Desert Boot & Chukka Buying Guide

The desert boot or Chukka style of boot has been around for a while and they are pretty much amazing in that they can be worn with nearly anything in order to dress up or down an outfit while also being super comfortable, practically the jeans of footwear. I have owned two pairs of these in the short time in my life where I was interested in looking good and have loved pretty much every moment they’ve been on my feet. These are shoes you can slip on and lace up, or if they fit well enough don’t bother, at a moments notice before you run out the door. All the while however, you can be sure you look pretty damn good.

The first pair of these I bought in the ultra clearance section of Kohl’s when I took a chance on a brand I didn’t recognize and got change back for a $20. I’m not sure what I expected from a pair of shoes that was 80% off and less than twenty dollars, but the purchase both inspired a love of desert boots and taught me to think about how shoes could be bought for less than $10 a shoe. The shoes were bulky and heavy while still managing to not be sturdy and I found out after some wear and tear that there was metal in the sole to make up for thin rubber that your foot might bend and break. I found all of this out when I would jog a few steps to catch a bus, or wonder my feet were hurting so much after a day’s wear and hard walking. The thing was the pain and poor construction only made my love for the style of the shoe more apparent because there was really nothing else about them worth mentioning. They were a light beige which was a neutral enough color to go with pretty much any outfit, which turned them into an everyday shoe very quickly before they wore out after a few months.

My second pair were significantly better made but still nothing outrageously expensive. American Eagle brand shoes were miles ahead of whatever brand I’d stepped in at Kohl’s and were much more comfortable, they molded to my foot with regular wear and sported a thick rubber sole that gripped extremely well. I opted for a grey suede as opposed to my previous beige suede hair and saw that I could get away with wearing them with nearly everything yet again. Eventually, like everything from the early years of college, they got too covered in beer and deteriorated after close to two years of near constant wear.

Now it is years after that pair and it looks like it’s time to find a new pair to slip on so I thought I would show some brands and styles that are out there at varying price ranges. If you have ever read or talked about desert boots for this long you probably have heard about the original, Clark’s brand desert boot. Clark’s desert boots are the original and standard when it comes to desert boots and so occupy a large portion of the market while still being more affordable than some of the higher end versions of the boot. So while the term chukkas and desert boots are used interchangeably for the most part, there is a difference. To the best of my knowledge desert boots were the style of chukka popularized by Clark’s, so it is a sort of Kleenex vs. tissue situation where one brand’s name for an item began to describe the style of chukka instead of just the Clark’s boot.

The first option for you of course then is, the Clarks desert boot. Available at all sorts of retailers and online it is a great choice and if you are not willing to do much more research and are already tired of hearing about desert boots and just want to wear them, do yourself a favor and just buy a pair. The quality is going to be great, you have a ton of different styles and collaborations with designers to choose from so you won’t regret it. You can check some online stores or just wait for the style you want to go on sale online somewhere and you will most likely be extremely happy with your purchase and end up wearing the boots just about every day for a few years before you have to do some real maintenance on them. Once you have gotten them broken in a resole is hardly a high price to pay for extending the lifetime of your new favorite shoes. You are also given the chance to add a new bit of color or style to the shoe if you like. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to change up the color of the laces, or add some colored soles before they give out if you find yourself getting tired of the shoes.

The next “brand” I am going to review is essentially the generic brand of discount shoe you might find. They will copy the Clark’s style relatively well and for the most part look identical aside from a few details. If you are strapped for cash or still not sold on the traditional Clark’s then go for these for sure, but remember that you can get Clark’s on sale for pretty damn cheap so these had better be a really good deal and you probably won’t be taking care of them so go wild. They will most likely have one detail that is slightly different than Clark’s but they will be great for maybe a year, so if you don’t feel like making a commitment go for them.

The last style I am going to review is the higher fashion brands who do their own takes with the desert boot. The desert boot had been done and redone a thousand times over at this point, and honestly some of these designers have definitely gone above the traditional Clark’s boot’s design. The Clark’s boot has a wide appeal and a classic design which can pretty much guarantee you a shoe that you will want to wear for a long time. However, other designers have introduced new materials and different types of soles as well to change the look of the shoe which many people would definitely prefer. Keep in mind that spending $200 dollars for a shoe that will last you a few years and be worn several times a week will pretty much save you the money you would spend on lesser shoes in the same time period. The most important thing is to make sure the design you have picked out is not super trendy so that you will be able to wear it for a while into the future while being of a good quality in that it will last you a while.

I will most likely be looking at some Clark’s in the near future because they are a pretty high utility shoe and if I find them at the right price I will certainly be jumping on them. While I have gotten he suede in the past I am definitely looking at the waxed leather versions because I have a ton of clothes in my current wardrobe that can easily be worn with a brown leather shoe in most styles. If you have got some specific examples of shoes you are looking at feel free to comment.