our toes warm. We won't go so far as to say they were toasty, but we definitely weren't uncomfortable in the cold. This model comes fitted with a removable liner made of six-millimeter thick recycled felt. It also has a wide footbed that allows for increased air flow around the toes and foot, which allows the air in the boot to really warm up.
Credit: Amanda Fenn
Moreover, the boot's shaft was the second tallest of any in our review, coming in second only to the The North Face Janey II. The Sorels' tall shafts add additional heat and the faux fur cuffs create a cozy seal around the mid calf. The only other boot that came close to the Joan of Arctic in warmth was the Tecnica Moon Boot, which has a thick layer of lightweight polyester insulation; however, this model is not designed to handle snow and slush like the Sorels.
Comfort & Coziness
The Joan of Arctics really fell short in the comfort and coziness category. In fact, they were one of the lowest scoring pieces in this category, along with the Columbia Minx Slip-On. We tested a size 9.5 and the pair weighed in at a whopping 4.16 pounds, which is about a pound and a half more than most of its competitors. Moreover, this model has a very wide toe box and a wide footbed that doesn't offer much support. Add in the shoe's extra weight and you have a boot that is extremely clunky and uncomfortable; even though we hate to say it, wearing these boots felt a bit like wearing heavy clown shoes. It's important to note here that they were also quite uncomfortable to drive in.
Unfortunately, the Joan of Arctics don't have much to offer in the way of coziness either. The removable felt liner is not super soft and it started to ball up in the bottom of the boot where our feet were rubbing. If you are sold on Sorel's performance and like the look of the Joan of Arctic, but don't want the extra weight and clunkiness, be sure to read up on the Sorel Tofino Herringbone. On the other hand, if you want the ultimate in comfort and coziness, our Editor's Choice winner, the UGG Adirondack II is definitely the way to go.
When we dunked the Joan of Arctics into our testing puddle (read: bathtub), we kept dipping them deeper and deeper, expecting water to start seeping in. We were totally shocked when we made it to nine inches before water flooded in. This was more than two inches deeper than any other boot that we tested. Additionally, this piece provides superior protection from snow, slush, and all the other wintery precip that mother nature might try to throw at you this winter. The sole of this shoe is made of vulcanized rubber, while the upper consists of waterproof suede and full-grain leather. Finally, the faux fur cuff helps keep out unwanted wetness.
Several short models also offer superior water protection, including the Sorel Tivoli, the Vasque Pow Pow, and the UGG Adirondack IIs.
Style & Fit
First of all, we want to note that the Joan of Arctics run almost a half size too big. If you are one of those women who is between an 8 and an 8.5, go for the 8 (even if you usually size up). It's also worth mentioning here that while we did test a boot that was slightly too big, when we tried on the size 9, it was still clunky and heavy. Amazingly, even though these boots feel a bit like wearing clown shoes, they do not actually make your feet look absolutely enormous, which is a huge plus in the style category.
These boots actually scored very highly in our style category. They aren't as chic as the Sorel Tofinos or as cute as The North Face Janey IIs, but they do have a very attractive winter look. With the faux fur cuff and the leather detailing around the laces and up the back of the calf, this boot will certainly earn you compliments. Although you may have to sacrifice comfort, you can still be warm and stylish in these Sorels.
The vulcanized rubber sole on the Joan of Arctics did not provide very impressive traction. Other competitors like the Vasque Pow Pows, which are designed specifically with winter hiking in mind, offered notably better traction. Some models featured Vibram soles with deep treads, but even the Vibram soles with shallow treads – like those on the UGG Adirondack IIs – were more grippy than the Joan of Arctics. These boots performed fine while walking slowly on slick surfaces in wintery conditions, but we certainly wouldn't take them hiking and expect to cruise over rocky surfaces.
Ease to Take On & Off
Due in part to the rougher felt liner, these boots were particularly difficult to take off. They also have one of the tallest shafts of all the pieces in our review. We found that when taking this boot off, we often had to loosen the laces so much that they came unlaced from the top eyes. This made putting the boots back on more difficult since we always had to re-lace the top eyes. Finally, the Joan of Arctic's felt liner snaps onto the upper with pull tab looking straps; however, we discovered that these do not double as pull tabs. When we tried to use them as finger holds, they usually came unsnapped.
Interestingly, the Moon Boots were quite easy to take on and off despite their tall shafts. Their structured walls and slick polyester insulation makes them easy to slip in and out of.
Since these boots are so heavy and uncomfortable, they are not suitable for activities like winter hiking. We loved them for outdoor chores like shoveling snow and for around town use (although driving in them took some serious getting used to). These boots will keep your feet warm and happy during non-technical pursuits all winter long.
Throughout our testing process, we were impressed at how well the Sorel Women's Joan of Arctics performed and then we found that it only costs $150. Giving them our Best Buy Award was a no-brainer. If you are looking for a warm, stylish winter boot, look no further than the Joan of Arctic. On the other hand, the stylish Sorel Women's Tofino Herringbone also costs a mere $150. If you are willing to sacrifice a bit on warmth for increased comfort and coziness, then definitely consider these top performing, affordably priced boots.
An all-around winter crusher, the Sorel Women's Joan of Arctic is hands down the best choice for women enduring long, cold, snowy winters. Although our Best Buy Award winner sacrifices on comfort and traction, it makes up for its shortcomings by outperforming its competitors in warmth, water resistance, and style. Plus, at only $150, it's hard to say no to such an amazing deal.
The Joan Of Arctic Knit Boot, $150, is a knit version of the Joan of Arctic.
The Joan of Arctic Wedge Ankle, $220, is the ankle version of the Joan of Arctic Wedge Mid, $240. Both wedges are waterproof, and the mid have a wedge platform. The removable foot bed provides increased comfort and feet will stay dry and protected, while still looking stylish.
The Joan Of Arctic Innerboot Liner, $40, is a replacement liner that can be used with Joan of Arctic boots.
— Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: December 9, 2013
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