How to Shop Hiking Boots ft. REVIEW Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid

Choosing hiking boots is not the easiest task, but with some patience and time, I am sure you will be able to find one that best fits with how and where you hike.

Initially, I thought hiking boots were ugly, bulky, and just simply not very stylish. After completing half a snowy hike in Mt. Rainier spring of 2019, I decided that it’s time to invest in a proper pair because I was literally slipping and sliding in my Nike running shoes.

The first thing I did was to go to a local REI store and tried on all of the styles that were available in-store. I asked the REI staff a bunch of questions and tried on a lot of the shoes with the thick socks that REI provided. Then I went home and did more research online. There were tons of helpful reviews on other outdoorsy retailer websites as well as blogs. In addition, advice and recommendations from my outdoorsy coworkers as well as my IG followers also helped me a lot in figuring out which brand and style to go for.

Trust me, this process seems intimidating, especially if you’re a newbie and that you’re shopping for your very first pair. It is totally okay to hike in your Nike or Adidas shoes because, in fact, a lot of them are very comfortable and will serve your day hiking purpose just as well.

So as you might know if you’re following me on my blog and Instagram, I ended up going for Keen, a Portland-based footwear brand, and the style was the Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid.


  1. Types: There are tons of options ranging from hiking shoes, day hiking boots, backpacking boots, and mountaineering boots. REI has a great article explaining different types of hiking boots, HERE. There are also water shoes and performance sandals that offer support, protection, and traction on wet rocks that you will need for rafting, canoeing, canyon or river exploring.
  2. Components such as uppers, lowers, midsoles, and outsoles of the shoes are essential parts to note. They might sound super technical at first, but the more you read and get to know when you are first starting out, the better. Learn more HERE.
  3. Materials matter! Just like clothing, materials impact the boots’ performance and durability. For uppers: look for full-grain leather, split-grain leather, or nubuck leather (buffed full-grain leather) because leather gets softer and molds better to your feet. Leather also lasts longer! If you’d prefer vegan options, there are synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and “synthetic” leather. For midsoles, EVA and Polyurethane are popular cushioning materials. Rubber us used on all hiking boot outsoles with deeper thicker lugs added for traction.
  4. Breathability vs. waterproof: You also need to keep in mind these factors. Often time, boots with uppers that are made with waterproof/breathable membranes such as Gore-Tex or eVent are labeled as ‘waterproof.’ There are ventilating mesh options that are summer and sweaty feet friendly.
  5. Fit is the absolute most important aspect because they need to hold your feet in place with little room to breathe. Who likes blisters anyway? REI has the foot ruler in-store or get yourself a ruler or tape to measure your feet at home. It’s best to take measurements of each foot before deciding on the actual shoe size. Ask questions in-store as well as comparing the size chart before buying the right size online. Absolutely do not buy boots that are too small because your feet will swell during the day’s activities.
  6. Toe room, how much? According to REI experts, I’ve learned that you should have a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the insole. So take the insole out of the boots and stand on them!
  7. High or low cut shoes? Opt for high cut shoes because I can guarantee that you’d want that ankle protection. Just like skiing boots, high ankled hiking boots will prevent ankle injuries and with high socks, they will help prevent rocks from getting in your shoes.
  8. Trying on: After tightly lacing up your boots with thick high socks on, make sure to walk around and climb up and down an inclined surface. Soon you’d notice any discomfort, but I can guarantee you that these problems won’t start showing until after a few first hikes.
  9. Socks for hiking: So! There is a wide array of sock that range from heights, fabrics, and styles. There are no-show, ankle, crew, and knee-high socks. Sometimes you don’t need any cushioning, but a light, medium, and heavy cushioning might be needed depending on the occasion. Materials are also important because they dictate comfort, warmth, durability, and they’d also need to be fast drying. In the end, I recommend DarnTough as the go-to sock brand for durability and versatility. I also love my Smartwool socks for skiing and hiking in the winter. In short, you’d need socks that cover your ankles entirely, not too tight nor too loose. I like my “crew” because they go past a few inches above the ankle bones and give me the ankle protection that I need.
  10. Know that there are options for wide feet, alternate insole, and you can also lace your boots differently to make the boots work for you and your feet. Reach out for help if you need boots with extra room, protection, and insulation for extended backpacking trips and mountaineering. Look for gaiters as they keep snow, water, dirt, and rocks from getting into your boots.
  11. Choosing a retailer: After deciding on which brand you want your first pair of hiking boots to be, it’s always best to buy directly from the brand website or in their store. You might get your boots faster if you buy on Amazon, however, I think it’s better to support smaller businesses in this day and age by buying directly from the brand. Most of the time, I’d recommend people to go to a larger retailer like REI for more options because you can return within a year. In addition, they have a cashback option with membership sign-up, and they pay their employees well. Backcountry, Steep and Cheap, Moosejaw, Cabela’s, Zappos, and Dick’s Sporting Goods are some popular hiking boot retailers. For used shoes, look on Poshmark or REI Outlet and Used Gear section.
  12. Boot care: Brush off dirt and debris after each use and store them in a cool dry place. Most boots can be hand-washed with light detergent and let air dried, just make sure you remove the laces, insoles and. Frequent waterproofing with wax or silicone treatments to help soften the leather making them more comfortable. Use boot trees to keep them in-shape during inactive seasons.
  13. Don’t settle for an okay pair of boots. Know that you can return, trade, or sell your unwanted, ill-fitting, faulty, or old boots that no longer serve you well.
  14. If you’re tired of having too many options, just go with your gut and pick a pair that fits your budget and speaks to you. Ask yourself this question again, ‘What do YOU need?’
  15. Lastly, don’t expect your hiking boots to do everything. For extended hiking trips and road trips, I always bring along a pair of performance sandals to switch out for short hikes, water-involved or light activities in general. I choose to not wear my hiking boots everywhere because they can get quite hot, and I really only want to wear my boots when I actually hike.

