Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Boot | Tested and reviewed

James Forrest tries out the latest mid-price, mid-weight offering from Keen.

Feature image of the Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boots

by James Forrest |
Updated on

The Keen Targhee III has a sturdy and robust build, with a chunky style and an adequate amount of stability and support, yet it also feels quite trainer-like for a walking boot. At under £150, it’s reasonably well-priced too. Some will find it too heavy, clunky and a bit unexciting; others will love it.

It’s a mid-weight boot (514g) with high levels of comfort, a wider-than-average fit and a roomy toebox. Indeed, as a brand Keen is perhaps best-known for its “iconic” original fit, with generous space across the forefoot for your toes to splay and spread out – an approach praised for increasing comfort and minimising the risk of blisters.

The Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boot resting on a rockJames Forrest for LFTO
Price: $140.00
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Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Wide fit
  • Proven design

Cons

  • Not hugely technical
  • Clunky

Upper

the laces of the Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boots
©James Forrest for LFTO

The upper of the Targhee III is a mix of leather and performance mesh. It feels quite strong and thick. The leather is an “environmentally-preferred premium leather from a LWG-certified tannery”, according to Keen. A substantial, chunky toe bumper protects the front of the boot, and there is a bit of stiffness in the TPU heel capture system, which locks the foot in place and adds stability.

Across the bulk of the boot, various leather inserts and panels add toughness where required. The ankle cuff and bellows-style tongue are padded with good levels of flex, and the lacing is a speed-lace webbing system – plus one metal hook on either side at the top of the ankle – for a fine-tuned fit. Despite the relatively sturdy design, the Targhee III still delivers out-of-the-box comfort, with a nice roomy fit.

Midsole

the heel of the Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boots
©James Forrest for LFTO

The Keen Targhee III has a midsole made from EVA foam. While this doesn’t deliver the plush, bouncy cushioning of some modern, ultralight hiking footwear, the Targhee III still feels adequately comfy and cushioned underfoot. An external stability shank (with bruise plate) adds some longitudinal and lateral stiffness to the boot, which amplifies the sense of support and stability, and also protects your foot from any sharp rocks on the trail.

But this is not a particularly rigid boot. You still get a reasonable amount of flex and give, which reduces technicality but increases comfort. This all fits with the Targhee’s philosophy of striking a nice compromise between competing priorities.

Outsole

the soles of the Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boots
©James Forrest for LFTO

Most boot brands use Vibram outsoles, which have an excellent reputation, but this adds to their manufacturing costs. Keen instead uses its own proprietary tech in the Targhee III’s outsole. The so-called Keen All-Terrain outsole has multi-directional lugs with a 4mm depth. The lug pattern is varied, with a mix of triangles, rhombuses and angular wedges, as well as serrated, ridge-like patterns at the toe and heel. At 4mm, they're a little shallow compared to some other boots, and the all-round tread isn’t the most aggressive we’ve ever seen. But during our tests we found the traction of the Targhee III pretty solid, without any complaints.

Features

The logo on the Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boots
©James Forrest for LFTO

The Keen Targhee III has a waterproof-breathable membrane. Unlike other brands, which commonly use market leader Gore-Tex for waterproofing, Keen uses its own, in-house Keen.Dry membrane, combined with a PFAS/PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent) coating. This worked fine for us during limited test hikes, but more time is needed to judge its long-term performance compared to Gore-Tex. Having said that, the leather outer and chunky build of the Targhee III give us more confidence than some ultralight, trainer-like hiking boots which are in-vogue at the moment.

Other features include a removable PU insole with arch support, a quick-drying internal lining (to help wick away sweat), and an eco-friendly anti-odour treatment.

The Keen Targhee III is also available in a low-ankled cut in both men’s and women’s versions. There is also a Keen Targhee III Mid Waterproof Wide, which has an even wider fit, in both men’s and women’s.

Price and performance

The toebox of the Keen Men's Targhee III Mid Waterproof Boots
©James Forrest for LFTO

At £145 the Keen Targhee III is mid-range in terms of price. More technical hiking boots will cost more, but the Targhee III isn’t a budget boot either. It offers mid-range performance for a mid-range price, so that all seems appropriate and fair.

Ultimately, the Targhee III is not a technical boot for scrambling, big Munros or ultra-fast thru-hiking. Instead it has a traditional, chunky design with high levels of comfort, a wider-than-average fit and a roomy toebox. The latter may polarise opinion. For some it will lack precision and “feel” underfoot for rockier ground, and come across as too chunky and unwieldy; for others the blister-free comfort of a roomy toebox will be an absolute godsend.

Verdict

If you’re a fast’n’light hiker looking for a minimalist, trainer-like boot, the Targhee is not for you. If you’re a scrambler or hardcore Munro bagger requiring technicality and rigidity in a boot, the Targhee is not for you. If you want bombproof waterproofing from a heavy, old-school leather boot, the Targhee is (you guessed it) not for you.

But, if you want a nice balance between comfort, durability, waterproofing and mountain performance, the Targhee may just hit the perfect sweet spot.

How we tested the Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Boot

James Forrest testing gear for Live for the Outdoors
©LFTO

Our tester on the job with the Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Boot was James Forrest. James is one of our long-time freelance gear tester both for LFTO and our magazine, Trail.

James is a prolific peak bagger and long-distance walker who’s one of the most high-profile outdoor writers in the UK.

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