Hands-on Gear Review

Sorel Joan of Arctic Review

This Top Pick for Severe Weather is perfect for the coldest and nastiest weather.
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 14, 2018
Price:  $180 List  |  $123.43 at Amazon - 31% Off
Pros:  Warm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, cute stylish features
Cons:  Poor traction, heavy, less precise fit
Manufacturer:   Sorel
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Weather Protection - 20% 9
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 4
  • Style - 10% 8
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

Enduring long and harsh winters? The Sorel Joan of Arctic is our Top Pick for Severe Weather, and a perfect pick for those who live and breathe winter. This 13.5-inch faux-fur Pac boot protects from the elements while keeping you warm and cozy on the coldest winter days. It features a removable felt liner that is easy to take out and dry when it's especially damp outside. The entire boot is entirely waterproof and locks in warmth when temperatures dip into the double negatives.

While this Top Pick is ready to protect during any of your winter adventures, it isn't exceptionally lightweight or comfortable. As one of the heaviest boots in this review (almost two pounds per boot!), none of our testers liked wearing it throughout the day. Due to its heavier design and sloppy fit, it's not recommended for more than general chores or a walk in the park. That said, if you need the most severe weather protection, our Top Pick winner is one of the best. The only boot that did better in both warmth and weather protection (but sacrificing style and comfort) is the ultra-heavy duty Sorel Caribou. That said, it wasn't our Top Pick simply because it lacks any sort of style and is more uncomfortable than the Sorel Joan of Arctic.

Overall, the Sorel Joan of Arctic is a great option for ladies who want a faux-fur Pac boot that protects throughout the winter. It provides great warmth and weather protection in the nastiest of weather and tallest of snow banks. This contender is a perfect option for those working the lifts at a ski resort or for those in need of a boot to shovel snow in super frigid weather.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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There are no major style changes to this great winter boot. Take a look at one of the current color offerings in the photo above!

Our Top Pick for Severe Weather will keep your toes toasty and your pants drier than ever. Even though this product earned some of the highest scores in our review, it is super heavy and not very comfortable for everyday wear. It's an excellent option for standing outside in cold temperatures — but don't plan on taking it out on your next winter hike

Performance Comparison


A look at our Top Pick for Severe Weather  the Joan of Arctic.
A look at our Top Pick for Severe Weather, the Joan of Arctic.

Warmth


Scoring an eight out of ten in this metric, the Sorel Joan of Arctic is one of the warmest winter boots tested. Boasting a super warm 6 mm thick (and removable) felt liner encased by a suede outer, our testers were warm all the way into the double negative digits. The sole of the boot is super thick, insulating against the cold when just standing around. We first tested this boot during last year's "polar vortex" that brought double negative digit temperatures to Colorado. Even during that super cold week, this toes kept warm with just a single pair of wool socks. While the Joan of Arctic has the second thickest outsole, that insulates against the cold, it's not as big or thick as the Sorel Caribou.


Of all boots tested, this boot features one of the tallest shafts in our review. Its extra height locks in more heat while the faux fur cuff creates a cozy seal around the mid-calf. This is similar to the Sorel Tofino II, offering a 12.5-inch shaft height and a faux fur collar — although this boot isn't as warm as the Sorel Joan of Arctic. It provides only 100-grams of insulation instead of a super warm 6mm liner. It doesn't hold up in these super cold temperatures, but it's an excellent option for warmer climates like that found in Colorado.

The taller shaft height of the Joan or Arctic makes it perfect for blustery winter days where one might encounter tall snow banks.
The taller shaft height of the Joan or Arctic makes it perfect for blustery winter days where one might encounter tall snow banks.

The only Pac boot that proved to be warmer then Joan of Arctic is the uber burly Sorel Caribou, featuring a 9mm thick removable felt liner (vs. 6mm). While this boot has a lot more volume and lacks a faux fur collar, it's outsole is the thickest in this review providing fantastic insulation that (dare we say) could insulate to -40 degrees. A great option if you're looking for the warmest of the warm, but this boot is also thicker and clunkier than the Sorel Joan of Arctic.

The cozy faux-fur keeps out blowing snow and locks in heat.
The cozy faux-fur keeps out blowing snow and locks in heat.

If you're interested in a super warm hiking boot, our Editors' Choice award winner, the Keen Durand Polar features 400-grams of insulation that breathes well and keeps feet warm into the double negative digits. In our cold water tests, our feet were by far the warmest and the most comfortable of all hiking boots tested.

Overall, this Joan of Arctic is super warm, but not the warmest contender out there. It's an excellent choice if you need a boot that will keep your tootsies toasty. Just remember the pair them with a solid pair of winter wool socks.

The 6-mm liner warm and removable making this a versatile winter boot option.
The 6-mm liner warm and removable making this a versatile winter boot option.

