I got a pair of Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots a few weeks ago and have been testing them out ever since. I have been looking for a lighter weight hiking boot that dries faster than my leather Asolo boots but provides a comparable level of support. I’m paranoid about getting plantar fasciitis again and I need a boot that prevents heal lift and has a rigid enough shank to prevent my arch from collapsing and inflaming the tendons in my feet.
On that score, I’ve been impressed with the Targhee II Mids, which weigh 14.7 oz each in a size 10.5 Men’s (US) and are almost 50% lighter than my leather Asolos. The Targhees also have an impressively stiff shank, aggressive tread, and excellent toe cap protection for such a lightweight boot. I’ve been surprised with how good they feel when hiking rough trail with and without a backpack.
At first glance, the boots seem oddly designed, like sandals which have been beefed up using leather and torsional stabilizers to provide a stiffer fit. There is some truth to that since the boots carry on the classic Keen sandal design with the beefed up toe kick. The result however is a boot that actually works, but I have to admit that I was skeptical when they arrived.
The exterior of the uppers is a combination of leather and thick mesh, lined on the inside with Keen Dry, which I believe is some sort of Gore-tex knock-off. The leather adds stiffness to the shoe, and needs to be broken in a bit to soften it up, particularly around the ankle padding. The mesh is clearly designed to vent moisture from the foot area
The Keen Dry layer in the Targhee is billed as being waterproof, but I think water-resistant would be more accurate. I tested this out by submerging a boot in a pan of water for 15 minutes and could feel the inside of the boot slowly getting damp. I believe the source for this seepage is the stitching that binds the mesh to the leather on the upper side of the boot and not because the Keen Dry layer is defective. Still it’s a bothersome hassle to have to sno-seal the boots to seal the seams and something I would have expected the manufacturer to have taken care off. It should be noted that Keen has just released a new version of this shoe with an new eVent-based liner and this issue may have already been addressed.
One standout feature in the Targhee is the toe area which is extremely roomy for a hiking boot. I always get black toenails during summer from smashing my toes against the front inside of my regular boots, but I don’t feel that happening with the Targhees, and the foot box seems longer and much wider than I’m used to. So much so, that it has taken some getting used to since the front of the boot feels like it flares out a bit toward the toe.
Fit wise, the Targhee II Mid runs very small. I normally wear a size 9.5 M (US) hiking boot and I’ve had to get the Keens in a 10.5 M (US) to get into them. This can be a pain if you are ordering online and you want to try on different sizes.