Whether you know it or not, Chukka boots are a classic style of men’s footwear and present a fashionable yet casual look. No doubt you’ve seen them, although it’s easy to confuse Chukka boots with Chelsea boots.
Chukka boots, to put it simply, are more casual than Chelsea boots and have distinctive features such as eyelets and laces. But they’re nice enough to wear for many different occasions, including the workplace.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Chukka boots in general, as well as the best Chukka boots available – including the Clarks Men’s Bushacre 2 boot .
We’ll provide some buying tips along the way, take a closer look at the differences between Chukka and Chelsea boots, and discuss how to take care of them properly.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Before you buy: 8 Things to consider when purchasing Chukka boots
We’ll talk a bit later about the difference between Chukka boots and Chelsea boots because they’re often confused as being on in the same. Not true.
So, perhaps you’re first buying tip is to make sure that you’re buying a Chukka boot and not a Chelsea boot. You’ll know a Chukka boot because of its laces – Chelsea boots don’t have them – and their height (just above the ankle, not that much different from a Chelsea boot).
And lest we forget, you also don’t want to confuse your Chukka boots with desert boots. That’s a bit trickier but we’ll touch on that a little later.
1. Look for leather or suede uppers
Chukkas typically have leather or suede uppers, although you’ll find some made from synthetics and fabrics. Leather and suede uppers are appropriate for evenings out on the town, while Chukkas made of fabric and synthetic leather are best suited for casual wear, but regardless of that, you should know how to wear Chukka boots.
2. The soles
Check the thickness of the soles because it usually determines whether the boot is formal or not. Formal boots tend to have thinner, harder soles that are smoother. Less formal Chukka boots have thicker soles that may make a familiar “clomping” sound when walking. They may also have indentations in the soles for enhanced traction.
Rubber is the most common material found in Chukka boot soles. Chukka boots made for walking and hiking tend to have rubber soles. “Traditional” hiking or work boots may also have cork in the middle of the soles to add cushioning, which is also true for some Chukkas.
You may also find Chukkas with soles made of crepe rubber, which is softer and provide optimal cushioning. The popular “desert” boot (the not-quite-Chukka-boot-but-close) featured crepe rubber souls back in the day when worn by British and allied soldiers fighting in the deserts of North Africa during WWII.
Comfort is king, or so they say. Let’s face it, if the boot doesn’t feel comfortable on your foot why bother? Whether you spend a lot of time on your feet or not, a Chukka boot that leaves your foot fatigued or sore (or both) at the end of the day isn’t a good investment. The best quality boots have comfortable soles and an interior that makes wearing them a pleasure. Our advice: never sacrifice comfort.
4. Casual or dress
We’ve already touched upon this topic briefly, but different Chukkas fit different occasions. They fit many different styles, although it’s probably not a great idea to wear them with suits.
Chukka boots come in just about every color you can think of, but choose wisely. Dark brown or mid-brown boots provide more versatility wardrobe-wise and are a good choice if you’re buying your first pair of Chukkas. Lighter colors help demonstrate the casual character of Chukka boots and provide added versatility. But color is a matter of personal preference and style. To each his own.
You should also seriously consider choosing a lace color that matches the leather (or suede).
6. The size
Whatever you do, don’t purchase a pair of chukka boots wit6.hout trying them on first. Come to think of it, the same rule applies to all footwear. Chukka boots, like Chelsea boots, don’t necessarily run in the same size as what fits you best in other shoes, including athletic shoes. So measure your feet yourself or, better yet, have a professional do it for you while you’re shopping.
If you plan to wear your Chukka boots in all types of weather conditions you should give serious consideration to buying boots that are water-resistant. We’ll discuss a couple of waterproof boots in our Chukka boots reviews.
Boots constructed with quality leather and synthetic materials are easier to maintain than those made with other materials. And not only are they easier to maintain, but they’ll last longer.
6 Best men’s Chukka boots of 2019
Clarks knows everything about men’s footwear and that’s a big reason why you’ll find its products among the best Chukka boots brands and the best Chelsea boots. Their Bushacre 2 Chukka boots are a classic style, are affordable, and look damn good on your feet.
Wait, there’s more.
Bushacre 2 comes in beeswax leather, which is soft, supple and conforms easily to your foot and ankle. The uppers are full-grain leather and feature a fabric lining which also contributes to the boot’s overall comfort. The leather is sturdy and durable, provides stability and support, and is stylish without too much flashiness, and make them the best leather chukka boots.
