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Hiking Boots Review

Hiking boots review time!

After wearing heavy soled leather hiking boots for four decades (yup, you read that correctly), I switched to lightweight boots.

I think I found the best lightweight hiking boots on the market.

And I'm eager to tell you all about them!

A hiking boots review should be fair and balanced: what I like, what I don't like.

I always like to start off on the right foot (OOH, a hiking pun!), so let me list the reasons I love these: Keen Targhee II Mid-hiking boots.

NOTE: I am not pushing REI on you.

But REI has been in business a long time, and they do things right as a member cooperative.

  • I've been a member since 1977, and have trusted their gear to get me into, and safely out of, the back country.

If you purchase these boots using the links on this page, Hiking For Her receives a tiny (pennies on the dollar) commission without costing you a penny extra.

Nobody asked me to write this review; I just want to tell you what works for me.

Interested in my approach to finding the best boots for your feet?

Hiking boots review:
the good stuff

1. So lightweight and breathable compared to my leather boots!!! This makes a noticeable difference in my gear weight. It also creates less calf fatigue, although I’m probably giving up some muscle toning and conditioning by going lighter.

2. I bought them a half size too big, to accommodate my high arches, wide feet, and tendency toward swollen sore toes. They feel lovely on my feet, even 10 miles into a 14 mile hike.

The larger size, however, created a balance problem while going uphill or navigating rocky terrain.

My feet didn’t exactly slide in the boots (thanks to 2 pairs of socks, a thin liner covered by thick hiking socks), but I needed to be extra careful about foot placement.

I don’t think this is an inherent problem with the boots, however, so I won't list it as a "con". It's something to be aware of, though, if you like to wear roomy boots for the reasons I mentioned.

3. They dry quickly. In fact, after walking through wet tundra and stopping for a rest break, I could literally see them drying in the breeze.

4. And they were waterproof, too. Really, truly waterproof (rather than repellant). I don't know how long this will last, though. I'll report back.

UPDATE: I wore these boots through a soggy week of Canadian Rockies hiking. My feet were always wet at the end of the day, but wearing 2 pairs of socks (thin liners + absorbent thick socks) kept my skin from pruning up, or worse yet, blistering.

It's unrealistic to expect any hiking boots to stand up to water day after day. The upside of these boots: See #3 above! They were dry and ready to go by the next morning.

5. Ankle support is reasonable for such a lightweight boot. I felt well supported while navigating over tussocks and through swampy areas.

They gave me confidence on rocky slopes, too.

But not quite as much confidence as my rigid, high sided leather boots, to be fair.

So if you have so called "weak" ankles and plan on navigating over loose rock, these might not be the boots for you.

6. Fast lacing system – nothing hanging out or tangled, so expect easy on and easy off. There's a secure upper tab to keep the laces where they belong, and tabs to help you pull them where they need to go.

7. Fair price. KEEN delivers quality at a good (as in not outrageous) price point, and there are variations within their price ranges so you can select what you feel most comfortable with.

To be balanced...

Now for the things I dislike, in order to provide a balanced hiking boots review to you, my dear reader.

Only one that I’ve discovered, which is quite shocking.

I loved my heavy leather boots, and was reluctant to switch out of these well built beauties.

But they're getting harder and harder to find.

And why lift extra weight with each step? Well, there are some good reasons:

  • If you hike on rocky, unstable footing.
  • If you want full ankle support and protection.
  • If you love how rock solid a heavy Vibram sole feels.
  • If you will be carrying a heavy load for long distances, as in an extended backpacking trip with no resupply options.

Interested in a good pair? Try these.

Or these.

So where was I?

Oh yeah. Love my KEENS!

Be sure to take a look at all of the KEEN options!

But having said that, here's something important to consider.

  • The traction on these boots is not completely reliable on rocky slopes.

I don’t mean the big rocks that you have to navigate as you cross a talus slope.

It’s the small “roll-y” pebbles that act like marbles underfoot that this boot doesn't handle well. I’ve had much better (meaning safer) footing in my Vibram (heavy duty rubber) soles.

However, if you’re staying on dirt trails, no worries – the carbon rubber soles on these hiking boots should be ok.

  • Another drawback regarding soles: I’m hard on my boots, so I’m wondering how long these soles will keep up with me.

Time will tell, and then I’ll tell you :)

Update: I squeezed two hard summer hiking seasons out of these, and the tread is still adequate for easy trails. The uppers are bombproof!

NOTE: These are not backpacking boots.

If you need to carry heavy loads for multiple days, I don’t think these boots will be up to the task but I know my Zamberlans are.

  • These are too lightweight and while they do have some support & cushioning, probably not enough for rugged multi-day trips over varied terrain.

I plan to scour other hiking boots review sites, and will report back if I find anything dire.

I will have to rethink what to do for backpacking boots unless I go ultralightweight (which I’m planning to do soon anyway - stay tuned as I evolve; the bush pilots will love me for it).

UPDATE: Here are the Salomon womens hiking boots that I wear for backpacking and rugged terrain.

  • Bush pilot approved 'cuz they're super light weight!
Bush plane and hiker loading up hiking gear prior to taking off - can you say Use hiking boots review information to get ready for a big hiking adventure!

Narrow feet?

One more thing to note:

Keens are great for women hikers with wide feet.

If your feet are narrow, read this for suggestions for the best womens narrow hiking boots.

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