The Targhee 3 is a robust hiking shoe from well-known and well-respected brand Keen. It isn’t the lightest, but it’s also tough and is well suited to tougher terrain and bad weather where you might otherwise choose a hefty boot.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Very durable
- Renowned for comfort
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- Design feels a bit dated
Keen are one of the big names in outdoor footwear and the Targhee 3 is one of their better known offerings with, as you find with certain hiking shoes, a loyal fan-base in the outdoors community. These shoes are far from the lightest in our round up, and their design may not be to everyone’s taste, but they do offer a very rugged build, making them suitable for more difficult, technical terrain and more inclement weather – all situations where you might otherwise wear heavier hiking boots.
Compare to Similar Products
- Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 GTX
- Salomon Cross Hike 2 Mid Gore-Tex
- Main review guide: 20 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Analysis and Test Results
The Keen Targhee 3 is an iconic hiking shoe. We’ve found that certain shoes seem to attract a very loyal following amongst hikers who’ll come back to them time and time again. Alongside the Merrell Moab and The North Face’s Hedgehog, the Targhee 3 is just such a shoe. So, what makes it special? Well, whilst it’s not the lightest in our round up, it has a very solid build and a reputation for comfort. These two factors alone could be enough to swing your decision to buy. On the downside, aside from the fact that these are not super lightweight shoes, the design does feel a little dated to us and we’d love to see a bit of an update to this classic.
The Targhee 3 features an in-house sole from Keen with a deep thread pattern. The sole promises good grip and sure footing on a variety of surfaces. The sole incorporates a micro-pattern – essentially a textured finish – alongside the deep thread to help improve traction on smooth surfaces. Of course, no shoe will offer perfect traction in all conditions and any kind of icy surface, mud or wet foliage can beat even the most grippy of soles. We didn’t have too much to complain about in this regard.
The Keen Targhee 3 incorporates mesh sections in its upper to help keep the shoe breathable. The mesh is backed with keen own waterproof and breathable membrane, which they call ‘Keen.Dry’ and which is essentially their in-house answer to Gore-Tex. These shoes are not as well ventilated as some of the others in our round up – and this is evident by looking at the largely unvented areas in the upper. However, they still prove to be plenty comfortable heat-wise in all but the hottest of conditions. We’ve tried these out in most environments you could expect to wear them in and didn’t find them an issue. Wearing socks made form a moisture-wicking material like Merino Wool can also help prevent your feet from feeling sweaty on long hikes.
The Keen Targhee 3 are shoes and therefore don’t offer any specific ankle support. This, however, is very much a matter of personal preference and, whilst some will prefer the ankle support offered by hiking boots, shoes are very much a viable choice on the trail and offer lower weight and improved ankle mobility in their favor.
Out of the box, the Keen Targhee 3 offers minimal arch support. This is in line with all the other products in our round up and we think that most buyers will be perfectly happy with this. However, if you want to add extra arch support, this can easily be accomplished by swapping in some more heavily shaped in-soles which are readily and inexpensively available. This swap can make a big impact on the comfort of footwear for some people, so it’s worth keeping in mind.
The Keen Targhee 3 is available in sizes from US 7/UK 6/EU 39.5 up to US 16/UK 16/EU 49. It’s great to see Keen offering this range of sizes at the large end as this continues to be a serious omission form other brand’s ranges. The Targhee 3 is suited for those with normal to wide feet. These shoes have a tremendous reputation for comfort, and this is likely one of the main factors behind their popularity. From testing, we can see why. They fitted our tester very well (who has slightly narrow feet) with very little rub or movement once wearing.
It’s increasingly common to see hiking shoes and boots made fully from synthetic materials. Modern synthetic fabrics have proven themselves to be lighter than, and every bit as durable as, traditional materials such as leather and canvas. However, the Keen Targhee’s still make extensive use of Nubuck leather alongside synthetic mesh. Keen’s own ‘Keen.Dry’ membrane – essentially Keen’s in-house answer to Gore-Tex – provides a waterproof and breathable layer in the lining.