Like the original Bushacre, the Bushacre 2 has crepe soles which provide superior comfort. Crepe consists of layers of coagulated latex that is particularly shock-absorbent. They also help insulate your feet to keep them at the proper temperatures. Of course, you sacrifice some of the durability you’ll get with rubber soles, but Clarks usually gets high marks for the durability of their footwear.
The Bushacre has two eyelets on each side of the tongue, which is typical (and traditional) of many Chukka boots.
Another reason why we chose these boots is that very lightweight when compared with most dress shoes and sneakers. There’s nothing overly-complicated about their construction; it’s simple with nothing extra added.
The Bushacre 2 is best for casual wear although you can wear them to work without being told to go home and change into something more comfortable.
Something else you may like about the Bushacre 2 boots is that they come in every color imaginable. You’ll have the freedom to be as outlandish as you want, or to choose muted colors that won’t attract too much attention. In either case, you’ll look good.
One other note about Bushacre 2 boots: they tend to run a bit wider than normal, so make sure that you size them carefully.
- Sturdy leather upper
- Crepe soles
- Many colors to choose from
- They may run slightly wide
We think Clarks Bushacre 2 are the best chukka boots for men. It’s a stylish, traditional boot that comes in a variety of colors, and it’s lightweight and comfortable. It’s certainly worthy of your consideration.
There’s nothing like footwear that’s good for many occasions. Like, the Timberland Men’s EK Brook Park Chukka Boot, for example.
While the Men’s EK Brook Park’s is designed for folks who are on their feet all day, they’re also suitable for dressing up or dressing more casually. You name it, the cubicle, the business lunch, the after-work social occasions, you’ll look good with Timberlands on your feet.
All that said, and we think style is important, there’s much more to like about the EK Brook Park. For one, there’s the premium leather that covers the outsole, as well as sleek stitching that adds plenty to the overall design.
You’ll also appreciate the EK Brook Park Chukka Boot’s comfort. Again, these boots are for people who are on their feet a lot, and designed to reduce foot fatigue and soreness. The sole feature anti-fatigue technology and uses geometric cone support to provide shock absorption.
You’ll love the Brook Park’s LZ Traction outsole. Designed for excellent traction in harsh winters, the outsole protects against abrasions and offers superior stability and grip.
We also like Timberland because they’re an eco-friendly company. They use recycled materials in much of the boot’s construction, and 50% of their plastics come from recycled plastic. Moreover, 42% of the outsole comes from recycled rubber.
So, not only do they look good, but the EK Brook Park Chukka Boot is environmentally-friendly. As one reviewer put it, you’re literally “taking steps to save the planet.”
- Good for most occasions
- Superior comfort
- Reduce foot fatigue and soreness
- Run a bit large
The Brook Park has a classy look but is rugged enough to handle all conditions and terrains. Plus, they’re environmentally-friendly. They’re a good value for the price.
The name says it all regarding the Rockport Rugged Bucks Boot. It is, after all, a sturdy, rugged boot that stands up to any terrain or weather condition, and comes with the bonus of being waterproof.
It’s a man’s boot, no question, but still looks good enough to wear during less-formal outings, including the workplace if your workplace doesn’t have a suit-and-tie requirement.
There are a lot of reasons why we included the Rugged Bucks on our list of best men’s chukka boots for 2019. For starters, we think they’re the best waterproof Chukka boots thanks to their Hydro-Shield Waterpross construction. The Hydro-Shield feature repels water thanks to a combination of steam sealing, waterproof materials, and a uniquely-formulated waterproof insole.
But there are other reasons for including the Rugged Bucks on our list:
- The rubber sole is slip-resistant, shock-absorbing, and provides additional comfort thanks to padding placed in the collar of the boot. The sole supports your foot’s natural motion to give you a comfortable stride.
- The waterproofing feature includes special steam-sealing technology that provides further protection against excess moisture.
- You’ll like the boot’s lightweight feel that provides excellent comfort even if you’re walking on more rugged outdoor terrain (or whatever type of surface, for that matter).
- It comes in a classic leather design that adds stylishness.
- The Rugged Bucks also feature a padded collar for additional comfort.
- While this boot lives up to its “Rugged” reputation, you’ll love how comfortable it is. But that’s nothing new for Rockport, the first company to apply advanced athletic shoe technology to casual footwear. Their dress shoes share a similarly comfortable design.
- Hydro-Shield waterproofing
- Lightweight but sturdy
- Shoelaces may rip
If you’re looking for a more “outdoorsy” type of Chukka boot, then you should check out Rockport’s Rugged Bucks. They’re good for all weather conditions and stable enough to handle any terrain.
