Chances are, you’re familiar with Clarks Desert boots. They’re the first of their kind and have been around for 70 years. Clarks Desert boots are considered the most iconic Chukka boot that you can find on the market today.
But does being around for 70 years mean that they’re worth the money?
In this Clarks Desert boots review, we look at every part of the boot so you can decide if you want to purchase a pair for yourself. We start by looking at the history of the Clarks Desert boot, discuss what you should consider before purchasing a pair of these boots, and then dive into our Clarks Desert boots review.
So, keep reading to learn more about these boots and why they’ve been so popular for over 70 years.
Bottom Line: People pick Clarks Desert boots because of the richly oiled leather and the overall simplicity of the boot’s construction. While the sole is delicate, it still provides the wearer with plenty of cushion for extra comfort, though you will need to give these boots a rest every so often.
- The price is very fair for the quality of the product you’re purchasing
- Simple construction that gives off an iconic silhouette
- An excellent way to dress up a casual wardrobe
- Crepe soles are sensitive
- There’s no shank in these boots
- Clarks Originals
- Heel Height 1 inch
- Boot Dimensions: shaft Width 6.5 inches, Shaft Circumference 12.99 inches, Shaft height 4.33 inches
- Premium Suede uppers and sheepskin sockliner
- Plantation Crepe outsole
History of Clarks Desert Boots
In 2020, Clarks Desert Boots celebrated their 70th anniversary. These iconic boots have their roots in the Second World War when a British office, Nathan Clark, kept seeing some of his colleagues wearing them when they were off duty while stationed in Burma.
Nathan Clark had a history of shoe and boot making – Clarks had been around before Nathan Clark was born since 1820 – so he asked around about these boots he was seeing. The story goes that what we now call the Chukka boot all came from a market in Cairo. All they were made from was two pieces of leather sewn to an unrefined rubber sole.
So, Nathan bought a few pairs, brought them back to his family business, and launched his line in 1950.
Things to Consider Before Buying
You need to make two considerations before you go and purchase a pair of Clarks Desert boots. The first is if you have the right wardrobe for them.
These boots are casual. They don’t hold their shape well, so they don’t look good with tailored suits. Clarks Desert boots look best with jeans or chinos, and while they’re casual, don’t wear them with shorts.
The second thing is how often you’re thinking about wearing them. Remember that crepe soles are delicate – because they haven’t been hardened, they will fray at the edges and can chip if you step on a rock the wrong way.
If you plan on wearing your Desert boots every day, you’ll probably wear through the sole in about a year and a half. But if you only plan on wearing them about three times a week, then they’ll last you for several years.
Clarks Desert Boots Review
Now that we’ve gone over some background, let’s dive into our Clarks Desert boots review.
Leather Care and Quality
The Desert boots are so simple, and Clarks has done a great job at offering high-quality leather as the star of the show for these boots.
While there’s no information about the leather grade on Clark’s official website, by looking at the cross-sections that are exposed on the boots, you can guess that they’re made with the transition between full-grain and top-grain leather.
This isn’t the highest-grade leather out there, but it’s still pretty good.
These boots are made with pull up leather, which means that the leather is saturated in waxes and oils. If you bend the boot, you’ll notice the creases are lighter than the rest of the boot. This is because the oils are pushed away from that specific area. This creates a custom, broken-in look for the wearer of the boots, even if you’ve only worn them for an hour.
You can easily get rid of the light marks, though – just rub them away with your fingers, and they’ll go away. Doing this redistributes the oils on the leather to create an even tone.
A great thing about pull up leather is that it doesn’t need to be conditioned as often as other leather types. If you plan to regularly wear these boots (two to three times a week), you should plan on cleaning and conditioning them every six to nine months.
The distinctive part about Clarks Desert boots is the crepe sole.
Crepe rubber is a coagulated latex. In comparison to other types of rubber, crepe is mostly unrefined. This means that the raw sap from a rubber tree was removed and treated in such a way that it created long sheets of rubber.
Because it’s mostly unrefined, it’s very soft rubber. So, when you’re wearing Clarks Desert boots, you’ll notice that the crepe soles are squishy. This can have positives and negatives.
On the positive side, they’re extremely comfortable for walking around on sidewalks and other flat surfaces. This is due in part to the fact that crepe has a lot of grip on dry ground.
But crepe soles don’t last as long as other rubber sole types. These soles can chip away and pill and rub away at the edges. The rubber also picks up a lot of grime and dirt from the ground, so your soles can look extremely dirty after only just putting the boots on.
