Reviews You Can Rely On

Keen Targhee III Low - Women's Review

A burly, reliable trail partner with a wide base and sticky traction for when trips run long, and durability, stability, and waterproofing are important
keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review
The burly Keen Targhee III is ready to carry you over the river and through the woods, with a few mountain passes and a whole lot of miles in between.
Credit: Myrha Colt
Price:  $165 List
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Myrha Colt and Mary Witlacil  ⋅  Nov 7, 2022
79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Support - 20% 7.0
  • Traction - 15% 9.0
  • Weight - 15% 6.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Keen Targhee III Low has tons of innovative features, in addition to being spacious, durable, and supportive. The roomy toe box provides extra comfort, and multi-directional lugs and beefy soles offer great traction. This shoe is also quite waterproof, and there is reflective webbing on the back for higher visibility on the trail or road after dark. Even though Keens are typically recommended for wide feet, with aftermarket insoles, the Targhee III fit our tester's narrow-to-average feet just fine. If you plan to pound out the miles and are looking for shoes that can keep up with your distance adventure plans, this shoe is a worthy contender.
REASONS TO BUY
Spacious toe box
Great traction
Waterproof
Durable
Stable
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Hard footbed
Not the most breathable
Editor's Note: We updated this review on November 7, 2022, after re-testing the shoes for our Fall update.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Spacious toe box, great traction, waterproof, durable, stableGreat traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, well-pricedExcellent cushioning, roomy toe box, great traction, stable, supportiveWaterproof, lightweight, very supportiveLightweight, breathable, decent traction, inexpensive, vegan-friendly
Cons Heavy, hard footbed, not the most breathableBulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyeletHard footbed, a little heavyNot super breathable, durability concerns with the soft rubber solesNot waterproof, narrow toe box, limited support, below average durability
Bottom Line A burly, reliable trail partner with a wide base and sticky traction for when trips run long, and durability, stability, and waterproofing are importantSupportive, affordable, and highly durable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to every type of foot, hiker, and hiking experienceThe perfect balance between strength and softness, with exceptional cushioning, deep tread, and a roomy yet supportive baseLooking like a trail runner and performing like a hiking beast, this shoe is waterproof, lightweight, and supportive enough for multi-day adventuresA budget-minded, lightweight, athletic-inspired shoe for fair-weather day hikes when you know your feet won't get wet
Rating Categories Keen Targhee III Low Merrell Moab 3 WP -... Oboz Sawtooth X Low... Adidas Terrex Swift... Merrell Siren Edge 3
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Support (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Traction (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
Water Resistance (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
4.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Keen Targhee III Low Merrell Moab 3 WP -... Oboz Sawtooth X Low... Adidas Terrex Swift... Merrell Siren Edge 3
Weight (per pair) 2.1 lbs (size 10) 1.8 lbs (size 10) 2.0 lbs (size 10) 1.5 lbs (size 7) 1.4 lbs (size 10)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular Regular, Wide
Upper Oiled nubuck leather, mesh Leather, mesh Oiled nubuck leather, Cordura fabric mesh High-abrasion resistant synthetic mesh Mesh, 3D-printed TPU
Midsole Dual density EVA EVA Rubber-blended Adaptive Cushioning Technology foam EVA EVA EVA foam with softer zones that may reduce pronation
Lining KEEN.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane B-DRY waterproof/breathable membrane Gore-Tex Breathable Mesh
Outsole KEEN All-Terrain Rubber Vibram TC5+ rubber True Tread rubber Continental Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

A tough leather upper paired with a solid grippy base makes the Targhee III Low a crowd favorite. It is durable enough for long hikes and backpacking trips while also providing great support and reliable traction with a minimal break-in period.

Performance Comparison


keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - stable, sturdy, and oh, so grippy, the targhee is ready to roll no...
Stable, sturdy, and oh, so grippy, the Targhee is ready to roll no matter how many miles lie ahead.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Comfort


Comfort is highly subjective because our feet are all different shapes and sizes. That said, several of our testers representing a variety of foot shapes found the Targhee III Low to be pretty comfortable straight out of the box. Many people recommend it as an ideal shoe for wider feet, given its roomy design from front to back. However, our B-width reviewer also had no problem achieving a perfect fit by adding aftermarket Superfeet insoles, which can change a shoe's volume and the final position of the foot inside. Plus, since the Targhee has a very firm — yet highly supportive — footbed with minimal cushioning, we think an extra insert is likely to help you achieve the most comfortable trail-ready fit, regardless of width.


