The Koio Chelsea Boot: A Rugged Winter Boot Worth Your Consideration

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Accessories

The cold weather months really open up your winter boot options: Vibram-soled, leather moc toe work boots to 10″ fleece-trimmed Sorel snow boots, and everything in between. One boot I’d like you to consider is the Koio Chelsea boot.

Now if you know anything about chelseas, your first thought may be, “Wait what, why?”

Typically, Chelsea boots for men are dressier, with a polished leather upper and a smooth leather sole. But Koio’s twist on the Chelsea boot makes it a perfect casual and rugged option for those icy sidewalks and snowy streets.

I did an unboxing and gave my first impressions of the men’s mocha-colored Koio suede Chelsea boot in the video below:

But in case you’re not a video guy, in this article I’ll show you photos and highlight the things I noticed about these boots so you don’t have to watch it. Also I’ll give you my 👍 or 👎 at the end.

(Though I’d appreciate a quick THUMBS UP on that video if you have a moment. It helps the video reach more guys who need it.)

I should mention that these are relatively new to me as of this writing. I’ve only been wearing them a month or so. Check back in the future, as I’ll be sure to update this post with a longer-term review.

Koio Chelsea Boots

Handsome, yet rugged winter-ready Chelsea boots.


Unboxing the Koio Chelsea boots

So if you’ve never ordered a pair of Koios before, here is what you receive:

The sturdy shoebox is a soft sea foam blue green color. Inside the box, other than the boots, is a dust bag (perfect for storing the shoes to prevent scratching and… dust).

I believe all Koio shoes include a dust bag, which is great! I always keep my rarely-worn shoes in dust bags to protect them.

OK and here are the Chelseas:

man holding brown koio chelsea boots
brown koio chelsea boots with box on table

A few product details

  • These boots are 100% made in Italy
  • They’re a suede leather with a lug style sole
  • They’re fully leather lined, and double stitched for durability
  • The EXTRALIGHT sole is shock absorbing, flexible, and designed to be grippy
  • There’s a heel tab and dual elastic paneling, which makes it easy to put on / take off
  • You can wear these in harsh weather conditions, rain and snow, etc. (I suggest spraying on a suede protector just in case)
brown koio chelsea boots on white table

A Note On Sizing And Fit

The Koio Chelseas fit me true to size, as do the Capri, their classic sneaker model. I normally wear a 9, and that’s what I ordered (size 42 in EU sizing).

The boots fit comfortably right out of the box with no break-in period. I do have a slightly wider foot‚ but have had no problems or discomfort with the width of these boots.

Koio Chelsea Boots

Handsome, yet rugged winter-ready Chelsea boots.


Five things I noticed about the Koio Chelseas

OK so there are a few things I wanted to point out about this particular Chelsea that I really like.

1. The lug sole

Typically, on Chelseas, you see a standard leather or rubber sole, or maybe a Dainite sole. The lug sole gives these a more interesting look, similar to your typical hiking boot.

Lug soles are great for grip, especially in the winter when it’s easy to slip and slide while wearing leather sole shoes. (I never wear leather sole shoes when it’s icy or snowy out… or at least avoid it as much as possible).

koio extralight sole on chelsea boot
closeup of the EXTRALIGHT sole

By the way, these aren’t just your regular ol’ (heavy) rubber lug sole. They’re made from a material called EXTRALIGHT. I looked this up, and EXTRALIGHT is a super light and durable proprietary foam material used in many different products, from sporting goods to medical devices, and yes, shoe soles. Pretty cool!

The weight difference compared to other Chelsea boots I own is pretty significant. These are really light. Keep reading, though; I’ll expand on this a bit further down.

2. The overall style

These Koio Chelseas lean a bit more rugged and trend-forward in style, vs. something you’d typically wear with a suit.

So if you have a rugged or streetwear style, this is a great Chelsea option for you. Even if your style is more smart casual, you can totally work these Chelseas into your wardrobe. Think denim, soft flannel shirts, chunky knit cardigans, parkas, pea coats… it all works.

Overall, these will be a great addition to your casual wardrobe and perfect when you want something different from your usual work boots, chukkas, or dressier Chelseas.

3. the weight

The first thing I noticed as I took these out of the box: These things are super light. WAY lighter than any other Chelsea boots I own.

