hiking boot for rocky terrain

danielbuck

uncle buck
I've had a pair of Keen hiking boots for 12 years now, I don't do alot of hiking, at the most it's every few weekends or so, and they have lasted me quite a while. After a 5 day non-stop shoot in the rocky desert last week, it's apparent that my boots are in need of replacement. Almost no tread left, and they are starting to fall apart a bit. They are somewhat of a medium/low cut boot (probably a "shoe" rather than a "boot") but I've not felt like I didn't have enough support.

So I went to REI, and to my surprise they still have the same pair of boots for sale 12 years later! I was quite happy to find that. They aren't 100% identical, but they are nearly identical with a few minor changes. They are called the Keen Targhee II Mid. http://www.keenfootwear.com/product/shoes/men/targhee-ii-mid


When I first got them 12 years ago or so, I was just then getting into hiking, so I just picked a reasonably priced pair of entry level boots off the shelf and made sure they fit well. Thankfully they lasted quite a while, and have held up well. I do alot more outdoor stuff now, and I was curious to how they rate among other hiking boots. Quite a few of the reviews from the passed few years on these boots say that they fall apart quickly (sometimes in the first few days or weeks of use!). So maybe their build quality isn't what they used to be on my 12 year old boots, I guess it's much more of a throw-away society now, and quality never comes first. If these new ones don't fall apart on me then I'll be happy and won't look back. However, if they do start to fall apart I guess I'm going to have to find another pair of boots.


Most of what I hike on is hard packed dirt, loose gravel/sand, and large rocks/boulders that are both rounded gritty rocks, and smoother sharp pointed rocks. It's very rare that I am in or near water or mud, or grassy type areas. I'm mostly rocky desert, the desert terrain around Southern California and Nevada, and a bit of the High Sierras. My hiking trips are usually only a few days long, I don't many week long hiking trips where I'm on my feet all day every day. It happens sometimes, but it's USUALLY just day trips or weekend trips with hiking and offroading in my jeep.

Can any of yall suggest a good hiking boot that would be an excellent boot for rocky terrain? If these Keens don't hold up as well as they used to, I'll be looking for another boot. I like mid height of the shoe, not as tall on the ankle as alot of boots. Although to be honest, I've never had boots with high ankles. As for the price range, if the boots are going to last me another decade, then I really don't care what they cost.
 
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libarata

Expedition Leader
I like these boots, Manufactured in the USA. http://www.afboots.com/ I wore the 8'' pony browns daily, and logged about 2k miles of distance on them through four seasons. They eventually failed, but only did so after 2.5 years of constant abuse. For a weekender boot, I could see these lasting quite a while.

But for lasting a decade, the first thing on your list needs to be that the heel is sewn on. Glued lowers are not easy to replace easily. You then should hunt down a cobbler.
 

TheAlbatross

New member
If you're not expecting to encounter much water you may want to consider a boot which does not have a waterproof liner. Boots with these liners tend to be a bit hotter on your foot. Those Keen's (and the majority of hiking boots available) use such a liner, so you may have a bit of trouble finding one without it. I just ordered a set of chippewa boots (model 20080, all boots sold directly by amazon are currently 20% off with a coupon code) which are goodyear welted (easier to resole) with a vibram lugged outsole, full leather upper without a waterproof liner and us made (not sure how completely "us made" these are). Lowa renegade II and asolo tps 535 are two other boots that are available without a waterproof liner (but are more expensive than chippewa). Many online retailers will offer free shipping and free return shipping so I'll often order a couple different sizes and return what doesn't fit.

I don't have personal experience with any of these models yet. My last set of boots were Vasque Clarion GTX (goretex liner) which lasted about ten years with occasional use and were pretty good boots but my feet were always hot and I prefer the fit of my all leather work boots which is why I'm trying something different this time. We'll see how it goes!
 

libarata

Expedition Leader
Leather itself is easily proofed against water with some mink oil. A pair of good wool socks(darn tough, or wigwam) will also help with water crossings, especially in cooler climates.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
Recommendations will depend on lots of variables.

1) terrain
2) temp
3) precipitation
4) your shoe size
5) your weight

I used to wear Keens for 3 seasons and went through at least two pairs a year. I switched to Altra trail runners (Lone Peak) and have beating one pair for two years now ---- I'm 240 lbs with a size 14 wide though.

Did you see these threads?
www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/93759-Best-Off-Road-shoe
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/34842-The-best-adventure-travel-boots
 

zelatore

Explorer
What Hilldweller said.

I generally wear a pair of trailrunners (Soloman) for 90% of my outdoor stuff including camping, day hiking, and wheeling. But they are not up to backpacking or even day hiking on jagged/edged rocks. They just don't have stiff enough soles for standing on pointy rocks. My 'real' boots are Vasques, though I couldn't tell you the model and I don't really wear them often enough to make a recommendation though I'm happy enough with them.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
What Hilldweller said.

