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Hands-on Gear Review
Sorel Joan Of Arctic Review
Cons: Heavy and clunky, not very comfortable
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 Joan of Arctic boot is exactly what you need. Taking home our Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Joan of Arctic is ready to protect you from frigid temperatures and tall snow drifts. When it dumped 9 inches of snow in Boulder, Colorado, the Joan of Arctic was the clear choice to brave shoveling the sidewalks and venturing out to walk the dog!
The Joan of Arctic is the only product in this review that has a removable liner; this helps increase warmth and allows the boot to dry more quickly if it somehow ends up getting wet inside (even just from sweat). Additionally, these Sorels earned some of our highest scores in weather protection and warmth. We were thoroughly impressed with many aspects of this winter boot, but were disappointed that it wasn't lighter weight or more comfortable. None of our testers liked wearing the Joan of Arctic all day long and we don't recommend it for anything longer than a short walk due to its heavy, bulky design. That said, if you absolutely need the most severe weather protection, our Top Pick winner is the best of this bunch for that purpose.
For an ultra comfortable tall boot, check out the techy Ahnu Northridge. Looking for a more comfortable tall boot and willing to sacrifice a little on warmth? Consider the Sorel Tofino, our Editors' Choice winner.
RELATED: Our complete review of winter boots - women's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
An amazing winter boot for cold cold days, the Sorel Joan of Arctic measures 13.5 inches from the base of the sole to the top of the shaft. With its faux fur cuff and removable felt liner, our Top Pick for Severe Weather will keep your toes toastier and your pants drier than any other boot in our review. Even though this product earned some of the highest scores in our review, keep in mind that it is super heavy and not very comfortable for everyday wear, especially if you regularly walk medium to long distances.
If you're looking for a boot that's more comfortable to wear all day long, we suggest checking out the Sorel Tofino, our Editors' Choice winner. This stylish boot offers many of the same benefits, except it's less warm. Other high-scoring models that might meet your needs are the UGG Adirondack II or the Sorel Tivoli High II.
We first tested this boot during the 2013 "arctic blast" that brought single digit temperatures to the entire country. Even during that super cold week, this boot 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. We also used this boot for a weekend-long dog sledding retreat in -15 degree temperatures in northern Minnesota. Again, not necessarily toasty, but warm enough that we weren't worried about being out in the cold. In addition to keeping your toes warm, this boot has one of the tallest shafts in our review. Its extra height adds additional heat and the faux fur cuff creates a cozy seal around the mid-calf. Surprisingly, this boot's closest competitor for warmth was the Vasque Pow Pow II, a very comfortable winter hiking boot with 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation. If you're seeking a very warm boot that can take you off the snowy sidewalk and onto icy trails, the Pow Pow is an excellent choice.
The Joan of Arctic comes fitted with a removable liner made of six-millimeter thick recycled felt. This removable liner is crucial if you plan to wear this boot multiple days in a row. Simply pull the felt liner out and place it near the fire, heater, or even in bed with you and it will likely dry out by morning. Additionally, the Joan of Arctic 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. At first we were a bit disappointed with the somewhat sloppy fit of this product; however, we later realized that we could slip an extra heat-reflective insole underneath the felt liner for even more warmth and a better fit.
If you're looking for a warm boot that is much more affordable, then be sure to consider our Best Buy winner: the Kamik Momentum.
Comfort & Coziness
Our Top Pick for Severe Weather really fell short in the comfort and coziness category. In fact, it was one of the lowest scoring pieces in this category, along with the Baffin Loki and Keen Elsa. 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 many 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. They were also quite uncomfortable to drive in.
Unfortunately, the Joan of Arctic doesn'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. On the other hand, if you want the ultimate in comfort and coziness, the UGG Adirondack II is definitely the way to go.
When we dunked this product 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 eight inches before water flooded in. Along with the Vasque Pow Pow II, the Joan of Arctic offers the most water resistance of all the products in this review. Additionally, this piece provides superior protection from snow, slush, and all the other wintry 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.
Although boots like the Sorel Conquest Carly and Baffin Loki are a bit taller than our Top Pick winner, the Joan of Arctic offers significantly more warmth than the Conquest and the mouth of its shaft cinches up (unlike the Loki). During a recent snow storm in Boulder, our lead tester automatically reached for this boot over all the others to shovel the nine inches of snow off her sidewalk!
Style & Fit
This winter boot runs true-to-size; our size 9.5 tester was happy with a size 9.5. However, if you want to layer extra socks or even an extra heat reflective insole, you may want to opt for a half size up (though keep in mind that this will make this already-clunky boot feel even bulkier). Women with wide feet will happily fit into this boot (which we can't say for competitors like the Sorel Tofino which has a more narrow fit). Amazingly, even though wearing the Joan of Arctic feels a bit like wearing a clown shoe, it does not actually make your feet look absolutely enormous, which is a huge plus in the style category.
This boot actually scored very highly in our style category. It isn't as chic as the Sorel Conquest Carly or as cute as The North Face Nuptse Purna, but it does 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 this boot did not provide very impressive traction. Other competitors like the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Titanium - Women's, which is 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 II – were more grippy than the Joan of Arctic. This boot performed fine while walking slowly on slick surfaces in wintry 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, this boot was particularly difficult to take off. 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. Additionally, the Sorel 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 and one eventually broke after six months of use. Interestingly, the Baffin Loki and the Tecnica Moon Boot were quite easy to take on and off despite their tall shafts. Their structured walls and slick liners makes them easy to slip in and out of.
Our Top Pick for Severe Weather Award winner will keep your feet toasty, but at the price of limited comfort. Since this boot is so heavy and uncomfortable, it is not suitable for activities like winter hiking and we wouldn't choose it for all-day wear. We loved it for outdoor chores like shoveling snow and for around town use (although driving in them took some serious getting used to). This boot 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 Joan of Arctic performed. Although it has a slightly higher price tag - $170 – we think it's well worth the investment if you are in need of a warm, tall winter boot. Add in the fact that it has some stylish good looks and our Top Pick winner is a great all-around value.
A winter crusher, the Sorel Joan of Arctic is hands down the best choice for women enduring long, cold, snowy winters. That said, we don't recommend this product for women looking for a boot they can wear all day long or a boot that they can wear on walks lasting more than 30 minutes or so. For that purpose, be sure to check out the Sorel Tofino and Tivoli, or the UGG Adirondack II. Although our Top Pick for Severe Weather Award winner sacrifices on comfort and traction, it makes up for its shortcomings by outperforming its competitors in warmth, water resistance, and style.
Joan of Arctic Wedge Mid
Joan of Arctic Wedge Ankle
Joan Of Arctic Innerboot Liner
— Amanda Fenn
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 21, 2015
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