Keen Targhee IV hiking boot review: a solid performer that's built to last and stands up to most conditions

A mid-range boot that's suitable for all but the most extreme terrain and weather, with a wallet-friendly price

Keen Targhee IV hiking boot
(Image: © Future)

Advnture Verdict

With a host of features designed to make them as durable as possible, the Keen Targhee IVs should last you a decent chunk of time, even if the company’s claim that they’ll be the last boots you ever buy seems a little bit of a stretch. We liked how comfortable they were from the get go, the toe protection and decent waterproofing. They’re not designed for the most extreme conditions, but if you view them as a three season boot and don’t have your heart set on the wildest trails in the worst weather they should see you right.

Pros

  • +

    Minimal breaking in period

  • +

    Excellent heel lock system

  • +

    Good price for a high quality boot

  • +

    PFAS free

  • +

    Delamination guarantee for US customers

Cons

  • -

    Won’t suit people with narrow feet

  • -

    Not suitable for vegans or vegetarians

  • -

    Not enough insulation for extreme cold

  • -

    No delamination guarantee for non-US customers

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 Keen Targhee IV Mid: first impressions

Specifications

• List price:  $164.95 (US), £149.99 (UK) €160 (EU)
• Gender availability:  Men’s & women’s versions
• Weight (per boot):  585g / 1.3lb (Women’s US size 10, UK size 8, EU size 42)
• Materials:  Nubuck leather and 100% recycled performance mesh upper, KEEN.DRY waterproof inner membrane, Luftcell midsole, Luftcell insole, KEEN.RUGGED outsole
Colors (men's): Dark olive & Gold flame / Bison & Black
• Colors (women's): Brindle & Nostalgia Rose / Alloy & Granite Green
• Compatibility: Three-season hiking, trekking and hut to hut adventures. Not the lightest so not suitable for speed hikes

 Keen claims the Targhee IVs are ultra durable and should be ‘the last hiking boots you ever buy’. Without testing them over an actual lifetime, it’s hard to substantiate this claim, but at first glance they absolutely do seem built to last. 

More on that later, but it’s worth noting that these boots are the latest iteration of a very popular Keen model, and therefore come loaded with a certain expectation that they are going to be a winner. So did they actually stack up on test against the best hiking boots

Here’s how they performed: 

 Keen Targhee IV Mid: Waterproofing and protection 

 The Targhee IVs have a proprietary waterproof inner membrane, with a leather and mesh water repellent outer. The semi-bellows tongue means that in theory water shouldn’t be able to penetrate at all below ankle height, as long as they are fitted correctly. On a recent descent from Gowbarrow Fell in the Lake District I got slightly confused as to where the trail was and ended up ankle deep in a bog several times. Given that the gloop was a hair's breadth away from coming over the top of my boot, which is a good inch above where the tongue gusset separates, I was fully expecting to feel some leakage where the tongue met the front of my ankle, but there was nothing. 

I have continued to wear the Targhee IVs in the wettest weather, and waded through plenty of puddles and streams, and they keep me dry every time. Yes, sodden leather is going to get heavy, so I don’t suggest you set out to get them soaking wet if you can avoid it. But if you are caught out by stormy conditions they shouldn’t let you down.

The classic Keen toe bumper does a lot of work shielding you from knocks and bumps and the padded tongue and cuff provide support and protect from scrapes, thorns and twigs.

Keen Targhee IV hiking boot

The outer soles of the Keen Targhee IV mid walking boots feature 4mm multidirectional lugs, which have a decent amount of grip but probably aren't sticky enough for wet rocks (Image credit: Future)

Keen Targhee IV Mid: on the trails

 The Targhee IVs were comfortable almost straight out of the box. I hadn’t had time to attempt to break them in as they arrived just a few days before I was heading to the Lake District for a few days of camping and hiking, and when I first put them on they felt a tiny bit stiff. But after an hour of walking around town stocking up on supplies (and yes, I mean Kendall Mint Cake) I felt confident I could stride out in them and at the end of my first five hour hike I had zero rub points or blisters. Over time they’ve only gotten more and more comfortable.

