Alex Roddie tests a comfortable walking boot from KEEN
The EXP is the new version of Keen’s classic Targhee walking boot, launched over a decade ago. Compared with the previous version, the EXP has an updated aesthetic and a redesigned tread. As before, it’s available in mid or low versions, and includes a KEEN.Dry waterproof and breathable membrane. I tested the men’s Targhee EXP Mid in UK size 10.5.
First impressions were positive. The boot is reasonably light. The tread looked positive and grippy with some flex front and back but fairly rigid from side to side. As someone prone to issues with heel lift in walking boots, I was pleased to see a special lacing system (part of the ‘TPU heel capture system’) that promises to keep the heel immobile. The toe and heel bumpers give decent coverage and are fairly hard; they appear to be made of the same material as the outer sole lugs. There is a decent PU-coated leather rand.
The uppers look a bit like canvas at first glance, but it’s actually leather and ‘performance mesh’. The colour combination is attractive; the EXP is also available in several other colours, including a striking deep red. Fit is on the wide side, which suits me perfectly. The boots felt immediately comfortable when I put them on. Lacing is both quick and precise.
It’s worth mentioning the included insoles too, which are unusually good – much better than the basic, flimsy insoles included with most boots at this price range.
I’ve been testing these boots on a number of hillwalking trips in addition to my daily lowland walks. As suspected, comfort is their main characteristic – they feel more forgiving than many boots I’ve worn, and they haven’t given me a blister yet (which is an achievement in itself, as I’m prone to blisters!).
The waterproofing is about as good as you’ll find in any other membrane-lined boot: although the boots don’t leak when splashing through puddles or streams, they do tend to get damp inside when walking through soaking vegetation for hours. In warmer weather I found them slightly too warm, although I often overheat in membrane-lined boots. The boots dry reasonably quickly.
The sole is nice and grippy on a range of surfaces but I have seen better soles for wet rock. The boots feel supportive when walking and traversing off-path on steep ground. Durability-wise, I’ve noticed some wear to the smaller lugs already – my daily morning circuit does take in a couple of miles of paved roads in addition to paths.
Overall, these are great boots for three-season hillwalking in the British hills. They look good, they’re comfortable, and they’re great value too.