About the Author: Adam Terry is a 30-year-old Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He’s #menswear by day and #workwear by night. He enjoys raw selvedge denim, Scotch whisky, and working on maintaining his dad bod.
When that first warm, sunny day breaks through all the grey skies and doldrums of Winter, it’s finally time to put away the heavy weatherproof boots and bust out the lightweight, light in color options just in time for Punxsutawney Phil to have his first Margarita of Spring.
I often travel for work and sometimes it’s a challenge to choose what shoes to bring. I normally opt for a pair of hearty workwear boots (Alden Indys or Viberg Service Boots) to go with my polo and chinos business casual style, but those can feel very heavy after a long day trekking through airports and security lines. That’s where these new Allen Edmonds Nomad chukkas come in. Their lightweight construction and extra cushioning really make a big difference – they’re super comfortable, even after a long day of air travel. But that doesn’t mean the whole package is perfect.
The last they’re built on is noticeably more generous.
• Model: Nomad Chukka Boot
• Last: 42
• Size: 10D
• Leather: C.F. Stead “Bone” Suede
• Construction: Goodyear Welt
• Sole: XL Extralight
• Lining: Leather
• Heel Pull Tab
• Price: $345 USD
Gorgeous suede. Buttery soft.
I’m a 10.5 D Brannock and normally take a 10 D in most dress shoes. I wear a 10.5 E in the Allen Edmonds #65-lasted shoes (Park Ave, Strand, etc.), as that last runs narrow and I have slightly high arches.
The Nomad chukkas are made around the new #42 last which, according to them, “combines the excellent fitting heel characteristics of the 65 last with a broad, almond-shaped modern toe shape.” It’s a pretty generous last and feels more like an E-width out of the box. After some trial and error, I settled on the 10 D. It’s not a perfect fit for me – there’s some heel slippage and the uppers don’t close properly, thanks to the wide toe box and uppers that are cut short.
With that said, I highly encourage you to try these on in store, if possible. Walk around on carpet for at least 10-15 minutes to see how they fit. Keep in mind that the suede will stretch a little and the insoles will compress a little as you wear them in.
Incredibly comfortable and lightweight soles.
Style wise, the Nomad chukka nails the Spring/Summer “smart casual” look, especially in Bone suede. This buttery soft suede from C.F. Stead has just the right amount of texture – it’s neither too flat like nubuck nor too nappy like waxed flesh. It’s the linen of shoes. I also really like the contrasting mid-brown welt and off-white sole. I believe these chukkas could easily be paired with everything from the recent “How to Wear It” post in place of those Banana Republic wingtips.
Comfort is a HUGE improvement over my usual chukkas and workwear boots. These things are seriously lightweight and plush, thanks in large part to the cork-infused foam insoles and the XL Extralight closed-cell foam (waterproof) outsoles. I’ll go out on a limb and say they’re on par with my Vans sneakers with the Ultracush insoles in terms of comfort. If you’ve ever wanted to wear smart casual shoes so comfortable that you forgot you were wearing them, I highly encourage you to give the Nomad line a look.
Nice, versatile shape. Notice the toe though. Not slim or sleek.
I do have a few nits to pick with Allen Edmonds’ quality control. Specifically, there were three worrisome things that I noticed with multiple pairs of the Nomad chukkas that I handled:
First, there is a *very* strong glue smell; whatever bonding cement they’re using to attach the pieces together is one potent potable. Like Sex Panther, it stings the nostrils the moment you open the box. Luckily the smell seems to dissipate after a few days.
Quality control was very hit or miss. By far the biggest drawback here.
Second, I noticed quite a bit of left over lasting material stuck underneath the welts. More than one shoe I handled had bits of the plastic wrapper or lasting staples still visible. While these are minor flaws that should have no impact on the life of the shoe, they’re not representative of what Allen Edmonds is capable of.
The third issue, and by far the worst, was inconsistent leather cutting, panel matching, and assembly. Almost every shoe I handled across a half-dozen pairs (while looking for the right size and fit in store) had some sort of major flaw. On more than one pair, the uppers weren’t cut or sewn correctly which caused the height to be offset thus causing the lacing to be crooked. Multiple pairs had panel matching issues where the suede color or texture was off enough to be noticeable; one chukka I picked up even looked like a saddle shoe because the center panel was lighter and smoother than the rest. Finally, almost every pair had crooked heel pull tabs that leaned to the right. While that’s not a major flaw, it was just plain annoying.
I would expect some of these issues to pop up on seconds quality boots or mass-produced shoes destined for discount retailers, but these issues are not acceptable at this price point. For $345, I expect better QC from Allen Edmonds. Frankly, I think they have to do better when asking for this level of cash.
Still Goodyear welted, still made in the USA. Just inspect closely for flaws.
If you’re in the market for a pair of lightweight shoes for Spring, I encourage you to seek out the Nomad chukkas and experience them in person. If you like what you see, can nail down your size, and don’t mind playing Quality Control Roulette, give them a go. When Allen Edmonds gets it right and puts them on sale, I think they’re worth it.