Weather Protection


We were blown away when we observed the level of weather protection this boot offers. Featuring a 13.5 inch-shaft height in addition to a waterproof suede full-grain leather upper and a rubber outsole, this boot repels the nastiest conditions in the winter time. During our submersion and slush bath tests, this winter warrior outperformed most of the competition. It can withstand puddle depths of 10 inches, and snow banks up to 13 inches tall! It also didn't demonstrate any leakage at the seams when we hiked around in a freezing cold reservoir. The faux fur collar does a great job keeping blowing snow out of the top of the boot. We are thoroughly impressed with this boot, giving it a rating of nine out of ten in this metric.


While other boots with a faux-fur collar did a great job keeping out blowing snow from the top of the boot, like the Sorel Tofino II and our Best Buy award winner, the Kamik Momentum. Neither provided the same snow depth protections as the both are shorter in design. The only other boot that performed better in this metric is the Sorel Caribou that scored a perfect ten in this category. The Caribou just has a bomber leather outer that doesn't saturate even after ten minutes of hiking around in the water.

Even though it doesn't have a faux fur collar at the top of the boot, many of our testers felt a little more protected with this boot during the coldest of days. This is why it is our Top Pick for Outdoor Chores and an excellent option for those in need of a super warm weather protective boot. That said, it's harder to walk around in its the heaviest (and sloppiest) winter boot in this review. As a result, it's not our top recommendation for all-day, everyday use.

Here we test the waterproofness of the boot. Turns out the overlay is super waterproof  but leaks where the tongue meets the body of the boot.
Here we test the waterproofness of the boot. Turns out the overlay is super waterproof, but leaks where the tongue meets the body of the boot.

Overall, the Sorel Joan of Arctic scores top points for weather protection. Use it when the conditions are wet, sloppy, or snowy. Severe weather warnings? No problemo.

Here we test during a cold early morning where temperatures hover around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The extra length on the Joan or Arctic keeps our legs warmer than shorter boots.
Here we test during a cold early morning where temperatures hover around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The extra length on the Joan or Arctic keeps our legs warmer than shorter boots.

Comfort & Fit


Scoring a six out of ten in this category, it's not surprising that this heavier boot isn't as comfortable nor is the fit precise. While the fur-lined faux collar and fleece lined liner is cozy, this boot feels heavy and sloppy to wear. With each boot weighing almost two pounds, our testers didn't enjoy wearing it all day long. The bulky design features a thicker (and heavier sole) while the footbox has lots of volume in the toe and heel. As a result, the foot moves around easily and is not locked into place. There is no arch support, but the footbed is firm and comfortable. Even though we hate to say it, wearing these boots felt a bit like wearing heavy clown shoes. The boot true to fit so there is no need to size up or down - which is a plus.


While this is the second heaviest boot tested, it's not as heavy or sloppy as the Sorel Caribou, weighing more than 2 lbs per boot (yikes!). If you're in the market for a lighter Pac boot, check out the Sorel Tofino II weighing only 1 lb and 5.5 ounces. Our main tester wore this to work several times and felt that it was much more comfortable to wear day to day. Or, check out the super comfortable Keen Elsa, weighing only 1 lb and 2.20 ounces. It has way less material than the Sorel Joan of Arctic and was one of our favorite day to day winter boots. If you're looking for the lightest boot out there, don't miss the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat, a super soft and flexible winter boot weighing less than a pound per boot!. All these are great options for all-day wear that we hardly noticed them on!

This boot is heavier and chunkier than most. That said  we do love its comfort features like the faux-fur collar!
This boot is heavier and chunkier than most. That said, we do love its comfort features like the faux-fur collar!

Since the Sorel Joan of Arctic is the second heaviest boot tested, it's not recommended if you're going to be walking around to-and-fro all day long. It's a great option for standing around in all day or if you plan on just getting out to shovel the driveway or run quick errands around town.

Even though other boots feature 200g of Thinsulate insulation as well  this one was made warmer because of its design and thick  insulating outsole. Even though the boots feels clunky and bulk  we did like the faux fur collar and fleece lining.
Even though other boots feature 200g of Thinsulate insulation as well, this one was made warmer because of its design and thick, insulating outsole. Even though the boots feels clunky and bulk, we did like the faux fur collar and fleece lining.

Ease of Use


Scoring an eight out of ten, this boot is fairly easy to use. Putting each boot on is easy; the shaft is stiff enough to stand up on its own, and we found that when the laces were properly loosened, we could just slide our foot in. We did wish there were pull tabs on the boot. The upper tabs on the liners that connect the liner to the outer suede material do not double as the pull tabs. When we tried to use them as finger holds, they usually came unsnapped, and one eventually broke after six months of use. When taking this boot off, we often had to loosen the laces so much that they came unlaced from the top eyes, and simply 'kicking them off' wasn't so simple. Aside from that, when pulling the laces, all tighten in just one pull. In comparison to hiking boots and others that require manual lace-up methods, this boot is much easier to use than most.


There are a few other boots that are easier to use. For example, the only boot without a lace-up system in this review is our Best Buy winner, the Kamik Momentum. It makes taking the boot on and off simple. Its one-pull lace-up system and wide opening allowed feet to slide in and out easily without much additional work.

