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KEEN Targhee IV Test: PFC-Free, Comfortable, Durability Guaranteed

The KEEN Targhee is an iconic boot, and I got my hands on the just-launched IV, which the brand claims is the most durable version ever.

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The seemingly inevitable splitting of the midsole and upper, or outsole and midsole, has been the death of countless hiking boots. With the Targhee IV, KEEN claims to have found a cure for this delamination.

KEEN sent me a test pair of early-production Targhee IV boots, which launch on April 4 in the U.S. So, I laced them up and took them into the field for hiking, archery sessions, house projects, and snow shoveling for this first-look review.

In short: The KEEN Targhee IV is a comfortable mid-height hiking boot with a short break-in period. A roomy toebox, iconic toe bumper, light leather upper, and aggressive outsole make a do-it-all hiking boot capable in all but the coldest or warmest conditions. The boot carries big durability claims and a lifetime warranty against delamination. I haven’t had time to verify those yet, but the warranty offers hefty assurance. It’s relatively affordable, making a strong case as a great budget hiking boot.

Shopping for new boots? Check out GearJunkie’s guide to the best hiking boots here!

KEEN Targhee IV


  • Weight 1.25 lbs.
  • Waterproofing Yes, KEEN.DRY
  • Upper material Nubuck leather
  • Width Standard, with roomy toebox


  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Good value
  • Supportive and stable without feeling clunky
  • Roomy forefoot


  • Not suitable for narrow feet
  • KEEN’s waterproofing is not as effective as other options
  • Not ideal for rugged off-trail use

KEEN Targhee IV Review

For transparency, I’ve only had the Targhee IV for about a week so far, so my testing is limited. But with that said, I’ve already learned a lot about this boot. Let’s dive in!

KEEN Targhee IV recycled plastic
The Targhee IV uses post-consumer recycled plastic in its upper, called out by the tag on the new boots; (photo/Sean McCoy)

The Targhee IV is a middleweight boot, weighing 20.35 ounces (my size 9 weighed 20.67 ounces on my postal scale). Not light, not heavy, this runs right down the center of the market. And that tracks well for this Jack-of-all-trades hiking boot.

I’ve been wearing the Targhee IV in early spring in Colorado. That translates to testing conditions ranging from bone-dry trails at 65 degrees to sloppy, wet snow at 35. And these conditions feel ideal for the Targhee, which has proven itself very adept at riding the weather swings of the shoulder season.

This weather also marked the ideal temperatures for the Targhee IV, which to me are warm-to-cool weather, as it is simultaneously uninsulated (won’t handle extreme cold) and not very breathable (won’t handle extreme heat).

But in its sweet spot of around 20-75 degrees Fahrenheit, the Targhee IV is very at home on wet or dry trails.

On-Foot Testing

Put the Targhee IV on your foot, and you’ll first notice that it runs very large. I almost always wear a U.S. 9.5 men’s shoe. I sized down to a 9 for the Targhee IV, and even that felt on the large side.

I’m comfortable having downsized half a size. But some folks may want to try a full-size smaller than their normal street shoe.

KEEN Targhee IV review
The KEEN Targhee IV reviewed here; (photo/Sean McCoy)

I had a hard time getting past this size difference in my first couple of hours of testing and paid a lot of attention to the fit. But once I stopped paying attention to them, I jumped into a bunch of yard work and almost forgot the boots were on my feet. And that’s a really good sign.

Hours passed on my first day in the boots, and by the end of a hard day of working on my feet, the boots felt awesome. With a wide toebox and moderately supportive upper, they moved with me while providing nice cushioning and good traction.

Since that day, I’ve used them on several outings on dry soil, rock, mud, and snow. Overall, the traction is excellent. I tend to be a skeptic of nonbranded soles. But KEEN has proven over the years that it knows how to build an outsole, and the Targhee is no exception. On all surfaces I tested, these were good, grippy boots.

The KEEN Targhee IV proved itself waterproof in basic submersion tests; (photo/Sean McCoy)

My only gripe with the Targhee IV so far has been the tongue of the right boot. I have had to re-lace the boots a couple of times, as I’ve noticed too much pressure over the talus. It’s not overwhelmingly negative, but a small callout that I found slightly uncomfortable from time to time. I suspect this will improve with more break-in, as it seems better each time I wear the boots.

Sustainability, Durability Claims

KEEN’s big claims with the Targhee IV come in sustainability. The boot has no PFCs (KEEN did away with PFC use in 2018), and it has a really good warranty. That is, they carry a lifetime guarantee against delamination!

Targhee IV uses what KEEN calls KEEN.FUSION technology, a molding process that does not use glue to fuse the top and bottom portions of the boot. In KEEN’s Test Lab, the Targhee IV did not break down after 1,000 miles of use or after KEEN’s “pull machine” attempted to force the shoe apart. With short use so far, I can’t speak to durability. But the warranty walks the walk, so I suspect these will last a long time.

KEEN Targhee IV: Who It’s For

The KEEN Targhee IV hits the center of the hiking boot market. It aims at hikers who want more support than trail running shoes and who sometimes carry modest loads. Given its midweight construction, it should be comfortable in cool to warm weather, which means it’ll be great in high mountains during midsummer, or at lower elevations during shoulder seasons and even in more temperate winter climates.

Keen Targhee IV tread
The Keen Targhee IV sole; (photo/Sean McCoy)

The cushioned but responsive feeling should give plenty of energy return for long days on rugged trails, even with a decent-sized pack.

It offers a roomier fit than many brands, so folks with a high-volume boot should consider trying on a pair.

I admit that my testing on this one has been rudimentary so far. But I plan to get some longer miles on these in the coming month and will add updates to this article as essential revelations arise.

In the meantime, I think the Targhee IV will be a strong offering from KEEN. Those looking for a supportive, midweight hiking boot for on- and light off-trail use should lace some up and see how they fit. Just remember you’ll probably want to size down!

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