Keen Targhee III Low - Women's Review
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Keen Targhee III Low - Women's
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|Pros||Spacious toe box, great traction, waterproof, durable, stable||Excellent traction, responsive and stable support, breathable waterproof protection, comfortable right out of the box||Excellent traction, very supportive, breathable design, comfortable for various foot shapes||Versatile, nimble, excellent traction, excellent waterproof protection, supportive midfoot||Ample traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive, heavy and bulky design, odd footbed shape, limited breathability||Expensive, sizing runs large, 100% recycled polyester laces may require replacement||Not waterproof, minor durability issues||Single-pull lacing system has limited adjustability, fit favors narrow feet, not recommended for cross-country travel, less breathable||Bulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyelet, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||Not our first choice for warmer climates due to the waterproof design that lacks breathability and favors a wide foot||A stand-out hiking shoe that features ample comfort, great traction, a stable base of support, and a high quality, durable, and waterproof mesh upper||An excellent choice for those looking to navigate popular trails that feature polished granite or slippery sandstone||A comfortable, supportive, and waterproof shoe that offers excellent and responsive traction in a sleek, modern package||Supportive and affordable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to numerous foot shapes, hikers, and backcountry experiences|
|Rating Categories||Keen Targhee III Low||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Keen Targhee III Low||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Weight (per pair, size 8.5)||1.74 lbs||1.68 lbs||1.42 lbs||1.54 lbs||1.78 lbs|
|Upper||Oiled nubuck leather, mesh||Abrasion-resistant mesh||Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand||Synthetic textile||Leather, mesh|
|Lining||KEEN.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane||Gore-Tex Surround||Nonslip mesh||Gore-Tex||Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane|
|Midsole||Dual density EVA||EVA||Traverse Injection MEMlex||EVA||EVA|
|Outsole||KEEN All-Terrain Rubber||Vibram XS Trek||Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System||Rubber Contagrip||Vibram TC5+ rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A tough and durable nubuck leather upper paired with a solid, grippy, and wide base makes the Targhee III Low a good choice for those with wide feet. However, the waterproof design seriously lacks any breathability, while the overall weight and bulk reduce responsiveness underfoot when moving through technical terrain. That said, the wide and stable base offers enough support for carrying a pack, and the burly toe cap, padded cushion surrounding the ankle, and durable lacing system will help support your feet during extended days on the trail. Just bear in mind these shoes are hot, which should be considered when planning the location for your next hiking adventure.
Comfort is highly subjective because our feet are all different shapes and sizes. That said, the Targhee III Low favors those with a wide foot shape, especially considering 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 on the inside. 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.
Though the spacious toe box favors those with a wider foot, this is also something to consider if you plan to hike in warmer climates, even if you prefer a narrow fit. Often times our feet can swell and require extra space to expand after being exposed to extended periods of heat — and this shoe is constructed from nubuck leather and seriously lacks breathability. 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. All that said, we found this shoe to run true to size, requiring an average break-in time and/or potentially swapping out the insole to find a more comfortable and customized fit.
Compared with other shoes in our review, the Targhee III Low provides average support due to the wide and sturdy base. When twisting the shoe laterally from side to side, it showed high rigidity when rotated 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.
While this rigid design provides excellent lateral support, we also felt like it limited our range of motion, preventing any speedy ascents or responsiveness on technical terrain due to limited flexion in the forefoot. This limited flexion will also result in slightly less support directly under the balls of your feet. Ultimately, we found the lack of support beneath the forefoot and the heavy and rigid design limiting, causing our feet to experience some early fatigue on the trails.
The Targhee III Low gave an average performance in this category, proving that their proprietary sole with multi-directional lugs works pretty well thanks to the added volume and stable base. We were impressed with how well these shoes kept up on most terrain challenges we threw their way. We had confidence underfoot when scrambling on textured granite summit blocks, moving through crusty and wind-affected snow, as well as sloppy and muddy trails as the snow receded in the spring. However, when navigating polished granite and sandstone in high-traffic areas, the outsole couldn't perform as well, often causing our tester to lose energy each time her foot would slide out from under, requiring a quick response to stay upright. While the Keen All-Terrain rubber gave a moderate performance on most terrain, we still prefer Vibram soles for their reliability.
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 1.78 pounds in a US women's size 8.5 for the pair. This is almost the heaviest shoe that we tested.
Weight is often a trade-off with durability and features, so the heft of the Targhee III is likely due to the leather uppers, waterproof membrane, and burly tread. Though we're appreciative of the added features, the shoe simply feels heavy and limiting. If speedy hikes or technical terrain are the goals, this is not our first choice. However, if weight and bulk aren't an issue, this durable design will protect your feet from any trail debris or inclement weather you encounter during your hike.
To evaluate water resistance, we subject each pair of shoes to a 5-minute submersion test either in a local stream or in a bucket filled with 3 inches of water at home. With Keen's Dry waterproof membrane and the lack of breathability in the nubuck leather upper, we weren't surprised that the Targhee III Low did pretty well in this metric.
The shoe proved to be 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) that measures 3.5 inches above the burly sole. 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 shouldn't be a concern.
With burly leather uppers and a thick tread, the Targhee III Low is built to protect your feet from any trail debris that you encounter during your hike. A beefy outsole is topped with a hefty and bulky rubberized toe cap to protect your toes and offer more security underfoot. 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). We just wish the final eyelet surrounding the ankle offered a metal eyelet rather than mesh for increased durability after continual tightening and adjustments.
These shoes are definitely designed to take a beating on the trail, and we're happy to report that we experienced only minor aesthetic abrasions on the nubuck leather upper throughout our extensive testing period.
Should You Buy the Keen Targhee III Low?
If you have a wide foot and are in the market for a durable and supportive waterproof shoe, the Targhee III is a good option at a mid-range price. It provides decent stability and traction on most terrain, though it would not be our first choice for technical scrambling nor for extended hikes in warmer climates due to lack of breathability. While the shoe does favor a wide foot, it can accommodate a broader range of foot shapes with the help of an aftermarket insole. Looking for more stability and ankle support? The mid-height version of this shoe retails for only a little more.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If the Targhee III seems like too much shoe and you're looking for a more responsive, lightweight, and agile design that combines the performance of a trail runner with the stability of a hiking shoe, check out the The North Face VECTIV Fastpack FUTURELIGHT. If you need a similarly spacious fit but prefer a bit more cushion at a more affordable price, the Merrell Moab 3 WP is our favorite for those seeking performance on a budget. And for those who want a hiking shoe that can do it all, offering out-of-the-box comfort thanks to a spacious toe box, exceptional traction and stability, as well as waterproof performance in a durable design, consider the La Sportiva Spire GTX.
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