About ten hours into a three-day trek in the Colorado backcountry this summer, I had to pull off the trail and take my hiking boots off for a minute — just to make sure that a vise hadn’t accidentally made it’s way into my shoe. It was brutal. The aftermath left me short of two pinky toe toenails and my feet riddled with some of the worst blisters I have ever had. Although I’d spent a sufficient amount of time breaking my hiking boots in for the trek, they still let me down, and I spent the remaining two days cursing myself for not wearing my tried and trusted KEEN Targhee hiking boots instead. While my dirty and worn Targhee’s were getting a little outdated, they were still a better boot for the job, which is why shortly after returning home, I invested in a newer version of the popular boot — the Targhee EXP Waterproof Mid. Three years after buying my first Targhee’s, I was pleased to find that the 2017 version had addressed any small qualms I had with its predecessor.
MSRP: $140.00. The Targhee EXP Waterproof Mid comes in both men’s and women’s sizing.
Pros: Perhaps the best pro of KEEN’s Targhee EXP Waterproof Mid, is the arch support. You can feel it immediately when you slip your foot into the sleek boot. The excellent arch support also makes the boot easier and quicker to break in. It only took a few short hikes for my foot and this boot to feel like one. And as an outdoor enthusiast with a klutzy knack for paying the most attention to anything that isn’t the trail, KEEN’s signature toe guard is a major selling point for me. The Targhee is also waterproof and features a polyurethane-coated leather mud shield, which makes the boot a workhorse that will perform all year round. And unlike past versions of this classic boot, the recently-released Targhee is lighter, less clunky, comes in a sleeker design, and sports an all-terrain rubber outsole that proved to be super grippy on loose, rocky trails and wet descents. At $140.00 a pair, these boots are an excellent spend for beginners and seasoned pros alike.
Cons: The only discomfort I’ve experienced in these boots is beneath the tongue. Extra material folds inward underneath the tongue and bunches up against my foot when I have the boots completely laced up. It’s very minor, but the discomfort is noticeable.
Where We Took It: Hiking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness in Colorado.