Good luck in your boot buying journey. Make sure they are the right ones for you and your needs. If you need additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section or reach out to me in my DM. Other resources that I highly recommend are linked below.

Review Keen Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots

about KEEN:

Keen is an independently owned and values-led, Portland-based footwear brand. Their shoes are known for fit, durability, and performance.

Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid


(provided on keetfoorwear website)

  • Height: over-the-ankle
  • Closure: Lace-up style with easy-adjust hooks
  • Upper: Oiled nubuck leather. Leather mud shield for durability.
  • Lining: mesh
  • Insole: Removable insole with CLEANSPORT NXT odor control
  • Midsole: dual-density EVA
  • Internal Support: ESS shank for lightweight support. Resilient, internal shank.
  • Outsole: 4mm traction-enhancing multidirectional lugs. Injected TPU heel-capture system for stability.
  • Weight: 1 lb. 12.4 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes. KEEN.dry breathable, waterproof membrane.
  • Features: Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control
  • Sustainability: Contains leather from a tannery rated gold by the Leather Working Group (LWG)
Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid – Color (sold out): Brindle/Quiet Harbor. Size 7.5

Sizing: I’d recommend going for 1/2 size larger than your actual size. I am a 7 -7.5 in US shoe size and wear these in size 7.5. I honestly wish I got these in size 8 to start with. With my thick Darntough or Smartwool socks, the 7.5 fit me great, however, my toes started to hurt after about 9+ mile hike, especially when hiking downhill.

Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid hiking boots are best for day hiking and recreational hiking.

So far, I have only done day hiking in my boots, longest is an all-day 11 – 12 mile hike. They do great on all terrains such as groomed trails, rocks, snow, and muddy areas. Please note that I have yet to wear mine in water and snow for a long period of time, so I cannot give you a review of that!

It’s been about two years since I purchased mine, and I have not noticed any tears nor faulty design on the boots. Despite all of the dirt that the shoes have picked up over the years, they are in pretty good shape and conditions. I’ve hand-washed them once in my bathtub some detergent and let them air dry. And I’d say they took about 2 days to dry completely.

Final thoughts: I genuinely love and highly recommend these Keen Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid hiking boots. I love the design of these boots and how well they wear and age over the years. Although I wish I got 1/2 size larger, I think my boots fit me well with room for my toes to wiggle. I love that they are high ankle and waterproof, and the color combo makes them super versatile and easy to style. I have yet to experience any slippage nor wet spillage accident. Excited to wear these on my future backpacking trip which is to come, so stay tuned for my updated review then!

20% off orders over $100! Not Valid on Utility Products. Coupon Code: 20PercentKEEN2020

only at

Enjoy some previous hiking photos wearing my Keen Targhee III. Let me know if you ever have any questions, be safe and happy hiking!

Look who’s copied me and got the exact same pair of KEEN Targhee III? His are the low ankled ones.


Day Hiking Essentials from Head to Toes

Disclaimer: This blog post is not sponsored. I bought my Keen Targhee III with my own money. I’ve recently become a Keen affiliate partner, and that means I can link products from and refer you to buy directly from the brand instead of other retailers. If you decide to buy to support me and Keen, the brand will pay me a small commission, and you will not pay any additional cost. I love my Keen boots and have recommended to a few of my followers, and they love them, too! So take advantage of their current Labor Day weekend sale and snag a pair. Thank you for your constant support!

style and senses signature stay inspired

An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

Currently Loving