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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Keen Targhee II Mid > Test Report by Brian Hartman

November 08, 2015



NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Westfield, Indiana
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid-weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.



Manufacturer: Keen IMAGE 1
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $135.00
Listed Weight: 17.4 oz (493.3 g) per boot
Measured Weight: 18.1 oz (513 g) per boot
Available Colors: Magnet/True Blue, Chestnut/Bossa Nova, Black Olive/Yellow, Shitake/Brindle
Available Sizes: 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Available Widths: Medium, Wide
Size Tested: 10.5, Black Olive/Yellow

Product Details: Waterproof nubuck leather and textile upper
KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane
Non-marking rubber outsole with 4mm directional lugs
Contoured heel lock
Removable dual density EVA footbed
Torsion stability ESS shank

Keen describes the Targhee II Mid boots (hereafter called Targhees or boots) as "four wheel-drive performance for your feet". In fact, they are lightweight, waterproof mid cut hiking boots suited for long distance backpacking with light to moderate pack loads.

In regards to construction, the Targhees have nubuck leather and nylon mesh uppers and a proprietary waterproof membrane from Keen, called KEEN.DRY, which purportedly allows water vapor to escape from inside the boots without letting water in. The Targhees have several other features including a removable footbed made of dual density EVA, an ESS shank which is designed to provide torsional stability, a contoured heel lock, and a compression-molded EVA midsole. Finally, they have non-marking rubber outsoles with 4mm (0.2 in) directional lugs for increased traction on rough terrain.


The Keen Targhee boots arrived in a tan and green shoebox with Keen's logo and website address prominently displayed on the top lid. Upon opening the box, I was immediately greeted with the wonderful smell of new shoes, yeah! The boots, as is typically the case, were wrapped in tissue paper and hidden from view. After quickly removing the paper my first impression of the Targhees was that they looked very sharp. I really like their classic styling, high toe guard and aggressive treads. I also like the color of the boots which is milk chocolate (I believe Keen refers to it as Black Olive) with yellow accent stitching throughout.

The Targhees are a full 7 in (17.8 cm) to the top of the tongue and 5.5 in (14.0 cm) to the rear scree collar and yet they felt surprisingly lightweight for mid cut hikers. Not wanting to dismiss this thought, I immediately got out my scale and weighed the boots. Next I spent several minutes on the web confirming my suspicions: When compared against two name brand low cut trail shoes that I currently own, the Targhees weighed a mere 2.5 oz (70 g) and 4 oz (114 g) more respectively, and that's for both boots. Next I compared the Targhee II Mid hikers to Keen's same shoe in its low cut version. Unbelievably, the Targhee mid cut boots weigh only 2 oz (57 g) more than their low cut brethren. Given that they offer additional support to protect my ankles from injury and will do a better job keeping out trail rocks and sand due to their higher profile, the few ounces of additional weight that they add is negligible. I may even be able to leave my gaiters at home when wearing these which would negate the added weight altogether.


Moving on, the Targhees appear to be very well made and have no loose stitching, frays, or material imperfections. The uppers are a combination of waterproof nubuck leather and nylon mesh, most of which is used on the tongue. I really like Keen's addition of nylon mesh to the uppers, not only for its weight savings versus solid leather but it also makes the boots more flexible and breathable. The tongue, by the way, is fully gusseted to keep water and debris from getting inside the boots. The lacing system consists of four pair of nylon webbing eyelets with lace locks at the top. The lace locks are a really nice addition to these boots as they keep the laces tight while tying them up and they also prevent the laces from coming loose if they happen to get untied while trampling through brush etc. The boots have pull loops at the tongue and heel to help with getting them on and off, which always seems to be a problem for me on sub zero mornings or after a long day on the trail when my feet are swollen. The toe guards are made of nice thick rubber which completely envelopes the tip of the boots so I fully expect them to do a good job of protecting my feet from rocks and tree roots. As an added bonus, the rubber outsole wraps around the heel of the boots to protect them as well. In conjunction with the footbeds, the midsoles appear to offer quite a bit of padding and shock absorption. The true test of course will be how well my feet feel after hiking all day on the trails.


Last but not least are the carbon rubber outsoles which have substantial lugs and a wide tread pattern. I'm anxious to test them on wet creek rocks and slippery boulders to see how well they perform. I'll also be watching to see if they shed mud or clog up when hiking in thick, wet clay.

No hang tags or instruction sheets were included with the boots but Keen has some good information online. Regarding care instructions, Keen recommends using cold water and a mild detergent along with a stiff brush or soft cloth to remove mud or dirt. Afterward, they recommend applying a leather cleaner and conditioner.