These are not boots designed for the most extreme trails, but the 4mm multi-directional lugs on the KEEN.RUGGED proprietary outsoles did a good job of keeping me upright in a variety of conditions, including across damp rocks and boggy ground. The soles aren’t the stickiest out there though, so I’d be a little cautious bouncing over really slippery rock (try the Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX instead). The inner and midsoles both use Keen’s Luftcell air-injected padding to protect your foot and add to the bouncy, comfortable feel of these boots.  

I did find myself wanting a bit more stiffness and protection for the ball of my foot than the Targhee IVs’ stability shank seemed to offer. When walking over spiky rocks, I definitely could feel a little discomfort through the sole as it flexed. If they were stiffer this probably wouldn’t happen, but you’d also potentially lose trail feel. It’s a case of you win some, you lose some. 

Keen Targhee IV hiking boot

The heel lock system on the Keen Targhee VIs wraps around the heel and attaches to a webbed loop at the ankle to keep everything secure (Image credit: Future)

 Keen Targhee IV Mid: Fit 

The fit of these boots is one of my favourite things about them. Keen has a reputation for making wide shoes and boots, and that’s definitely the case here. Which means they’re not going to suit everyone. But as someone with wide-ish feet, who often finds standard fit shoes narrow and uncomfortable, the wide toe box on the Targhee IVs feels nothing short of dreamy.

Obviously these are not barefoot shoes, but the ability to spread your toes out and really flex them when you’re walking over rough ground, ascending or descending was something I really appreciated. At someone who’s had several knee surgeries it gave me more confidence in my balance than I usually have.

The Targhee IVs also have an effective heel lock system designed to keep everything firmly in place when you’re out on the trails and I found little to no heel slippage despite wearing them for hours on end over fairly challenging terrain.

Keen Targhee IV hiking boot

When walking over sharper rocks than this there was a little discomfort from the trail feedback (Image credit: Future)

 Keen Targhee IV Mid: Sustainability

Keen has been a PFAS-free brand in 2018. This means the company doesn’t use any ‘forever chemicals’ in its products. Many of the components and materials in the Targhee IVs are recycled - even the laces, and the removable inner sole has been treated with a pesticide-free odor buster. 

Keen created a process it calls KEEN.FUSION to bond the outsole and midsole of the Targhee IVs together - using heat treatment to make the bond rather than glue. The brand says this means the Targhee IVs won’t delaminate over time - that is, the outsole and midsole won’t pull apart. A quick google reveals that this was an issue for some wearers with the Targhee IIIs, and it feels like the brand has gone above and beyond to put paid to this problem. Keen is so confident of this process that it’s offering US customers a delamination guarantee, although it’s not offering the same for UK and EU buyers. The company claims its KEEN.RUGGED outsole is twice as abrasion-resistant as rubber, and it’s used Luftcell for the inner and midsoles because the material is more resistant to compression than EVA over time.

Keen really is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to making the Targhee IVs super durable. And after all, the most sustainable hiking boots are going to be the ones you don’t ever need to replace.

Keen Targhee IV hiking boot

Keen has provided a delamination guarantee for the Targhee IV for US customers, but not elsewhere (Image credit: Future)
Rosee Woodland
Senior Staff Writer

Rosee Woodland developed a taste for adventure at a young age, growing up in a home where camping was the default holiday, and good weather was a vacation bonus rather than a necessity. After bike-packing the length of France in her mid teens with her family, she started to undertake solo forays in her 20s, usually without the benefit of much technical gear at all. Happily, the years she later spent as a mountain biking journalist eventually gave her an appreciation of decent kit! These days she loves a water-based adventure, and is an outdoor swim coach, and a keen free diver. She has a soft spot for Northern Ireland's Mourne mountains, and can also be found hiking and kayaking in Pembrokeshire and the South West of the UK.