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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Keen Targhee II Mid > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

KEEN TARGHEE II MID HIKING BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 22, 2015

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Carmel, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)
SHOE SIZE: 10 1/2 Wide (US)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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Keen Targhee II Mid Boots
Manufacturer: Keen
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.keenfootwear.com/
MSRP: US $135
Listed Weight: 17.2 oz (488 g) per boot [based on a Men's US Size 9 boot]
Measured Weight: 37.6 oz (1066 g)/pair [left boot 18.6 oz (527 g)/right boot 19.0 oz (539 g)]
Sizes Available: Men's US Sizes 7 - 17
Size Tested: Men's US Size 11 Wide
Colors Available: Magnet/True Blue, Chestnut/Bossa Nova, Black Olive/Yellow, Shitake/Brindle {Wide is only available in this final color choice)
Materials: Leather & textile upper/Rubber outsoles

Keen suggests ordering these boots 1/2 larger than normal as they tend to run small.

The Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots are marketed to offer "four-wheel drive performance for your feet". The boot upper is a combination of waterproof nubuck leather and textile material using the proprietary KEEN.DRY breathable waterproofing membrane. This is designed to allow vapor to escape the foot and boot and disallow water from entering. The midsoles and removable footbeds are made with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). The outsoles are a non-marking rubber material with 4 mm (0.16 in) lugs with a multi-directional pattern.

These are a mid-cut hiking boot with a collar height at 6 in (15 cm) high. It employs a ghillie lacing system that also allows for a contoured heel lock. All Keen's are designed to have a wide toe-box that lets the foot splay. The pair that I am testing is a truly a 'wide' version of the boot. This is a newer offering from Keen and the boots use a wider boot last than the standard size. They are designed with arch support and the natural contours of the foot in mind.

Finally, Keen is well known for their rubber protected toe; these boots follow suit.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & SUMMARY

Over the last several years in an attempt to minimize weight and maximize speed on the trail I've moved away from the old tried-and-true full grain leather high cut hiking boot. I still own a pair and they are still a go-to in inclement weather, but I sure do find them heavy these days. I have used several pair of trail runners that range from 13.2 oz (374 g) to 17.4 oz (493 g) per shoe. Neither of them are waterproof, nor do they offer any ankle protection. These are both features I enjoy in a trail hiker, but have been willing to forego given the overall weight savings I've earned using lighter weight running shoes with a decent tread.
IMAGE 2
4 mm (0.16 in) Multi-Directional Lugs
IMAGE 3
EVA Midsole & Keen.DRY Waterproofing

Given the waterproofing and the ankle protection and at less than a 3 oz (85 g) weight penalty for the pair as compared to the heavier shoe I was quickly excited after trying on the boots! I know that Keen is known for their wide toe-boxes and I was willing to try them in a standard size, but when I learned they offered them in a wide variety I was truly excited. After trying them on, I was glad the wide option was made available. After a really long day on the trail that involves swelling I'm sure the traditional width may have been a little constricting on my feet.

The boots appear very well made with quality craftsmanship. I was also impressed with how light I considered them to feel when holding them. I've always shied away from this brand in the past as I've found their sandals to be incredibly heavy for my taste.

After giving the boots a quick look over for quality, weighing them and taking a few pictures I decided to don a pair of wool hiking socks and give them a swirl around the house. The forefoot gave me plenty of room but wasn't too spacious. I snugged the laces up and the contoured heel lock system (as it is referred to by Keen) made the boot feel comfortable in the toe-box and snug in the heel, which is how I like my boots to fit. The heel lock system is basically a ghillie lacing system with the upper lace loop that contours down toward the ankle and back up toward the rear of the boot. When I pull the laces tight it allows this material to gently cradle the heel of the foot and keep it in place. The lacing system is also reflective when shined on by a light. I found this to be a nice touch.
IMAGE 4
At first the support around the upper collar wasn't as snug as I expected, but this abated fairly quickly. In fact I found the laces to be fairly long and looped them around the boot's collar and tied a square knot to secure the laces on one boot while tying them normally on the other. As I walked around, the boot I had taken the extra steps with felt a little too secure or snug for me, so I retied it in a normal manner and walked around in them for an hour or so. I found them very comfortable; however, the laces are extremely long. They are long enough that I could see myself stepping on them if I don't take evasive measures.

