The Keen Targhee II Mid
is our returning Best Buy champ, costing only $135. Despite losing its title as the most comfortable boot in the review, the Targhee II Mid
is still a very agreeable model underfoot with its big toe cap and comfy fit. It feels burly, yet only weighs 2.51 lbs. You can be confident when traversing all kinds of terrain, as Keen
's proprietary outsole provides great purchase on nearly every surface type. It doesn't set any records for durability, but its other assets make it a very valuable product.
Considering its strong overall performance at a relatively low price, the Targhee II Mid
(shown below in blue) certainly earned our Best Buy award.
You can see its overall score relative to competing products above, and in the following sections, we detail why it scored as well as it did, by describing its performance point by point in the key performance metrics we tested.
Main reviewer Ross Robinson testing the traction of the Targhee II on wet rocks in a canyon stream.
Want to lace up your new hiking boots and hop on the trail right away? This model is the second-most comfortable boot we tested (after the HOKA ONE ONE
model), and is so from the first step you take. From the cushy dual density insole to the ankle collar, this boot wraps your foot in soft comfort. The protective stiff rubber in front removes the possibility of stubbed toes, and the thick sole with shank insert handles uneven surfaces and jagged rocks without causing discomfort or foot fatigue.
The lacing system is made up of three lower, one middle, and one upper locking eyelets. The middle webbing eyelet continues down and around the heel of the boot, providing the ability to cinch your heel down in the heel cup. Only the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX
has a similar feature for securing the heel, which we found both innovative and useful. Meanwhile, the upper eyelet provides a positive lock on the laces, so even if your bow comes untied, the lacing system does not loosen. We observed hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail that re-rigged the lacing system with two laces. One for the lower three eyelets that could be tied loosely, and one lace for the upper two eyelets to provide a tight fit for the heel and ankle.
The upper eyelet firmly locks the lace into place, allowing you to tie your final knot without worrying about losing tension in the laces below.
Although it's a waterproof, mostly leather boot, this product breathes exceptionally well. The proprietary KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane performs very well, and keeps the cost down compared to other products that rely on GORE-TEX liners. The perforated insert and wide, roomy toe box also encourage ventilation in the forefoot. The breezy and super light Vasque Inhaler II GTX
was the most breathable boot we put our feet into.
The webbing that leads from the middle eyelet goes from one side of the upper, around the heel, and connects to the eyelet on the opposite side. By pulling the laces at this middle eyelet, you can snug up the fit around the heel, further preventing slippage.
The flexibility of the upper and the lacing system design make it quite versatile; folks with wide feet and those with narrow feet both get a great fit. The forefoot sole is wider than most in this review, providing a stable base for powering through rougher terrain. However, measuring 4.75 inches from the footbed to the highest point of the ankle collar, it is the third shortest of the twelve hikers we tested, a far cry from the tallest boot in our review.
The Torsion Stability ESS shank adds torsional rigidity and decent load-bearing support, but several other models we reviewed were stiffer and more stable. Those wishing for superior support and ankle stability should consider the Salomon Quest 4D II GTX
, our top scorer in this category and Editors' Choice winner. The midweight Quest
has a reputation for comfort similar to the Targhee
's. Amongst the lightweight crowd, the Tiago GTX Mid
and Merrell Capra Venture Mid GTX
scored the highest in stability.
This model's outsole can handle snow-covered trails, but doesn't deliver the stability that boots with higher cuts can.
Similar to the Inhaler II
, the Targhee II Mid
performed very well across almost all our traction tests, without standing out as a champion of any single type of terrain. The Targhee
's proprietary non-marking rubber sole stuck well to dry and wet granite, and handled muddy slopes with ease. Additionally, the aggressive side lugs travel through slippery mud better than most traditional sole designs.
Its one failing during our traction tests was when scrambling, as the blocky forefoot didn't allow for precise foot placement or weight transference. For a lightweight hiker with better climbing capabilities, look no further than the Asolo Jumla GV
, our Top Pick for Technical Scrambling.
Slopfest ahead? If you're wearing these Keen's, you just might look forward to it.
Weighing two and a half pounds for a pair of size 11.5 US, the Targhee II Mid
is the second-heaviest model in the lightweight category, just ahead of the Capra Venture
. However, some of the things that made it heavier, such as a its thick midsole, high-traction outsole, and robust rubber protection at the toe and heel, all made it a higher-performing model.
We were impressed with the features it delivers relative to its weight. In comparison, the Tiago
weighs tenths of an ounce less, but delivers the best water resistance of all lightweight models we tested.
This lightweight model delivers a lot of performance for such a low price, making it a very attractive model.
With a flood height of 5.125 inches, this product is one of the taller lightweight hikers, even beating out our favorite in its class, the Tor Summit Mid WP
. However, there are a considerable amount of seams around the toebox, where frequent flexing could wear them out over time. These Targhee
's survived our five minute lake edge test, but our previous review of this boot did experience leaking in around the front seams. For the ultimate in water resistance, the Quest 4D II
and Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
scored the highest in our review.
Keen uses its own proprietary waterproof membrane while most of its competitors with membranes used GORE-TEX. Choosing to use a proprietary membrane rather than Gore-Tex helps Keen keep the Targhee's price down.
No footwear remains waterproof forever, but we expect the waterproof lining of this boot to give way before most others.
Eight individual pieces of nubuck leather, sewn to the synthetic textile underneath, make up the upper. Intrinsically, this many parts result in many seams. The seams in the leather on both sides of the forefoot are particularly prone to wear, and the fabric at the flex point just behind the toe cap is a common place for wear and breakdown of the waterproof liner, as we saw happen with the Capra Venture
. Its side seams are prime candidates for Seam Grip application as described in our Best-In Class article
. If durability is an important concern for you, the Asolo Jumla GV
was the most durable of the lightweight models we tested.
Popular on the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail, the Targhee
is well-suited for long distance backpacking with light loads. The ankle collar provides stability beyond that afforded by low cut shoes, and it protects the ankle bones from bump and bruises. Muddy trails will not slow you down while wearing this boot and day hiking in this model is certainly a pleasant ride. Hikers with bunions will find the wide toe box better at accommodating their forefoot than most other hiking boots.
Though the Targhee II didn't crush in our scree traction test, it ticked a solid performance through each metric box, especially considering its low price point.
This product received our Best Buy award. It delivers top notch performance at an affordable price ($135 MSRP). With excellent scores in comfort, weight, and solid traction, this is the most valuable boot in our line-up of twelve hiking boots we reviewed.
For two years running, we haven't been able to find a hiking boot that combines low price and high performance as well as the Keen Targhee II Mid
. These boots are versatile enough for day hikes and months-long ATR treks alike, providing incredible comfort underfoot each step of the way. Buy this boot if your focus is a lightweight, comfortable hiker that can handle mud and wet trails.
With seasoned ankles and feet, this lightweight boot can even be valuable for thru-hikes with a light to medium pack.