One of the coolest companies making smart gear is a brand called VIKTOS. It is a family run business headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin, and launched in the fall of 2017 in order to create innovative gear for the tactical user. Their products really can’t be pushed into a corner as they are defying the conventional standards by breaking out of the tactical market-niche, and creating product that is tried, tested, and not tired looking. Traditionally gear didn’t have a cross-over for end-users. Users rarely had input into the finished, acquisitions buyers didn’t talk to end-users, eras had different circumstances to deal with and a litany of other reasons stunted innovation. For example, military boots were only meant for the field, and not street wear, and vice-versa.
Today many start-ups are being created and run by prior military and law-enforcement members that have an inkling for what can work best. We live in a time where much has changed. Off duty police officers, concealed carry members and their ilk need and want clothing that is as responsive as they are when trouble comes round the corner. Being able to wear something better than Brogues, police boots, Chuck Taylor’s and Keds when dealing with a problem is what I’m all about.
Not only are VIKTO’s products stylish, and functional but they will appeal to non-tactically-minded users who are looking for something fresh. Many apparel and footwear brands are finding business success today by mixing style and function together, but few designs are as unique as VIKTOS’. Take a look a their hardshell and insulated jackets and you’ll know what I’m writing about. Their product line is made for mix-use and I love that.
What is the CHUKKA
One of the coolest items in their stable of cool goods is the PTXF Chukka Boot called the CHUKKA. I was very stoked to find out that I was being sent a pair by the company to review. The traditional Chukka boot released nearly 50 years ago was an ankle-high leather boot with suede or leather uppers, leather or rubber soles, and open lacing with two or three pairs of eyelets. VIKTOS took that as their model and put their very own spin on it. The Chukkas and the Desert boots have been cool mainstays of English culture and moved into the USA.
I love the way the CHUKKA looks. In fact my teenager thinks they are fresh looking. I polled his high-school friends and they stated they would wear them anywhere, and could play basketball too. The CHUKKA comes in two colors: Ranger Green has a white outsole, and the black (called Nightfjall) comes with a black outsole. The outsole makes up the base of the boot or shoe. The outsole is the durable part of the shoe that makes contact with the ground to provide traction. VIKTOS uses a premium, pliable, leather upper that is double-stitched to the outsole, which they call the PTXF Core bottom unit.
Boots that are stiff like paratrooper’s jump boots can irritate the ankle if it’s being used for something other than its intended purpose, and you don’t want something too soft like moccasins. The collar of the Chukka is soft yet it provides sufficient support and comfort around the ankle. They don’t hug your ankle too closely as do some collars on footwear. The inner bootie is a water-resistant neoprene and it works in tandem with the collar to keep the boots on your feet and of course helps to repel water. Neoprene is used in the manufacturing of wetsuits, waders and other accessories. The bootie is part and parcel of allowing the Chukkas to be used for light duty operational use or mixed mission casual applications. Neoprene is a good insulator. What is the advantage of using neoprene? Water that enters the fabric and becomes trapped between the neoprene and your skin gets warmed by your body heat. If you want to do full immersion in water these are good boots to use although they might add drainage holes to accelerate drying time. They can be used comfortably without socks if you choose to do so.
The upper will loosen over time. When you first get them out of the box they will be a bit stiff. They are also somewhat pliable. After about a month of use they will be supple. Yes, these are good for wearing in the rain, and if you want streams.
The laces tie easily because of the material they use but I found that they frayed a bit after some use. Perhaps they might look at other options that are more durable, but not slippery as some synthetics tend to unfasten easily when tied. The laces are very long. You can remedy this problem by switching out the laces or simply tucking them into the collar.
The Drop and Outsole
The Chukkas have a 4mm to toe drop. What is a drop? The drop is the height differential between where the heel and forefoot sit. Most dress shoes have a “high” drop between 12 and 15 mm. Today many minimalist running shoes have drops that are a “zero” drop (no pronounced heel), or a heel that is usually between 4mm-8mm. You essentially want footwear that mirrors the shape and therefore the responsiveness of a running shoe. The higher the drop of the shoe or the thicker the heel is means the footwear is not as responsive to your toe-off when you move to spring or pivot in reaction to an aggressor.
