Venturing into the lush backcountry can be as exciting as it is intimidating. Fortunately for you, the finest KEEN hiking shoes are at your disposal to make your hiking moments more of the former and less of the latter.
We have tested over a dozen exemplary KEEN hikers to funnel in the kicks that deserve your complete attention. So, whether you are into well-rounded hiking shoes or you need something powerful in wet conditions, what we have cooked up should more than suffice.
Fasten your seatbelts and ready your hike-hungry hearts because the Targhee II from KEEN will bolster your every move no matter where you are on the trail!
Pure excitement is something you can get in the Targhee II, whether you’re someone who likes keeping to the beaten path or otherwise. Armed with a tank-like rubber outsole, this KEEN hiker planted our feet as if we had super glue underfoot. And on descents, we’ve no other words to describe how fantastic it performed!
There’s also the outsole’s incredible toughness. Jagged and pointy rocks only left some minor dents on it, making it among the toughest outsoles out there.
The Targhee II’s waterproofing is one for the books, as well. Under the moderately rainy sky, the shoe kept every drop fenced out, leaving both our socks and feet dry. Its higher-than-most sole unit (particularly around the heel) contributed to its high impermeability!
Sizing-wise, this KEEN bad boy felt spot-on for everyone. That said, its toe box gave us enough room to wiggle our toes in, making our excursions more comfortable than expected.
And have we mentioned that the Targhee II has a bulldozer of a toe guard yet? Yes, its rubber toe cap decimated virtually everything that got in our way like an absolute rockstar!
Not so far behind our overall top pick is yet another KEEN gem, and it’s none other than the magnetizing Targhee III Oxford!
Built with premium-looking leather, the Targhee III Oxford has tons of comfort to give. Without prior preparations, we strapped on our pairs and hiked for several miles. This rather brash decision paid off, though, as the shoe gave us royal comfort on mile one!
Just like the Targhee II, this day-one-comfy shoe delighted us with incredible tenacity on both dry and wet terrain. That said, we wish its heel brake were as effective down slopes.
If you have arches that don’t behave as they should, you’ll be happy to know that the Targhee III Oxford’s midfoot is mighty supportive. The midsole’s springiness will also boost your every step, making you complete your trail mission minus the tired feet!
The Targhee III Oxford is also cut from the same cloth as our top pick in terms of longevity. Its semi-buffed leather shell came away almost scratch-free, and its sticky outsole gash-less.
Fit-wise, this endearing kick comes with a roomy toe box. Indeed, our piggies in it were singing happily the entire time!
Soggy socks? Wrinkly feet? Kiss those wet experiences goodbye with the KEEN Targhee III Waterproof!
Sporting a proprietary liner, the Targhee III Waterproof promises shield-like protection from all sorts of wet elements. Although we kept to the shallowest parts of the stream, we still came away deeply impressed with the shoe’s incredible waterproofing!
In the area of breathability, this KEEN offering stunned us. Despite having a waterproof liner, this shoe dealt with stuffiness like a boss. Yes, sweat-prone hikers should give this impermeable hiker a serious second look!
Our day-time excursion-slash-testing also ended up a successful one. By successful, we mean we covered all the trail miles in front of us without ever slipping. The shoe’s lugs and forefoot tread pattern allowed us to scramble safely, while its mild heel brake transported us down inclines scot-free.
Now, if you’re prone to losing your balance where ruggedness is present, you’ll have a great time in the Targhee III Waterproof. Yes, this shoe has above-average stability, which can turn the odds in your favor on rocky terrain.
Its comfort level is also a water-cooler topic. Straight from the KEEN box, the Targhee III Waterproof pampered our tootsies for hours on end!
Do you want to be your usual trail-conquering self in inclement conditions? If so, make sure you wear the Targhee Exp WP on your next wet-weather expedition!
The Targhee Exp WP lives up to its last two initials. Yes, this remarkable alternative is impressively waterproof, hence WP. Its fancy-looking leather shell put smiles on our faces as we crossed flooded areas and calm creeks with completely dry feet!
