These low-slung, versatile hiking shoes impress on lightweight build, first-time comfort and security, and ultimate waterproofing
So what will you be doing on your next trip? A city tour? Museums? A hike up the nearest mountain? If you travel like TravGear does, it’s likely that you’ll be doing all of those things and more. Hell, sometimes we even throw in a business meeting (‘bleasure’ travel is now a thing). However, TravGear has a mantra that we always trying to follow; never travel with more than one pair of shoes. Trips to weddings aside, obviously. But it can be tricky unless you have something very versatile.
On the trail
Cue these low-slung and surprisingly lightweight and smart trail shoes from Keen. Also referred to as approach shoes and multi-sports shoes ‘in the biz’, we recently took the Targhee EXP all the way to the southwest U.S. states of Utah and Colorado for a trail trial. Around the airport and on the plane they behaved just like a pair of sneakers, so lightweight are they in construction. They even felt comfortable on the plane, which is kind of unusual for a pair of hiking boots (we should know – TravGear never checks-in luggage … why not just wear it all?).
However, the real test of how comfortable a new pair of shoes is, is on the trail. Soon enough, we were up early and out at dawn around Canyonlands National Park, trudging through the dust and loose gravel of various clifftop trails. The Targhee EXP performed really well, and even better when it came to clambering up and over some buttes. They have effective shock absorption, meaning a springy step, and our feet always felt secure despite the low-slung sides. There’s enough ankle support amid a breathable design that meant our feet never got hot and sweaty. Nice toe protection, too.
It’s a tie
What we liked most about the Targhee EXP is its clever bungee cord lacing system. It’s nothing complicated, but a loop around the back of the shoe that the laces themselves loop through mean that tightening the laces on one side automatically tightens them on the other. It therefore brings the back of the shoes a little closer to the wearer’s heel. It’s an ingenious design, and really helps keep them secure. However, just as appealing is the lightweight construction.
Later on in the long-term test, we put the Targhee EXP through its paces on a channelled Cornish beach. Despite having a breathable membrane and a soft mesh tongue, they performed really well even when 80% submerged. That really sealed the deal.
Somehow Keen has managed to produce a pair of shoes that feels custom-made, such is the level of comfort inside them. We’re guessing that won’t always be the experience for some people – there’s is nothing as odd on this entire planet as the shapes of people’s feet – but in our experience, the Keen Targhee EXP are among the most comfortable, versatile and best designed trail shoes around. Is there anything we DIDN’T like? Well, sure – the colour. The rusty red shade of our review sample took a little getting used to, and wouldn’t have been the colour we chose … but who cares about fashion when you’ve got a world to walk?