What's A Chukka Boot?

Posted by Jack on Jan 2nd 2019

This is the first part in our series on Boots. Check out more here.

Chukka Boots are unlined ankle high boots, typically with suede or leather uppers and rubber or leather soles. Often wore in casual settings, the Chukka Boot evolved from "crepe-soled, rough suede boots" made in Cairo for British Soldiers in World War II.

Clarks Original Desert Chukka Boot

The Clarks family of Clarks shoes sent off one of their sons, Nathan Clark, to fight in the war with two missions.

  1. Fight for and Protect his country.
  2. Discover new shoe styles for the family company.

Nathan was deployed to Burma and noticed these sand colored boots the officers he was deployed with were wearing. Upon further investigation, he discovered they were boots commisioned out of Cairo for South African Soldiers who needed boots that could stand the tough desert terrain. They required lightweight durability and traction, which led to the combination of a suede upper and the crepe sole.

Chukka? That's A Weird Name.

The name "Chukka" comes from the game Polo where a Chukka (or Chukker) is the 7 and a half Minute playing period. It's unclear whether the name stuck because Polo players were wearing them to play Polo or if they were just similar enough to the Jodhpur boots polo players were wearing to play.

There isn't much information about what the original chukka boots looked like but it could have been named after the Hindi word ‘chukkar’ meaning ‘circle’ or ‘turn’

What Makes A Boot A Chukka?

According to Shoe Historian June Swann, the classic Chukka has a few defining characteristics:

  1. It's a lace up ankle boot.
  2. Only two or three eyelets. Any more or other types makes it not a chukka.
  3. Thin Soles and Open Lacing.
  4. Traditionally Suede uppers with Leather soles.
  5. A Rounded Toe Box.
  6. Two parts made from a single piece of leather
  7. The quarters are sewn on top of the vamp.

Popularity and Rise

In the 1940s and 1950s, the Chukka became imensely popular due to it's great design. It was designed with comfort, durability and style in mind which led to it's massive success. It fits both as a casual style and you can wear it when you need to dress up. Now a days you can get a Chukka boot in just about any combination of uppers and soles, whether synthetic is your preference or your looking for a fancier dress boot.

Shop the original Clarks Desert Boot, or check out all the other Chukka's we carry to get your own piece of history.

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