If you don't own a pair of desert boots, you're going to want to remedy that right away. Versatile, elegant and oh-so-comfy, men's desert boots are the ultimate all-rounders. Worn by all manner of subcultures – from beat poets to mods – they've been a staple of men's style since debuting in 1949 at the Chicago Shoe Fair.
Ready to add a pair to your wardrobe? Read on for everything you need to know about desert boots, including the best men's desert boots to buy in 2023.
A brief history of the desert boot
The origins of the desert boot can be traced back to Egypt in the 1940s, where British soldiers wore them on desert campaigns. They favoured them for their comfort, durability and flat crepe sole, which was ideal for wearing on sand.
In 1941, a British soldier by the name of Nathan Clark noticed many of his fellow officers sporting this style of boot. Impressed by the design, he purchased a pair and took them back to England, where he introduced the iconic silhouette to his family of shoemakers. When he was told “they would never sell" in the UK, he infiltrated the Australian market and then finally brought them to the US, introducing them at the Chicago Shoe Fair in 1949. They were a huge hit and soon became a must-have smart casual staple for men of all ages.
What is the difference between desert boots and chukka boots?
Desert boots and chukka boots often get used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference. Essentially, all desert boots are chukka boots but not all chukka boots are desert boots. A desert boot is a type of chukka boot with crepe rubber soles. Chukka boots, on the other hand, can have any type of sole.
How to wear desert boots
The beauty of the desert boots lies in its inherent versatility: occupying the sweet spot between smart and casual, this is a shoe that can easily be dressed up or down. Wear a pair of desert boots to the office as part of a low-key business casual look, with an Oxford shirt and slim fit chinos in a pale neutral shade like beige, or take them up a notch with soft summer tailoring: a lightweight linen suit pairs perfectly with suede desert boots. They'll work just as well day to day: team them with slightly tapered jeans, a plain white tee and a utilitarian-style overshirt for a contemporary take on classic workwear.
The best men's desert boots and chukka boots to buy in 2023
Aurélien Beige Suede Desert Boots
Dutch label Aurélien champions timeless elegance in everything it creates, including these made-to-last men's desert boots, which combine comfort and style in equal measure. Crafted in Italy from supple French calfskin suede and set on ivory coloured soles, they boast an understated profile that lends them ultimate versatility. Style them with tailoring or keep things casual with chinos and a chore jacket.
Crown Northampton Woodford Desert Boots
Handcrafted in Northampton, England in Italy from soft yet sturdy Horween leather with a hardwearing crepe sole, Crown Northampton's 1950s-inspired Woodford Desert Boots are built to stand the test of time, so you're guaranteed to reach for them time and again. Wear these beautiful suede boots with a casual suit to a relaxed summer wedding or team them with a pair of turned-up jeans.
Myrqvist Gyllsjö Chukka Boots
Myrqvist's signature chukka boots boast Goodyear-welted construction, making them sturdy enough to wear all year round. Handcrafted in Portugal using reversed calf suede from the renowned British tannery Charles F. Stead, they epitomise Myrqvist's dedication to top notch craftsmanship.
Velasca Artista Desert Boots
Velasca's Artista boots will inject any outfit with just the right amount of character. They're available in a range of colours, including this gorgeous deep blue hue, which offers a refreshing departure from the standard browns that are most typically available. Crafted from waterproof suede leather, with a comfortable and durable Vibram rubber sole, it's the ultimate all-weather shoe.
Clark's Desert Boots
Every design detail of Nathan Clark's original desert boot endures today. This iconic silhouette features clean lines enhanced with premium sand suede and finished with an unfussy lace fastening. The authentic, sustainably sourced crepe sole completes the design. A timeless shoe that you'll cherish for years.
Red Wing Shoes Work Chukka
Workwear style at its finest. These Red Wing chukka boots are proudly made in the USA, built upon a resoleable Goodyear welt with durable Puritan triple-stitch construction and brass eyelets. A flexible Atlas Tred Polyurethane outsole makes this style a reliable and comfortable go-to for work and play.
Grenson Clement Boots
British footwear label Grenson is renowned for its robust winter boots that are as sturdy as they are stylish. This pair of desert boots boasts a thick yet lightweight treaded rubber sole, for ultimate comfort and grip, no matter the weather conditions.