Clarks Originals Desert Review

8.7 score
[Editors rating (8.7)] = (WalkJogRun) score (8.7)/10

Editor rating: 8.7 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
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The Clarks Originals Desert Boot is something every man should have in their wardrobe. They feature a classic, timeless design, that goes with almost anything and are very lightweight and comfortable for your everyday needs. With carefully selected materials and superb craftsmanship, this shoe will stand the test of time and is a great investment, that you will not regret.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight and flexible suede upper
  • Crepe sole
  • EVA footbed
  • Classic design
  • Wide range of colors
  • Fairly affordable
  • Sizing on the bigger side
  • Lack of support
  • Soles wear out quickly


Taking inspiration from the boots that British soldiers wore during World War II, while stationed in Burma, the Clarks Originals Desert Boot was born. Made from all natural and hand-selected materials, the Desert Boot is environmentally friendly, as well as very durable. The outsole of this ankle boot is made of a type of natural rubber, or coagulated latex, called crepe, which is sourced from a tree, without cutting the tree down, hence being environmentally conscious. They originally came from a bazaar in Cairo and have excellent traction on sand, which is how the boot got its name, Desert Boot. The sole of this boot is incredibly lightweight and flexible and has kind of a sticky nature to it, which provides a decent amount of traction on dry surfaces. The natural rubber in the sole makes this shoe highly comfortable to wear on a daily basis, as it bends with the feet and does not tire them out. On a slightly negative tone, the nature of the sole attracts a lot of dirt and debri, which sticks to the sole, making them dirty quite quickly. However, most reviewers love that about this shoe, and according to them, the more worn-in they look, the better. Since this boot was designed to be worn in warmer weather conditions, it is not waterproof, and the crepe sole tends to soak up water, making the feet wet. It also loses its traction on wet surfaces, so it is not advised to wear it in the rain or snow, as the risk of slipping is very high.


The upper of the Clarks Originals Desert Boot is made of quality suede, although, today they are available in other leather types and finishes as well, among which the most popular is the Beeswax Desert Boot. The Clarks Originals is just high enough to qualify as an ankle boot, and has two sets of metal eyelets on each boot with relatively thin, cotton laces. The upper is stitched to the sole for added durability, while the suede material provides a comfortable fit for everyday use. There is no lining to speak of, just one layer of leather, so the breathability of the shoe is limited. The boot features a lightweight EVA foam footbed, which delivers a cushioned feel, and helps with moisture absorption, for a healthy in-shoe environment. The upper is not waterproof, so it is advised to wear it during the drier seasons. The suede upper also gets dirty fairly easy, but that problem can quickly be resolved by brushing the leather, or investing in a suede eraser, which takes care of stains. The Clarks Originals’ upper is very lightweight, just like the rest of the shoe, and the suede conforms to the shape of the feet the more you wear it, making it very comfortable to wear on a daily basis.


Being a casual, everyday type of shoe, that is meant for warmer climate, one would expect the Clarks Originals to be highly breathable. While the footbed does have moisture-absorbing qualities, there is no lining inside the shoe, just a single layer of leather, which is not the most breathable of materials, even if it is suede. Most of the reviewers were not too upset about this feature of the shoes, since they do not wear them for all day standing or walking long distances under the hot sun, but a handful of customers did complain about the lack of breathability in the Clarks Originals. One reviewer even said that he needed to wear cotton socks with the boots, to minimize moisture buildup inside the foot chamber.


When it comes to comfort, the Clarks Originals deliver just that. With a flexible crepe outsole and suede upper that conforms to the shape of the feet, the wearer will not feel restricted in their movements and can walk around with confidence. Additionally, the EVA footbed provides a soft landing and bouncy stride, with good shock-absorption. The lightweight construction of the boots largely contributes to the overall comfortability, as it does not weigh the feet down or cause fatigue. Most reviewers wear their Clarks Originals casually, running errands, going out with friends or on a date, or just walking around town, and some even wear it as business casual shoes, since they are comfortable enough to wear for longer. That said, the outsole is pretty thin, and without any insoles, the wearer will be able to feel every pebble and stone on the ground. If that is not your cup of tea, you should consider some other Chukka Boots instead. A handful of customers complained about the leather riding into their ankles and heels, causing pain and discomfort, however, as with any leather shoes, this problem usually goes away after the shoes are broken in.


While certainly not the most durable pair of shoes on the market. The Clarks Originals have decent durability overall, for what they are. The crepe soles, although not as durable as rubber soles, hold up pretty well, even with extensive wear, while the suede upper is made of quality leather, that ages well, some even saying that they look better after they start showing signs of wear and tear. Some reviewers had their Clarks Originals for years, before they had to repurchase, the oldest pair being over a decade old. That is a great testament to the quality of Clarks shoes. The upper is also stitched to the sole, making it even more durable. Additionally, once the soles wear down, there is the option of removing the old soles and exchanging them for new ones, so you do not have to buy the shoes all over again. That said, a few reviewers mentioned that the shoelaces are very prone to tearing, as well as the sole stiffening in cold weather. In one extreme case, the soles reportedly melted down when left outside in the hot sun.


