KEEN Targhee II Mid Hiking Boot

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KEEN Targhee II Mid Hiking Boot Review Facts

Heading out to the mountains or trails to disconnect and enjoy being outdoors is a great opportunity. In order to do this, though, it requires the proper equipment, specifically a good hiking boot. A hiking boot and a hiking shoe typically differ in that one has a higher back. A hiking boot will usually go about an inch or two above the ankle as opposed to a shoe which will either stop at the ankle or only cover it slightly. A proper boot will have several features including better traction than a typical boot or shoe. This is because the hiker will need to be able to grip on rocks and muddy trails while at an incline or decline. Good traction will help the individual wearing them stay safe as well as get through their journey easier. They should also have a good arch support, this comes from the midsole, insole, and the footbed. The insole and the foot-bed should have proper function to keep the heel in place and not allow it to slide even when sweaty. The product should also be able to breathe easily so that feet don’t get too sweaty but should also have proper waterproofing so that they don’t get wet when in more humid or high moisture areas. Though it is not necessarily required, a nice add-on is having an anti-microbial insole included which will help keep bacteria and smell down.

This article is a comprehensive review of the Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boot. Keen is an American footwear company that started in Portland Oregon in 2003 by Martin Keen. Keen started the company with the invention of the ‘toe bumper’ which is the protective coating around the toe typically found in work wear shoes. Keen used the toe bumper on sandals to offer a sandal with better protection for the toe while still having a casual shoe. The company also has deep-rooted philanthropic endeavors which are quite evident when you peruse through their website. The company has since grown quite rapidly, moving their entire company headquarters to California (though keeping manufacturing in Portland). Reputation-wise, the company is known for being reliable and innovative. They offer a 30-day return policy as long as the shoe is still in acceptable condition. They offer a 1-year warranty against all manufacturer or material defects. The product needs to be purchased through a Keen authorized retailer though. The warranty does have some limitations though and this is any damage done by the purchaser. The website has the claim process under their warranty tab. The Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boot from Keen is a highly rated product, this is our analysis based on user ratings and reviews.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Easy warranty replacement
  • Company has good customer service 
  • Very comfortable 
  • Good waterproofing 
Cons
  • Poor construction (issues with the glue not sticking, eyelits breaking immediately, stitching coming apart, etc.) 
  • Symmetry seems to be an issue (one shoe being a different size than the other, even with them both being the same size of shoe and lines not matching between shoes) 
  • Soles of the shoes seem to fall apart very easily 
  • Need to be broken in

Breathability

This product has a Nubuck leather and mesh upper which helps encourage airflow through the shoe to keep the feet both cool and dry. The mesh of the shoe is a hydrophobic mesh, which means it allows air to pass through but not water. This is a common issue with cheaper shoes, which is that the waterproofing usually stops the airflow. Hydrophobic technology has amended this issue by creating a positive airflow and negative moisture technology. This helps the hiker avoid blisters, calluses and slippery feet. Additionally, keeping feet cool and dry will stop odor build up, adding to the overall life of the boot. Reviewers did confirm that this product despite its, what it appears to be as shoddy craftsmanship, has good breathability and fewer issues with overheated feet. Hikes are therefore extended as a result of this.

Comfort

The comfort of this product is the highest rated aspect. All of Keen's products seem to be extremely comfortable, offering a much more enjoyable experience with the shoe (and of course, longer hiking times). They offer a ghillie lacing system which offers a tighter and more secure hold from toe to lower calve. The product has an easy-on heel pull which offers a snugger fit on the heel. A snug fit on the heel is beneficial because it will keep the heel in place, allowing for better movement of the foot, less sliding and therefore fewer blisters. The tongue of this product is padded, along with the collar of the shoe which is also padded which helps with the overall comfort of the shoe. The shoe is also waterproof and has great breathability (discussed above and below) which offers a more comfortable experience when out on the trails. Reviewers all confirmed, that despite some issues with the craftsmanship, that this product was quite comfortable.

Waterproofing

Keen uses their own 'KEEN.DRY' technology which is a waterproofing that is supposed to be able to withstand movement across a river. Those who took the time to review this controversial shoe did say that the shoe stays dry no matter the condition they were traveling in. Keep in mind, though, that even if traveling across deeper waters, the shoes opening (where the foot enters the boot) will fill with water. This product is a hiking boot first and foremost and not a water shoe. The product is made with Nubuck leather which absorbs water and dries faster. That said, Nubuck leather has been known in the past to stain with water damage. This would only affect the aesthetic of the shoe and not so much affect the waterproofing of it. The hydrophobic mesh, mentions above, that helps with the breathability of the shoe would also keep the shoe dry especially from sweat. Overall, the waterproofing of the shoe is rated quite highly with reviewers.

