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Keen Targhee II Mid Review

The Targhee II is a solid lightweight hiker, featuring super comfort and toe protection in an inexpensive package.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $140 List | Check Price at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 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  ⋅  Nov 6, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 16
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Stability - 20% 7
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Keen Targhee II has been a favorite of our testers for years now, and has a strong following among the hiking community. It's often been our Best Buy Award winner, and we've come back around to it again. It retails for less than half the price of some of the hiking boots in our test line up, and it remains a good value, combining sound on and off-trail performance with an inexpensive price tag. The Targhee II is on the lightweight end of the hiking boot spectrum and is a mid-cut boot, so if you're looking for higher ankle coverage the Editors Choice Award winner is an excellent option. If you don't have a lot of money to spend and want to get out on the trails, the Targhee II Mid is a solid choice.


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Pros Good value, extra toe protection, solid traction, out-of-the-box comfortComfortable out of the box, fast and nimble, great stability, support, and water resistanceBest choice for rock and snow travel, durable, breathes wellAmazing comfort, stable, great tractionComfort of a trail runner with more support and stability, good all around performance
Cons Below average stability, not very durable, lacks good breathabilityNot as good for warm or hot environments, priceyWider fit, not the best lace locking systemNot as capable in off-trail terrain, rockered sole feels unnatural at firstNot as breathable in warm conditions, not great traction on smooth rock
Bottom Line The Targhee II is a solid lightweight hiker, featuring super comfort and toe protection in an inexpensive package.Our Editors' Choice Award winner blends comfort, stability and traction in a boot that fits well right out of the box and provides top-notch performance.For rock scrambling, alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, the Zodiac GTX is a light weight mountain boot disguised as a hiking boot.Feels like you are wearing pillows on your feet. With cushy soles and hi-cut protection, they are a great choice for those who value comfort on the trail.This boot brings the comfort of a trail running shoe but adds in the support you would expect from a hiking boot, resulting in a capable performer in all trail conditions.
Rating Categories Keen Targhee II Mid Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
Stability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Traction (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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10
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
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8
10
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4
10
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6
10
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7
10
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9
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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6
Specs Keen Targhee II Mid Salomon Quest 4D 3... Scarpa Zodiac Plus... HOKA ONE ONE Sky... Salomon X Ultra...
Weight per Pair (size 11) 2.37 lbs 3.30 lbs 2.65 lbs 2.50 lbs 2.28 lbs
Boot Type Lightweight Hiker/Day Hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight/Lightweight hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot
Width Options Regular and Wide Regular Regular Regular Regular
Waterproof Lining KEEN.Dry waterproof breathable membrane Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Gore-Tex eVent Gore-Tex
Upper Waterproof nubuck leather Nubuck leather and textile 1.8mm Suede Perwanger Waterproof leather Waterproof PU coated leather
Last Board/Shank Torsion stability ESS shank 4D Advanced Chassis BZ last None Molded shank
Midsole Dual density compression molded EVA Dual density EVA PU + 3D EVA-MP EVA Injected EVA
Sole Non-marking rubber outsole ContaGrip Vibram Drumlin / Mont Vibram MegaGrip Non-marking ContaGrip
Warranty 1 year 2 year 1 year 45 days 2 year
Sizes Available 7 - 17 US 7 - 13 US 37 - 48 EU 7 - 14 US 7 - 13 US
Color Options Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Keen Targhee II Mid is an excellent value for the average hiker. For the past several years, this boot has won our Best Bang for Buck Award. 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


Thick lugged sole and quality leather makes this a good deal
Thick lugged sole and quality leather makes this a good deal

Comfort


Want to lace up your new hiking boots and hop on the trail right away? This is a comfortable boot to wear and is so 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.

The upper eyelet firmly locks the lace into place  allowing you to tie your final knot without worrying about losing tension in the laces below.
The upper eyelet firmly locks the lace into place, allowing you to tie your final knot without worrying about losing tension in the laces below.

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 do use the Gore-Tex material. The perforated insert and full, roomy toe box also encourage ventilation in the forefoot.

The webbing that leads from the middle eyelet goes from one side of the upper  around the heel  and connects to the eyelet on the opposite side. By pulling the laces at this middle eyelet  you can snug up the fit around the heel  further preventing slippage.
The webbing that leads from the middle eyelet goes from one side of the upper, around the heel, and connects to the eyelet on the opposite side. By pulling the laces at this middle eyelet, you can snug up the fit around the heel, further preventing slippage.

Stability


The flexibility of the upper and the lacing system design make it quite versatile; folks with wide feet and those with narrow feet both get a great fit. The forefoot sole is wider than most in this review, providing a stable base for powering through rougher terrain. However, measuring 4.5 inches from the footbed to the highest point of the ankle collar, it is the third shortest of the twelve hikers we tested, a far cry from the tallest boot in our review.


The Torsion Stability ESS shank adds torsional rigidity and decent load-bearing support, but several other models we reviewed were stiffer and more stable. Those wishing for superior support and ankle stability should consider our Editors' Choice winner, or even our Top Pick for Scrambling boot. The midweight Quest has a reputation for comfort similar to the Targhee's. Among the lightweight crowd (sub 2.6 pounds in this review), the Targhee was less stable than the other higher cuffed boots.

We took the Keen out for a scramble through the talus on our favorite trail and it did great.
We took the Keen out for a scramble through the talus on our favorite trail and it did great.

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 with 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. For top scrambling performance look no further than our Top Pick for Scrambling.

Slopfest ahead? If you're wearing these Keen's  you just might look forward to it.
Slopfest ahead? If you're wearing these Keen's, you just might look forward to it.

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.

This lightweight model delivers a lot of performance for such a low price  making it a very attractive model.
This lightweight model delivers a lot of performance for such a low price, making it a very attractive model.

Water Resistance


With a flood height of only 3.75 inches, this product is one of the shorter lightweight hikers. There are also a considerable amount of seams around the toebox, where frequent flexing could wear them out over time. The Targhee's survived our frequent walks through stream crossings, but our previous review of this boot did experience leaking in around the front seams. For the ultimate in water resistance, go for taller boots.


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.

No footwear remains waterproof forever  but we expect the waterproof lining of this boot  the Keen Targhee II  to give way before most of the other competitors.
No footwear remains waterproof forever, but we expect the waterproof lining of this boot, the Keen Targhee II, to give way before most of the other competitors.

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 place for wear and breakdown of the waterproof liner. Its side seams are prime candidates for Seam Grip application as described in our Best-In Class article. If durability is an important concern for you, the Targhee II was the most durable of the lightweight models we tested.


Though the Targhee II didn't crush in our scree traction test  it ticked a solid performance through each metric box  especially considering its low price point.
Though the Targhee II didn't crush in our scree traction test, it ticked a solid performance through each metric box, especially considering its low price point.

Value


This product delivers top-notch performance at an affordable price. With excellent scores in comfort, weight, and solid traction, this is the most valuable boot in our line-up.

Conclusion


The Keen Targhee II is a hiking boot that despite shedding enough weight to put it in the lightweight hiker category, still maintains a durable leather outer, a heavy-duty patterned sole for trekking through mud, and a unique lacing system that allows users to customize their fit. We recommend this boot for those with wide feet, and those look for a good boot at an affordable price.

With seasoned ankles and feet  this lightweight boot can even be valuable for thru-hikes with a light to medium pack.
With seasoned ankles and feet, this lightweight boot can even be valuable for thru-hikes with a light to medium pack.


Ryan Huetter and Ross Robinson