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Keen Targhee III Low Review

This riff off a classic model is a good all-around hiking shoe for day hiking and light backpacking
keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review
With a leather outer and average traction, these can also comfortably hike through early season snows, as long as it is not too deep.
Credit: Chris McNamara
Price:  $165 List
Manufacturer:   Keen
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2022
68
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

Keen has been a long-time contender in our review of the best hiking shoes, and we have come to know and depend on their products as being quality. The Keen Targhee III Low is the latest in a long line of Targhee shoes, a design that has been very popular amongst day hikers and backpackers. This update is successful in some ways over the Targhee II. By using softer, higher-quality leather, there is an improvement in style and the shoe's flexibility, though a softer insert decreases its stability. Their average trail performance leads them towards easy and moderate terrain where lots of scrambling is not required, but they have enough support to be a capable day hiker as well as an overnight backpacking shoe.
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Comfortable
Great option for those with wide feet
REASONS TO AVOID
Average traction
Sloppy fit for narrow feet
Editor's Note: The Targhee III received a fresh look on November 1, 2022, with more information about other hiking shoes we recommend.

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keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review
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Pros Durable, comfortable, great option for those with wide feetExcellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, supportSuper comfortable, durable, stableSupportive, great traction, lightweightSupportive, versatile, well-cushioned
Cons Average traction, sloppy fit for narrow feetCuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favoriteNot great for off-trail, average tractionStiff, lacing is hard to tightenAverage traction, regular width is relatively wide, hard to lace tightly
Bottom Line This riff off a classic model is a good all-around hiking shoe for day hiking and light backpackingThis is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking tripsThese super plush hiking shoes feel like you are walking on clouds, perfect for long days on hard surfacesThis is a burly hiking shoe capable of getting off the trail and onto rugged terrainA comfortable and versatile pair of budget-friendly hiking shoes with a casual look that's great for both the trail and the town
Rating Categories Keen Targhee III Low Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Hoka Anacapa Low GTX Salewa Mountain Tra... Columbia Facet 60 O...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Support (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Traction (15%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
Water Resistance (15%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Keen Targhee III Low Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Hoka Anacapa Low GTX Salewa Mountain Tra... Columbia Facet 60 O...
Weight (per pair) 2.26 lbs (size 11) 1.76 lbs (size 11) 1.79 lbs (size 11) 2.16 lbs (size 11) 1.78 lbs (size 10.5)
Upper Full-grain leather Synthetic, textile Nubuck leather, GTX Textile Synthetic Seamless mesh
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Waterproof Lining KEEN.dry waterproof membrane Gore-Tex membrane Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Extended Comfort OutDry
Flood Level 4.5 in 3.25 in 3 in 3.5 in 4.25 in
Last Board/Shank Lightweight ESS shank ADV-C chassis Not specified Nylon Not specified
Midsole Dual-density EVA EnergyCell Compressed EVA EVA Techlite+
Outsole Non-marking rubber Contagrip MA rubber Vibram MegaGrip Pomoca MTN trainer Lite Omni-Grip rubber

Our Analysis and Test Results

This popular shoe has remained a favorite of our review staff over its many iterations and updates thanks to its comfort, support, and long-lasting durability even in the face of some serious mountain miles. We think it is one of the best choices for those out there with wider feet who will appreciate the wider sizing.

Performance Comparison


keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review - the easy-going style of the keen targhee iii low makes it great for...
The easy-going style of the Keen Targhee III Low makes it great for casual hikes and use around town.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Comfort


The Keen Targhee III Low offers a comfortable fit right out of the box, with a little break-in period compared to the competition. Thanks to the softer, more pliable nubuck leather used on this model, it was easy to walk several miles in with no discomfort. Other shoes with more synthetic materials allowed ease of use but without the bulk of the leather outer.

