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Keen Targhee 2 Review

Best Buy Award
Price:   $125 List | $124.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Great traction and comfort, great foot support, extra toe protection, secure lacing
Cons:  Webbing lace eyes can wear, a bit wide for narrow feet
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Keen
By Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor
Monday

Our Verdict

Superior comfort, traction, and foot support - all delivered at a light weight and an affordable price - make the Keen Targhee 2 our Best Buy Award winner. This shoe is comfortable from day one and after a few trips molds to your foot. The foot support provided by the EVA midsole and ESS shank is incredible for such a light shoe, making this a great choice for backpacking with light and medium loads. It also boasts some features that are unique to Keen's brand, such as the wrap-around toe box and a well-designed lacing system, which allows for a lot of adjustability in the tightness, especially around the collar and heel cup.

Keen makes fewer compromises while designing lightweight shoes than other manufacturers, and the Targhee 2 rightly has a dedicated following. The mid-cut boot version provides good ankle support for those who need it. Both the low- and mid-cut versions are popular with thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails. Hikers seeking an even more supportive shoe should check out the La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0, our Top Pick for Backpacking. The The North Face Ultra 109 GTX won our Editors' Choice award, and we consider it the best do-everything hiking shoe in our review. The Ultra 109 and Targhee performed and scored very similarly, so choosing between the two will primarily be a choice based on fit and budget. The Ultra 109 tends to fit average to narrow feet better, while the Targhee favors average to wide feet. Finally, the Keen is a little lighter per shoe.


RELATED REVIEW: The Quest for the Best Men's Hiking Shoes of 2017

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Measured Weight of Pair, Size 12 Waterproof Lining Upper
85
The North Face Ultra 109 GTX $120
Editors' Choice Award
2.3 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Mesh and PU-coated leather
83
Keen Targhee 2 $125
Best Buy Award
2.3 lbs. KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane Nubuck and textile
83
Vasque Juxt $110
2.1 lbs. None Suede leather
78
La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 $150
Top Pick Award
2.5 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Footwear Nubuck Leather/ 100% recycled Nylon Mesh/ Uretech
78
The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX $140
2.2 lbs. GORE-TEX Full-grain leather, textile mesh, synthetic overlays
76
Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo $210
2.7 lbs. Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX Nubuck leather
75
Keen Marshall WP $130
2.3 lbs. KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane Lightweight mesh, synthetic overlays
73
Salewa Wildfire GTX $169
2.2 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Microfiber Forefoot, Ballistic Mesh, Exa Shell
69
Merrell Moab Ventilator $100
2.1 lbs. None Dura leather and mesh
68
Adidas Outdoor AX 2.0 GTX $120
2.15 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Air mesh and synthetic upper

Our Analysis and Test Results

Comfort and weight are the largest contributors to the overall score we give each shoe, and the Keen Targhee 2 delivers in both metrics. The traction is great and the foot support is unrivaled for a shoe this light. This is our favorite dayhiking shoe and an excellent choice for long backpacking trips with light packs.

The Targhee  with impressive foot support  great traction in wet conditions  and good waterproofing  is a great choice for backpacking as well as dayhiking.
The Targhee, with impressive foot support, great traction in wet conditions, and good waterproofing, is a great choice for backpacking as well as dayhiking.

Performance Comparison


Check out the Overall Performance chart below to see where the Targhee 2 lands in our lineup of hiking shoes.


Comfort


This is a very comfortable shoe with a wide fit through the toe box and a slightly deeper-than-average cut in the cuff. We would like the footbed to have a little bit more arch support, but otherwise it is a comfortable shoe. There is a lot of room in the toe box for wide feet, but with the nice lacing system some folks with narrow feet find a satisfactory fit.


This model's four eyelet lacing system is top notch. Three widely-spaced lower webbing eyelets lace the boot over the fore and midfoot. This wide spacing allows folks with narrower feet to snug the upper down. The upper webbing eyelet extends down and around the heel of the shoe, creating the ability to cinch your heel down in the heel cup. Many hikers praise this feature. With a little experimenting, the forefoot can be laced loosely for comfort, while the heel can be tightly cinched into the heel cup for security.

The two Keen models we tested are the only ones that use a proprietary waterproof membrane, KEEN.DRY, rather than GORE-TEX. We found the Targhee 2 quite breathable considering its mostly leather upper and the KEEN.DRY membrane help keep this shoe a bit more affordable than the other models with GORE-TEX liners.

The lacing system on this model is top notch. The top webbing eyelet that extends down and around the heel let's hikers cinch down the heel cup for a secure fit.
The lacing system on this model is top notch. The top webbing eyelet that extends down and around the heel let's hikers cinch down the heel cup for a secure fit.

Weight


Our Best Buy winner comes in about right in the middle at 2.25 lbs per pair. Most of the our test shoes weighed in between 2.2 and 2.3 lbs; however, Keen packed lots of punch into this shoe for the amount of weight. There are definitely a few ways that the company could have saved even more weight. For example, they could have eliminated the wrap-over toe box, but then they would lose their unique, toenail saving protection. They also could have had a narrower lacing system with less tongue material — but then they would lose the genius precise lacing. All told, we're glad that this product has these features and think it's worth a few extra ounces.


