12 Best Desert Boots in 2017

Desert boots have been around since the early 1950s although you may know them by another name – Chukkas. This classic boot has seen plenty of variants over the years although many things have largely remained the same when it comes to style. Most if not all Desert boots will only have 2-3 eyelets, especially the classic ones. They are usually made from leather or suede as well aside from a few exceptions.

Our picks for the best Desert boot meet both of the criteria we have listed above, but each brings something a bit unique to the table. They are extremely stylish, and while some may be hard to tell apart, we have broken things down to make finding the best Desert boots simple.

Top 12 Desert Boots Comparison Table

Design Name Multiple Colors Heel Height Rating (1-5)
   1. 1883 by Wolverine Men’s Hensel Ankle High Desert Winter Boot  Yes  1 ¼”  4.8
   2. Dr. Martens Men’s Ember Chukka Boot  Yes  1 ¼”  4.6
   3. Clarks Originals Men’s Desert Trek Chukka Boot  Yes  1”  4.4
   4. Vivobarefoot Gobi II Men’s Classic Desert Boot  Yes  No Heel  4.4
   5. CLARKS Men’s Desert Mali Chukka Boot  Yes  1 ¼”  4.4
6. Thursday Boot Company Scout Men’s Chukka Boot  Yes  1 ¼”  4.4
7. Clarks Originals Men’s Desert Boot  Yes  1”  4.3
8. Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Desert Wind Chukka Boot  Yes  1”  4.3
   9. Dr. Martens Men’s Cabrillo Chukka Boot  Yes  1 ¼”  4.3
   10. Clarks Men’s Bushacre 2 Desert Boot  Yes  1”  4.3
   11. BRUNO MARC MODA ITALY URBAN Men’s Classic Lace Up Original Suede Leather Midsole stripe Desert Wind boots  Yes  1”  4.3
   12. Timberland Men’s Earthkeepers City Chukka Boot  Yes  1”  4.1

Start with the Soles

The lowly sole may not be the first thing on your mind, but it should definitely not be one of the last. That is unless you don’t mind sounding like a galloping horse or want blistered feet. The sole of your shoe gets more action than any other area. While all can withstand the rigors of daily life, some will be far more comfortable (and silent) than others.

If you are going to be on your feet all day, you are better off with a soft sole Desert boot or one with Vibram or a similar compound; this will help keep your feet fresh throughout the day. Boots with a Crepe sole are often quieter than their heavy heeled counterparts as well.

On the flipside, if you like to command attention when you walk into a room go for the hard sole or heel. These tend to hold up better than rubbers soles and can still be very comfortable if you have a solid footbed and support.

Weather-Friendly

If you are ever stuck in the Desert, water is one commodity in short supply. That means the classic Desert boot is not necessarily geared for mud puddles or heavy downpours. If you are familiar with the style, you know many are made from suede; this can be a major issue, as nobody wants spotty boots.

While suede is still leather, it has been finished one side to have a bit of soft nap. That nap can act like a washrag and soak up water instead or repelling it or cause spotting. Needless to say, you will want to check the manufacturer’s website for information on water-resistance if it isn’t readily available. That or purchase a can of Scotchgard and give it a good spray. Some hard leather boots fare better in water than others as well, so when in doubt, go with additional protection.

  • Colors – Tired of boring brown leather? We feel your pain and so do modern boot makers. The days of Desert boots only being available in one hue are long gone as you can now find a color to fit almost anything in your closet. Those are just the solids as things can get pretty crazy when take patterns into account.

Before you go wild at the thought of Pink or Purple Chukkas, remember some colors will show wear easier than others. White suede Desert boots are even available from some brands, but not advised unless you plan on only wearing them for special occasions or in dimly lit rooms.

  • Heel Height – This one is self-explanatory and may be of great importance if you are short or feel like you are vertically challenged. Besides being tough and rugged, boots have the advantage of making you taller. Well, most of them do anyway as some will sport crepe soles or keep things minimal or have a flat bottom with a minimal amount of tread.

On the other hand, most of the boots on our list have an average heel height between 1” to 1 ¼”. That’s not quite in the cowboy boot range, but there are exceptions to the rule, and some Desert boots will offer a largest boost than others.

