How Good Are Keen Hiking Boots? A Trailblazer’s Companion

Finishing a walk or hike with feet that still feel great is the job of hiking boots. However, achieving this requires making the right selection. Hence, prior to delving into your next pair of hiking footwear, it’s essential to ask yourself three crucial questions: 1. What is my objective? 2. What will the weather be like? 3. What is the terrain like? Once you have considered these factors, you can search for the shoes or boots that possess the essential features and qualities that matter most to you, such as support, material, and comfort. This is precisely where Keen hiking boots emerge as a trailblazer’s companion, showcasing the exceptional qualities that set them apart from the rest.

Keen hiking boots

Since the demands for Keen hiking boots are surreal. This has given us the opportunity to test each one of these out in the field on multiple trips. We thought it would be a good chance to go through and break down our personal preferences, as well as discuss the pros and cons of each model of footwear and share our thoughts on them.

What Prices to Expect from KEEN Hiking Boots

Over the past 2-3 years, prices of hiking boots among big brands have unexpectedly skyrocketed by $30-40. However, even amidst these price increases, there is one brand that we continue to wholeheartedly recommend to hikers on a budget: KEEN. Not only do they offer hiking boots of great quality, but they have managed to maintain their affordability as well.

Our Picks in Keen Hiking Boots

Hiking Boot for Every Terrain: Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots

Keen Hiking Boots For Women: Targhee III

Top Pick to Tackle Cold Weather Conditions: KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots

Best for Day Hikers: KEEN Men’s Voyageur Low Height Breathable Hiking Shoes

The Choice for Kids: KEEN Unisex-Child Targhee Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots

Keen Targhee III Hiking Boots (For Every Terrain)

Our first selection, and perhaps the finest on our list, is the Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots, available for both men and women. What we absolutely love about this hiking boot is its versatility and durability. We have thoroughly tested it in a variety of challenging conditions, including muddy, rainy, snowy, and rocky terrains. Regardless of the obstacles we encountered, be it roots, rocks, or any other obstacles, this boot proved its worth. Its performance has consistently exceeded our expectations.

Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots

Durability Test

Even after three to four years of extensive use, the tread on this boot remains in excellent condition. We have taken it on numerous backpacking trips, relying on its reliability and resilience. Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots have consistently proven to be a dependable and long-lasting choice for avid hikers.

Water Resistance Test

So another thing we really enjoy about hiking boots is their water-resistant capability. This boot is equipped with a Gore-Tex lining on the top, effectively preventing water from seeping through the mesh areas. Moreover, its high support feature effectively prevents water from spilling over the top. So, if you’re doing something like a small creek crossing or stepping in puddles, it definitely does a good job of preventing water from spilling over the top.


Our next point is stability or ankle support. This hiking boot does have higher ankle padding, and you’re also able to tie it off up high to get it nice and tight around your ankle. So, if you are somebody who has ankle issues or has had ankle injuries in the past, this is definitely a good option for you. The last thing you want is to run into rolling or twisting your ankle again and re-aggravating an injury while you’re out in the backcountry. Having that extra support and stability is truly invaluable during a backpacking trip.

Performance in Cold Weather

hiking boots for cold weather

The Keen Targhee 3 hiking boot is a great option when it comes to cold weather or winter backpacking. The extra padding that the boot has, especially around the ankle, does a great job of insulating your feet and keeping them warm when the temperatures plummet. The tread on the bottom also does a great job of giving you that added traction you might need when it starts getting snowy or when you’re hiking on ice. So, if you’re hiking on an uphill or downhill with lots of snow, the tread does a great job of providing you with some extra traction.


We found these shoes to be slightly uncomfortable at first but you’ll definitely break into them after a while.

KEEN Targhee 3 Hiking Boot For Women

After numerous trials and feedback, we highly recommend the Women’s version: Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boot. This exceptional boot offers a hardwearing design and stable construction, providing outstanding support and protection.

Overview of Targhee III Boot for Women

Targhee III Boot for Women

The boot incorporates cleats on the back, further enhancing its non-slip properties. The design maximizes surface area, ensuring that you make solid contact with the ground, preventing slips and falls. It strikes a balance between hardness and softness, so it won’t damage the granules on your shingles while still providing an effective grip.

Bringing together the best qualities of traditional boots with the innovation of modern trail runners, these shoes offer durability, versatility, and reliable traction with deep lugs designed to grip challenging or technical trails with every step. Additionally, the reinforced toe provides extra protection against rocks and other obstacles encountered on the trail.