Also you want footwear that has rubber outsoles instead of a leather. Rubber means all day comfort and it lessens the chance of you slipping; particularly on marble or high shine floors. The Chukkas upper and outsole flexes in the direction that your foot flexes. This will give you freedom to move despite most obstacles. Smart move on VIKTOS’ part to go with a low profile outsole. These work well on the treadmill and on the street for light jogging, and for performing Olympic type lifts. I don’t recommend these as your go-to for gym shoes but they will work in a pinch if you forget your trainers.
The Chukkas use shoe standard inserts. I like their inserts and they work sufficiently for my foot type, weight and use. If you want something more spongy or firmer, that conforms to the shape of your foot, and want a personalized fit then look at some after-market brands like Superfeet. Some people like more cushioning and if you are going to use these for light jogging I recommend using something that has a firm insert while adding some light cushioning.
Video: You can get wet with the neoprene bootie. I meant to say the leather upper is water resistant. So you have a preference if you choose to get wet. Full immersion or not.
EYELETS and EYESTAYS
The Chukkas use a combination of metal and fabric eyelets. The eyelets are wide enough to allow your shoelaces to pass through, and smooth enough so you can easily and quickly adjust your laces. The four metal eyelets are punched through the leather collar. VIKTOS use of sturdy leather means the laces won’t tear through the eyelets or eyestays. We’ve don’t testing on some pricey brands and this has been known to happen. I also like how they did this because you can close the flaps and cinch down your laces to get a tight fit around your ankle. You can also loosen them sufficiently to get your foot out of the Chukkas. Getting my foot in and out took some time at first because the footwear wasn’t fully broken in. When fully cinched there isn’t any heel slippage. Footwear should never ride up and down on your heel when you walk. After a month of wear the boots will provide nice support and flexibility.
FLEX GROOVES, HEEL CUP and TOE BOX
The flex grooves on the outsole are cut through in rhombus patterns. These channels help the Chukkas flex along with the natural movement of your foot. The Chukkas have a bit of a heel cup which helps to prevent your foot from sliding. If you have thin feet I recommend going with a smaller size or wearing thicker socks, because the bootie doesn’t give as much support. The Chukkas don’t have a tongue and therefore you don’t need a lace keeper to hold it in place. There are pull-tabs on the bootie and the back of the top of the collar.
The boot uses vertical stitching on the quarter panels. The stitching looks cool but it also gives more structure to the footwear.
One of the smartest things I think VIKTOS did was to use a high volume forefoot toe box. Doing this really gives you room for good toe splay under load. I’ve written about this before. Many times footwear toe-boxes are too narrow and your feet can’t relax naturally. A generous toe-box allows your big toe to stay straight for greater stability and a more powerful toe-off.
I think VIKTOS did an excellent job creating this model. They hit all the points that I believe are important when purchasing footwear. Most decent running shoes price in at about $120.00 and the VIKTOS Chukkas are $125.00. They look good, are good for multi-use, don’t weigh much and are very comfortable. I’ve gone running in them too. They can be used for short hauls with a fast pack but I do not recommend them to be used for rucking. Again, this is for light mixed-use and shouldn’t be treated like standard military boots.
You’ll notice that I paired them with jeans. They look good with casual pants and jackets; add some cool socks, shirt etc and look like any other trendy dude on the street yet be able to jump into action if you must. They remind me of the old English bovver boots even if they are based on the Chukka polo boot. I left the laces out and rolled my jeans just like the old school UK lads did so you could get a good look. So far so good VIKTOS!
PRICE $125.00 5/5
FUNCTIONALITY 4.5/5 I believe the laces should be shortened and more durable.
DURABILITY Unsure at this point. Need more time to test. I’ve had them about 4 weeks.
Overall Rating 19.5/20
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.