Although available in many sizes lengthwise, unfortunately, this boot does not come in wide widths. Being on the narrower side of the spectrum, the Clarks Originals is not meant for people who have wider feet. However, people with average and medium wide feet will be able to enjoy these Desert Boots. One thing to note is, that the Clarks Originals fit bigger, so it is advised to size down half or even a full size from your regular size, when purchasing this shoe, to achieve the best fit. While this worked for most customers, a few experienced discomfort, and one customer could not even get his feet in the shoe, even after sizing up a full size. Others, on the other hand, managed to get the fit right, but their heels were loose and coming out of the shoe. To avoid that happening, it is best to try on the shoes in a retail store first and then order online.


The Clarks Originals is very flexible, thanks to the materials used in its production. The sole is made of a natural rubber, called crepe, which is very lightweight and flexible, so the wearer can move freely, without any restrictions, as the shoe will follow the natural movement of the feet. Likewise, the suede upper has similar features, as it is lightweight and conforms to the shape of the feet, providing a non-restrictive fit for the wearer for all day comfort and freedom of movement.


As mentioned earlier, the inspiration behind the Clarks Originals came from British soldiers in World War II. Namely, when they were stationed in Burma, they could not wear their regular combat boots, due to the heat, and this is when soldiers started wearing the crepe-soled “desert” boots, which originate from Cairo. This caught the eye of Nathan Clarks, who then sent his design over to England and later popularized the Desert Boots, first in the US, and then all over the world. Featuring a Chukka Boot design, the Original Desert Boot sports a crepe sole and suede upper for a minimalistic, yet stylish look. There are three variations of the Original Desert Boots, the classic suede Desert Boot, the Beeswax, and the third, manufactured in Italy. The main difference between them is their upper’s finish and the quality of the crepe sole. The Clarks Originals Desert Boot comes in many colors, so there is something to suit everybody’s taste. The Clarks Originals features a simple, rugged, yet timeless design, that has been popular for over 60 years, and is still among men’s favorites. It looks good with casual attire, like jeans and a T-shirt, or chinos and a button down, and it could even be worn business casually, with khakis. Some ventured to wear them with shorts as well, and they still looked good. However, it is not appropriate for formal events or serious workplaces with strict dress codes.


To be honest, the Clarks Originals Desert Boot does not have a ton of support, but then again, it was not designed to be a supportive shoe, that you can take for long distance walks or stand in for long hours at a time. The crepe sole is quite thin, and due to its nature, you can feel the ground beneath you as you walk. There is no particular arch or heel support in this shoe to speak of, however, the crepe sole does mold to the shape of your feet over time, creating little indents for your heels and balls of your feet, making the shoes more comfortable as you wear them. While this might be enough for people with flat feet, who are used to flat surfaces, or people with regular arches who do not need special support, others might find it quite uncomfortable to wear without any insoles. Luckily, you can always insert your custom orthotics, just be mindful with sizing, as the insole can make the shoes fit tighter, so in this case you would want to get your regular size. The suede upper does not have a very structured look to it either, with no padding in the collar or tongue of the shoe, and only minimal lacing. However, people buy this shoe, not for its support, but for its classic silhouette that goes with pretty much everything, and do not mind the lack of support.


Everything about the Clarks Originals Desert Boot screams lightweight, from its crepe sole to its suede upper. The natural rubber in the sole provides a light, flexible ride, while the upper is made of a single-layer suede, with no lining. As the shoe does not have any padding either, the construction itself is very minimal, making the shoe very comfortable, almost slipper-like, according to reviewers.

Bottom Line

The Clarks Originals Desert Boot has been around for quite some time, and has been a beloved semi-dress shoe for generations. What makes the Desert Boot so special are the materials used to make it. The outsole is made of crepe, a type of natural rubber derived from a tree, while the upper is constructed from a quality suede leather, which is stitched down to the sole. Although, the shoe does not have much in terms of support or padding, it is extremely lightweight and flexible, making it a very comfortable shoe to just throw on. This shoe goes with pretty much anything, except formal attire, so it is very easy to dress up or down, depending on your needs. The prices vary, depending on which Originals Desert Boot you pick, but it is fairly reasonably priced, and a good quality for your money. That said, this shoe is not waterproof and does not have sufficient insulation to take you through the winter months, so be mindful of that when buying. It is also advised to size down at least half a size, if not a full size, since the Desert Boot tends to run bigger.