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Keen Targhee II Mid Review

A solid hiker that features great comfort and toe protection in an inexpensive package
Keen Targhee II Mid
Credit: Keen
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $165 List | $164.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good value, extra toe protection, solid traction, out-of-the-box comfort
Cons:  Below average stability, not very durable, lacks good breathability
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Ryan Huetter and Ross Robinson  ⋅  Feb 23, 2022
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69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Stability - 20% 7.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Keen Targhee II is a fantastic boot for a bargain price. This all-around solid hiking boot delivers a lot of great attributes that any hiker, whether new to the activity or a grizzled veteran of the trail will appreciate. This mid-cut hiker is comfortable, stable enough to take on most trails, has durable leather materials, and is surprisingly lightweight. Not to mention the fact that you'll end up paying a whole lot less than you would for many similarly rated boots. We have long enjoyed the Keen Targhee II, and feel that you will too. We recommend it for those seeking excellent value thanks to its overall sound performance and affordable price.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Keen Targhee II Mid is an excellent value for the average hiking enthusiast. A very agreeable model underfoot with its big toe cap and comfy fit, it feels burly, yet only weighs 2.4 lbs. You can be confident when traversing all kinds of terrain, as Keen's proprietary outsole provides exceptional purchase on nearly every surface type.

Performance Comparison


Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - the budget-friendly targhee ii mid is a great all-around hiking boot.
The budget-friendly Targhee II Mid is a great all-around hiking boot.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Comfort


Want to lace up your new hiking boots and hop on the trail right away? This is a comfortable boot to wear from the first step you take. From the cushy dual density insole to the ankle collar, this boot wraps your foot in soft comfort. The stiff protective rubber in front removes the possibility of stubbed toes, and the thick sole with shank insert handles uneven surfaces and jagged rocks without causing discomfort or foot fatigue.

The lacing system is made up of three lower, one middle, and one upper locking eyelets. The middle webbing eyelet continues down and around the heel of the boot, providing the ability to cinch your heel down in the heel cup. No other boot in our review has a similar feature for securing the heel, which we found both innovative and useful. Meanwhile, the upper eyelet provides a positive lock on the laces, so even if your bow comes untied, the lacing system does not loosen. We observed hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail that re-rigged the lacing system with two laces. One for the lower three eyelets that could be tied loosely, and one lace for the upper two eyelets to provide a tight fit for the heel and ankle.

Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - the heel lock system allows you to really customize the fit of these...
The heel lock system allows you to really customize the fit of these boots.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Although it's a waterproof, mostly leather boot, this product breathes pretty well. The proprietary Keen.Dry waterproof breathable membrane allows the foot to breathe while wearing thin socks but was less efficient if wearing a midweight merino wool hiking sock. Keen keeps the cost down compared to other products that rely on Gore-Tex liners, but it falls short of the performance compared to boots like our Editors' Choice Award winner that use the Gore-Tex material. The perforated insert and full, roomy toe box also encourage ventilation in the forefoot.

Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - molded rubber toe bumpers improve comfort when hiking on rocky trails.
Molded rubber toe bumpers improve comfort when hiking on rocky trails.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Stability


The Keen Targhee II is a slightly above-average performer regarding stability. One of the things we like is the amount of support that the lacing system provides. Able to secure the foot as well as the heel and ankle with their innovative heel locking system, these boots can be snugged up to improve stability in off-terrain travel. We also really like the 4.5-inch wide forefoot, which gives a solid platform and helps reduce the likelihood of a rolled ankle. These have a pretty low cuff height when compared to many other boots, however, so we did not award them as many points in this metric as some of the taller boots that offer even greater ankle stability.

The Torsion Stability ESS shank adds torsional rigidity and decent load-bearing support, but several other models we reviewed were stiffer and more stable. Among the lightweight crowd (sub 2.6 pounds in this review), the Targhee was less stable than the other higher cuffed boots.

Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - we took the keen out for a scramble through the talus on our...
We took the Keen out for a scramble through the talus on our favorite trail and it did great.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Traction


The Targhee II Mid performed reasonably across almost all our traction tests without standing out as a champion of any single type of terrain. The Targhee's proprietary non-marking rubber sole stuck well to dry and wet granite and handled muddy slopes better than the thinner sole of lighter boots. Additionally, the aggressive side lugs travel through slippery mud better than most traditional sole designs.

Its one failing during our traction tests was when scrambling, as the blocky forefoot didn't allow for precise foot placement or weight transference. The rounded edges did not hold as securely when working through difficult talus as those boots with a more precise edge along the outsole.

Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - the lugs on the targhee ii are fairly shallow, making them better at...
The lugs on the Targhee II are fairly shallow, making them better at smooth trails than in thick muck.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weight


Weighing just under two and a half pounds for a pair of size 11 US, the Targhee II Mid is a moderately heavy model in the lightweight category. However, some of the things that made it heavier, such as its thick midsole, high-traction outsole, and robust rubber protection at the toe and heel, all made it a higher-performing model in metrics like traction and durability.


Overall, we were impressed with the features it delivers relative to its weight.

Water Resistance


This boot has a flood height of 3.75 inches, measured from the bottom of the sole to the top of the waterproof Keen.Dry membrane. These boots have a gusseted tongue, though that is factored into the measured flood height. This a shorter amount of deepwater immersion protection than some of the shoes we feature in our low-top hiking shoe review. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking in seriously wet environments, or if you ford a lot of streams without taking your shoes off, then you might consider going for a boot with a taller cuff.

Keen uses its proprietary waterproof membrane while most of its competitors with membranes used Gore-Tex. Choosing to use a proprietary membrane rather than Gore-Tex helps keep the Keen price down.

Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - shallow water submersions are not a problem for the targhee but go...
Shallow water submersions are not a problem for the Targhee but go to deep and you'll end up with wet feet!
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Even though the flood height is relatively low compared with other boots, the Keen.Dry membrane does keep water out pretty well. The exterior leather material should be treated with an aftermarket conditioner every so often to ensure that it doesn't soak up any additional water, which can make the membrane perform poorly, but as long as you are keeping these out of the deepest puddles, they should keep your socks dry and happy.

Durability


Eight individual pieces of nubuck leather, sewn to the synthetic textile underneath, make up the upper. Intrinsically, these many parts result in many seams. The seams in the leather on both sides of the forefoot are particularly prone to wear, and the fabric at the flex point just behind the toe cap is a common area for wear and breakdown of the waterproof liner. Its side seams are prime candidates for Seam Grip application. If durability is an important concern for you, the Targhee II was the most durable of the lightweight models we tested.

Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots - the durability of these boots is fair as long as you don't abuse them.
The durability of these boots is fair as long as you don't abuse them.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Should You Buy the Keen Targhee II?


The Keen Targhee II is a great option for those seeking a decent, affordable boot. This model provides comfort, a customizable fit, traction for trail-based excursions, and a water repellent and durable leather upper that makes you wonder why you shouldn't be paying twice as much for it. The Targhee II is a jack of all trades and a worthy choice for those new to hiking or anyone who simply wants a good boot that won't break the bank.

What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?


Keen has since released the Targhee III, which is similar in many ways but feels more supple and pliable on the foot. Both models are great boots that we think most folks would be happy with. We still continue to recommend the Targhee II while it's still in production, as it's slightly cheaper and scores a point higher in both durability and stability. Our Editors' Choice, the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex, is another great all-around boot worthy of consideration.

Ryan Huetter and Ross Robinson
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