“Rich in suppleness” is how we’d chalk up the Targhee Exp WP’s impermeable confines. From its snug-but-not-tight heel to its oh-so-comfy instep and forefoot, this KEEN offering carried our feet up to cloud nine!
A healthy toe experience awaits you in the Targhee Exp WP, as well. This is because the hiker in question has more than enough space around the toe box, lowering the risks of injuries and blisters significantly.
On paper, the KEEN Targhee Exp WP isn’t very attractive on the lightness front (it weighs around 440 g per kick, after all). That said, the shoe, in our strong opinion, felt lighter in practice. Perhaps, the hiker’s springy sole unit boosted our steps so much that it felt less weighty than what’s written on the box.
Out of the 12+ pairs of KEEN hiking shoes we’ve test-hiked, the Voyageur has to be the most breathable of them all!
Engineered with naturally breathable leather and stuffiness-ejecting vent panels, the Voyageur made our summer travels figuratively and literally breezy. It’s true—so incredible was its ventilation system that those among us who often sweat profusely had zero complaints in the shoe!
On equal footing as its greatness in breathability is the Voyageur’s break-in-free comfort. Our initial hike was supposed to last only half an hour (roughly 2 miles), but we decided to complete our half-a-day route after discovering the hiker’s day-one comfort. More credit goes to its heel zone for not giving us blisters!
Speaking of the Voyageur’s heel, we got tons of rearfoot support out of it. It kept our heels in place (or centered) despite our haphazard terrain-negotiation skills! For the record: we did that on purpose!
Roominess around the forefoot is also a thing in the KEEN Voyageur. This accommodating space translated to easier descents, as our toes never got squished, not even once.
So, you’d better add this breathable bad boy to your shopping list. It’s a perfect summer ally from KEEN, and you can bet on that!
When the sun keeps glaring at you but losing your cool is not an option, fight back with the mighty breathable KEEN Targhee Vent!
As its name implies, the Targhee Vent is fully equipped to keep your feet from overheating. Take our word for it: your tootsies and socks will stay fresh and dry in its cushy interior, even in temps as high as 85°F!
Working in tandem with the Targhee Vent’s amazing breathability is the shoe’s outstanding level of comfort. The first time we slipped into its padded confines, we knew exactly what we’re in for—instant plushness on extended hikes!
“Insanely grippy” is how we’d brag about the Targhee Vent’s multi-lugged outsole. We conquered slick surfaces on it, including creek pebbles, grassy hills, and muddy descents. On dry, rocky ground, its low-profile lugs served us well, too. We just wish its outsole were thicker for longevity’s sake.
Now, support-wise, the Targhee Vent is no pushover, either. Despite its low-cut design, the shoe’s collar kept our at-times-wobbly ankles centered and upright.
Be warned about its laces, though. They have a nasty habit of getting undone!
Too unforgiving for adventurers whose feet are bulkier than usual
Laces come undone easily
Set your eagle sights on the Explore Vent—KEEN’s perfect hiking shoe for the ninja in you!
Where most hiking shoes from KEEN venture into the 450-gram territory (per shoe, not pair), the Explore Vent swims into the waters of 300 g a piece. Light as a feather, this empowering KEEN hiker transported us across groomed trails with carefree steps!
The Explore Vent has immense comfort to match its barely-there status. Its lightly padded collar and plush tongue bruised not our ankles, and there was nowhere within its airy confines that gave us blisters. And the best part was, the shoe felt broken in on stride one!
At first glance, the Explore Vent’s outsole might not look much, but once you give it a whirl, you’ll discover its magnificence on different types of terrain. In our case, the shoe’s rubber outsole and its heavy-duty lugs afforded us high amounts of traction on mossy rock, low-lying boulders, and viny hillsides.
There’s also no denying the KEEN Explore Vent’s budget-friendly asking price. Indeed, with its $110 MSRP, this agile looker can get you places without sucking your wallet dry. It looks quite dapper, too!
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.