This is one area where we think the Keen Targhee 3 fall behind. Once upon a time, these shoes may have looked modern and cutting edge, but they certainly don’t anymore! Now, this may not bother you, especially if you’re won over by the fit and comfort that you’ll get from these shoes. However, if you value aesthetics and up to date design, we think there are better choices out there. All that said, the oiled finish on the shoe’s nubuck leather does look nice, and the shoe’s certainly give the feeling of being very well made. Keen offer these shoes in four colorways – all quite earthy and neutral.
Durability is another of the Keen Targhee 3’s strengths. Aside from comfort, you’ll often hear longevity cited as a reason why so many people like these hiking shoes and you don’t have to look far to find anecdotes of these shoes lasting their owners many long years and even longer miles. Of course, longevity is subjective and really depends on how your shoes are worn and cared for (or not, as the case may be!). However, the shoes certainly present as being well made and we have no reason to doubt that they will last.
With a weight of 861g/1lb 14.8oz for a pair, these Keen Targhee 3 shoes are amongst theheaviest in our round up and are even pushing into the same weight territory as some mid-high boots. However, we don’t think this is all bad as we have to consider the weight alongside the shoe’s sturdy build. These are shoes you could easily wear in conditions where you might otherwise choose to go for heavier boots and in this sense, we don’t think their weight is unreasonable.
The Keen Targhee 3 shoes come with a fairly generic pair of removable insoles. These will likely do most buyers just fine. However, it’s worth remembering that you can fine-tune the fit and comfort of any shoes by swapping out the insoles. Replacements are inexpensively and easily available in larger outdoors shops and pharmacies.
The Keen Targhee 3’s reputation for comfort extends to its breaking-in period and the shoes are well known for this being minimal. However, we’d add that no footwear is completely without a breaking-in period and it’s always wise to wear new shoes on a few shorter ‘warm-up’ walks before committing to a longer hike in them. If you do suffer from rubbing on your feet whilst breaking in shoes, well fitting padded or thicker hiking socks – especially those made form materials like Merino Wool – can really help. That said, these shoes were comfortable within a couple of short break-in walks and we had no questions about wearing them out on the trail for longer distances very soon into having them.
The Keen Targhee 3 features regular laces. You might think that there isn’t much to say about laces, but they are actually a very versatile system that allows for quite a bit of adjustment and fine-tuning to the fit of your shoes or boots. On a basic level, you can adjust the lace tension at a given eyelet to control how tight or loose the shoe is in that area. For more extreme adjustments, you can change your lacing pattern entirely and our comprehensive guide has more information here, so be sure to check it out.
The Keen Targhee 3 offers a reinforced rubber toe section. It’s better than some of the lighter-weight shoes in our round-up, but still not on the same level as what you’d find on more robust hiking boots. That said, it’s still more than enough to absorb some shock and takes the edge off the impact you might experience on the trail, helping to prevent stubbed toes.
Hiking Shoes v Hiking Boots
As we’ve said throughout the reviews in this round up, the choice of shoes vs boots on the trail is very personal. For some applications, the choice is clear cut, but shoes like these Keen Targhee 3s with their rugged build can certainly blur the line and we think that they are suitable for some applications where you might normally only consider wearing boots – such as more demanding trails and in nasty weather. They won’t replace a pair of mountaineering boots for every situation, but if you prefer shoes, they might allow you keep wearing shoes for longer.
The Keen Targhee 3 has a loyal following, and it’s not hard to see why. They are tough but still very comfortable shoes that could easily replace heavier boots for a wide range of hiking. For some hikers, these shoes could even be the only hiking footwear they need. Whilst they are a great choice, they are in the same realm weight-wise as some mid-high boots and we’ve got to admit that we don’t think they look great either. However, if you’re looking for a pair of rugged hiking shoes – and particularly shoes rather than boots – then we think these are well worth your attention.
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