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I was this-close to ask about this to the customer service, but then I've found that Keen ALREADY CLARIFIED the differences between Targhee II and III right here...
Wait why didn't any of us come across this before?
Well, because, as strange as it sounds... this information is only available in their DK and GB sites. And NOT in the US site. Yeah. No idea why...
I still wanted to read more about Targhee II and III - and hence contacted the customer service...
...But I ended up receiving no response whatsoever. I told myself maybe that's because of the holiday period (the employees spending time with their families) and shrugged it off, so I'm not pissed off at them.
January 7th, 2020 Update: I've just heard back from the customer service about Targhee II vs III and shared the back and forth mails in this post.
Let's start with laying out all the Targhee II and III models here with some short notes first.
Note that the notes are my subjective ideas and your mileage may vary.
- Targhee II Waterproof [Men's - Men's Wide - Women's]: Your best bet for commuting and casual purposes. Fits very well and decent supporting offers highest comfort among other Targhee's. It's also probably the prettiest of all. Women's Magnet/Periwinkle color and Men's Gargoyle/Midnight Navy color are especially loved by many - including me. The downside is that it's less water resistant (if you care about that).
- Targhee III Waterproof [Men's - Men's Wide - Women's]: A more stable and water resistant upgrade to the Targhee II above. It's still pretty comfortable, although not as much as the Targhee II.
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- Targhee II Waterproof MID [Men's - Men's Wide - Women's]: If you're planning to use your Targhee's both casually AND when hiking, this one would be my top recommendation not only among these Targhee's but also probably among most of boots out there. A solid top-notch.
- Targhee III Waterproof MID [Men's -Men's Wide - Women's]: Your best bet if you'll be almost always hiking with your Targhee's. Women's Weiss (Boysenberry) color and Men's Big Ben/Golden Brown color are especially loved by many - including me.
#Note: As you see, MID suffix points out to boots. There was a time when Keen used LOW suffix for shoes, but it seems like they changed their mind about it and now don't use any suffix for them.
#Note 2: It also seems like Keen accidentally skipped adding the "waterproof" expression in the title of men's wide option for Targhee II (shoe) in their site.
Generally speaking, regarding both shoes and boots; Targhee II is more comfortable than the Targhee III, and hence a better pick for casual use. But if you'll be hiking out in the nature, superior stability, traction and water resistance of Targhee III pay off on tougher and more slippery terrain.
Read on if you're looking for longer answers.
The outsole (the base of any shoe in contact with the ground) of Targhee III MID is more flexible than that of the Targhee II MID.
In addition to this, Targhee III upper leather is equipped with more leather than that of Targhee II (source: keenfootwear.com/targhee/).
If you're unaware, the "upper leather" statement (a.k.a just "upper") refers to the outer footwear construction excluding the sole.
These modifications in Targhee III provide superior traction, stability and water resistance; but they also cause it to sacrifice some comfort and support in return.
These are the 5 key differences between Targhee II and III in practice.
One isn't better than the other, although some recommendations based on the intended uses can be and are given above in the introduction part.
Here is my chat with the customer service
I'm gathering information for a wide range of possible Targhee II and III buyers (all for possibly different types of purposes), so I'd appreciate if you could share their technical & practical differences with me, as well as their most suitable intended uses. What are the advantages & disadvantages of one over the other?
Thanks for contacting KEEN; hope you had a wonderful holiday and I apologize for the delayed response! The Targhee II and Targhee III are very similar overall. Both shoes are built on the same platform and same footbed. The main points of distinction are the outer appearance, material, and that the II has a slightly wider fit than the III, as well as a stiffer sole.
The Targhee II is our classic hiker. It has a super sturdy sole, wide fit overall, and the widest toe box available. It runs ½ a size small, so you'd want to order up. The Targhee II is a bit stiffer and more supportive, The Targhee III Mid weighs 17.4 oz per shoe
- 4mm multi directional lugs
- Contoured heel lockKEEN
- .Dry waterproof breathable membrane
- Torsion stability ESS shank
- Waterproof nubuck leather upper
- Non-marking rubber outsole
- Dual density compression molded EVA midsole
- Hydrophobic mesh lining
- Removable metatomical dual density EVA footbed
The Targhee III is a revamped version of the Targhee II. Handles most terrains, is more streamlined, less bulky, and has a more flexible sole (more like an athletic shoe). It has a bit less volume in the toe and has a little bit narrower fit than the Targhee II. Runs true to size. The Targhee III Mid weighs 15.4 oz per shoe.
- KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane
- Leather mud shield offers resilient durability
- Speed hooks, for easy lace adjustment
- Injected TPU heel-capture system for stability
- ESS shank offers lightweight support
- Resilient, internal shank
- 4mm multi-directional lugs for traction
- Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control
- Environmentally-preferred premium leather from LWG-certified tannery
- Waterproof leather and performance mesh upper
- KEEN All-Terrain rubber outsole for higher-traction grip
- Dual-density, compression-molded EVA midsole
- Breathable mesh lining
- Removable, metatomical dual-density EVA footbed
Let us know if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime.
KEEN Fan Services
Monday–Friday 6am-5pm (PST)
Offering bilingual support in French!
Français - 1.866.489.4159
I'd recommend the Targhee II Waterproof [Men's - Men's Wide - Women's] for casual use and the Targhee III Waterproof MID [Men's -Men's Wide - Women's] for hiking out in the nature. If you'll be doing both, then I'd recommend Targhee II Waterproof MID [Men's - Men's Wide - Women's].
What about EXP and VENT adaptations?
They're equipped with the same outsole design of the Targhee III. The difference is in their uppers.
Here's an excerpt from Keen's own site:
- Targhee III: The majority of the upper material is leather with a combination of mesh (synthetic).
- Targhee EXP: The upper material is predominately mesh (synthetic), with leather trim to the collar for added comfort and durability.
- Targhee VENT: The upper material is mesh panels (synthetic), please keep in mind that this style does not have a KEEN.DRY membrane and therefore may have a more generous fit to that of the Targhee III and Targhee EXP
Size and Fit
Do make sure to check out Keen's own sizing and fit chart here.
I hope this review was helpful for you to understand whether the Targhee II or III would be the best choice for your own needs and desires.
Feel free to ask me any questions or provide feedback and I'll be happy to respond in the comment section below if it's within my knowledge.
Lastly, not that it's important but can be something to consider for some of you: In both men's best seller listings and women's best seller listings provided by Keen's own site, Targhee II is placed right behind the Targhee III.
Thank you for reading.
Well, that was just perfect. I think they should make a Targhee II 1/2 as I like the superior tracking, stability and water resistance of the III but the width and comfort of the II!!! I just bought the II (am a kean Keen fan!) so now I will go try the III and see if I like them better as I do hike a lot … Thanks
Howdy, good recap.
I do a lot of hiking on trail and over rock an boulders. with back pack. My primary complaint is the II bottom plate is not stiff enough for bouldering with a backpack with the support I like. Walking the up hill trails, they are great. Get to a spot where climbing rock, the support for the whole foot is missing is weak, at least for me. Was thinking I should switch to the III. Based on the review, I should stay with the II. Or is there a better recommendation? Use 70% trail hiking and 30% climbing over rock. Have tried many shoes and Keen is the best fit.
I have the Targhee lll. I don’t think it will give you the support you’re looking for because it is by design more flexible than the ll. I find myself looking for more supportive boot for the same reasons as you, and thought the ll would be better. I like the Keen fit as well.
Hello. Thank you for the summary. I am a bacpacker who has just finished filing a successful claim for REPLACEMENT of my Targhee III’s. After 6 months of roughly 200 mi of trails, the T-III’s SPLIT and DELAMINATED under the ball of the foot. Seems that “more like a running shoe” softness of the T-III sole also is NOT DURABLE. Keen instantly credited me $150 to use on their site, but I only see the problem recurring– there is a lighter softer rubber bonded to the tougher rubber on the T-III sole where the split & delam happens. So I am one mountain guy who’s choosing to move from T-III to T-II. I hope the T-II holds up better. Trail locations: Sierra Nevada (CA), Flagstaff/Mt. Humphreys (AZ), Palm Springs (CA). Keep up the good work as a product resource for us!
Thank you so much for the comparison and review. I’m a newbie hiker and want to make the best initial investment in my hiking gear. I was torn between these two models and am now convinced of the Targhee 2.
Thanks for the great recap! As much as I’d enjoy a lot of the improvements III has to offer, I’m going to have to stick with II for fit based on your comments and the ones from Keen. I specifically have been buying these for nearly 20 years because I have wide tootsies, and the II is PERFECT for me. Hope they don’t discontinue it! Thanks for doing all this legwork!
Ken Targhee ll vs Targhee lll:
I have and do own both the 2 and the 3 in the mid hiker style. The 2’s were by far the best fitting and comfortable hiking boots I have ever (Yes Ever) owned.
I am 185 lbs and have a wide 9.5 – 10 trail boot size. The 2’s in standard width fit perfect with plenty of wiggle room for the toes without having to size up to a clown shoe in length.