Chukka boots and casual wear go hand in hand, but that doesn’t mean a Chukka boot can’t have some style and class. True, most Chukka boots have style, but the Bruno Marc New York Suede Desert Storm Chukka boots have a classy look that fits most wardrobes.
It’s also true that suede always adds a touch of class to any footwear and the Bruno Marc boot ranks among the best suede Chukka boots available today.
The Bruno Marc comes in a classic Chukka-style design, with three eyelets for lacing them up while making it easier to take them on and off. The boots also come with a classic plain toe design.
They’re called “Desert Storm” boots for a reason; namely, because the boot is lightweight, airy, and keep your foot from becoming uncomfortably hot. They also prevent sweat and moisture from building up inside the boot during the day.
While the laces make help make it easier to get the boot on and off, Bruno Marc has also included a small elastic panel on the back of the boots to help ease the struggle. While it’s the kind of touch that may go unnoticed, you’ll quickly realize its practical value and how it affects the overall comfort of your Chukka boot.
The New York Men’s Classic heel measure 1-inch, which is low enough for you to wear the boot for more formal occasions. The sole is handmade and skid-resistant, while the footbed is cushioned to provide comfort no matter how much time you spend on your feet during the day.
Another plus is that the Bruno Marc NY Desert Storm comes at a reasonable price considering the quality of the craftsmanship. The boots come in a variety of colors to suit your taste, but we think the blue and grey suede boots provide just the right splash of color to your outfit.
- Classic suede design
- Slip-resistant sole
- Provides a more formal look many other Chukka boots
- Narrow fit
If suede is your thing, then you need to check out the Bruno Marc NY Desert Storm boots. They have a classic, classy look and are comfortable enough to wear no matter where you are.
Like the Rockport Rugged Bucks, Skechers’ Melego Leather Chukka boots are waterproof and strong enough to hold up in all types of weather conditions. And, like the Rugged Bucks, they have plenty of other features that warrant their inclusion in our list of best men’s Chukka boots.
That’s nothing new for Skechers, however, considering that they’ve become a household name in the USA – while expanding in popularity worldwide – since their inception in 1992. While their name often is associated with athletic-type shoes, they also feature a quality line of casual and dress shoes that combine comfort and style.
The Men’s Segment Melego Leather Chukka Boot certainly is no exception.
Made of leather that helps give them a fashionable look, the Melego combines stability and comfort. They serve both as casual and work shoes, and are durable enough to last you a long time.
The rubber outsole has treads for increased traction and helps make the Melego Chukka boot suitable for all types of terrain and slippery conditions. You’ll feel safe even while you’re in style.
A padded collar and tongue provide further comfort, as does an insole made of gel-infused Memory Foam. You’ll also like the fabric lining, and the fact that the Melego has a naturally relaxed fit that helps stave off foot fatigue and soreness.
The Segment Melego’s leather upper includes perforations that allow air to flow in and out of them while keeping your foot cool and dry. It’s another bit of added comfort that helps make this boot a go-to option.
- Slip-resistant rubber sole
- Insole is made of gel-infused Memory Foam
- Run a bit narrow
You’ll like how your foot feels in a Segment Melego Chukka boot. Stylish enough for everyday workwear yet rugged enough to handle the elements, the Melego is a versatile, all-around boot that’s worth the investment.
Another upscale option for men who prefer suede boots is the Men’s Ulysses Suede Chukka Boot by Calvin Klein. Of course, we all know about Calvin Klein fashion – straight fit denim jeans, clothes, underwear, etc. – but they have an excellent line of footwear, as well.
Their boots are also representative of the Calvin Klein line in that they’re stylish enough for the professional look favored by many offices, but casual enough to look great during a night on the town. The heel, which measures 1-inch, lends itself to more formal wear if you so choose.
The Ulysses Chukka boot’s upper consists of imported suede that looks and feels good. It’s suede with a nice tone and texture and has attractive leather trim. The synthetic outsole provides both comfort and durability, as well as superior traction that’s slip-resistant.
The boot’s “blind” eyelets are hardware-free and provide a more natural, cleaner look than you’ll find in other Chukka boots. Meanwhile, the layered overlays provide both support and aesthetic support.
Inside the boot you’ll find a built-in synthetic insole and a soft sock line that provide superior cushioning and shock absorption. The Ulysses is another Chukka boot that fights foot fatigue and soreness even if you spend long hours on your feet.
The boots come in only a few colors, including dark navy and dark brown, but you’ll love the richness of the boot’s hues and how they blend in well with almost everything you wear.
