The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Sorel Joan of Arctic Review

This Top Pick for Severe Weather is perfect for the coldest and nastiest weather.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $190 List | $125.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Warm, weather-proof, faux-fur collar, tall shaft height, stylish
Cons:  Poor traction, heavy, less precise fit
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 14, 2018
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Weather Protection - 20% 10
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 4
  • Style - 10% 8

The Skinny

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. Unfortunately, it isn't exceptionally lightweight or comfortable. Due to its heavy design and sloppy fit, we don't recommend it 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. 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.

There have been some color changes but no substantive changes to this great winter boot. Take a look at one of the current color offerings in the photo above!

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.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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


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 a "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 q thick outsole that insulates against the cold, it's not as big or thick as the Sorel Caribou.


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. The Tofino II 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 milder winter climates.

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 warmer then Joan of Arctic is the uber burly Sorel Caribou, featuring a 9mm thick removable felt liner (vs. the Joan's 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 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.

If you're interested in a super warm hiking boot, our Editors' Choice award winner, the Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated features 200-grams of Thinsulate insulation that breathes well and keeps feet warm during winter adventures. In our cold water tests, this boot lost only 14.7 degrees F, the best performance of the hiking boots, and it is super comfortable.

Overall, this Joan of Arctic is very 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.

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.

Weather Protection


We were blown away when we observed the level of weather protection this boot offers. Featuring a 13.5-inch shaft height with a waterproof suede full-grain leather upper and a rubber outsole, this boot repels the nastiest winter conditions. 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! It also didn't leak 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.


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

The faux-fur collars on the Sorel Tofino II and the Kamik Momentum keep snow from blowing in, but they are shorter and don't provide as much snow depth protection. The only other boot that performed better in this metric is the Sorel Caribou, our Top Pick for Outdoor Chores, that scored a perfect ten in this category. The Caribou has a bomber leather outer that doesn't saturate even after ten minutes of hiking around in the water.

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.

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!

Comfort & Fit


It's not surprising that this heavier boot isn't as comfortable as lighter options 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 toe box 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. We hate to say it, but 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.

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.

Or, check out the super comfortable North Face Shellista II, weighing only 1 lb and 3.5 ounces. It has way less material than the Sorel Joan of Arctic and was one of our favorite daily winter boots.

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

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

Ease of Use


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.

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.

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 Kamik Momentum's one-pull lace-up system and wide opening allowed feet to slide in and out easily without much additional work.

The Sorel Tofino is 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. 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.

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

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

Traction


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. The Columbia Bugaboot IV performed the best in our traction tests, making it a better option for slippery situations.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Style


Many of our testers liked the look of this winter boot, which features a full grained suede leather outer and faux fur collar. 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.


If you love faux fur, another lighter-weight option that scores higher for style with our testers is the Sorel Tofino II. 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.

If you prefer an even lighter boot without faux fur, check out The North Face Shellista II Mid. This leather boot provides ample comfort throughout the day, featuring a supported fit and lightweight design. The boot is only 11 inches tall and looks cute over or under a pair of jeans.

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.

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 these bulky boots takes 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!

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.

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 Columbia Ice Maiden (our Best Buy winner) for just $80.

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