A lightweight ESS shank gives the Targhee III its support, though we felt a noticeable loss of stability from previous iterations. The addition of the shank does give some protection from sharp and pointy rocks poking into the sole from the trail, though this shoe only offers average performance in overall trail comfort.

keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review - the keen targhee iii is most comfortable on consistent trails like...
The Keen Targhee III is most comfortable on consistent trails like this one.
Credit: Ross Robinson

We like the well-thought-out traditional lacing system used on the Targhee III, as it employs an additional strap that locks the heel in place for a snug fit around the ankle. While the ankle is well-secured, though, the rest of the foot moves around quite easily, as it has one of the roomiest fits of any shoe we tested. This is not a problem for wide-footed individuals who often struggle to find a fitting hiking shoe but should be noted by those with narrow to medium feet.

Support


Keen has updated the Targhee III Low with a soft and supple nubuck leather outer which is softer and less rigid. This improves the break-in period for these shoes but decreases their side-to-side support. This shoe is also one of the widest in our review, so despite the inventive wrap-around heel lacing system that snugs up around the ankle, we could not get a very good fit with medium-volume feet. No matter how tightly we secured the laces, we ended up with a sloppy and insecure fit - a poor combination when hiking on anything but easy to moderate trails.

keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review - the targhee is supportive enough while on the trail, but start to...
The Targhee is supportive enough while on the trail, but start to boulder hop and they begin to show their lack of confidence in side to side edging.
Credit: Ross Robinson

The included footbed is quality, with dual density materials used and a good supportive arch, so those who fit this shoe will undoubtedly feel better support than we were able to.

Traction


For the Targhee III Low, Keen uses a proprietary non-marking rubber compound, a blend that has remained the same across the Targhee line. This outsole performs well enough on wet and dry trails, with average traction thanks to its medium-sized lug pattern. Those who venture far off the trail may find the traction of these shoes lacking in rocky scrambling situations or smearing on wet slabs of rock.

keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review - scrambling up steeper rock slabs is where the targhee iii meets its...
Scrambling up steeper rock slabs is where the Targhee III meets its limits in stability and traction.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Weight


With a verified weight of 2.26 pounds for a US men's size 11, the Targhee III Low is not the heaviest shoe in this review but is far from the lightest. Keen is not claiming that this is a lightweight hiking shoe; rather, it is a rugged hiking shoe designed with durability in mind. That has been achieved to a large degree, and so the almost half-pound weight difference between this pair and the lightest hiking shoes in our review is not nearly as much of a red flag as it may seem at first glance.

Water Resistance


Keen has long used its proprietary in-house waterproof membrane called Keen. Dry in their shoes and boots, we found it works reasonably well in test conditions. Sloshing through puddles and streams, our feet stayed dry as long as we respected the 4-inch water resistance height. Many shoes have higher flood heights; the Targhee is average in this metric. Prolonged exposure to water allows seeping water into the toe box, though this was after the 5-minute water submersion test was completed. For the best waterproofing, continue to apply aftermarket treatment to the nubuck leather.

keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review - the keen.dry membrane does a good job at repelling water, though we...
The Keen.Dry membrane does a good job at repelling water, though we noticed some seeping in the toe box after several minutes.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Durability


Keen touts the Targhee III Low hiking shoe as a bold, durable hiking shoe suited to all-terrain adventures. We feel that this is a bit of hyperbole, though the nubuck leather and heavy-duty toe cap certainly add to its durability. We hiked on and off-trail in these shoes for several weeks without noting any major concerns. However, other reviewers did submit long-term reviews noting failing rands, soles delaminating, and loss of structure within several months of use.

keen targhee iii low hiking shoes review - the softer rubber on these shoes will wear down over time, and some...
The softer rubber on these shoes will wear down over time, and some have noted delamination issues.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Should You Buy the Keen Targhee III Low?


With out-of-the-box comfort and an updated look, the Targhee III is a day-hiking shoe that offers good performance, especially for those who have a hard time finding a pair of shoes that will fit wider feet. These shoes are one of the more budget-friendly shoes we reviewed, and with quality materials and a stylish look, we feel that they are a good value.

What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?


The less expensive Columbia Facet 60 Outdry offers slightly better comfort with similar test results in other metrics. The Facet can save you money, and it weighs less, potentially giving you a little more pep in your step. If you're looking for the best of the best, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex will also save you bucks and has better test results across the board. If you're not married to the Keen brand, you will be happy with the impressive performance overall of the Salomon.

Ryan Huetter
 
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