I learned the hard way that a good pair of hiking shoes is one of the best purchases you can make if you are going to take your hiking seriously. The first few times I hiked it was in regular cross-trainers and I was pretty convinced by the end of the hikes that I could feel each grain of dirt pass through the sole of my shoe and directly into the part of my soul that hurt.
So I began my Goldilocks like journey though hiking shoes. I’m not great at buying shoes and I’m not very patient and I don’t love shopping so that puts me at an early disadvantage. One pair was too big, one pair was too small and finally I was looking online at KEEN and found something in the middle with the wide version of the Targhee III.
As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I have an affiliate agreement with KEEN and any purchase you make from this website results in me getting a small commission. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with this pair of shoes. This review is for general informational purposes. Your experience with the shoes may be completely different.
Keen Targhee III
According to KEEN the Targhee III is “Our iconic hiking shoe for men brings an updated look to all-terrain adventures.”
As one of their more known styles I thought I would give it a try and see how it felt. One of the things I immediately liked was that it came in a wide fit. I have struggled finding a wider fit hiking shoe so this was exciting to me.
Here are some of the specs on the shoe provided by KEEN before I tell you my thoughts.
7 – 17 (US sizing according to their website)
Waterproof, leather and performance mesh.
KEEN All-Terrain Rubber outsole for higher traction grip
6 – Bungee Cord/Black, Black Olive/Golden Brown, Steel Grey/Captain’s Blue, Chestnut/Mulch, Mulch/Sunflower, Black/Olive Drab
*All spec information from KEEN.com
What I liked
The first thing that I noticed about the KEEN Targhee III was how comfortable right out of the box. I have heard horror stories about people trying to hike with new hiking shoes that weren’t broken in yet.
For me, it was two walks around the neighborhood park to test them out and then I took them on 3 shorter (under 8 mile) hikes in some pretty rocky terrain and I had no problems at all with foot pain. After that they were my every hike shoes, including up to 13 miles and one 13,000 foot peak, and I haven’t had a problem at all.
The next thing that I really enjoyed was the fit of the wide shoe. I mentioned it earlier but it is really hard for me to find hiking shoes that fit right. The first pair I got I had to get a full size too big to fit the width of my foot which obviously can cause other problems.
The second pair fit will length wise but I have a callous on the little toe of each foot because they were so tight in the width.
Third pair lucky though and the Traghee III fit just right with the wider base. I was concerned as well because I bought them online. KEEN luckily has a fit guide for their online store which helped make sure that I got a good fit and it was accurate.
In my opinion the most important part of a hiking shoe is about how well it keeps you on the trail. This can be more or less important depending on what type of trails you hike but in Colorado with a lot of rocky surfaces the grip becomes very important.
On a slip scale of: Oh, HOLY COW, NO NO NO, Woah, Not Bad, I Got This, No Worries
For flat ground that is a little damp or muddy: No Worries
For loose dirt: No Worries
For walking across rock boulders: No Worries
For declining down a flat rock: Not Bad
Overall the grip is very nice. I was really impressed with the grip on standard ground and dirt trails and they did really well on loose dirt and scree. It also held its grip better than a pair of Merrell’s I have when they are damp. I found the Merrell’s get a little slick after I have stepped in some water where as the KEEN still held their grip.
When standing on a rock on a decline there was a little slide but the grip didn’t completely give way.
The next most important function of a shoe for me is how well it protects my feet from the small little rocks (scree). It is amazing how a small rock can feel like a dagger digging all the way to the bone in the wrong pair of shoes.
While there is no shoe that can make walking on rocks feel like walking on pillows the KEEN’s do have some really nice protection. The bottom of the shoe has a series of rubber pads that help with both traction and the padding. Smaller rocks seem to get absorbed.
Now a large sharp rock still is enough to make me cry but I think only a steel plate and me watching where I am going is going to stop that.
While I haven’t been able to hike in a rain storm with these shoes I have hiked on a damp day where I am pretty sure I was hiking through a cloud. My socks and feet were completely dry in that situation. I have also had to step onto some really small streams and also there was no water penetration.
So the next test I did was standing in a stream for about a minute and a half. Again no water made it through the shoe. Of course I was careful enough to use a stream that was low enough that it did not overflow the shoe.
And if you don’t believe I would stand in a stream, here is a picture of it. Unfortunately the water is so clear you can barely tell I’m in water but you can see a leaf floating by!
What I didn’t Like
While the foot portion of the shoe was nice and loose and didn’t need much to break in, the top of the shoe near the ankle is a bit stiff. Now this issue is a little two fold. The problem I have is that I struggle getting a tight enough tie at the top of the shoe because of the stiffness.
My guess is that it is designed to be stiffer at the top to provide better ankle support but without being able to get a really firm tie I feel that my ankles have a little bit of room that could lead to some pain.
Part of the problem could be that I have thick ankles, I am the Fatman hiker after all, but I haven’t had that issue with the other two pair of shoes I have gotten. I have also only had the shoes for about a month so there is a chance that the top will loosen up.
I also got the lower cut shoe instead of a high top which could also make a big difference on the ankle support so I would suggest trying on both pair if you have the chance and check and see what works best for you.
Overall I really like this pair of shoes. The wide cut really was difference maker for me. There is nothing worse than having foot pain when you hike. The rubber sole does a good job of protecting from small rocks while still giving enough traction to hold on to the trail in most situations.
Here is my last and possibly most telling story about these shoes. I always keep a pair of sandals or old comfy gym shoes in the car to change into after a hike just so I can take the hikers off. My last 4 hikes I have kept these KEEN’s on for the stop at lunch and the entire drive home. Now that’s saying something.
If you have any products you would like me to review or any comments you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!