After wearing them for well over an hour I came to two initial opinions that I look forward to clarifying in the ensuing months of this test series. First, I find that they breathe very well and I noticed no undue perspiration on my feet or in my socks after removing them. My full grain boots would have certainly not performed like this. Secondly, they were very comfortable and felt almost like a sneaker right out of the box. I still plan on wearing them around a bit before taking a high mileage backpacking trip, but I don't expect the break-in period to require too much effort. The Keen website did suggest ordering these boots up a 1/2 size as they tend to run small. I typically wear a Men's US 10.5 boot and I'm glad I decided to go with a size 11 as they fit very similarly to my other boots in the smaller size.

I've included an image in which I'm wearing the boots along with a pair of Mountain Khakis Cruiser pants that I also happen to be testing and invite the reader to review. I'll likely be wearing both these products together on the trail throughout the test series so I felt it appropriate to show my expected attire in the coming months.

My only concern at the outset centers on the length of the laces, but I'm sure I'll find a way to deal with that as the test continues. I did really prefer some of the other color choices that were only available in the standard width, but I've learned to deal with limited color choice as a wide footed individual. That really isn't a serious criticism as I'd much rather have a comfortable experience over a fashionable one!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Post Horse Trail Hike
18 - 19 July, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. My 6 1/2 year old son and I took this overnight trip to the local national forest and met up with another gear tester that I recently learned lives just miles away from me. We hiked a little over 3 mi (5 km) each day in hot and dry conditions. Heat indexes were around 105 F (40.5 C) during the day and I believe the overnight low was still above 75 F (24 C). My little one was a trooper in these miserable conditions and the trail we followed also happened to be open to horses. Intense and record setting rain in the area over the previous three weeks in conjunction with horse traffic created a soupy mess on the trail! We bushwhacked straight downhill the final 0.25 mi (0.40 km) so we could camp directly on the reservoir. That made for a tough start to our exit on the following morning, specifically since I carried two packs back up to the trail.

21 - 23 August, 2015; Brown County, Indiana. This was a solo weekend outing covering a 15 mi (24 km) loop. Weather was around 80 F (29 C) during the day and dropped to around 70 F (21 C) in the evening. Conditions were dry and hot, but it was nice to get into the woods alone.

Five local day hikes on trails with the family or Cub Scouts over the summer covering a total of 25 mi (40 km). Most of these were in dry conditions, but the intense late spring and early summer rains did make trails wet at times. By no means were they ever comparable to the conditions down in the Hoosier forest.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 2
Clean and Ready for a Maiden Voyage
I've been very impressed with the Keen's from the moment I removed them from the box. They are very comfortable and needed absolutely no time to break in. In over 30 years of backpacking I've always had to prep a pair of boots before hitting the trail in order to avoid blisters. This wasn't the case with these boots. They are soft and flex in all the right places. I also find them to be lightweight and in my opinion they feel more like trail runners, albeit with ankle support, than typical backpacking boots.

Before I ever used them on the trail I decided to wear them to work on a Friday to see how much perspiration the KEEN.DRY would cause. I was pleasantly surprised. After wearing the boots all day (with a liner and wool socks) I came home to find my feet in excellent condition. Had I done this in my older full grain leather boots I'd have been a hot mess with clammy feet and noticeably moist socks. I would likely attribute this to the breathability in the waterproofing material that Keen uses, but the combination of leather and textile in the boot upper may also be a benefit.

Although I find them to be lightweight with sneaker-like comfort they also give my ankles and the soles of my feet ample support. I rocked hopped as often as possible on one trip as a test and experienced no soreness or bruising to the bottom of my feet. This isn't always the case in a trail runner.

IMAGE 3
Two Minutes on the Trail




One other feature I appreciated was the reflective striping on the heel and ghillie lace eyelets of the boots. It really reflected back quite nicely when cast with light of a flashlight. This will certainly be a benefit if I ever have to cross or hike along a paved road where traffic could be a hazard in dawn or dusk hours.

I've crossed many a creek and been in wet conditions in boots in the past, but the sloppy and muddy conditions on the trail in the Deam Wilderness were a first. It was a scorching hot and dry day, but there was practically no way to avoid the constant slogging through muck. The boots worked perfectly for me. My feet remained dry and I experienced no internal moisture build-up. I feared they would become mud stained and never be the same after their maiden voyage, but a soft scrub brush and some warm water made them look new again when I returned home.

