Clarks Desert Boots are fine shoes. Based off the shoes the British Army wore in the desert combat of WWII, they’re reliable classics and staples of men’s style. With a simple, ankle-height leather upper and natural crepe rubber sole, they’re as streamlined and simple a pair of ankle boots you’ll find. Popularized by Nathan Clark after the war with the Clarks brand, they’ve grown into an iconic part of men’s style over the years, worn by stars and everyday men alike. They’re usually available for little money and come in a smattering of different colors and leathers.
That being said, there may be times you’re looking for something a…little fancier and heavy-duty. The originals are great, but they aren’t always the highest quality – made of thin leather. The crepe soles also wear out relatively quickly and can turn black with little use.
So, we’re on a bit of a personal hunt this winter for a good replacement pair of Desert Boots. Chukkas that look a lot like the original Clarks, but are constructed from premium materials, have leather or rubber soles, and will hold up to heavy use for much longer periods. We’ll still have a couple old pairs of Clarks in the closet but are looking for that next step up. Here are 5 options for upgraded desert boots we’re eying right now.
We’ve always felt that Uggs are for guys, too, and the Dagmann are proof. Made from leather and available in the Desert Boots’ 5 most popular colors (suede included), the Daggman are some of the closet to Clarks in feel and appearance. Instead of the classic crepe rubber sole, however, they have a Treadlite rubber sole, which is firmer, more durable and adds better grip. They’re leather lined inside, and come with a EnerG Comfort insole for all-day support. Reasonably priced, and worth the upgrade.
The Weekender’s from Red Wing look just like the original Clarks, but with a distinct Red Wing flair. The profile and leather upper are as Desert Boot as it gets but made from premium Red Wing tanned leather. The rubber sole is similar to the original, but with a bit more texture and grip – though not much. They’re made in the USA and come in 5 leather and suede options. If you want a shoe as close to the original as possible but don’t want to sacrifice Made-in-USA quality, you want these.
The Wolf Creek Chukkas get just a bit more classic and dressier than some of these other models, based on classic work boot styles, but still manage to keep the chukka profile we love about the Desert Boots. They’re made from a full-grain leather upper, paired with a 100% waterproof Danner Dry barrier that keeps your feet dry all year long. And on the bottom is a Vibram 232 outsole, with mini lugs for plenty of traction on all surfaces.
Finally, the Wolf Creek Chukkas have a stitchdown construction, which can be resoled and restitched, ensuring those full-grain uppers last for decades to come.
If you’re looking for the highest-quality pair of chukkas you’ll ever find, these are the ones.
If you’re not afraid of spending some money, you might as well go for the originals, but better. The Clarks Desert Welt are top-of-the-line, upgraded, classy-as-all-get-out version of the original Desert Boots. This time, they come with a classy leather sole that can be resoled and restitched for years to come, thanks to a Goodyear welt.
The look is just a bit more sophisticated, and the leather is probably quite a bit nicer. These boots are also made in the UK, ensuring quality above and beyond what you’re usually expecting. A great way to upgrade your Desert Boots for dressier occasions, without switching brands.
If you need another waterproof option like the Danner Wolf Creeks, reach for the Sorel Madson. They look a bit more like the original Desert Boots and come in suede but are seam-sealed and lined for waterproofness. A rubber sole with heavy-duty grip makes them good for winter. They’re also made in the USA, so we think you’ll be wearing them for some time to come.