An extension of the popular Targhee range the Targhee EXP is described by Keen as being tough and lean. It looks almost identical to the Targhee III to the point where it's difficult to tell one from the other, either by reading the bumf or using them out on the trail. We're going to go out on a limb and say the EXP feels more durable than the Targhee III.
Just like the Targhee III the EXP is comfortable straight out of the box. The performance mesh upper marries synthetic and mesh for a compliant but supportive feel. There's plenty of space inside the boot, they're certainly wider than a comparable Italian boot. The waterproof Keen.Dry membrane protects your feet from uncomfortable sogginess and we've found them to be breathable in use until it gets really hot.
The removeable insoles utilise different densities of EVA depending on the area of the foot, the foam is much softer and thinner at the forefoot. They absorb shock well at the heel in combination with the dual density midsole and roll into a nice springy platform to toe off from at the forefoot. Being anatomically designed they also offer a good level of arch support which just about suits my low arches where other boots might cause pain. Although the cushioning on the ankle and tongue isn't luxurious, it's comfortable - we haven't felt any pressure points or hot spots so far.
The lacing system is basic but works, the laces extend to the flex point of the forefoot, so you can't adjust toe box volume. Being a mid-ankle boot only leaves enough space for one set of open eyelets, but I can still cinch the collar tightly around my skinny ankles. The second row of lacing attaches to webbing which runs around the back of the heel to help lock it in place. The heel counter inside the boot is quite shallow but we've been able to get a good fit with tight tweaking - whether you'll be able to depends entirely on your foot shape so it's always best to visit a decent shop and try before you buy.
4mm lugs take care of grip, nothing untoward to report here. The sticky front climbing zone helps when you're scrambling up rocky slopes and performance through mud is good thanks to a mud shedding lug pattern.
A nylon shank in the arch protects your foot from rocks below and adds some stability to the sole, which has a mid-flex across the heel and arch running into a fully flexing forefoot. There's good spring off the forefoot and the weight of 518g per boot makes these an easy boot to walk in.
PU coated leather adorns the bottom section of the Targhee EXP, this is wipe down rather than scrub out, it's a little touch that probably adds something to the durability of the boot and makes the task of post-hike cleaning much easier than it would be otherwise. The Targhee EXP wouldn't be complete without Keen's classic chunky rubber rand which offers bomber protection to your toes as well as the material of the boot.
The Targhee EXP is a lovely comfortable boot to wear, we can barely see any difference between this and the Targhee III, but the slight weight increase suggests that it's built with more durable materials. At £115 it's already great value for a hiking boot from a respected brand, with the added durability it becomes a veritable bargain.