Top 5 Best Desert Boots Reviews

1. 1883 by Wolverine Hensel Ankle High Desert Boot

Wolverine has actually been making boots longer than Desert boots have existed. While that’s quite the feat, the company is not necessarily known for their prowess when it comes to the Chukka. That’s because they have only recently started making them, and the 1883 Hensel boot is our top pick.

Wolverine’s Desert boot screams luxury, and it is handmade from bootmakers in Portugal with 100% leather. The lower portion of the boot sports a soft suede while the top is full-grain leather. These do buck the trend to a degree, however, as there are four eyelets instead of the usual 2-3.

The Wolverine 1883 Hensel Desert Boots are going to be sturdier than some of the others but still flexible due to cemented construction. They may not hold up well in wet conditions without some help due to their suede nature, but they are built for the Desert after all. These boots are available in several different sizes and could be the last Chukkas you ever buy.

2. Dr. Martens Ember Chukka Boot

Dr. Martens is another classic company that has made a name for themselves in the boot world. Unlike some of the picks on our list, these Chukkas are going to quiet. You won’t sound like your walking in heels thanks to an extremely comfortable air-cushioned synthetic sole. One of the things the company is famous for.

Any shoe you buy with the Martens branding is going to look like a Doc Martin regardless of the style. That rule holds true for their Desert boots even though they dropped their eyelet count drastically. The famous bootstrap is still present as well. The Dr. Martens Ember Chukka is available in 5 hues and two different styles with soft, supple suede and a tougher more water-resistant leather.

3. Clarks Originals Desert Trek Chukka Boot

If you were wondering when Clarks would make an appearance, wonder no more. You cannot have a best Desert boots list without having a shoe from Clarks on the list. They arguably make the most popular Chukkas on planet Earth, and while there are dozens of styles, we preferred the Clarks Desert Trek Chukka above the rest.

As mentioned, Desert boots aren’t just built to shuffle through sand anymore as some are quite fancy. That isn’t the case with the Desert Trek boots as they sport a minimalistic design that’s built to be both stylish and comfortable. The latter is helped by the Crepe sole, low profile platform, and leather-covered EVA footbed. If you go wandering around at Joshua Tree, your feet will thank you for it.

Like all good Desert boots, the Clarks Desert Trek Chukkas are leather and built to last. They are available in several colors and sizes in suede, leather and a Travel Trek pattern.

4. Vivobarefoot Gobi II Classic Desert Boot

We have covered the classic and the old-school, and now it is time to take a look at something a little bit different. The Vivobarefoot Gobi II is what we’re going to refer to as a hybrid Desert boot. It has three eyelets and a bootstrap in the back with a leather exterior. It looks like a typical Desert boot, but style is where the similarities come to an end.

Vivobarefoot is a company that puts an emphasis on feeling light on your feet. They want consumers to feel like they are walking without shoes on, even when you are traveling in spots where that would be hazardous. Basically anywhere that’s not a beach, pool or your own yard. Streets are filthy, that’s a fact, folks.

These Desert boots are not going to be for everyone although they will be comfortable as long as you don’t plan to run across a rock pile. The Gobi II Desert boot is available in suede sporting three different colors or two colors if you prefer regular leather.

5. Clarks Desert Mali Chukka Boot

Most Desert boots are the medium range and hit right above the ankle. Nobody told Clarks that however as their Desert Mali Chukka is considerably taller than most. In fact, they doubled the amount of eyelets on this one due to the 5.75” shaft height.

While these boots are taller than most, they are still Chukkas at heart. The heel is about average although softer than most with a flexible crepe sole and a non-marking outsole. As it is Clarks, you can also expect quality craftsmanship and comfort from these leather boots as well.

The Desert Mali Chukka is available in almost any size you can imagine, and the array of colors is vast. There are over a dozen hues to choose from including oddities like Loden Green Suede, Rust, and Black Beeswax just to name a few.

Final Thoughts

All the brands on our best Desert boots list bring something unique to the table. From old world craftsmanship across the pond to sporty straps that can withstand outdoor play, we included a little something for everyone. Buying shoes of any kind online is never an easy task, but our guide should help simplify things and make your buying decision easy.