Go Hike

KEEN Evolved: The Targhee EXP Waterproof Mid Hiking Boot

posted by gumptiongear September 12, 2017 0 comments

A staple on trails across the continent, the KEEN Targhee first became famous over a decade ago. Acclaimed for its fit, durability and impressive comfort, the Targhee has won over legions of loyal fans. Now, the brand continues the tradition with the Targhee EXP. With a bold new design, this update is tough, lean, and ready for whatever adventure comes your way.

On Performance and Design…
It’s impossible to tell the story of the new Targhee EXP without expounding upon, and extolling the virtues of its rugged nature. The Targhee EXP (available in men’s and women’s) takes all the attributes of the original trail legend and fuses it with a bolder and grittier design. You’ll find no fluff and fuss here. The latest evolution of the classic Targhee was designed to be brash, bold, rugged and refined. And, of course, these boots manage to do so in a way that is still uniquely KEEN through and through.  

Of course choosing the right hiking boots is a matchmaking process. Your dream hiking boots need to sync with how and where you hike. Before you tie the knot, though, you also have to be sure they’re a perfect fit. For those familiar with the brand, your feet always recognize the comfortable and supportive ride of KEEN shoes – and it was that comfortable fit which largely drove the popularity of the original Targhee. Today the Targhee EXP takes that renowned fit and puts it in a adventurous new package.

Designed to deliver impressive performance on a diverse range of terrains, the Targhee EXP features a molded TPU midsole and TPU midfoot stabilizer, which are designed to cushion your feet on rough trails and provide reliability stability to save your ankles. Equipped with new, advanced forefoot flex grooves, the EXP produces an enhanced, natural toe spring, for greater flex efficiency and effortless acceleration that is sure to take you places this season. All while the classic lace-up design lets you find the perfect snug and supportive fit.

We all know that a hiking boot isn’t a hiking boot if it doesn’t grip, grab and bite into the earth below. On that point and in the interest of full disclosure, we haven’t shied away from voicing our qualms with some of Keen’s outsoles in the past. While the outsoles have always been durable, our adventure terrain and the KEEN outsoles weren’t always necessarily sympatico. That being said, the outsole of the Targhee EXP is engineered for mountain domination and has impressed us every step of the way. The all-terrain rubber outsole is armed with 4mm multi-directional trail-specific lugs that ensure outstanding traction, push-off, and braking for when the ground gets shaky and unpredictable.

Once that tread helps you climb a few hundred feet on the elevation chart and erratic weather threatens to change at the drop of a hat, the built-in protective toe bumper and leather mudguards come in handy when you have to frantically scramble back down over loose scree in search of safer ground. They also protect your feet and boots from the standard abuse that gets dished out like candy in places like California’s Desolation Wilderness.

This stands in stark contrast to the movement afoot in the outdoor industry to craft more street-saavy styled hikers. Admittedly that crossover styling has appeal, but it also means that anytime you step on the trail you risk distressing your fancy full-grain leather uppers. Which is one of the reasons we love the new Targhee EXPs – unlike some other hikers, these boots are ready and willing to take a serious beating and never flinch in the process.

When the rain comes (and it will), and the stream crossings get sketchy, you can trust the KEEN.Dry® waterproof, breathable membrane to protect you from the soggy conditions that are part of life on the trail. And while it keeps Mother Nature’s wet stuff out of your boots, it allows moisture vapor out so that your feet stay dry and comfortable mile after mile.

Notes from the Trail…
We didn’t hold back any punches when putting the new Targhee EXP’s through the paces. From backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada, to long slogs through Lassen Volcanic National Park, and scrambles up Fire Lookouts above Lake Tahoe, our test team definitely put in the work on these mountain kicks.

And while they’ve impressed us with their grit and stamina, the flipside to the impressive durability is minor weight penalty. In an era where hiking boots continue to become lighter, faster and more agile, the hulky 2lb 4.6oz weight of the EXP’s was definitely a feature that weighed on the minds of our test team. That being said, what’s true is that the combination of durability and performance promises that these boots won’t quit until you do.

Bottom Line…
Bold adventures deserve boots that are up to the task – and the new Targhee EXP is up to the challenge with a brazen build that is uniquely KEEN.  If you want optimal performance across the board, and you’re willing to swap durability for a little additional weight, look no further than this pair from KEEN.

*Gumption Gear Review received the items featured in this review from KEEN at no cost and receives no monetary compensation for this or any related review. The items featured were provided solely in return for our honest views and opinions.

Leave a Comment