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Desert Boots

What about them? Like the Wallabee that we discussed previously (and awaiting the arrival of the Velasca-version of that shoe, the Barbee), the Desert boot is certainly an iconic model that is another great fall/spring shoe (and summer for purists/enthusiasts of this shoe.)

Like the Wallabee, the Clark’s desert boot is firmly embedded into the mainstream consciousness when it comes to this type of shoe.

CDB
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You’ve seen the countless photos of McQueen in the Sanders and Sanders Hi-Top version of the desert boot amongst other models they offer (sometimes referred to as The Playboy which was originally manufactured by Hutton).
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This is Hutton offering of their desert boot...
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The price points for this shoe run the gamut from under $100 to north of $500.

You can get this pair on sale
from J. Crew for $55.
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Astorflex (from Italy) seems to get quite a bit of attention with their Greenflex and Driftflex line of desert boots that can be had for about $140-$160

Astorflex’ Greenflex model:
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Velasca (also from Italy) has their version for about $145.
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And Alden has their desert boot styled chukka (for the most part, Alden’s are on a leather sole although some Alden dealers have them a crepe sole which is more faithful to make-up of this type of boot.

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As well as many, many more.

Desert boots have always had an air of “coolness” about them. Not in the hipster sense but rather as a shoe that conjures up a laid back kind of feeling.

A 60’s, “The Graduate” groovy kinda of vibe going on. :lol:
(coo-coo ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson).

If you got them, let’s hear about it them.

You already know I’m thinking about getting a pair. :thumbup1:
 
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Doc4

Stumpy in cold weather
I don't own any desert boots.

I do own a couple pair of chukkas: Peal & Co from Brooks Bros, so high-quality stuff. (Almost certainly made by either Alfred Sargent or Crockett & Jones for the BB "Peal" label.)

The one "issue" I have with them is that the 4-eyelet system seems to result in difficulties with the knot & lacing staying "tight" through the day, compared to shoes with different lacing systems or "bootier" boots.

The result is I need to find laces that are particularly good at holding a knot, whereas the types of laces I normally use with good results don't do as well with this style. I suspect the desert boot may have the same issue.

This one appears to be made of some sort of "unfinished" matte pebble-grain leather rather than suede ... which seems the default in all the other photos below it. Any idea what the "authentic original" material was?
 
I don't own any desert boots.

I do own a couple pair of chukkas: Peal & Co from Brooks Bros, so high-quality stuff. (Almost certainly made by either Alfred Sargent or Crockett & Jones for the BB "Peal" label.)

The one "issue" I have with them is that the 4-eyelet system seems to result in difficulties with the knot & lacing staying "tight" through the day, compared to shoes with different lacing systems or "bootier" boots.

The result is I need to find laces that are particularly good at holding a knot, whereas the types of laces I normally use with good results don't do as well with this style. I suspect the desert boot may have the same issue.


This one appears to be made of some sort of "unfinished" matte pebble-grain leather rather than suede ... which seems the default in all the other photos below it. Any idea what the "authentic original" material was?

When I started wearing the Alden Chukka I thought the same thing about the number of eyelets (4) and actually had two added to provide for a more secure feel. After awhile, I actually resorted to using only the original 4 after getting used to wearing that shoe.


As for the pic of the CDB, it does appear to have a pebbled grain texture. (I can’t recall where I found that pic).

This photo of Clark’s nutmeg-colored suede DB is a better representation of their boot.
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I remember my grandfather liked to wear desert boots. Though he might have also been wearing wallabee style Hush Puppies instead of Clark's on occasion. I remember how the crepe soles would wear so easily, especially at the heel as there was not way to install a heel cap to slow the premature wear. Do the soles on modern versions wear longer?
 

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
Big fan of the Clarks Desert Boot, or CDB as the cool kids say, and the Bushacre as well. The Bushacre is just a CDB with a synthetic rubber sole instead of gum. I'm sure other brands' desert boots are great. Honestly, though, one of the reasons I like the CDB so much is because they're cheap. If I am going to spend real money on a chukka-style boot, I'd rather get a dresser version than a desert boot.

Here's my current stable:

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First, let me start with a few quick thoughts on the CDB vs the Bushacre, as I've owned both. Best as I can tell, the uppers and overall construction quality are exactly the same. The only difference is the sole. 99% of people on the street won't tell the difference when they're on your feet. The gum sole has the advantage of being The desert boot sole. Its the traditionalist's choice. Its a bit squishier and maybe more comfortable. The downsides are that it gets dirty quicker, wears through faster, and is usually much more expensive. The synthetic sole on the Bushacre has marginally better traction and is far more economical. But its not The desert boot sole, so its a bit of wannabe in that respect. With that out of the way, I consider both to be "CDBs" and will hence forth refer to both together.

CDB Pros:
- Cheap! I already touched on this one. I think CDBs are one of the best values in shoeing, and especially resoleable leather boots. You can easily find Bushacres new for $50 or less and proper CDBs for not much more. But the real value comes in the second hand market, where they can be readily found at thrift stores and online sites like ebay, grailed, and poshmark for $20, $10, even $5 in really good condition. Plus, CDBs are a great item to pick up second hand because they are one of those things look better with age and character - the more beat up, the better!
- Good! The leather on these things is fantastic. Nice and thick and good pullup. I think I read they use full grain, but don't quote me on it. Probably not from a trendy tannery, but its good stuff. The stitching is good. The construction is dead nutz simple, which is probably what keeps the cost way down.
- Stylish! I really like how these look with a pair of jeans or chinos. My suede boots in particular are extremely versatile. They work four seasons with jeans and a tee up to slacks and a sport coat. But mainly I wear them as alternative to sneakers and imagine they kick my look up a notch. In a business casual situation, they are more rugged looking than your bog standard derby shoes, but more office appropriate than most heritage work or hiking boots.