SUMMARY

I'm extremely satisfied with these boots and excited to continue using them. For the first time in several years I'm wearing boots on the trail and I couldn't be happier. They are light enough that I don't feel weighed down and can still hike at the speedy pace I'm used to without tiring. They were soft and comfortable straight out of the box. The waterproofing membrane keeps my feet dry, yet allows moisture to escape so I don't perspire too much.
IMAGE 4
2 Pairs of Keen Targhee II Boots

I have logged close to 50 mi (80 km) in them and loved every minute. I'm still not a fan of the laces that I find to be overly long. They haven't become too much of a hindrance or a safety hazard, but I'll likely replace them with shorter ones when the test series concludes. The comfort and fit directly out the box makes me ponder the future durability of the boots, but I suppose I shouldn't as they look and feel great currently.

As I pen this report, I'm about to head out for another overnight wearing them. I'm excited to continue testing the boots and see how they perform.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

12 - 13 September, 2015; Camp Gnawbone, Gnawbone, Indiana. This is the outing that embarks the fall season with the Dad's group that I'm involved with, again no serious hiking. It rained in the afternoon just enough to be annoying. Temperatures had been considerably warming in the previous weeks, but the high this day was 67 F (19 C) and it dropped to 48 F (9 C) that night.

25 - 27 September, 2015; Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana. This was a three-day and two-night outing with our church at a local state park. There wasn't any backpacking involved, but I wore the boots around camp and used them on a short little ~1/2 mi (1 km) jaunt on the trail in conjunction with a pack I'm testing. High temperatures were 67 F (19 C) and lows in the evening dropped to 49 F (9 C). It was mostly cloudy, but there were some intermittent sprinkles on Saturday.
IMAGE 1
I Finally had to trim the Laces

16 - 18 October, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. It was Fall Break for my kids and the annual trip that my wife is willing to take with my children and me into the backcountry. We backpacked into and out of a base camp 4 mi (6.5 km) in from the parking area, but hiked around several miles each day once setting camp. Temperatures were as low as 32 F (0 C) and rose to around 60 F (15.5 C) in the day. There were some clouds but it was dry throughout the trip.

12 - 15 November, 2015; Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee and Kentucky. I backpacked for 4 days and 3 nights out of the Bandy Creek area of Big South Fork with eight other hammock campers. We averaged 8 - 10 mi (13 - 16 km) per day with elevations ranging from 400 - 900 ft (122 - 274 m). Low temperatures at night were around 24 F (-4.5 C) and in the day they rose to a high of 52 F (11 C). The weather was wonderful with cloudless skies in the day and starry skies at night.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD & SUMMARY

With the four camping and backpacking outings and some other intermittent hiking I did while wearing the boots, I'd say I easily logged well over 100 mi (161 km) in the boots. I don't have a tremendous amount of information to add concerning the boots, save that I truly enjoyed them.

There is some minor wear on the treads, but not enough to cause any concern at this point. The grip, the soles and the leather all appear to be in great shape at this point. The boots were supple and soft; I'll use the metaphor that they were sneaker-like, right out of the box. I hiked several miles with the weight of a pack on my back when they were brand new with no hints of soreness or blistering.
IMAGE 2
Blaze Orange Duct Tape Lace Tips - Field Created

The polymer lace lock at the top of the boots has been a nice feature in that it keeps the laces snug even if they become untied. This occurred several times over the course of the test and as the reader can see by the image above I finally did need to shorten the laces in the interest of safety on my final outing. I was doing some switchbacks on a trail descent down toward a creek when one of the laces came untied and caught under the opposite boot. I nearly stumbled off the side of the hill, but fortunately a trekking pole and a small tree saved me from a nice little hill roll. I don't alter items I'm testing, but at this point I felt compelled to stop and immediately address them. A quick glance at the image shows how overtly long the laces were in my opinion.

I trimmed approximately 8 in (20 cm) off each end and still had plenty to work with. In a true field maintenance emergency, I grabbed my mini-first aid kit, used the lighter to melt the ends of the laces then used some duct tape that I keep rolled on a pen in the kit to create new lace tips. The tape happened to be blaze orange.

Throughout the entire series that is the only negative feature I have to report on the boots. This, in my opinion is a simple fix! I'm still wearing the boots with the same now shorter laces and I have no concerns.

The next day of that Big South Fork outing my group was doing several creek crossings. The majority of the crew decided to stop and change into water shoes before fording the creeks. One other comrade and I decided to rock-hop. Granted, we did use our trekking poles for stability, but I found the boots gripped the rocks (even the slick ones) giving me excellent support. A few of the steps allowed water to flow over the toe and my feet stayed completely dry.

I don't have much else to say, other than I'm nothing but satisfied with them and I'd suggest anyone looking for a lightweight, versatile mid-cut boot to check these out.

I'd like to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Keen for the opportunity to test the Targhee II Mid Boots.

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

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