Although the spacious toe box of the Targhee III might be too wide for folks with a narrow foot (at least before an insert is added), for many, this is a top selling point. We have found that roomy toe boxes often prove far better on long hikes than those of a narrower build, providing plenty of room for feet to swell and helping to avoid unnecessary squishing and hot spots. And with laces that move freely through fabric grommets, you can easily adjust the Targhee to a perfect fit.

keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - a spacious toe box is a selling point for many hikers, as it leaves...
A spacious toe box is a selling point for many hikers, as it leaves plenty of room for toes to swell and splay over long miles on the trail.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Given these shoes are constructed with leather uppers, they are among the less breathable in our review. The tongue is also a bit narrow and required additional adjustments for a comfortable fit, regardless of foot width. And for one tester, the ankle collar sat just low enough to cut into her ankle on varied terrain. But overall, we were impressed with these shoes and the seemingly wide range of foot shapes and widths they can comfortably accommodate.

keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - the targhee iii is constructed of a heavy leather upper that will...
The Targhee III is constructed of a heavy leather upper that will mold to your feet and become even more comfortable over time (although we had no problem throwing them on and hitting the trail immediately).
Credit: Myrha Colt

Support


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


Rigidity translates into excellent side-to-side support, resulting in less foot and ankle fatigue. It also means that your foot will have to work less to recover should you start to roll your ankle. The Targhee had medium rigidity in the front foot. This means the shoe will provide slightly less support directly under the balls of your feet but will also grip better on steeper terrain. While this could translate into foot fatigue over time, we found them to be sufficiently supportive in the field and on longer hikes.

The Targhee demonstrating its impressive lateral support system...
The Targhee demonstrating its impressive lateral support system, allowing almost no twisting in either direction.
Even though the base is stiff, there is still plenty of flex under...
Even though the base is stiff, there is still plenty of flex under the toe to ensure excellent traction up steep inclines.

Traction


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


We were impressed with how well these shoes kept up with whatever terrain challenges we threw 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 days.

keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - more like a boot than an athletic shoe, the targhee is equipped to...
More like a boot than an athletic shoe, the Targhee is equipped to tackle mountains, sand, and whatever loose or slick surfaces stand between you and your destination.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Weight


When we receive shoes for our reviews, we always weigh them on our own scale rather than trusting the manufacturer's listed weights. The Targhee III Low weighs 2.1 pounds in a women's size 10 US for the pair. This is heavy compared to the competition.


Weight is often a trade-off with durability and features, so the heft of the Targhee III 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 even noticed a difference. But the added benefits in quality of construction and performance sure make those extra few ounces seem worth it.

keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - greatness generally comes at a cost, and in the keen targhee iii we...
Greatness generally comes at a cost, and in the Keen Targhee III we see that in the weight. It's heavier than most, but it's equally at the top of its class when it comes to features, performance, and durability.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Water Resistance


To evaluate water resistance, we subject each pair of shoes to a 5-minute submersion test, where we wear them in 3 inches of water. With Keen's Dry waterproof membrane, we weren't surprised that the Targhee III Low did well in this metric.


This shoe proved to be highly waterproof across all our tests, though it did absorb a little water in some cases just around the ankle collar (a vulnerability shared by all low-rise hikers). But unless you are doing a river crossing, in which case water will likely breach almost any low-rise shoe (or even a boot), this isn't a concern.

keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - our feet stayed dry and toasty through every stream crossing and the...
Our feet stayed dry and toasty through every stream crossing and the 5-minute bucket test we conducted to test waterproofing.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Durability


With burly leather uppers and a thick tread, the Targhee III Low is built to withstand bumps and bruising wherever the road may take you. A beefy outsole is topped with a hefty rubberized toe cap to protect and secure your base. And a series of leather and performance mesh reinforcements are double-stitched across the top, including around vulnerable outer edges and under the lacing at the top of the tongue (where one is likely to use extra pressure to secure the shoe using the runner's loop eyelet).


There is a reason why this shoe is 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 for women hiking shoes review - miles later the keen targhees are looking as new as ever, without...
Miles later the Keen Targhees are looking as new as ever, without any signs of obvious wear.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Should You Buy the Keen Targhee III Low?


If you are in the market for a durable and comfortable waterproof shoe, the Targhee III is a great option at a mid-range price. It provides decent stability and excellent traction on most terrain, though it would not be our first choice for technical scrambling. With aftermarket insoles, this shoe can accommodate a wide range of widths and foot shapes, so it isn't just for folks with wide feet. Looking for more stability and ankle support? The mid-height version of this shoe retails for only a little more.

keen targhee iii low for women hiking shoes review - don't let your hiking shoe limit your plans: the targhee is solid...
Don't let your hiking shoe limit your plans: the Targhee is solid and stable enough to carry you wherever you want to go.
Credit: Myrha Colt

What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?


If you're hunting for something lighter weight and that can handle a narrower fit, consider the La Sportiva Spire GTX, which impressed us with high scores on rugged terrain. If you need a similarly spacious fit but prefer a bit more cushion overall, the Merrell Moab 3 WP is a top performer across the board at a great price. And, while not quite as roomy in the toe box, you certainly can't get any cushier than the Oboz Sawtooth X Low Waterproof.

Myrha Colt and Mary Witlacil
 
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