CDB Cons:
- Not a rain boot. Many (most?) guys like boots in the fall and winter to slosh through the frequent inclement weather. But that ain't these. The stitchdown construction is not particularly waterproof, and they are not insulated at all. Plus, of course, they are quite low cut - maybe 4 or 5 inches. They are desert boots, after all. On the upshot, since they are cheap and durable, they make a decent beater boot to wear in the muck and not worry about wrecking nicer shoes. But you might have wet feet when you get to where you're going.
- Not a performance boot. A lot of guys like to wear boots to hike through the mountains or work all day on a construction site. But that ain't these either. Ankle support is very minimal and arch support is even less. The sole is relatively thin and doesn't provide much cushioning. They are really old school in that way, like Chucks. In fact, CDBs probably have more in common with those "minimal" shoes that used to be popular ten years ago when everyone tried to run barefoot than regular leather boots. So if you are a seasoned minimal shoe guy with tough, gnarly feet, you'll be fine wearing the CDBs for whatever you want. But the rest of us with shriveled, wimpy, sad, Westernized feet should probably limit CDBs to light duty.
 

ajkel64

Check Out Chick
They are a cool boot. We used to wear them in High School but our version was quite cheap. Ours had the white under sole and were probably glued not stitched.
 
I remember how the crepe soles would wear so easily, especially at the heel as there was not way to install a heel cap to slow the premature wear. Do the soles on modern versions wear longer?

I think @tankerjohn ‘s informative response gives some insight about the durability (or lack thereof) of these gum/crepe-typed soles. I’ve seen pics with heel taps on some of these soles (I’m assuming they are glued on).

Some will even go so far as to notch out the part of the heel where the tap is put on so as to make it flush with the rest of the heel.

@tankerjohn Thanks for the informative response about your experience with the CDB (😎) and Bushacre desert boots. :thumbup1:
 

Marco

B&B's Man in Italy
I love Desert Boots. They are a smart casual choice that is extremely versatile, you can wear then with jeans for a "relaxed" style and also with chinos, jacket, shirt and tie for a more refined look. They are legendary shoes, very comfortable and not expensive at all.

P.S. @johnniegold Robert, I won't tell you which Desert Boots I own and love because you already know it. :gunsmilie:
 
I love Desert Boots. They are a smart casual choice that is extremely versatile, you can wear then with jeans for a "relaxed" style and also with chinos, jacket, shirt and tie for a more refined look. They are legendary shoes, very comfortable and not expensive at all.

P.S. @johnniegold Robert, I won't tell you which Desert Boots I own and love because you already know it. :gunsmilie:

:lol: I hear you loud and clear @Marco.

I made mention of the Playboy Chukka that was popularized by Steve McQueen in the 1968 movie, “Bullitt”.

Sanders and Sanders makes a version called the “Hi Top” which appears to be the same boot worn by McQueen as seen in the photo below:

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The Hi-Top (Sanders and Sanders)
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But after taking a closer look at some of the popular photos depicting this shoe, it appears that perhaps it’s not the “Hi Top” model but rather the “Luther” model that closely resembles the shoe worn by McQueen (I believe the model he wore were made by Hutton).

The Luther (Sanders & Sanders)
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Notice the more-pronounced, notched heel of the “Luther” as opposed to the softer, almost wedged heel of the “Hi-Top”.

Also, the “Luther” has stitching around the heel (as can be seen in some of the photos below) whereas the Hi-Top does not.

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All in all, I tend to favor the “Luther” playboy-styled chukka for its more pronounced heel construction over the “Hi-Top” softer cut heel.

The outsole on this style of shoe is so prevalent that the more traditionally cut heel provides a little relief, IMO, from such a dominating outsole and the stitching on the heel provides a bit more refinement to this casual boot.

Hey... wait a minute. Did I just talk myself into getting the “Luther”?! :eek2:

Maybe some other time. There’s a few other pair I have to obtain before getting to those (although they are pretty nice.)

The “Luther” will just have to wait. :whistling:



😀
 
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Hmm, interesting. Similarity with a chukka is significant. I’d probably go Clarks since they are the originals although some of the alternatives look a bit more stylish.

The last pair that I owned was in the late 1970s. The end came when I installed an oil pressure gauge on an old Norton. Needless to say the oil line burst and one of the boots ended up taking about a pint of Castrol 20/50 before I noticed the nice warm feeling on my foot. Some wear and tear improves the look but saturating them in motor oil doesn’t. May be time to revisit these. As the ad says, it‘s a good idea to embrace “brittle sophistication” in every aspect of life, except perhaps oil lines.
 

BigFoot

Turkeys Have Awesome .........
I would love a pair Bobby, but here in Texas you either dress warm as in the last week, or wear shorts the rest of the time. I don't think they would look good with a pair of shorts.
 
Hmm, interesting. Similarity with a chukka is significant. I’d probably go Clarks since they are the originals although some of the alternatives look a bit more stylish.

When I see a pair of CDB that have some wear and tear on them, that is about as good as it gets for these boots (of course, not drenched in Castrol oil 😀)

May be time to revisit these.

:thumbup1:

may be time to revisit that Norton too.

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“brittle sophistication”

Guess what? You just started the BSC.

The Brittle Sophistication Club

(It’s not just shoes.... it’s a state of mind.)

Who’s in?! :badger:
 
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Another country heard from (this time... Denmark).


The Sjaelland Boot from duckfeetusa.
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Duck feet, indeed. 😀

 
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