You need to think it’s difficult to get your shoes resoled when the crepe soles wear down. In fact, you would be better off purchasing a new pair of Clarks Desert boots instead of trying to find someone to repair your boots. This is an important thing to note when you’re considering purchasing a pair of Clarks Desert boots because it can be expensive to buy new pairs of boots every other year.
Sizing and Fit
Clarks Desert boots come only in D-width. Most people find that they fit comfortably, but they might fit tightly for those with wider feet. However, the plus side is that the leather does stretch quite quickly. So, you shouldn’t be in discomfort for very long.
The boots don’t have any shank in them, so you might want to add an orthopedic insert if you have flat feet.
We don’t recommend wearing these shoes for anything other than walking around in the city or indoors. Both the delicate sole and fit make these boots unsuitable for activities such as hiking.
Overall Thoughts on Clarks Desert Boots
What We Like
- Clarks Desert Boots are made from high-quality leather that’s rich with enough oils that they’re weather-resistant and don’t require conditioning regularly
- The pull up leather makes the boots look nice and worn-in after only a few minutes of wearing the boots
- The crepe rubber soles are the softest soles that you can find. They’re also very quiet.
What We Don’t Like
- The boots don’t have shanks in them, which can lead to discomfort in your heels until you’ve fully broken them in
- The crepe soles are hard to resole, so you’re better off purchasing a new pair after your current pair have worn out
Who Are Clarks Desert Boots For?
Clarks Desert boots are for anyone searching for an iconic look that will bring class to any casual look that sneakers would ever be able to do.
These boots are more casual, yes, but the smooth leather (or suede) can elevate any look – even t-shirts and jeans.
Are Clarks Desert Boots Good for Winter?
Unfortunately, when it comes to any area that’s even moderately wet or icy, you should opt out of wearing your Clarks Desert boots or Clarks shoes until the weather conditions get better.
There are a few different reasons why these boots aren’t suitable for these kinds of weather.
To begin, the Clark Desert boot has a flat sole. It can be hard not to slip and slide without traction on these boots when walking in icy or wet areas. Additionally, stability can be hard to achieve when wearing these boots because of the rubber sole.
If you go with the full suede leather version of these boots, they can get soggy fast. Because of this, they can get moldy. If instead you go with the leather style and don’t take care of it properly, stains can appear.
Finally, during colder weather, the thin suede uppers or leather of these boots won’t do your feet much good in the blistering cold weather. So, it’s probably best to put them safely in your closet to be worn on a dry day with warm weather.
Clarks Desert boots are iconic and classic – how many other boot lines can say they’ve been going strong for over 70 years?
After trying them on, you’ll know why they’ve been a popular choice for so many years.
They’re made with rich pull up leather that will have your boots looking broken in within minutes of putting them on, and they style well with jeans and chinos.
The crepe rubber sole is a drawback of Desert boots. The sole is what makes these boots so distinctive, but the crepe sole is so soft that it wears down so quickly, and once they’re worn out, there’s not much you can do about it. On the plus side, they’re incredibly comfortable and soft when they’re intact.
If you only wear your boots two to three times a week, your Clarks Desert Boots will last you for years. If you wear them every day, then you’re looking at about a year and a half of wear before the soles wear down.
These boots are made with quality leather, making the price fair. Additionally, the style is incredibly versatile so that you can wear them in the summer, fall, and winter!
After 70 years, it’s amazing to see that Clarks is still sticking to the classics.
Are These Boots Comfortable?
Clarks Desert boots are extremely comfortable. For anyone who has flat feet, because there’s no shank in the boots, you should add an orthopedic insert to make the boot more comfortable for you. If your feet have solid arches, these are going to be comfortable right away.
Are These Worth the Money?
Yes! Very few brands use the quality of leather that Clarks uses for their boots for the price these boots are offered at.
There’s a very generous return policy on these boots if you purchase them and then decide that they’re not for you. Just ensure that you try them on at home in a clean area and within the return window.
How Long Does It Take for These Boots to Break-In?
The period that it takes for Clarks Desert boots to break in is very short or non-existent. This is because the leather that these boots are made from is very pliable and soft, so you shouldn’t feel any rubbing as you wear the boots.
If you feel any sort of breaking in, it’ll be felt in the heel. This will last only for a few wears, and then the boot will feel completely fine.
How Long Do These Boots Last?
If you wear your boots every day, then you can expect your Clarks Desert boots to last for about a year and a half. If you only wear them about two to three times a week, then you can expect them to last longer – up to four years.Again, this depends on how you wear them and for how long. If you’re tough on them, they won’t last very long. However, if you’re careful, they’ll last you for years to come.