The wear was also great. I did wear them on light day hikes and trails as well as plenty of daily commute and casual use.
The Targhee lll’s feel clunky and more like work boots. I have several pair of steel toed work boots and these feel very similar. They are too restrictive for my feet. I also find them to be a much hotter boot with less breathability. The 3’s were also much stiffer than my 2’s out of the box and took more break in time.
I will say that Keen is second to none with their customer service. Spot on and top notch for me..
Now I’m debating on another set of Targhee ll’s or the Voyager? Mid height or trail shoe style?? Day hikes, over nighters in the great state of Michigan mostly..
Great article. Thank you.
I have hiked in the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica for many years with several Targhee II boots that I have worn out. These are extreme hikes lasting up to seven hours. These boots last about three years with my performing minor repairs with glue. Summary? Brilliant boots.
I have hiked in Dominica with one pair of Targhee III boots for six months. Then they broke in multiple ways. For example the mesh just ripped. The sole came adrift from the rest of the boot. Even the stitching around the top near the ankle split. And unlike the II, the III does not have a loop on the tongue. Summary? A major disappointment.
Conclusions: in my opinion the II is a much better made boot than the III. I shall attempt to buy an old stock II or a boot from another manufacturer as I won’t trust the III with my life again.
Susan Wight says
I love the fit of the Targhee II and have worn them for a number of years. My problem with them is that the support in the foot/heel area wears out way before the tread wears out. As soon as this happens (after around 6-12 months of wear), my Achilles’ tendon starts acting up and I have to get new boots. In my opinion, this is not long enough given the price. I would like Keen to fix this issue. I have come across other hikers who have had the same experience with the foot bed breaking down after a number of months.
I have worn also II for many years. They are my go-to for hiking as well as my every day work shoe for walking on concrete all day.
I don’t know if a different insert would help in the heel area. My experience was that the arch support would wear out and start to bother my knees. I discovered an insert from Tread Labs. They are not inexpensive, but they last a long time. I am going on a year and a half in the same pair of II with the same inserts. (I did replace the cover for the inserts, they don’t cost much).
Thoughts (from anyone) on this?…
We’re hiking the Grand Canyon this summer. (Rim to rim.) I’m genetically blessed with mutant feet which ache A LOT (like a lot a lot) after walking normal distances, especially under the balls, and if the shoes aren’t thoroughly broken in, the sides (thanks to the bunions/tailer’s bunions). Still, I’ve spent years biting the bullet of pain through sports and 20 years in the Army that included occasional ruck marches at distances of 5 to 20 miles. These were at only over flat terrain, however.
All that said, I want to live, so I’m looking for a miracle boot with significant room in the toe box AND MOST IMPORTANTLY the most comfortable/soft/forgiving/cloud-like padding for the balls of my feet. (Keen boots or otherwise, regardless of the price.) I’ll happily compromise stability—hiking at the pace of a careful geriatric—for the pain relief of such gift from the podiatric heavens. Otherwise, all bets all are off. My wife will walk out of the canyon alone and into a healthy life insurance payout.
Sanity aside, there’s an emphasis on Targhee II’s comfort, but others noted the flexibility and “more like a running shoe” trait of the III. Targhee III. From my standpoint, they’re one in the same and I’m now torn between them given the distinctions made… Can anyone clarify which will be most gentle on my feet?
Separately, do Keens break in considerably or just a little bit?… I’ve tried on the Targhee II in an 8 wide and they are only minimally snug… Pretty much like a glove, but still, minimally snug. I’m confident they’d be perfect for casual use/easy hiking after getting broken in, but concerned they wont break in enough for two to four days in the canyon. Can anyone speak to the extent to which the Targhee IIs break in and stretch out? —Thanks so much. I really do appreciate it.
Thank you for digging into the details and providing this comparison! I have a pair of Targhee Mid II that are starting to wear out but have been a great day hiker for me. I was intrigued when I saw there is a new version (III) available but that version II is still being sold so the information you provided is spot-on.
I am curious about some of your conclusions, however. The Keen rep said the III “has a more flexible sole (more like an athletic shoe).” Your conclusion was that “Targhee III provides superior traction, stability and water resistance” and you recommend the III for hiking (as opposed to mixed use). Your conclusion seems to disagree with the Keen rep’s statements. Can you clarify?
Note that I am a big guy (6’4″, 215 lbs) and one of my few complaints about the Targhee II is that I wish the sole were a bit harder. There are lots of rocks on the trails of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and I can feel the pointy ones more than I’d like to. Based on this, it seems like I should stick with the Targhee II and its less flexible sole?
Thanks again for posting this research and for any clarification you can provide about your findings.