Support


Only two models, the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo and La Sportiva FC Eco 2.0, provide more foot support than the Keen Targhee 2, and they weigh considerably more. Check out the Support chart below to see how the Targhee 2 fared amongst its competition.


The Torsion Stability ESS shank combined with the dual density midsole create a surprisingly stiff shoe. Delivering this foot support without the weight is a big reason why the Targhee is so popular for thru-hiking and backpacking trips with light or medium loads. The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX is a similarly designed shoe that is a little lighter. The Hedgehog has a slightly stiffer forefoot, but less midfoot stiffness than the Targhee.

Evaluating the Targhee's support and comfort side by side with the Renegade. Comfort  support and great traction are strong points of both these shoes.
Evaluating the Targhee's support and comfort side by side with the Renegade. Comfort, support and great traction are strong points of both these shoes.

Traction


The lug pattern is pretty impressive, but for some reason it just didn't seem to stick to all surfaces as well as some of the competition, such as The North Face Ultra 109. The Targhee outperformed the others on wet granite slabs and the proprietary rubber sole handled dry rock and muddy slopes well.


For wet conditions, this shoe is a rockstar. However, we did slip and slide in the gravel a bit - the big central lugs seem to get the gravel rolling underfoot.

Keen's sole on this shoe delivers excellent traction is all the conditions we tested  except loose gravel. The large lugs seem to rolls and slip on pea and grape sized pebbles.
Keen's sole on this shoe delivers excellent traction is all the conditions we tested, except loose gravel. The large lugs seem to rolls and slip on pea and grape sized pebbles.

Versatility


The shoe's clunky appearance looks a bit goofy at times, but it handles most terrain well. We loved it for dayhiking as well as backpacking.


However, models with a narrower toe like the Sportiva FC ECO and Salewa Wildfire GTX are more suited to scrambling. This is not the shoe you want if you mix in some running on your hikes and the beefy look can be a bit much for casual wear.

The Venture is a great just in case jacket and the Keen Targhee boot is a supportive favorite. Here we've layered the Venture over an insulated jacket for a short hike to a favorite lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Venture is a great just in case jacket and the Keen Targhee boot is a supportive favorite. Here we've layered the Venture over an insulated jacket for a short hike to a favorite lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Water Resistance


The water resistant treatment applied to the upper wasn't quite up to par with the remainder of the field, but it did pretty well. This shoe will greatly benefit from a regular treatment with leather and fabric conditioner. That said, the KEEN.DRY membrane kept our sock bone dry when playing in the Poudre River.


Durability


Reasonably durable, the Targhee 2 has one main area of concern. The seams where the leather is stitched to the mesh on both sides of the forefoot are particularly prone to wear, and this flex point is a common place for wear and breakdown of the waterproof liner. These seams are prime candidates for Seam Grip application.


The chart above shows where each shoe landed relative to the Targhee 2 on our Durability scale.

Keen's large rubber toe caps are a feature appreciated by many hikers.
Keen's large rubber toe caps are a feature appreciated by many hikers.

Best Applications


This model is an excellent choice for backpacking with light loads and is popular with thru-hikers. Overall, it provides more foot support than other shoes in its weight class, which will keep your feet happy over the long miles. Day hiking in the Keen Targhee 2 is cushy comfortable and this model handles wet and muddy conditions superbly. Finally, the toe box fits bunions and wide feet well.

Take me hiking and backpacking where it's muddy! The mid-cut boot version of this shoe is only a few ounces heavier  stabilizes the ankle  and will let you tackle deeper mud and water.
Take me hiking and backpacking where it's muddy! The mid-cut boot version of this shoe is only a few ounces heavier, stabilizes the ankle, and will let you tackle deeper mud and water.

Value


This product won our Best Buy award. If getting the most bang for your buck is important, it's hard to go wrong with this shoe.

Conclusion


This is a very popular shoe; dayhikers love it for comfort, and backpackers love it for the foot support delivered in a lightweight package. Thru-hikers swear by it for the combination of comfort and support. The roomy toe box with the distinctive rubber toe cap is the icing on the cake. Buy this product if you need lightweight support for the foot, and rain and mud don't deter you from getting out there.

The Targhee 2 is our favorite shoe for dayhiking  expecially in wet terrain.
The Targhee 2 is our favorite shoe for dayhiking, expecially in wet terrain.

Other Versions


Targhee II - Women's
Targhee II - Women's
  • Women's version
  • Cost - $125 (same as men's version)
  • Weight - 1lb 10 oz (6oz less than men's version)
  • Runs about a half size small

Keen Targhee II Mid
  • Cost- $135.00 ($10 more than the low version)
  • Weight- 2lbs 2oz (2 oz more than the low version)
  • Style- Over-the-ankle
  • Best Buy Award winner for hiking boots

Brandon Lampley
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