Upper

The upper on this product is made of Nubuck leather and mesh. Nubuck leather is a lighter and softer leather. The biggest benefit of it is its durability and its quick dry abilities. It also won't weigh down the shoe which tends to be an issue with cheaper models of shoes. The hydrophobic mesh, as mentioned above, overs a better breathability and therefore dryer feet when out on the trails. The leather is durable and therefore can handle when something scuffs it up (no worries about quick deterioration of material as a result). The toe of the product is made of an extra thick rubber material that will protect the toes from any stubs that may result from rocks or fallen trees. The company, KEEN, is known for their patented rubberized toe (it is the foundation of how the company was started). There weren't many comments on the upper of the shoe.

Sole

The biggest complaint about this shoe is how quickly the sole of the shoe deteriorated. Many people who bought the later generations of this shoe (from when the plant was moved to China) complained that within days they had the rubber coming off of the upper of the shoe and having to re-glue it themselves. According to the manufacturer's website, the sole is made of a non-marking material (meaning it will not scuff the floor if dragging occurs). The sole is supposed to be "aggressive" and bite terrain. The traction is reviewed later in this article but those who did not have glue issues also notice that the sole deteriorates within months and isn't made of quality materials. The wear on these shoes (especially considering the price) is very high (and happens quickly). Though the company is quite to fix the issue, this isn't a pair by pair basis. There were A LOT of comments about the poor craftsmanship of the sole especially considering the upper is crafted quite well.

Footbed

The foot-bed of this product is removable. It is anatomically engineered for better arch support and is supposed to naturally cradle the foot. The arch support of the product is made of a molded-EVA which is pretty standard in shoes. The top shoes use molded EVA because this type of design is not only a flexible but firm fit but also offers better hold and support. The foot-bed of this product is made of quality materials and there weren't many complaints specifically about the foot-bed itself. The overall comfort of the shoe seemed to be its one redeeming quality. The website does say to go up a size and a half, to a size larger as the product does fit quite small. Luckily, even with larger and wider feet, this particular shoe is very comfortable. Just note what size is needed and more than likely size up to ensure that they actually fit the feet. Also note, the foot-bed takes some time to break in.

Traction

This product has pretty decent traction. The website uses the word 'aggressive' quite frequently when describing the traction on this shoe. It is supposed to be able to withstand all sorts of elements including rivers. The traction of this product is also described as 'sticky' according to some reviewers. Luckily, despite the poor quality of the soles of this product, the traction is still evident. The only issue is as the sole deteriorates so does the level of traction the product provides. This shoe may be a god-sent earlier on but it sounds like over time the entire sole just breaks down or literally falls off, which would not help the longevity of the traction unfortunately. Many said that the length of the hike would not be able to be very long as a result of the sole of the shoe. The smell of the rubber used to enhance the traction of this product is also quite 'smelly' or odorous according to reviewers. This would obviously be an issue for those with scent sensitives.

Style

The style of these shoes is somewhere in the middle of sporty and stylish. They definitely aren't an overly attractive shoe but they do look like a hiking boot. The person wearing them wouldn't feel out of place on trails or mountains, however, may feel a little oddly dressed if wearing them in a more urban setting. They look very much like a standard hiking boot. The design is clean and simple. The majority of its surface is covered with NuBuck leather, which mentioned above, can incur minor staining due to condensation or moisture which would ultimately only affect the aesthetic of the shoe. In between the leather, there is a mesh material underneath which doesn't necessarily look attractive but does help with the breathability of the shoe. It is also offered in a couple different colors in both men's and women's variations. Overall, there isn't much special about these shoes. They aren't ugly but they also aren't very fashionable.

Price

This is a tough one. The shoe itself is more expensive than cheap hikers that you may find at retail stores. They definitely are not expensive though. The issue is that the sole of the shoe shouldn't be just falling off on people. With the rapidly deteriorating sole of this product, as well, the price may not justify the quality of the shoe. The shoes come with a one-year warranty which is hopeful because that at least means they can be replaced again and again until the manufacturer updates the design of the shoe to help with the sole issues. The shoe itself is quite comfortable and if they are not being used in more intensive situations there is a chance that they will actually last a long time. The one saving grace is that there is a 30-day return policy as well. The shoes are comfortable, they are almost entirely waterproof and are quite breathable. Yes, they aren't super fashionable but overall, the price isn't that absurd. It just depends on how frequently they have to be returned.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this product is a little worrisome. They seem to have very equally divided reviews. It seems like the original product, when it was made in the US was a good quality and reliable product but it sounds like when they became 'imported' as the website states, the quality of the shoes went down. Even the sizing is an issue, in that some people found that one shoe, of the same size as the other shoe, was a completely different size (as far as fit goes). The lines are also not matching up, as in the shoes are also not designed symmetrically. Overall, though the comfort is supposed to be superior we aren't sure if we should recommend this shoe. It sounds like until the manufacturer can adjust the tread/sole issue, the shoe may be a bit of a waste of money. One strong point is that KEEN is supposed to have an excellent customer service team available to amend any issues. Though reviewers are saying that they are completely done with the company, they shouldn't be written off just yet. This seems to be one issue, but hopefully it gets sorted and they can go back to making superior products.