The thing which is most impressive about this Keen hiking boot is its focus on comfort. The boot is available in wide, narrow, and regular widths, ensuring a perfect fit for every hiker. Unlike other streamlined boots, it features a tall and stiff collar, which offers noticeable ankle support. This added support enhances stability and reduces the risk of injuries during demanding hikes.

KEEN Men’s Hiking Boots: Targhee 2 Mid-Height (For Cold weather)

When it comes to braving cold weather conditions, the key factors to look for are insulation and traction, and the KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots deliver on this front.

They are completely waterproof, so you can confidently navigate wet and snowy conditions without worrying about moisture seeping in.

KEEN Men's Targhee 2 Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots

Sole Design

We loved its exceptional sole design. The ice-lock hyper-grip sole is engineered to provide superior traction, allowing you to walk, hike, and climb with confidence. The uniform treads and rubberized non-skid soles ensure a firm grip on various surfaces, even in icy or slick conditions.


Talking about their traction capabilities, the Keen Targhee II Boot also offers excellent insulation. The shearling insoles provide extra warmth and keep your feet cozy during cold weather. This feature is beneficial for everyone who spends extended periods of time outdoors or engages in winter activities.


Due to the additional padding and durability, this boot is a bit heavier for some users. They claim that it drains the lower body due to having to lug around the extra weight.

KEEN Targhee Vent (Top Pick for Day Hikers)

The KEEN Targhee Vent boots are a highly recommended choice for day hikers and lightweight backpackers seeking comfort and reliability on maintained trails. The model is relatively lightweight, tipping the scales at around two pounds, and offers exceptional waterproofing capabilities.

What makes the Targhee Vent so appealing is its remarkable performance on the track, coupled with its reasonable price tag. Additionally, the inclusion of Merrell’s in-house waterproof membrane offers peace of mind when encountering wet conditions on the trail.

Attesting to their exceptional comfort and durability these hardy hiking shoes feature deep lugs that’ll grip onto any terrain, a reinforced toe, and breathable Gore-Tex to keep your feet nice and dry. Remarkably, KEEN Targhee Vent Boot has earned a reputation as the best-scrambling shoe currently available in the market. You can definitely consider it.

KEEN Targhee Vent

KEEN Unisex-Child Targhee Mid Height Boot (For Kids)

We Usually don’t recommend hiking boots for kids as they are super heavy, which can hinder their movements. Prioritizing keeping individuals light on their feet, agile, and breathable is our main focus. We examine whether we can see light shining through the sides, indicating a well-ventilated and airy design.

Kids always seem to step deeper into streams than adults, resulting in water getting inside the shoes. Unfortunately, when water manages to penetrate a supposedly waterproof shoe, it takes ages to dry out. After carefully considering the aforementioned factors, we have identified the best option among kids’ hiking boots, and the chosen boot is also from the Keen brand.

KEEN Unisex-Child Targhee Mid Height

Why it’s great

Our preferred KEEN Unisex-Child Targhee boots for kids possess several advantages. First and foremost, they are lightweight, ensuring ease of movement. They also dry quickly, allowing us to avoid prolonged discomfort caused by wet feet. Furthermore, these shoes boast excellent tread on the bottom, enhancing traction and stability. Finally, our kids appreciate the easy tie system, which is both convenient and optional. Gone are the days of struggling with tangled laces or resorting to heavy hiking boots. Our chosen keen hiking boots strike the perfect balance between functionality and comfort, ensuring our children are well-equipped for their backpacking adventures.

Typical Challenges Encountered with Hiking Boots

The common issue day hiker reports with keen hiking boots or other hiking boots is that they dry very slowly. For instance, during a trip to Pictured Rocks, these boots took about two and a half to three days to completely dry out. It felt like forever! We even tried putting hot rocks inside them and drying them out in the sun. However, the problem is that there is so much fabric and material on these boots that it takes a considerable amount of time to dry them out. Additionally, there is no way to access the inside of the boot to dry it properly. Unfortunately, if they do get wet, it takes a while to dry them out.

Also, there is the break-in period when it comes to hiking boots. It’s essential to dedicate ample time to break in these boots and allow your feet to adjust to them. This step is crucial to avoid getting blisters or experiencing any foot problems while on the trail.

Keen Hiking Shoes (Alternative to Boots)

An alternative to hiking boots that we’ve been recommending for a few years is a KEEN Men’s Voyageur Low Height Breathable Hiking Shoes suitable for both men & women. So far, we’ve been quite satisfied with it. There are several aspects that we particularly appreciate about these hiking shoes. Firstly, the durability is impressive. The tread on the shoe is thick, providing excellent traction on the trails during my hikes. The toe area is constructed from a sturdy material, offering reliable protection when encountering stumps, roots, or rocks. We all tend to accidentally kick them, but Voyageur shoes do a remarkable job of safeguarding our feet. The padding on these shoes is solid. While not as thick as that hiking boots, it still ensures my feet remain comfortable during long hikes.