If you watch the video (skip to this section at 4:34 here), I actually weigh these boots on a mini scale and compare it to a few other Chelsea boots in my collection. The boots I pulled are: Herring Kirkdale, New Republic Sonoma (first gen), Ace Marks Troy, and the M.Gemi Dritto.

koio brown chelsea boot weighing on scale

Here’s what each Chelsea weighs (one boot):

  • Herring Kirkdale: 22.57oz
  • New Republic Sonoma: 19.79oz
  • Ace Marks Troy: 16.93oz
  • M.Gemi Dritto: 15.2oz
  • Koio Chelsea: 14.39oz

The funny thing is, while I wear my Herring Kirkdale boots all the time, I never realized how heavy they actually were until I got these Koio Chelseas. While the Koios certainly look the biggest, they weigh the least, which can make a difference if you’re walking in them all day.

Koio Chelsea Boots

Handsome, yet rugged winter-ready Chelsea boots.


4. the shaft height

The shaft on these boots is also noticeably taller than my other Chelseas. Here’s a shot of all of them side by side, so you can see the difference.

chelsea boots shaft height
From L to R: Koio, Herring, New Republic, Ace Marks, M.Gemi

So as you can see, The Ace Marks and New Republics have a pretty average shaft height. The Herrings are a bit shorter, and the M. Gemis are the shortest Chelseas I’ve seen. On the opposite end, the Koios are the tallest Chelseas I’ve come across.

Here are the different shaft heights:

  • M.Gemi Dritto: a bit under 6″
  • Herring Kirkdale: 6.25″
  • Ace Marks Troy: 7″
  • New Republic Sonoma: 7″
  • And the Koios are: 9″

So far, the Koio’s taller shaft has been more comfortable and less annoying, for one specific reason: my pants don’t get caught on the pull tab. I HATE when that happens. So irritating.

chelsea boots different shaft heights

In general, YMMV (your mileage may vary) with this take, but that’s a big plus for me. Also I just seem to like the higher shaft, much more than I thought I would. It’s supportive. It will take getting used to, however, if you’re not accustomed to taller boots.

The shaft fits pretty securely around the ankle and lower calf. The double elastic does keep things comfortable, but if you have super thicc calves or ankles, you may find it a bit restrictive. Then again, you’d probably run into this even with the Chelseas of average height, so give them a shot and decide for yourself.

5. The toe shape

So, the toe shape, to me, can make or break a shoe. If it’s too squared off or too pointy, it’s a no-go for me.

The Koios have a pleasing almond shaped toe, nice and rounded, but not too round, nor too pointed, and obviously not square. It’s the perfect shape.

koio chelsea boots toe shape top down shot

Most of my Chelsea boots have a similar toe. I definitely prefer this almond shape, not only with my Chelseas, but with most of my leather brogues as well.

Take a look at the different toe shapes of your various boots and shoes and you’ll start to notice this more and more, if you don’t already. If you’re going for a classic silhouette, you’ll definitely want to find this toe shape whenever browsing for shoes or boots.

The Koio Chelseas on feet

Here’s what the Koio Chelseas look like when being worn. Again, more rugged and definitely chunkier than your typical Chelsea. I love these with casual and smart casual outfits.

And while the lug sole isn’t something you typically find, to me, that stand-out detail is what draws me to them.

koio chelsea boots on feet

“So do you recommend these boots?”

I’ve only been wearing them for a month or so, but I really like them. My go-to Chelseas from Thursday Boots have been temporarily replaced. 👍

I do feel like they can serve different purposes, with the Thursdays being slightly dressier (although mine are really beat up, so I only wear them with casual outfits now).

My style has been changing the past year or two, and I really enjoy mixing types of styles (similar to the high / low aesthetic I always talk about). If you roll a bit casual, or you want to mix up styles like me, I’d give these a shot.

One pair of pants I’ve been wanting to try is a slim, springy grey wool flannel trouser. They’d have a dressier aesthetic, but the slim silhouette would work well with a chunky Chelsea like this.

High / Low, baby.

Koio Chelsea Boots

Handsome, yet rugged winter-ready Chelsea boots.


Long-term review of the Koio Men’s Chelsea Boots

Interested in a long-term review of these boots? I’d be happy to update this post after a season or two of wear.

Let me know with a comment on this Instagram post, or better yet, leave me a comment on the video!