Footwear Style Advice

The Difference Between A Chukka And A Desert Boot

desert and chukka boots side by side

When it comes to spring footwear a man can do well to look no further than a good pair of desert boots when putting together a casual ensemble. But are your desert boots in fact chukka’s, and do you know how to tell which is which? Could you point a pair of chukkas out of police lineup of desert boots?

There are some subtle differences to look out for that can help men avoid any sartorial mishaps between chukka’s and desert boots.


chukka boots men

The Chukka Boot

Popularised by polo players hence their name (‘chukker’ is a polo match term) these ankle high boots are typically manufactured in suede or a calf leather. Some sources claim they were worn during polo matches other suggest more logically that they were worn by off-duty players. But they first came to notoriety after the Duke of Windsor wore a pair whilst visiting the US in 1924, becoming more popular to the wider public during the 1940’s through to the 1960’s predominantly.


Key Elements

  • Leather soled
  • Thin Laces
  • No prominent stitching
  • 2/3 eyelets
  • Smarter option


desert boots men

The Desert Boot

These similar boots are a form chukka but with a twist. A variant was worn by troops in Africa during WW2 (hence the name) and it was a particular soldier fighting in these battles that the shoe’s popularity can be attributed to. That man was Nathan Clark a member of the C & J Clark family shoe manufacturers. We now know them as Clark’s and they debuted their version of the desert boot at the 1949 Chicago shoe fair and have officially owned the patent since 1950.


Key Elements

  • Crepe or rubber sole
  • Visible side stitching
  • Thicker laces
  • Double eyelet
  • Casual option



Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.

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