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Review: Keen Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Keen Targhee Hiking Shoes

Exceptionally grippy and highly protective waterproof leather hiking shoes

Re-designed in 2020, the Keen Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes are as popular as ever in the hiking community. Featuring Keen’s classic beefy bumpers, these leather shoes are super comfortable and a highly reliable companion on all but the most challenging terrain.

Keen Targhee III Hiking Shoes: The stats

Best for:Backpacking and day hikes in the shoulder seasons
Weight:25.9oz / 743g per pair UK 4.5
Waterproof:Yes – KEEN.Dry
Uppers:Waterproof, leather and performance mesh upper
Outsole:KEEN All-Terrain rubber
Eco-conscious:PFC-free, eco anti-odour, reduced chemical use in leather tanning process

Features of the Keen Targhee III Hiking Shoes


Sole of shoeWith 4mm deep lugs that have a multi-directional tread pattern, the outsoles provide superb traction and grip on even steep and challenging terrain. The super grippy KEEN All-Terrain rubber also helps with this.


Shoe insoleThe insoles are removable and form good arch support. They are also, rather cleverly, good at not getting too stinky! This is thanks to the probiotic technology that they are treated with: Eco Anti-odour. This is free from chemicals and heavy metals and naturally breaks down odour and sweat to keep your feet (and shoes) smelling fresh.


Side of shoeThe uppers are made from leather that is sourced from an LWG-certified tannery. This means that it is environmentally preferable compared with regular leather. The leather is also treated with a PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent) coating. Internally, the uppers are lined with KEEN.Dry which is a waterproof and breathable membrane that performs in a similar way to Gore-Tex.


Heel of shoeThe footbed provides excellent arch support via an internal support mechanism. This is designed to cradle the natural contours of the foot.

There’s also ample padding around the ankle to provide comfort, though nothing out of the ordinary in terms of plushness.


Hiking shoe lacesGhillie-style laces sit on the outside of the shoes, rather than looping through and into the uppers. This means that each loop can be tightened individually right down to the toes. Additionally, the top lace pulls in the webbing from around the ankle.

Toe box

Keen shoe bumperThe toe box is wide and comfortable providing loads of internal space for your toes to splay. This is also good for those with wide forefeet. The toe box is protected by the unmissable Keen bumper.

Keen Targhee III Hiking Shoes review

Believe it or not, the iconic and classic Keen Targhee Hiking Shoes turn 15 this year. They were the first proper hiking shoes I ever owned, bought in 2005 when they’d just been released (not that I knew that at the time!). I was travelling in New Zealand and desperately needed something rugged and robust that I could live in. But also something that felt mega comfy and looked good too. When I first saw them it was love at first sight! They were really unique looking at the time. And they ticked all the right boxes from a practicality point of view.

Unfortunately, a few years into my love affair with my first Targhee’s, we had to part ways. We’d spent a romantic evening by a campfire (my Targhee’s and I), and things literally got a little too steamy. I put my Targhee clad feet too close to the fire and managed to melt the sides of one of them. The big old bumpers protected my toes from the flames wonderfully. Too well, perhaps, as I couldn’t feel the heat from the fire!

Since then I’ve been in and out of casual relationships with other hiking shoes, and even flirted with another model of Keens for a while, the Explores. But now that I’m back in the updated and improved version of these Keen classics I feel like order has been restored. Hopefully this time I can make it work for the long haul. So far, things are looking promising!

Woman walking near a cave

Fit and comfort

After a summer of wearing mostly zero-drop trainers to run and walk in, or no shoes at all, my first few jaunt wearing the Targhees felt somewhat constricting. My arches started to cramp with all the support that they were not used to getting! That has now eased since my feet are getting more used to being supported again.

Aside from that, the shoes felt immediately comfortable with no rubbing or hot spots and have continued to feel great the more I wear them.

I would say that they run big for their size. I usually wear a 4.5 (UK women’s) which tend to feel snug. However, the Keen 4.5’s don’t feel snug at all. I could even go down to a size 4. Despite this, the shoes have remained comfortable. The laces draw in the shoes tightly in seemingly all the right places. On the down hills I feel a little movement forwards in the shoes. But this is minimal and also surprising considering how spacious they feel lengthways.

Hiking shoes on steep terrain

Grip and stability

As the Targhees are not especially lightweight when it comes to hiking shoes, they actually provide decent stability at the ankles, despite their low cut. The chunky soles and midsoles really help with this. As does the heel-capture system which has TPU injected into it for greater stability.

I think the grip is excellent. Though the lugs are relatively average in terms of depth, their multi-directional placement makes them feel more aggressive than they are. The super grippy KEEN All-Terrain rubber also helps with this. I feel especially confident on loose and rocky downhills when it’s wet.


As expected, the big old Targhee bumpers make me feel a little bit invincible when stomping along rocky trails. They’re just brilliant and I’m very happy that Keen have retained this feature in the updated design.

Keen Tarhee shoes


The leather uppers, combined with the KEEN.Dry membrane, offer excellent waterproofness that hasn’t let me down so far.


Unfortunately, I’m struggling a little with the aesthetics of this new design. My old ones made my feet feel tiny and compact, in a positive way. These make me feel like I’m wearing boats, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Perhaps because the sizing is a little off? The result is that I’m not dying to wear them in non-hiking / outdoorsy scenarios, nor with non-outdoorsy clothing.

Vanity aside, they do offer good versatility, performance-wise. They’re comfortable and robust enough for multi-day hikes, lightweight enough for day walks and protective enough for tackling challenging terrain in wet conditions. I’m a big fan of wearing trainers or lightweight hiking shoes in the summer months and found these a little on the heavy side for my summer hiking preferences. But in the shoulder seasons or in drier, more moderate winter conditions, they’re ideal.

Keen shoes by the sea

What I love the most about the Keen Targhee III Hiking Shoes

I love how protected and comfortable my feet feel in them. The grip is also a stand-out point for me.

What I don’t love so much about the Keen Targhee III Hiking Shoes

The looks! I’m not afraid to say that the looks of my outdoor gear is important to me. I really want to feel good in it and unfortunately I don’t feel like I’d happily wear these to the pub, out of choice.

They also come up big from a sizing point of view.


Though lacking the style of previous versions, and with some sizing discrepancies, the Keen Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes are better than ever in terms of performance and comfort. With excellent protection and stability, and reliable waterproofness, the latest version of these classics are well worth stepping into.

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Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

Joey Holmes

Joey Holmes
Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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