If you’ve been shopping for a fresh pair of chukkas, you’ve seen Clarks pop up again and again. They’re the best-known brand for the style of boot.
We picked up both of these Clarks icons to give you a detailed breakdown of the major differences so you can pick the best boot for your needs.
Let’s get into it.
Clarks Bushacre 2 vs Desert Boots: Overview
The most significant difference between the Clarks Desert Boot and the Bushacre 2 is the sole. The Desert Boot has a crepe sole, which is softer, but less durable and gets dirty quickly. The Bushacre 2 has a vulcanized rubber sole, which is more durable but less comfortable.
|Busachre 2||Desert Boot|
|Leather||Pull up leather||Pull up leather|
|Insole||Partial sheepskin||Partial top grain leather|
|Outsole||Synthetic rubber||Crepe rubber|
|Returns||Depends on Retailer||Free 60-day returns|
The story goes that Nathan Clark, a British officer stationed in Burma during the second World War, kept seeing fellow officers pass by wearing a comfortable boot picked up during a tour in Africa.
Seeing how popular they were, he picked a pair up for himself and brought them back to England. His family shoe business had been around for decades prior, but once they started producing the Desert boot, demand for Clarks shoes skyrocketed.
If video reviews are more your speed, we’ve got you covered right here:
Clarks Desert Boot
The Desert Boot you can buy today is nearly identical to the one Nathan Clark and his family put into production in 1950.
The insole is a little different (more padding and breathable materials have been introduced) but the upper and sole are the same.
As you might imagine, these boots have become iconic. The first brand you probably think of when you think of chukka boots is Clarks. And that’s because of the simplicity and popularity of their Desert Boot.
What We Like
The beeswax pull up leather is exceptional and fairly priced.
The crepe sole is iconic and very soft on the feet.
The style is relaxed, and this boot is one of the few you can slip on.
A great option for upscaling a casual wardrobe.
What We Don’t Like
The crepe sole isn’t as durable as more modern rubber.
There’s no shank in the boot, so it can put a lot of pressure on your heel.
The crepe sole captures a lot of dirt, so it gets dirty looking quickly.
Clarks Bushacre 2
Clarks doesn’t offer the Bushacre 2 through their site, but sells it through third-party stores, including on Amazon.
It seems like the Bushacre 2 was built to solve a few of the main issues we have with the Desert Boot.
And really, the biggest issue with the Desert Boot is the crepe sole. Crepe rubber just doesn’t last as long as other types of synthetic rubber. So the Bushacre 2 uses a similar quality leather and has the same shape and construction, but the sole is harder and more durable.
But with the harder sole comes a less comfortable walking experience.
What We Like
The Bushacre 2 features a similar quality of leather as the Desert Boot.
The synthetic rubber sole is much more durable than the crepe sole.
The lining is softer, especially around the ankle.
It’s less expensive than the Desert Boot.
What We Don’t Like
The synthetic rubber sole is hard, and because the Bushacre 2 doesn’t have a shank in it either, there’s even more pressure on your heel.
Not as many color options are available.
Leather Quality and Care
Clarks doesn’t offer any specifics on the quality of the leathers found in the Desert Boot and the Bushacre 2. Both are pull up leathers, meaning they’re jam-packed with oils and waxes so you don’t need to put a lot of effort into care.
The leather quality is comparable between the two, though the Bushacre 2 is a bit stiffer. That said, the finishing and construction on the Bushacre 2 is better.
Both leathers are fairly water resistant because of their high level of conditioning. While the leather is water resistant, neither of these boots will do you much good in a rainstorm.
The Winner: The Desert Boot has slightly better quality leather, but the edges aren’t burnished and there were issues with the stitching, so we say the “overall quality” is a tie.
The sole is the largest consideration between these two chukka boots.
The Desert Boot has a crepe sole. It’s softer and more comfortable if you’re standing all day. But it’s more delicate and doesn’t last as long as the Bushacre 2. Another consideration is the dirt-factor: crepe soles get dirty quickly, which makes the Desert Boot a casual boot. Once the sole is dirty, it may not even be appropriate for business casual attire.
The Bushacre 2 has a vulcanized rubber sole, which is much more durable. On the downside, it’s harder, so if you’re standing all day, your feet may get tired.
The Winner: The Bushacre wins the battle of the sole. We’ll trade the extra bit of comfort and the classic light crepe color for the boost in durability and cleaner look. However, if comfort is your top priority, go for the Desert Boot.
Fit and Sizing
Both boots fit identically. It’s important to note with the chukka style, you’ll have a decent amount of heel slip. If you need a boot that offers a lot of ankle support, look for a different style altogether.
The Winner: It’s a tie. Both boots have the same shape and fit well. Order your true size with Clarks.
Break in Period
Because both boots use rich pull up leather, they’re supple and the break in period isn’t painful.
As we mentioned earlier, there is some heel slip when you first try either of these on. It should mostly disappear after a few weeks as the leather upper and insole conform to your foot.
That said, the stiffer rubber of the Bushacre 2 sole means you’ll get a little more resistance when you’re walking.
The Winner: The Desert Boot wins in this category by a narrow margin. We wouldn’t say that either boot was difficult to break in, but the softer, more flexible crepe sole is easier on the feet.
After wearing each of these boots for a few weeks, the key differences have become clear.
Both boots are built virtually the same and have a near-identical leather upper. There’s no doubt about the quality of the pull-up leather, so if you’re wondering whether either of these boots is “worth it,” the answer is yes.
The only notable difference is the sole.
The Desert Boot features a crepe rubber sole, which is a more “old-school” method of making rubber. Basically, it’s made from layering rubber sap, so you end up with a light and spongy sole.
Crepe rubber is an excellent choice if you stand all day because it offers a ton of cushion. But because it’s so porous, it’s much easier to take a chunk out when walking on asphalt, and it wears down fairly quickly.
Also, the sole will become black and dirty within an hour of wearing your boots outside.
If you do a lot of walking and plan on wearing your boots nearly every day, you’ll get more mileage out of the Bushacre 2.
And because the rubber is harder, you’ll experience less pressure on your heel when walking. That said, the sole isn’t as spongy, so if you stand in one place for a long time, it can become uncomfortable.
Which Boot Should You Get?
This is a tough decision. Our preference is for the Desert Boot, and we have a few specific reasons why.
We wear the Desert Boot once or twice a week—usually in a very casual outfit. In that situation, the dirty crepe sole goes with the vibe, and the comfort is critical. Plus, we love the fact that the Desert Boot is the classic chukka, and we like it the way it was 70 years ago.
But if you plan on wearing your boots to the office (or even more than three times a week), we recommend the Bushacre 2. The sole is more durable and looks much cleaner. As an added bonus, the Bushacre 2 is less expensive.
Let us know in the comments below which way you’re leaning: are you a traditionalist who prefers the extra comfort? Or is durability king?
To learn more, read our full Clarks Desert Boot review here or check out our YouTube review: