Sorel is a household name in seasonal regions with good reason: They’ve mastered the art of cold-weather footwear. Amongst their vast portfolio of award-winning products, the Tofino (now Tofino II) and Joan of Arctic (JOA) women’s boots are largely responsible for Sorel’s popularity amongst female consumers.
The two boots look incredibly similar, but they have a few differences in their build, look, and fit. So, for everyone who’s battled this same debate, here is a comparison of these two wildly popular products.
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Build & Tech
First, let’s take a look at the build and construction of these two women’s boots by Sorel.
Joan of Arctic
The original gangster. The Joan of Arctic put Sorel on the map in women’s winter fashion. This heavyweight snow buster is durable enough to last you decades with proper care. Built with the elements in mind, this bulky boot will combat below-freezing temperatures while maintaining a feminine edge.
The JOA is 100 percent waterproof from top to bottom. This rugged winter companion is guaranteed to keep feet dry! These boots are prepared to battle temperatures as cold as -25° Fahrenheit (32°C) with their vulcanized rubber soles and leather/suede upper. The boot liner is 6mm-thick felt, conveniently removable, and replaceable.
The original Tofino felt like a supremely lightweight sneaker-like version of the Joan of Arctic. However, the upgraded Tofino II is waterproof, though with less hardy materials than its cousin, the JOA.
The first model included a leather shell and waxed canvas upper. However, the Tofino II has a waterproof PU-coated textile with either a leather/felt combination. These materials edge up the boots’ ability to combat moisture. Also, the microfleece liner of the Tofino II (formerly Sherpa Pile liner) keeps feet cozy. The 100 g insulation in the Tofino IIs is good to roughly about -4° F (-15° C). Furthermore, these boots allow for maximum traction and agility with their snug apres format.
The look may not be critical to some, but it’s worth pointing out the differences here.
Joan of Arctic
The Joan of Arctic will not go unnoticed. It’s an attention-grabber with voluptuous fur gracefully spouting from the collar. Coming in all classic colors, it’s tough to go wrong.
This boot has more of a slender design. The original Tofino offered minimal fur detail. However, the Tofino II includes a similar faux fur cuff to the Joan of Arctic. Spice it up with funkier color options for the Tofino, or keep it classic. An assortment of varieties is available for you to decide. Furthermore, this boot’s heel (1 ¾ inch) and platform height (1 inch) are about a ¼ of an inch higher than the Joan of Arctic.
The fit between these boots is slightly different. Here’s our comparison.
Joan of Arctic
This boot is spacious enough for any foot, with a broader base and rounded toe. Ample room for insoles, foot warmers, and/or heavy wool socks speaks to versatility and comfort. I found the JOA to be pretty true to size. Though, Sorel recommends this boot runs a little large due to the roomy liner that’s perfect for thick socks.
This boot has a more fitted, narrow design that would suit a more petite foot. However, in my experience, this shoe ran slightly small, so it’s best to opt for a half-size-up if you plan to wear thick socks. If you’re unsure of the size best for you, Sorel offers a handy size guide on each product page, including shoe size and foot length.
While both styles keep your tootsies warm and dry during harsh winter, they’re distinctive products with unique characteristics. So in terms of choosing one over the other, preference prevails entirely.
The Joan of Arctic has materials and a fit built for colder weather than the Tofino and Tofino II (about 20° F colder); thus, the JOA is about $50 more expensive. On the other hand, the Tofino presents more style for apres snowshoe days. It’s a tough choice between them, and overall, I’d proudly recommend both the Sorel Joan of Arctic and the Tofino to anyone looking for a reliable winter comrade.
What is your preference between the Sorel Joan of Arctic and Tofino women’s boots? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This article was first published on March 30, 2014. It was most recently updated to include the Tofino II on September 22, 2022.