Keen Targhee III Mid WP Hiking Boots In-Depth Review

Last Updated: December 2020

Keen Targhee III WP Mid Quick Guide

Category: Waterproof Mid-top Hiking Boots

Weight: 2lbs 2.8oz (0.98kg)

MSRP: $150

Upper: Waterproof Leather and Mesh

Sole: Keen All-Terrain Rubber

What We Like: Affordable; Very comfortable; Durable.

What We Don’t Like: Not very breathable; Very wide; Lacks support.

Best for: Day hikes, weekend backpacking trips.

Alternatives: Vasque St. Elias FG GTX or Merrell Moab 2 Mid.

Final Verdict: Solid and affordable mid-top hiking boot; great for day hikes and short backpacking trips.

Comfortable and durable, the time-tested Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid-top is a classic hiking boot choice for short adventures. 

The Keen Targhee III Mid is the third rendition of the ultra-classic Targhee boot. Built with both durability and comfort in mind, the Targhee III is a great companion in both mountain and desert environments. 

This uber-popular boot is perfect for day hikes or weekend backpacking trips in the mountains.

To help you decide if the Targhee III is the right hiking boot for you, we’ve created this review. Coming up, we’ll walk you through every detail of the Targhee III so you can get out and enjoy the great outdoors in no time.

pair view of keen targhee iii boots

Keen Targhee III WP Mid Performance


Keen designed the Targhee III to be comfortable straight out of the box. With their mesh and leather uppers, the boots won't feel constricting or clunky when you walk.

Moreover, while some mid-top boots squeeze your calves, the Targhee III has ample padding around the ankle for extra comfort.


The Targhee III comes with some high-quality, environmentally friendly leather. Additionally, it has extra-tough mudguards to protect the boots from scratches and scrapes.

While the Targhee III does have quite a lot of mesh and fabric in the upper, it’s durable for a non-full leather boot. The burly outsole on the Targhee III will last for years, too.


Targhee III's durability may win points with its thick, high-quality leather uppers. But, they’re also responsible for the boot’s lack of breathability.

Although these boots are going to last you, they can feel a bit warm in the summer months. This is partly because the boots use KEEN.DRY as their waterproof liner.

By using KEEN.DRY instead of Gore-Tex this saves both Keen and consumers some money. But, KEEN.DRY isn’t as breathable as Gore-Tex. So, while the Targhee III is quite waterproof, it’s not the most breathable boot out there.


Keen shoes are very wide. This is because Keen chooses to build a very wide toe box into their boots.  While this is great for some people with wide feet, it can be problematic for people with narrow feet.

Companies like Merrell make their boots in both “normal” and “wide” models; it’s not clear why Keen chooses to make “wide” their standard boot size.

Check out our in-depth review on the Merrell Moab 2. One of the most popular hiking boots out there.


The Targhee III is a mid-top hiking boot. So, it doesn’t provide much ankle support.

Sure, the Targhee III provides more support than a low-top hiking shoe. But, its flexible leather means it’s not as supportive as a full-grain leather boot.

Ultimately, this means the Targhee III isn’t an ideal backpacking boot unless you’re comfortable carrying a heavy pack. If you need a lot of ankle support, the Targhee III might not be your best option.

If you are looking for a boot with more ankle support, check out our in-depth review on Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX.

Who Are the Keen Targhee III WP Mid

Best Suited For?

As a mid-top boot, the Targhee III is for day hikes and shorter backpacking trips. While you could use the Targhee III on a longer hike, the boots don’t have much ankle support.

So, we only recommend them for longer backpacking trips if you're comfortable with carrying a heavy pack.

Additionally, the Targhee III are not meant for winter use. So it’s best to use these boots only in the summer and in places with minimal summertime snow.

Are the Keen Targhee III WP Mid Worth the Money?

The Keen Targhee III Mid is solid value for what it brings to the table.

The boot is durable and comfortable, so a $150 list price seems like a good deal to us. Although there are some boots, like the Merrell Moab 2, that are slightly cheaper, they are not as durable as the Targhee III.

While most mid-top and high-top hiking boots will run in the price range of $180-$250, the Targhee III has an MSRP of $150. While $150 is no small sum, it is substantially cheaper than some other popular boots such as the Scarpa Zodiac Plus and the Arc’teryx Acrux TR.