The Targhees are well designed boots and their quality construction displays top notch workmanship. With the Targhees Keen has incorporated many neat features into lightweight boots that are quite sturdy yet still feel comfortable. I look forward to logging lots of miles with them this summer and beyond.



I wore the Keen Targhee's for a total of nine days during Field Testing while logging approximately 30 mi (48 km) in the boots. IMAGE 1

Brown County, Indiana: This was a three day backpacking trip of approximately 11 miles (18 km). The weather was warm and wet with temperatures in the upper 70s F (26 C) and rainfall of 2.1 inches (5.3 cm). The terrain was heavily forested and quite rugged. I spent most of my time trying to stay dry amid nearly constant rain showers.

Hoosier National Forest, Indiana: Daytime temperatures reached 98 F (37 C) on this backpacking trip through the Charles Deam Wilderness Area. I hiked approx. 5 miles round trip (8 km) in the Targhee's on this trip, mostly on trail with a brief bushwhack to our campsite in an isolated spot on the wonderful shores of Lake Monroe. Even though it didn't rain while we were camping, trails were quite muddy due to unusually wet weather leading up to this trip. The terrain was forested and moderately hilly with elevations ranging from 530 ft (161 m) to 780 ft (238 m).

Franklin County, Indiana: This was a two-day backpacking trip through rolling fields and mature forests in Southeastern Indiana. I hiked 5 mi (8 km) on the first day and 4 mi (6.4 km) on the second day. The weather during this trip was much more comfortable with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's (24 C).

Macgregor Park, Indiana: I went on two day hikes / geocache searches at this park. The total distance I covered while hiking through the park both days was about 4.5 mi (7.2 km). Temperatures were in the mid 70s F (24 C).


The Keen Targhee boots performed wonderfully during Field Testing. Below are some observations I made while wearing them during the past few months:

Comfort and Fit: Keen is well known for high quality, comfortable footwear and so I was very excited at the opportunity to test the Targhees. Per the manufacturer's instructions I ordered a half size larger than what I normally wear and found the boots to fit perfectly. There was plenty of room for my toes so they didn't bump against the front of the boots when I was descending steep hills. Having ordered boots that were slightly too small before and not able to take them back after wearing them, I was very appreciative that the Targhees fit properly from the start. For me, selecting the correct size is not a simple task as some boots run large and others small and it's nearly impossible to feel my toes when pushing down on the heavy duty toe caps that most manufacturers have nowadays. The Targhees were also wide enough so that I never felt discomfort in the toebox which is where I typically feel tightness and rubbing with medium width shoes due to the shape of my feet. Although a few manufacturers make EE wide boots I usually can't wear them because there's too much room in the footbed. Not so with the Targhees; so far I have experienced no heel slip, hot spots, blisters or pinch points. In fact not only are the Targhees the perfect size for my feet but they also required no break-in whatsoever. I simply took them out of the box, put them on and started hiking. Very impressive Keen!

The Targhees were easy to slip on because of their smooth interior lining and the laces were easy to snug up for a tight fit. They also provided great arch support, so that I didn't need to wear my orthotics with the boots. In addition they provided a firm, stable base that made carrying my pack enjoyable. In fact, the Targhees were so comfortable that I even found myself running in them while carrying my pack at the Hoosier National Forest. No, I wasn't being chased by a bear; I was simply playing a game of tag with friends on the trail and needed to pick up my pace every now and then to keep from being 'it'.

Another nice thing about the Targhees is that the outside of the boots are made with soft leather and synthetics that flex as needed for a comfortable fit. This allowed the boots to adjust with my feet when hiking up and downhill and it also allowed the toes of the boots to flex when I squatted or knelt down.

Overall the Targhees were very supportive while still being lightweight and comfortable. They allowed me to hike for hours on the trail without feeling fatigued and were easy to clean with water and a stiff brush after being caked in dirt and mud at the end of a long weekend.

Traction: The Targhees provided excellent traction and support while backpacking on wet, muddy trails in Brown County and the Hoosier National Park. Surprisingly I never fell, although several times I thought I was going to, given the conditions. I was really impressed that the lugs never lost their grip and never clogged up with mud. The lugs did equally well when I went hiking thru swollen creek beds and over wet creek rocks in Franklin County. Creek rocks are notoriously slippery and so kudos to Keen on very well designed outsoles!


Durability: The Targhee boots have proven to be well constructed and quite durable. They've held up incredibly well so far with only minimal scuffing to the toe caps and slight discoloration to the nylon mesh from all of the mud I've trudged through. Despite the abuse they've taken, all stitching is intact, the toe caps show no signs of peeling away, and the laces are in excellent condition.

