Requests: Desert Boots

Last month, we had an inquiry come in for a low-profile desert boot, not made by Clarks, in an off-white colorway. Aside from Clarks being off the table (their desert boot has entered into ubiquity at this point), the principal criterion was that the sole must be thin. Spanish company El Ganso makes a very handsome desert boot that fits all the criteria, but they don't have an off-white colorway at this time.

1. Folk Armstrong

When I thought of thin soles and stylish boots, my mind instantly went to Folk. Folk is a English brand dedicated to making casual clothes with amazing details and understated silhouettes, and it's hard to find something that's not awesome in their offerings. Their footwear looks like nothing else out there to me, and the thin soles stuck in my mind the first time I saw them. However, they walk the line between casual and maybe a little too casual, so I decided to push on.

@ Folk ($163.78, on sale from $245.97)

2. Nisolo Emilio Chukka

My next move was to find a boot that was less casual, but with a thin sole. I thought then of Nisolo, which is a footwear company with a really great story. They employ skilled shoemakers in Peru, and each shoe and boot is handmade and shepherded from start to finish by one cobbler. Begun from a collaboration with a microfinance organization in Northern Peru, the word has spread about Nisolo, and it's a great thing.

@ Nisolo ($168)

3. Cole Haan Glenn Chukka

While Nisolo has a great story and makes good looking footwear, I realized I had got off track and had found a couple of boots with the right sole and pedigree, but that were not off-white. So I then moved on to the Cole Haan Glenn Chukka. It's got a slightly higher profile sole and heel, but the colorway was closer to off-white than the others.

@ Cole Haan ($228)

4. Frank Wright Bridges

Even though the Cole Haan chukka was handsome and closer to the right colorway, I couldn't totally believe in the heel, it seemed too high. I found the Bridges boot by Frank Wright, which got me back on the thin sole track, and with a lighter hue colorway to boot (no pun intended). It looks nice, but the more I stared the more I realized that the white sole might not be totally right.

@ Frank Wright ($53.29, on sale from $106.59 [pre-shipping])

5. Reef Kudu

When looking for some things to match a couple of criteria, it's amazing to notice the sheer quantity of products out there; it's a wonder we ever make decisions on what to buy. At some point I navigated to the Reef Kudu boot, which has a thin sole and comes in a gray/off-white colorway. I had to do a double-take when I found myself at the Reef website, because my memories of Reef clothing and footwear consist exclusively of scenes at the beach. But really, though, the boots look great and ticked more boxes than the other ones I had found. There's definitely a spectrum of desert boots with thin soles and lighter hue colorways, and from my searching it seemed Reef had the best option for the inquiry.

@ Reef ($150)


  1. Oliver…… Fantastic job with the shoes ! Quick comment: I think folks (particularly men) overlook the possibilities available by switching shoestrings ! Every pair of shoes takes on a whole new persona when one simply spends $5 on a new, nice pair of shoestrings. Change the color, change the texture and you’ve changed the whole look of the shoe ! It’s an easy fashion hack that no one ever thinks of !

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