I generally wear a pair of trailrunners (Soloman) for 90% of my outdoor stuff including camping, day hiking, and wheeling. But they are not up to backpacking or even day hiking on jagged/edged rocks. They just don't have stiff enough soles for standing on pointy rocks. My 'real' boots are Vasques, though I couldn't tell you the model and I don't really wear them often enough to make a recommendation though I'm happy enough with them.
Take a look at the Lone Peaks ---- they have a "stone guard" in the sole. I have more flexible runners for easy trails (Minimus MT10V2).
The Altras are UGLY but really really fit and are all-day comfortable.
 

Thirty-Nine

Explorer

BillTex

Adventurer
My name is Bill; I am an avid backpacker/ hiker and I make no apologies for being a Keen fan boy. I have (had) all kinds of boots, from all over the globe. The most comfortable shoes/boots I have ever owned are Keens. I have worn out several pairs over many miles, and have yet to have any fall apart. They are light, inexpensive, and so comfortable.

Waterproof? No such thing…it’s a myth perpetrated by outdoor equipment Mfrs. You are better to have a pair of quick drying (“breathable”) shoes for hiking (except deep winter). Walk your shoes dry or let your shoes dry overnight and start with dry socks the next day. As noted leather can be conditioned (I like sno-seal for my winter boots), but all that does is delay the wetness…water resistant…not waterproof.

Oddly, their sandals don’t fit me well…but their boots/shoes….oh yeah.


Your happy with the Keens…stick with them…

Bill
 

zelatore

Explorer
They may not be 100% totally utterly infallibly waterproof, but I've yet to get wet feet in my Solomans. I have literally stood in running water to wash the mud off of them at the end of a trail. I wear then snowshoeing or just hiking in shallow snow. My feet might get cold, but they don't get wet unless the water comes over the top.
So while it may be possible to get water through them, I haven't done it yet!
But back to the point at hand, they are not the shoe I'd recommend for rock hopping.
 

highdesertranger

Adventurer
ok this is what I have observed. this is from someone who wears their boots 360 days a year. the newer so called boots with all the little pieces of nylon and leather sewn together and glued on soles, are weekender boots, basically junk. I am lucky to get 6 months out of these and I have tried many brands. if you want a heavy duty boot you need a one piece full grain leather upper with sewn on soles. to bad many of the companies that used to makes these heavy duty boots no longer do. many of you might say those kind of boots are to stiff, they hurt my feet. that is because you never break them in, you only wear them on weekends, or you enjoy buying new boots every 6 months. highdesertranger
 

TheAlbatross

New member
Recommendations will depend on lots of variables...
Hilldweller makes a good point. My experience has led me to typically prefer a fairly substantial boot, but depending on your personal preference and the conditions you encounter that route may not be best for you. Ultimately it's about what is comfortable and effective for you and the environment you typically experience. I've hiked in everything from open sandals to a fully waterproof boot with lots of support and that has helped me figure out what works best for me. If you're able to try a few different styles of footwear that would be an ideal route to find what you like and then find a high quality product that fits your preference (and your foot).
 

hwc1954

New member
I think the Keens would be awesome around town boots, but they are not substantial enough or supportive enough for me on the brutally rocky terrain in New Hampshire. A very popular choice around here are the LLBean Cresta hikers. These are European made traditional hiking boots from AKU, an Italian boot company. They make an all leather version and a leather/fabric version. Both have Vibram soles and GoreTex liners:

http://www.llbean.com/llb/search/?freeText=gore-tex+cresta+hikers&init=1&sort_field=Relevance

These are available in narrow and wide widths so you can get the best possible fit. Knock on wood, I've hiked in two brand new pair after just an hour or two around the house and have yet to get a blister with these boots.
 

BillTex

Adventurer
I think the Keens would be awesome around town boots, but they are not substantial enough or supportive enough for me on the brutally rocky terrain in New Hampshire. A very popular choice around here are the LLBean Cresta hikers. These are European made traditional hiking boots from AKU, an Italian boot company. They make an all leather version and a leather/fabric version. Both have Vibram soles and GoreTex liners:

http://www.llbean.com/llb/search/?freeText=gore-tex+cresta+hikers&init=1&sort_field=Relevance

These are available in narrow and wide widths so you can get the best possible fit. Knock on wood, I've hiked in two brand new pair after just an hour or two around the house and have yet to get a blister with these boots.
Everyone's feet are different...FWIW I complete a fair amount of my 4000'er list in Keens. Lighter shoes allow me to lay down more miles with less fatigue. I am not ready for ultra light shoes as I do prefer a more rigid sole for the rocky New England trails...but the Keens have been awesome. I have a closet full of boots from Fabiano's to Merrells that haven't seen the light of day in years.
Keen Voyageur are my current fave...they are the ONLY hiking shoe I ever owned that I can leave on at camp at the end of a long day on the trail. This allows me to save the weight of carrying a pair of camp sneakers/sandals...there is something to be said for that.

It took me a while to figure out...but lighter/faster=better.
For me.
 

hwc1954

New member
I couldn't get the Keen Targhee's to keep my foot from slamming forward into the toe-box on the downhills. Not enough support across the top of the foot -- basically just laces and fabric. They were super comfortable, just didn't work for my foot shape on hills. But, they are really popular and a lot of people like them as much as you do.

I first started hiking on those trails in low cut trail runners. My feet and ankles were getting demolished from banging against rocks.
 
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