Keen boots are popular among day hikers and backpackers alike for their excellent value and budget-oriented performance. The Targhee III is a new generation of boot that builds on the award-winning successes of its predecessors, but with an updated look and new materials. For the average hiker, who wants a hiking boot that offers a good value, and does not need the top performance in stability, this competitor is a great choice.Editor's Note: This product review was updated on February 23, 2022, to share additional advice on what we'd recommend to a friend.
Keen Targhee III Mid Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Budget oriented, soft and comfortable, quality insole
Cons: Decreased stability, not most breathable
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Keen Targhee III Mid
|Price||$89.95 at Amazon|
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$199.00 at REI
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|Pros||Budget oriented, soft and comfortable, quality insole||Top-level hiking boot performance, excels in all metrics||Lightweight, comfortable, excellent traction||Very comfortable, supportive||Inexpensive, great waterproofing, quality material|
|Cons||Decreased stability, not most breathable||Expensive, not as great for hot and dry climates||Narrow fit, slightly small sizing||Average waterproofing, fair traction||Heavy, clunky, uncomfortable|
|Bottom Line||This wallet-friendly model provides the support and traction of a boot, with the comfort normally reserved for a hiking shoe||The gold standard of what a great hiking boot should be, and we heartily recommend it for those seeking the best possible performance on and off the trail||This high-performing hiking boot tears up technical terrain with maximum precision and is at home far from the trail||This super comfortable hiking shoe is one of our favorite budget-friendly models||This is a classic hiking boot that uses traditional materials and is an inexpensive option for someone who wants a beefy boot|
|Rating Categories||Keen Targhee III Mid||Salomon Quest 4 Gor...||La Sportiva Ultra R...||Merrell Moab 3 Mid...||Timberland Mt. Madd...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Keen Targhee III Mid||Salomon Quest 4 Gor...||La Sportiva Ultra R...||Merrell Moab 3 Mid...||Timberland Mt. Madd...|
|Weight (per pair)||2.38 lbs (size 11)||2.90 lbs (size 11)||2.08 (size 45 EU)||2.36 lbs (size 11)||2.31 lbs (size 11)|
|Boot Type||Lightweight hiker/day hiker||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot||Lightweight hiker/day hiker||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot|
|Width Options||Regular and wide||Regular||Regular, Wide||Regular, Wide||Regular, Wide|
|Waterproof Lining||KEEN.Dry waterproof breathable membrane||Gore-Tex||GORE-TEX extended comfort||Waterproof membrane||TimberDry|
|Upper||Oiled nubuck leather||Leather and nylon||AirMesh, microfiber, TPU||Pigskin leather, mesh||Full-grain leather|
|Last Board/Shank||Torsion stability ESS shank||4D Chassis||Nylon molded flex TPU||Molded nylon||TPU shank|
|Midsole||Dual-density EVA||EnergyCell||Injection-molded MEMlex||Super Rebound Compound||EVA|
|Sole||Keen all-terrain rubber||Contagrip||FriXion XF 2.0||Vibram TC5+||Rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Keen Targhee III Mid is a clean-looking hiking boot that delivers good support while boasting the comfort of a running shoe. Thanks to an update in outer materials, the Targhee III feels much more supple and pliable, though retains its proven traction.
Right out of the box, this boot delivers trail-ready comfort normally reserved for well-worn boots that have seen months of use to break them in. Its soft and flexible oiled nubuck leather material is less rigid those boots with a stiffer leather upper, and the boot flex is noticeably softer. This gives the boot a shoe-like feel.
Keen uses an ESS shank insert to allow the boot to travel comfortably over rough and rocky trails on a more stable platform, where others caused foot pain from feeling the jagged rocks through the sole. As with most other Keen hiking boot we've hit the trails in, this boot has a large rubber toe bumper that provides foot protection from tripping over roots and rocks on the trail.
The mid-top boot has ample cushioning around the ankle, so there is no noticeable pressure on the ankle bones like we felt on some of the hiking boots tested in our review, but this boot did not have the high-end comfort found in the Editors' Choice Award-winning boot.
The Targhee III employs the same well-thought-out lacing system that we have seen in previous models. Using a strap of webbing that wraps around the heel and into the laces, we were able to attain a custom fit thanks to the variety of cinching options available.
This contender is waterproof, but we found it to breathe reasonably well even in warm and arid, high desert environments. This is thanks to the proprietary Keen.Dry membrane, which is similar to the better known Gore-Tex linings. The fit is on the wider side, however, so we often resorted to wearing thick socks to take up some of that volume that the lacing system was unable to account for. Consider trying these on with thinner socks to get the proper fit, especially if you will spend more time in warm climates.
The material used in the Targhee III results in the upper boot having a soft, flexible feel. The soft nubuck upper does not provide as much rigidity as full-grain leather models, so side to side stability suffers a bit instead of comfort here. One can gain extra stability by using the lacing system to get a tighter fit around the ankle, but those needing support for carrying backpacking backpacks or with ankle issues may do better to look at a higher boot. The wide sole gives added stability, but with a pronounced rocker and sole flex, this boot did not do as well in edging tests.
The Targhee III is a good performer in this important metric. The compound used by Keen, a proprietary, non-marking rubber, gave testers ample traction on a variety of surfaces. From dew-covered grassy slopes to wet granite boulders, we felt secure on our feet in these boots. The moderately sized lugs of the Keen boot gripped loose terrain like scree and mud, but are low profile enough to still give lots of surface area contact for travel over slabby granite outcrops.
The Targhee III is an inexpensive, accessible hiking boot that performed better than similarly priced boots but could not compete with the Top Pick for Scrambling.
The Keen Targhee III has a flood height of 3.75 inches, making this model one of the shortest hikers. It can withstand sloshing through the infrequent stream or a mud puddle, but those who spend prolonged time in wet climates where higher levels of protection are indicated should look to a boot with a taller flood level. The flexibility gained by having many pieces of nubuck sewn together also results in many seams, especially along the sides and around the toe box, and wear here will result in water finding its way in easier. The Targhee's can handle some wetness, but in a previous test of these boots, we experienced leaking in the front seams.
The Keen Targhee III weighs 2.38 pounds per pair in size 11 US. Similar to its predecessor, this contender offers a good blend of comfort and traction in such a light package, impressing reviewers again with features like a toe bumper. Of the mid-weight boots we reviewed, it lagged behind top scorers in this category like our Top Pick for Lightweight Hiking.
The Keen Targhee III has an upper comprised of many seams that hold the nubuck and textile fabrics together. These seams allow the boot to flex and move with the foot more comfortably than a single rigid piece of leather, but the seams are a weakness and should be treated with an aftermarket care product such as Seam Grip for longevity. The oil treatment on the nubuck leather gives added protection from water, but once the oil dries out, additional treatments should be applied so that the outer material sheds water effectively and allows the inner membrane to function as it should.
Should You Buy the Keen Targhee III?
The Targhee III has received a nice makeover, and now with its clean-looking oiled nubuck leather outer, it is more visually appealing and comfortable from the first step you take in them. They're a great option if you don't want to shell out the big bucks for the premium boots we tested.
What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?
This boot's predecessor, the Keen Targhee II Mid, still holds its own if you get your hands on a pair — they are a good deal and very comfy. If you want the cream of the crop, we recommend the comfortable, durable, and stable Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex. For the ultimate in plush comfort, check out the Hoka One One Kaha GORE-TEX.
— Ryan Huetter
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