Since the Targhee III is quite durable, your original $150 investment goes a long way with these boots. There is a high level of craftsmanship that goes into the Targhee III. This means you can expect to use them for quite a few years of regular outings in the mountains.

side view of keen targhee iii boots

Keen Targhee III WP Mid Fit, Sizing & Break-In Time

As far as fit goes, most people find that the Targhee III runs true to size. However, all Keen’s shoes come with a wide toe box. This makes them ideal for people with wide feet. Some folks with narrow feet may find that they can’t get the right fit with Keen footwear.

If you find yourself in this situation, it's best to shop for boots from a different manufacturer. Salomon and La Sportiva both make shoes with a narrow last, which is the mold that the shoe is based on. This means that their boots will be better for narrow feet than anything you’ll find with Keen.

Where these boots truly shine, though, is in their short break-in time. This is thanks to their unique leather and mesh construction.

The Targhee III feels comfortable straight out of the box. We still recommend wearing them for a few days before your first hike; it won’t take you long to break in the Targhee III.

Keen Targhee III WP Mid Construction

The Targhee III has a distinctive design, so it’s easy to spot for a distance. Here’s what makes the boot so unique:


The Targhee III features uppers made with environmentally-conscious leather.

The traditional leather tanning process is harsh and bad for the environment. So, Keen only sources their leather from Leather Working Group-certified tanneries. Meaning they only use leather from companies that reduce their chemical use in their production process.

In addition to using highly-durable and environmentally-friendly leather, Keen built the Targhee III with mesh paneling. This gives the Targhee III a respectable amount of ventilation for the summer months.

If that wasn’t enough, Keen even added leather mud-shields to the Targhee III. They provide the much-needed durability for rough trails without adding much weight.

upper and side view of keen targhee iii boots


Keen designed the Targhee III with a dual-density, compression-molded EVA midsole.

This might sound like a bunch of technical jargon. But, it means that the Targhee III provides a lot of cushioning for your feet and joints as you hike. This is particularly useful on long downhill sections of trails, where your ankles and knees tend to work their hardest.


While we normally aren’t impressed by the insoles in most hiking boots, Keen did a good job here. The Targhee III has a removable dual-density EVA footbed.

This footbed provides an extra layer of cushioning. This makes your feet happier after a long day on the trail. While it won’t offer too much arch support, we have to give Keen some kudos for putting in effort with this insole.

If you want more arch support, you’ll want some after-market insoles from a company like Superfeet. But, we’re impressed with what Keen created for the Targhee III.


Unlike most hiking boot manufacturers, Keen does not use Vibram rubber. This might seem a bit odd since Vibram rubber is some of the best in the industry. But, Keen uses its proprietary rubber to save its customers some money.

Even though Keen doesn’t use Vibram rubber, the outsole on the Targhee III is still pretty darn good. The rubber compound is surprisingly sticky on a variety of different terrain.

The Targhee III also has some large-sized 4mm multi-directional lugs in the outsole. These lugs give the Targhee III a lot of traction on muddy terrain, which is perfect for on-trail hiking.

sole view of keen targhee iii boots

Waterproof Breathable Membrane

Also, unlike most other boot manufacturers, Keen chooses not to use Gore-Tex in their shoes. Instead, the Targhee III uses KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane.

While KEEN.DRY is not as breathable as Gore-Tex; it is equally as waterproof. Plus, Keen treats its leather outers with a PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent coating). This means that the Targhee III is both waterproof and environmentally-friendly.

Recommended Alternatives

If the Targhee III doesn’t seem like a good hiking boot for your needs, there are plenty of other options.

If you want a budget-friendly, yet supportive backpacking boot, the Vasque St. Elias FG GTX is a solid option. 

If breathability is your main concern, the Merrell Moab 2 is a good choice.

See more recommendations in our buying guide  - Best Hiking Boots – Find the Right Pair for You.  Or check out all our hiking boot in-depth reviews.

The Final Verdict

The Keen Targhee III is a solid mid-top hiking boot.

These boots are durable and excellent for day hikes and short backpacking trips.

Since it’s also quite affordable, the Targhee III is a great value for the money. Its lack of ankle support and breathability is a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, the Targhee III is a great choice for a hiking boot.

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