What Are Chukka Boots? Everything You Need to Know

One of the most stylish types of footwear out there is most definitely a great pair of chukka boots. They’re so incredibly versatile, and if you wear them correctly, they’ll round out your outfit perfectly.

However, you don’t want to just run out and snag a pair of chukka boots without knowing a little bit about them. You need to know when to wear them, what to wear them with, and how to actually pronounce the world “chukka.” Don’t worry, because we will teach you everything you need to know.

How Do You Pronounce “Chukka”?

If you’re wearing a pair of chukka boot, and someone comes up to you and says, “Hey, those are some nice boots. What kind of boots are they?” You want to be able to answer their question without sounding like an idiot.

So how do you actually pronounce “chukka”? Like chuck-ah. Think chuck, like throwing something, but with an “ah” on the end. The incorrect way to say chukka is “choo-ka”—like the sound a child makes when imitating a train. Don’t make train sounds when talking about your boots and you’ll be good to go.

What Are Chukka Boots?

Now that you know how to say chukka, let’s talk about what actually makes a boot a chukka.

Generally, there are a few key aspects that define a chukka boot. First of all, they’re ankle height. You’ll never see a true chukka boot that goes above the ankle, nor will one sit low like a sneaker.

The next key aspect that makes a boot a chukka is the laces. Rather than laces trailing down the entirety of the foot, a chukka has two or three eyelets. This helps give them their easily identifiable look.

The third that makes a chukka is the way the boot is cut. Typically, there are two whole pieces of leather combined to make the boot. This gives chukka boots the stylish seam that runs along the middle of the foot. A true chukka will always have this seam, as it’s definitely one of the key characteristics that differentiate it from other types of boots.

The final thing that defines a chukka is the toe. They should always have a rounded toe. Generally, you want to avoid squared-off toes in most forms of footwear, and this is definitely the case with chukka boots.

Chukka Boots vs. Desert Boots?

People will often use the term “desert boot” to describe chukka boots. Are they the same thing? Sort of.

Basically, a desert boot is a type of chukka boot—all desert boots are chukka boots, but not all chukka boots are desert boots, if that makes sense.

The difference between them comes from the functionality offered by desert boots. The word desert is more than just a name here, as they’re boots that are actually functional in outdoorsy situations thanks to the rubber sole (more formal chukka boots tend to have thinner, leather soles).

A desert boot, while functional, is also on the casual side of the spectrum. If you’re looking for a chukka to wear with a suit, you’re better off sticking with a traditional chukka with a leather sole over a desert boot.

Another thing to note about desert boots is that they tend to be one of the most popular styles, so you’ll see a lot of them out there when you’re shoe shopping.

The More You Know About Boots

Sometimes it’s nice to understand a little more about what you’re actually wearing. It helps you appreciate the subtle nuances that go into making something.

Chukka boots are definitely one of those items that it pays to understand. If you want to know more about boots, make sure to check out our article on different boots styles. Also, make sure you know how to take care of your suede boots before you spend big money on a pair.

Image Credit: a kindly stranger/Flickr

Dave LeClair

Dave is a staff writer at Modern Ratio. He's a long-time geek who turned on to style late in life, and now writes to share what he's learned with those who are just starting their own style journeys. He's based in Pennsylvania.