- Beautiful suede finish
- Layered overlays
- Good for many occasions
- Sizing is sometimes inconsistent
Calvin Klein Ulysses is another solid option if you prefer suede boots over leather. They’re stylish, comfortable, and look good around the office or at a casual social occasion.
How to give your Chukka boots some TLC
You’ve done the research, found the right fit and style, and finally purchased a pair of Chukka boots. Naturally, you hope to get years of use out of them and protect your investment, but that’s going to require some effort on your part. Nothing too extensive, mind you, but a little effort goes a long way towards keeping your boots in the best shape possible.
1. Breaking them in
If you’re like most of us, you want to pull your new boots out of the box and wear them several hours a day right from the get-go. However, even if the boots feel comfortable out of the box (and they probably will), it’s still a good idea to break them in slowly.
We’re not saying that you should only wear your Chukkas a few times a week, but simply suggesting that – at the start – you only wear them a few hours a day. Doing so prevents blisters and allows you to get accustomed to your boots slowly. It’s also not a bad idea to wear thicker socks the first few times you wear your Chukkas, but not so thick that they cause discomfort.
2. Use a boot tree
If you don’t already have one, a boot tree is a sound investment that will help extend the life of your Chukka boots. It also ensures the integrity of the inner leather and insole, helping your boot to maintain its natural shape. Don’t toss your boots on the floor of your closet at the end of the day, and never store them in a plastic bag because the leather needs to breathe. A lack of air can dry our boot out or cause mold.
3. Storing your boots
Ideally, you should store your boots in a warm place to help rid them of moisture but never store them next to a heat source such as a radiator because it will dry them out. You don’t want your leather to become so brittle that cracks appear later on.
If you plan to store your boots for an extended period, such as during the rainy season or winter, give them a good cleaning first. A pre-storage cleaning prevents salt and other chemicals from eating away at your boots for months on end.
4. Storing your suede boots
Storing suede boots is different from storing leather boots. For one, you should store suede boots in a place that’s cool and dry and without direct exposure to sunlight. Excessive sunlight causes the suede to fade and extended exposure to humidity may cause dampness that leads to mildew.
The same rule applies for suede boots and leather boots regarding extended storage, that is, give them a good cleaning first. You may even choose to have them cleaned professionally.
5. Cleaning your leather boots
Leather is more durable than suede and less prone to incidental staining. Here are some rules of the road for cleaning your leather Chukka boots:
- Wipe them down with a soft damp cloth after each use. It only takes a matter of minutes and will keep dirt and other debris from wearing down the leather prematurely. You can also use a soft brush – preferably one specifically designed for the job – to dust off your leather boots after each use.
- Saddle soap is helpful for keeping your boots clean and free from potentially-damaging dirt and grime. Even using saddle soap once every several weeks helps.
- If you encounter a stubborn stain, such as a salt stain, rub some alcohol into the surface gently and then wipe it off with a damp cloth.
- Polishing them regularly with boot polish or a leather cleaner keeps the surface healthy and water-resistant.
- Polishing your leather boots
It’s a good idea to polish your leather boots at least once a week to keep them clean, protected from moisture, and looking well-oiled. There’s a wide selection of leather polishes available and they typically come in liquid or paste form. Cover the entire boot surface with polish, including the sides of the bottom sole. Use a separate cloth to remove excess polish and to buff the boots. Make sure the boots have dried before you wear them again.
6. Cleaning suede boots
- Keeping your suede boots in top shape requires a different strategy than used for leather boots. An important point to remember is that you should never use water alone when cleaning suede boots because water leaves an unsightly stain.
- If you do spill liquid on your suede boots, apply talcum powder (or cornmeal) to the stained area after first wiping it dry with a clean cloth. Let your boots set overnight after applying the powder and then use a suede brush to remove it the next day.
- Another method for removing stains from your suede boots is to use a kneaded eraser or emery board to sand off the scuffs and stains. If this method flattens the suede or makes it look well-worn or old, use a toothbrush (clean and without the toothpaste, of course) to bring the texture back.
- Regular use of a suede brush will help keep your Chukka boots to retain their soft texture. Brush the surface gently in the direction of the fibers.
- It’s a good idea to use a protective spray specially formulated for suede because it prevents water damage and preserves the suede’s color and texture. Cover the entire boot with a light layer of spray (using too much may affect the boot’s texture and color).
The difference between Chukka boots and Chelsea boots
Chukka boots and Chelsea boots are sometimes thought to be one in the same – except they’re not the same. True, they have a similar look, but there are distinct differences and they even have different, yet distinct histories.
