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Keen Targhee III Low - Women's Review

A burly waterproof hiking shoe with sticky traction great for more technical terrain and crummy weather
Keen Targhee III Low - Women's
Credit: REI
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $165 List | $123.89 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Spacious toe box, burly design, good traction, waterproof
Cons:  Low cut ankle collar can let water in, not the most breathable
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 20, 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
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Support - 20% 7.0
  • Traction - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 15% 6.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Keen Targhee III Low have tons of smart features, in addition to being comfortable, durable, and supportive. They have a roomy toe-box to provide extra comfort, and multi-directional lugs and beefy soles offer great traction. They are also quite waterproof if you avoid stepping in deep water because the ankle collar is cut low. There is reflective webbing on the back of the shoes for higher visibility on the trail or road after dark. Even though they are typically recommended for wide feet, with aftermarket insoles, they fit our lead reviewer's narrow/average width feet just fine. If you plan to pound out the miles and you're looking for shoes that can keep up with your summer adventure plans, then these shoes are a worthy contender.

Editor's Note: We updated this shoe review on May 20, 2022, after re-testing the shoes.

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Pros Spacious toe box, burly design, good traction, waterproofSuperb traction, supportive, waterproof, comfortableFeels fast, lightweight, waterproof, great tractionComfortable, lightweight, decent traction, inexpensive, vegan-friendlyWaterproof, great traction, breathable
Cons Low cut ankle collar can let water in, not the most breathableExpensive, laces not durable, sizing runs longAverage durability, not as protective underfootNot waterproof, below average durabilityNeeds breaking in, runs short, awkward tongue, laces difficult to adjust
Bottom Line A burly waterproof hiking shoe with sticky traction great for more technical terrain and crummy weatherA high-tech hiking shoe that delivers in every category, outperforming the best shoes we've ever testedThis high-performing shoe is impressively lightweight and suited for hard-charging missions across versatile terrainA budget-minded, lightweight, and comfy shoe for fair-weather day hikes when you know your feet won't get wetGood at most things and great at some, this solid hiker meets most needs at a surprisingly low price
Rating Categories Keen Targhee III Low La Sportiva Spire GTX Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Merrell Siren Edge 3 Merrell Moab 2 WP -...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Support (20%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Traction (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
6.0
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Water Resistance (15%)
7.0
10.0
10.0
4.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
4.0
6.0
Specs Keen Targhee III Low La Sportiva Spire GTX Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Merrell Siren Edge 3 Merrell Moab 2 WP -...
Weight (per pair) 1.60 lbs (size 7)
1.78 lbs (size 9.5)
1.61 lbs (size 7)
1.81 lbs (size 9.5)
1.37 lbs (size 7) 1.41 lbs (size 9.5) 1.69 lbs (size 7)
1.71 lbs (size 10)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular, Wide
Upper Oiled nubuck leather Abrasion-resistant mesh Synthetic/textile Waterproof mesh, 3D-printed TPU Suede leather, mesh
Midsole Dual density EVA EVA EVA EVA EVA
Lining KEEN.Dry waterproof / breathable membrane Gore-Tex Surround Gore-Tex Mesh M-Select Dry & Mesh
Outsole KEEN all-terrain rubber Vibram XS Trek Contagrip Vibram TC5+ Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

The burly leather Targhee III Low is a crowd favorite. They are durable enough for long hikes and backpacking trips and provide great support and traction. Out of the box, they were comfortable with a minimal break-in period.

Performance Comparison


Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - these waterproof shoes have great traction, support, and comfort -...
These waterproof shoes have great traction, support, and comfort - what more could you ask for?!
Credit: Jared Ross

Comfort


Comfort is highly subjective because our feet are all different shapes and sizes. That said, we found the Targhee III Low to be pretty comfortable straight out of the box. However, we should note that our lead reviewer tested shoes with aftermarket Superfeet insoles, which can change the shoe's volume and how the foot is positioned inside the shoe. Many people recommend the Targhee III Low as an ideal shoe for wider feet; however, with aftermarket insoles and tight laces, they fit our B-width reviewer just fine. With the manufacturer's insoles, the heel cup is generously roomy, but it accommodates a narrower heel with aftermarket insoles.


The spacious toe box of the Targhee III might be too wide for folks with a narrow toe box, but we have found that roomy toe boxes are better on long hikes to avoid unnecessarily squishing and hot spots as the feet swell. The laces move freely through the fabric grommets, so you can easily adjust the laces. The tongue was not the most comfortable of those we tested, as it is a little on the narrow side; this seems to be an issue regardless of foot width.

Given that these shoes have leather uppers, they are among the least breathable in our review. Additionally, with the low-cut ankle collar, they can cut into the ankle on variable terrain. Still, we were overall impressed with the comfort of these shoes and (with slight modification) the seemingly wide range of foot shapes and widths they can accommodate.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - regardless of terrain, we appreciated the comfort provided by the...
Regardless of terrain, we appreciated the comfort provided by the Targhee III Low.
Credit: Jared Ross

Support


Compared with other shoes in our review, the Targhee III Low provides above-average support. To evaluate shoes for how much support they offer, we first laterally twist the shoes as if we were wringing out a sponge. The Targhee has medium-high rigidity when twisted laterally from big toe to heel and high rigidity when twisted from pinky toe to heel.