KEEN Men's Voyageur Low Height Breathable Hiking Shoes

KEEN Men’s Voyageur comes in at about 16.2 ounces, we believe, which is significantly lighter than Keen’s hiking boots. We can really tell the difference when we finish hiking for a day, maybe 10 miles, for instance. We notice that the lower body, especially the feet, are just not as sore and tired when using these, as opposed to keen hiking boots. Moreover, Some users even find this pair suitable for everyday use as regular work shoes. We found it ideal for tackling long-distance trails, be it in mountainous regions or arid deserts. So, for those reasons, we really enjoy these hiking shoes.

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A couple of downfalls that we do have with it are the lack of ankle support. If you are somebody who has had ankle injuries or issues in the past, this might not be the best solution for you. There’s not nearly the ankle support that the hiking boot will provide you.

Another issue with that lack of ankle support is that you don’t have as much protection when it comes to water. So, if you do happen to be hiking in a small creek crossing or stream crossing where the water is high enough to go over the edge here, you are going to get water flowing into your shoe a lot easier than you would with a hiking boot that has a much higher ankle.

How long does it take to break in hiking boots?

Breaking in hiking boots is an important process to ensure comfort and prevent blisters or discomfort on the trail. While there is no guaranteed quick method, there are steps you can follow to expedite the process. Here’s a guide on how to break in your keen hiking boots or other boots quickly:

  1. Wear your boots around the house: Start by wearing your new boots at home with the insoles and socks you plan to use during hiking. This allows your feet to get accustomed to the boots’ fit and helps identify any immediate discomfort or pressure points.
  2. Walk around town: Once you’ve worn the boots at home for some time, take them out for short walks around town or run errands. Walking on pavement will provide a stiffer environment for your boots and give you a sense of how they feel in real-world conditions.
  3. Gradually increase activity: When you’re ready to hit the trail, start with easy hikes to allow your boots to adapt to the rugged terrain gradually. Pay attention to any discomfort or pinching in the toe box or ankle areas. Consider using specific lacing techniques to alleviate these issues.
  4. Plan according to your hiking goals: If you have long-term hiking plans, such as multi-day climbs or carrying heavy loads, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your hikes. This approach helps your boots and feet adjust to the demands they will face during your intended activities.
  5. Seek professional assistance if needed: If you experience persistent discomfort or issues with your boots, consider visiting a fitness footwear specialist. They can offer expert advice and recommend appropriate solutions, such as using boot stretchers or possibly suggesting a different pair of boots.


Remember, the key to breaking in hiking boots quickly is to gradually increase the intensity of your hikes while paying attention to any discomfort. Rushing the process or resorting to quick fixes can lead to unnecessary pain and foot problems. Take your time, follow these steps, and prioritize your comfort and safety on the trail.

Why do We think Keen Hiking Boots or Shoes Should Be Your First Choice?

As we are not associated with the Keen brand, we have independently reviewed all the footwear based on personal experience and user reviews. After comparing with a vast variety of boots, we have found that Keen hiking boots are typically made to be rugged, durable, and provide extra stability for ankle support. They are constructed in a way that allows them to keep off and wick away moisture, mud, snow, and any other elements you might encounter on the trail. But it doesn’t stop there. The boots also have lugs on the bottom, which are great for shedding mud and providing more traction. The tip is going to be waterproof to keep you dry. All these features can really set you up for success on the trail.

Taking care of your hiking boots

A worn-out pair of hiking boots can turn a camping trip into a miserable experience. Therefore, here are some tips to help you maintain your hiking boots and prevent further misery.

Always clean your boots after every hike. If you have leather hiking boots, apply a leather treatment like Nikwax every once in a while to keep them waterproof and prevent cracking and drying out. Speaking of drying, never dry your wet boots by the campfire. The heat will damage the soles and weaken the glue that holds them together. To dry them out, simply remove the insoles and stuff your boots with newspaper.

If you need to clean the inside of your boots, it is acceptable to rinse them with water. This will eliminate salt deposits from your body’s sweat, which can cause odors and degradation. Allow the boots to dry naturally after rinsing.

Furthermore, if your boots emanate an unpleasant odor, consider adding a small amount of baking soda or, in more severe cases, a full stick of deodorant to mitigate the issue.

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