Waterproofness: The Targhees displayed excellent water resistance on the trail thanks to their KEEN.DRY membrane. I felt no water penetration through the nylon mesh uppers, nubuck leather or boot seams. The membrane also did a great job of letting moisture vapor out as my feet never got wet from perspiration even when hiking in 98 F (37 C) temperatures.


In summary, I have been very happy with the Keen Targhee boots. They are well-designed boots that are both durable and comfortable. They fit my feet well and I experienced no blisters or hot spots during Field Testing. They kept my feet dry during many wet muddy outings and were comfortable to wear for extended periods. The boots also provided excellent traction and support while carrying a heavy pack and most impressively, they required no break-in period at all. Overall, I consider these to be excellent boots.




During the past two months I wore the Keen Targhee II Mid Boots for a total of 7 days. Long Term testing took place in Central and Southern Indiana with two backpacking trips to Franklin County, IN and three day hikes at local parks in the area.

Temperatures ranged from 55 to 78 F (13 to 26 C) with mostly sunny skies as Indiana experienced far less rain during this test period then it had earlier this year. The elevations I backpacked in ranged from 710 to 911 ft (216 to 278 m). Further details of my trips are highlighted below:

Trip One: (2 days, 2 nights) Backpacking in Franklin County, Indiana
Weather: Mild and sunny with temperatures ranging from 66 to 78 F (19 to 26 C)
Elevation: 710 to 860 ft (216 to 262 m)
Distance: I wore the Targhees while backpacking through forests, open pastures and across several creek crossings in the area. Total distance hiked was 8 mi (13 km).
Pack Weight: 27 lb (12 kg)
Brief Comments: The Targhees provided excellent stability on this outing as I hiked across hillsides and through several creeks.

Trip Two: (2 days, 1 night) Camping trip in Oldenburg, Indiana.
Temperature: 55 to 72 F (13 to 22 C).
Elevation: 734 to 855 ft (224 to 260 m)
Distance: I hiked approximately 12 mi (19 km) on this outing.
Brief Comments: The Targhees provided great traction as well as protection from the water as I hiked up a creek bed that was nearby my campsite.

Trip Three: I wore the Targhees on three day hikes in local parks in the area including Cool Creek Park, Freedom Trail Park and Macgregor Park, all in Westfield, Indiana.
Temperature: 65 to 78 F (18 to 26 C)
Elevation: 833 to 911 ft (254 to 278 m)
Distance: 6 to 8 mi (9.5 to 13 km) per trip
Pack Weight: 4 to 7 lb (1.8 to 3 kg)
Brief Comments: The trails were dry and well maintained while colorful autumn leaves made for some great scenery while hiking.


The Targhees provided excellent stability while carrying a full pack on my trip to Franklin County, IN. I never once worried about losing my footing or twisting an ankle, something that's always in the back of mind when traversing steep hills or scrambling over rocks while wearing low cut trail shoes. The Targhees were surefooted and never once made me second guess my footing. I easily crossed slippery side hills covered in leaves and walked across logs, through creeks and pretty much wherever I wanted to go. The boots were flexible enough that they never felt awkward on uneven ground. In fact they pretty much seemed to adapt to whatever topography they were presented with.

The fact that the Targhees are so lightweight, weighing no more than most low cut trail shoes, meant that my legs weren't fatigued at the end of long days of hiking. On both of my backpacking trips during this test period I didn't bother to take camp shoes and simply wore the Targhees around the campsite. I simply unlaced them and any moisture that hadn't yet escaped from my socks or the boot insoles from earlier in the day now evaporated.

As for their waterproof properties, the Targhees had no problems fending off water as I hiked through several creeks while my feet stayed bone dry. The extra few inches of waterproof protection that the Targhees offer over low cut shoes makes a big difference, especially since it comes with no weight penalty. Keeping my feet dry allows me to be more comfortable when backpacking. It also greatly reduces the risk of me developing blisters. And finally, keeping my feet dry in cold weather conditions is an important safety measure.

Finally, regarding durability, the Targhees are in great condition after four months and many miles on the trail, notwithstanding several mud stains. The soles remain in excellent shape, the stitching is intact and shows no signs of fraying or coming loose, and the rubber outsole wraps are still firmly attached to the boots with no signs of going anywhere.


I really like the Targhee boots! Without a doubt they have become my favorite pair of mid hikers and my favorite shoes overall when conditions are less than ideal. They are lightweight, comfortable, waterproof, durable and provide great traction on all kinds of surfaces. What's not to love!

This concludes my Long Term Report for the Targhee II Mid Boots and this test series. Thanks to Keen and for the opportunity to test these boots.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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