When shoes are rigid laterally, it translates into excellent support side-to-side, resulting in less foot and ankle fatigue. It also means that your foot will have to work less hard to recover, should you start to roll your ankle. The Targhee had medium-low rigidity in the mid-foot. This means the shoe will provide less support for the balls of your feet but will grip better on steeper terrain. While this may translate into foot fatigue over time, we found them to be sufficiently supportive in the field and on longer hikes.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - with minimal lateral flexion and some forefoot flexibility, the...
With minimal lateral flexion and some forefoot flexibility, the Targhee III provide great stability without sacrificing traction.
Credit: Jared Ross

Traction


The Targhee III Low performed quite well in this category, proving that their proprietary sole with multi-directional lugs work as intended.


We were impressed with how well these shoes kept up with whatever terrain challenges we through their way. Scrambling on granite summit blocks? Check. Crusty wind-blown snow? Check. Sloppy and muddy trails? Check. Regardless of terrain, we never felt limited, an impressive feat for shoes that aren't necessarily designed for technical trails.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - while not our first choice for scrambling, the targhee iii low...
While not our first choice for scrambling, the Targhee III Low handled some granite scrambling just fine.
Credit: Jared Ross

Weight


When we receive shoes for our reviews, we always weigh them rather than trusting the manufacturer's listed weights. The Targhee III Low weighs 1.78 pounds (28.48 ounces) in a women's size 9.5 US for the pair.


Compared to other shoes in our review, the Targhee is an average-weight shoe. Weight is often a trade-off with durability, so their heft is likely due to the leather uppers and burly tread. This shouldn't be an issue as long as you don't need to carry these shoes on your back. On our feet, we never noticed the weight.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - these shoes strike a great balance between weight and durability...
These shoes strike a great balance between weight and durability, meaning they are extra burly without weighing you down.
Credit: Jared Ross

Water Resistance


To evaluate water resistance, we subject each pair of shoes to a 10-minute submersion test, where we wear the shoes in 3" of water. With Keen's Dry waterproof membrane, we weren't surprised that the Targhee III Low did well in this metric. They proved to be mostly waterproof, though they did absorb a little water due to the low-cut ankle collar.


After 10 minutes of submersion, one of our feet was a little damp. This is likely due to the low ankle collar, which sat at the water-line for the shoe. There was some dampness to the fabric, but there were no leaks on any other part of the shoe. We also weigh the shoes at the beginning and end of this test to evaluate for water absorption. The Targhee III absorbed 0.35 pounds (5.6 ounces) of water. Our top performer, which has a much higher ankle collar, only absorbed 0.14 pounds (2.24 ounces). Overall, this shouldn't be an issue unless you have to do a river crossing, in which case water will breach almost any shoe or boot.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - with the low ankle collar, some water crept into the shoes, but...
With the low ankle collar, some water crept into the shoes, but otherwise they proved to be very water resistant in our submersion test.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Durability


With burly leather uppers and a thick tread, the Targhee III Low shoes are built to last.


There is a reason why these shoes are popular with distance hikers; they are designed to take a beating. Over the course of our testing period, regardless of how variable the terrain was, we were impressed by how little signs of wear (aside from dirt) these shoes sustained.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - after all the miles and months of testing, aside from a little dirt...
After all the miles and months of testing, aside from a little dirt, these shoes could almost pass for new.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Should You Buy the Keen Targhee III Low?


If you are in the market for a durable and comfortable waterproof shoe, the Keen Targhee III Low is a great option. They provide decent stability and excellent traction on most terrain, though they would not be our first choice for technical scrambling. With aftermarket insoles, they accommodate a wide range of widths and foot shapes, so they aren't just for folks with wide feet. The tongue is a bit narrow, but otherwise, they provide excellent fit and comfort. If you're interested in more stability and ankle support, the mid-height version of this shoe retails for only a little more.

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's hiking shoes - the targhee iii low's performed well across nearly every metric...
The Targhee III Low's performed well across nearly every metric, proving to be a worthy hiking shoe in any adventurer's hiking kit.
Credit: Jared Ross

What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?


If you're looking for something lightweight but still comfortable and impressively water-resistant, then the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is a great option. This shoe has a reasonable price and scored well overall compared to the competition. If you are more interested in excellent comfort, support, and traction, the La Sportiva Spire GTX provides premium fit and function, though it will cost you more. However, we feel that cost is more than justified with its exceptional performance in most metrics. But if the price is a main concern, we can recommend the waterproof Merrell Moab 2 WP — it isn't as comfortable, but it is reasonably durable and has good traction at a lower price.

Mary Witlacil
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