Chukka boot has an interesting history; British soldiers – and other soldiers of the allied troops – wore them in World War II for marching through the desert terrain of North Africa. Hence, they’re also known as desert or turf boots, but aren’t the same as Chukka boots, which we’ll touch on in a bit.
Chukka boots are distinctive for their ankle-length and pairs of eyelets for laces. They have a classic, toe design and open lacing system. Most Chukka boots consist of suede or calfskin, although leather can be used too, especially for use during the winter months when durability is important.
If you’re looking for a more casual look, then Chukka boots are a good choice. The soles of many Chukka boots are thicker than traditional footwear soles which, again, makes them best suited for casual occasions, but they also come in thinner soles which give them a finer look.
Chukka boots work well with almost any style, although fashion experts say they look better with narrow-legged pants. While the uppers usually come in suede or calfskin, soles of Chukka boots consist of rubber. Both sections tend to come in contrasting colors.
Your Chukka boots should have a light, comfortable fit as long as you’ve sized them correctly.
In case you were wondering, the word Chukka comes from the game of polo, in which Chukka refers to a period of play (at least you’ll have the answer if the question comes up at a cocktail party).
A quick word about desert boots
Earlier, we briefly mentioned desert boots, which have a lot of similarities to Chukka boots. So many similarities, in fact, that it’s easy to confuse the two. Furthermore, footwear experts will tell you that all desert boots are, technically, Chukka boots but not all Chukka boots are desert boots.
So, what gives?
Desert boots originated as the Chukka boots worn by soldiers in North Africa in World War II. What set them apart from Chukka boots were their crepe rubber soles. Crepe rubber, made from layers of latex, is spongier than hard rubber and provide the kind of comfort that soldiers fighting in the desert would need.
The first official desert boot – the first one presented to the masses, that is – was introduced by Clarks in 1949.
Probably the best way to look at the Chukka boot vs. desert boot comparison is to think of the desert boot as being a subset of the Chukka boot. But, to look even closer:
- The side stitching on desert boots is always visible. You might see a little stitching on the side of a Chukka boot, but not much.
- Desert boots have thicker laces than Chukka boots. Desert boot laces are similar to the laces on athletic shoes. Chukka boot laces are round and thinner, like what you’d find on a dress shoe.
- Desert boots are more casual than Chukka boots. As mentioned in our reviews, Chukka boots may be worn in office and business situations.
- Chelsea boots
Chelsea boots have been around a long, long time – since the Victorian era in England to be exact. The first pair was crafted by J. Sparkes-Hall, the personal shoemaker to the Queen, or so the story goes.
Over 100 years later, Chelsea boots hit a peak of popularity thanks to the 1960s Mod scene in Britain and favored by members of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, among other celebrities.
Chelsea boots are ankle-high and laceless and, in most cases, have elastic panels on either side of them to keep them close-fitting but comfortable. Some Chelsea boots come with zippers, but they’re easy enough to slip on and off, in any case, thanks to a loop of fabric at the back that you pull.
As with any shoe or boot, getting the right fit is important with Chelsea boots. Make sure that you have enough flexibility in the side panels, but not so much in the instep.
As mentioned, Chelsea boots come in leather and suede models. Leather boots can withstand a bit more wear and tear than suede boots and are your best option during wetter months and periods of weather extremes, such as during the winter. Excess moisture can easily damage your suede boots, however.
Black, or navy, is considered the “traditional” colors of Chelsea boots, but they also come in virtually every color.
The Chelsea boot, like the Chukka boot, is versatile enough to fit with a variety of items in your wardrobe. Chelsea boots are good for most occasions, including dressier outings. They’re also a good option if you work in a more formal office setting.
How did we choose these boots?
Deciding which boots to include in our Chukka boots review involved a lot of research, including studying the reviews of others – particularly those who’ve worn the boots on a regular basis. We also studied each company’s history and preferred those with a long track record of success, although that’s not to say we don’t value the talents of new companies.
Comfort is king when it comes to footwear and any boot that we chose had to meet the comfort test. But it must also be durable, provide excellent traction, and have style. While Chukka boots aren’t as formal as, say, Chelsea boots, many Chukka boot brands look stylish enough to use for a variety of occasions.
Price is another factor we take into consideration. Our goal is to provide a price range that works for every man’s budget.
As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. Is there a particular Chukka boot that you wear, and why do you like it? Have you tried any of the boots on our list? We’d love to hear from you.