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Keen Targhee III Mid Review

This wallet-friendly model provides the support and traction of a boot, with the comfort normally reserved for a hiking shoe
keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review
Credit: Keen
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Price:  $175 List | $89.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Budget oriented, soft and comfortable, quality insole
Cons:  Decreased stability, not most breathable
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 23, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Support - 25% 6.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6.0
  • Weight - 10% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

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.

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Star Rating
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Pros Budget oriented, soft and comfortable, quality insoleTop-level hiking boot performance, excels in all metricsLightweight, comfortable, excellent tractionVery comfortable, supportiveInexpensive, great waterproofing, quality material
Cons Decreased stability, not most breathableExpensive, not as great for hot and dry climatesNarrow fit, slightly small sizingAverage waterproofing, fair tractionHeavy, clunky, uncomfortable
Bottom Line This wallet-friendly model provides the support and traction of a boot, with the comfort normally reserved for a hiking shoeThe 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 trailThis high-performing hiking boot tears up technical terrain with maximum precision and is at home far from the trailThis super comfortable hiking shoe is one of our favorite budget-friendly modelsThis 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...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
4.0
Support (25%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
4.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
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.

Performance Comparison


keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - the updated targhee iii boots provide a clean look, ample comfort...
The updated Targhee III boots provide a clean look, ample comfort and traction at a reasonable price
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Comfort


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.

keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - not only is the upper material soft and malleable, but the insoles...
Not only is the upper material soft and malleable, but the insoles are high quality, and supportive over the course of a long hike
Credit: Ryan Huetter

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.

Support


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.

keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - with a mid cut ankle and supportive padding, this is a good boot for...
With a mid cut ankle and supportive padding, this is a good boot for most, but those needing more support should look for a higher cut boot.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Traction


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.

keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - the targhee iii providing good traction on a loose trail
The Targhee III providing good traction on a loose trail
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


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.

Keen uses an in-house waterproof membrane called Keen.Dry. This waterproof/breathable barrier allows the perspiration moisture to pass through but does not allow water in from the outside.

keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - the oiled nubuck upper sheds water at first, but needs to be...
The oiled nubuck upper sheds water at first, but needs to be maintained to do that over the seasons.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weight


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.

keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - the keen.dry membrane envelopes the entire foot, up to the middle...
The Keen.DRY membrane envelopes the entire foot, up to the middle eyelets, keeping water out even after several minutes in this mountain stream
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Durability


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.

keen targhee iii mid hiking boots review - the large rubber toe bumper and flexible yet grippy sole make this a...
The large rubber toe bumper and flexible yet grippy sole make this a great first boot for both beginners and seasoned hikers.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

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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