Easily unclip the liner and remove.
Easily unclip the liner and remove.

The Sorel Tofino were pretty easy to slip on and off (as it doesn't have an additional liner), but the laces also came unlaced from the upper eyelets, earning it an eight out of ten. Overall, the Sorel Joan of Arctic is relatively easy to use, just know the liner makes it a little more difficult to kick off after a long day in the snow.

Simply pull the laces and the boot will become nicely fitted to your foot and leg.
Simply pull the laces and the boot will become nicely fitted to your foot and leg.

Boots that were easier to take on and off typically feature a rigid shaft, wide opening, and a one-pull lacing system.

Traction


Scoring only a four out of ten in this category, we are not super impressed by the vulcanized rubber sole that offers little traction. Instead of featuring a lug-based outsole, this boot (along with other competitors tested) features grooves. While this does great on flat surfaces that include hard-packed or soft-packed snow, it doesn't grab the super sloppy steep stuff as well as boots with legitimate lugs. This boot did not do well in our steep hill hiking test and commonly slipped out, similar to the Sorel Tofino II.


Similar boots with better traction include the Sorel Caribou that offers rounded lugs that grabs steep and snowy surfaces much better than other Sorel Models. Our Best Buy award winner, the Kamik Momentum offers super beefy lugs that did surprisingly well in our hill hiking tests, making it a better option for sloppier situations. If you prefer a boot that is designed towards winter hiking, check out the Keen Durand Polar or Columbia Bugaboot Plus, that features several deep multi-directional lugs.

The lug-less design is perfect for snow  but not technical terrain.
The lug-less design is perfect for snow, but not technical terrain.

If you're planning on hiking over super slippery surfaces, the Joan of Arctic isn't the best option. Its best use is over hard or soft-packed snow and flat surfaces, and it's a perfect compadre for around-the-house chores or standing around in the cold.

The outsole features a wave-like pattern and a wider outsole that floats n the snow.
The outsole features a wave-like pattern and a wider outsole that floats n the snow.

This boot is compatible with YakTrax. If you like everything you've read so far but worry about traction, couple it with a pair of these, and you'll be fine on any slippery surface.

Style


Featuring a full grained suede leather outer and faux fur-collar many of our testers liked the look of this winter boot. If faux-fur if your thing, this is a super stylish and cute option. With its super tall shaft that comes up most of the calf, it's great to pair with tights or skinny jeans for a great winter look. Just don't plan to put it under the leg of a pant or snowsuit. It has many cute color combos, suited for any women's wardrobe. We liked the color contrasts of the fur and outer, in addition to the rubber outsole. It scores an eight out of ten.


If you love faux fur another lighter-weight option that scores higher for style with our testers, the Sorel Tofino II is where it's at. This boot is more streamlined, lighter, with cute color combinations. The faux fur isn't as exaggerated nor does the boot look as clunky. It's not as tall either.

The Joan of Arctic can be paired with a skirt for a cute winter look.
The Joan of Arctic can be paired with a skirt for a cute winter look.

If you prefer an even lighter boot without faux fur, check out our Top Pick for Style, the Ugg Cecile. This fully-leather duck-boot provides ample comfort throughout the day featuring a great supported fit and lightweight design. The boot is only 7 inches and looks cute over or under a pair of jeans. If you're not into leather, the Keen Elsa is also a super cute and simple option that received many compliments for its colorful outer and rubberized outsole.

Best Applications


Our Top Pick for Severe Weather Award winner will keep your feet toasty…but it's not the most comfortable to wear. Since it is clunky and heavy, it is not suitable for activities like winter hiking. Nor would we choose it for all-day wear, unless you're just standing around or working the lift at the local ski hill. We love it for outdoor chores, like shoveling snow and for around town use (although driving in them took some getting used to). This boot will keep your feet warm and happy during non-technical pursuits all winter long. Not only that, but it's the best choice when snow drifts are as high as 13 inches!

Looking for a great 'apres ski boot'? This also fits the ticket! Heather enjoys the warmth of the Sorel Joan of Arctic after a blue bird day skiing Red Mountain pass.
Looking for a great 'apres ski boot'? This also fits the ticket! Heather enjoys the warmth of the Sorel Joan of Arctic after a blue bird day skiing Red Mountain pass.

Value


Throughout our testing process, we were impressed at how well the Joan of Arctic performed. Although it has a slightly higher price tag of $180, it's well worth the investment if you are in need of a warm, tall winter boot. We enjoyed its weather protection, warmth, and cute faux fur look. That said, if you want a boot that protects well and provides decent warmth and traction for a half the price, check out the Kamik Momentum (our Best Buy winner) for just $90.

Conclusion


A winter crusher, the Sorel Joan of Arctic is hands down the best choice for women enduring long, cold, snowy winters. Although our Top Pick for Severe Weather Award winner sacrifices on comfort and traction, it makes up for its shortcomings by outperforming most of its competitors in warmth, water resistance, and style.

Amber King

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Most recent review: February 14, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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