How KEEN's PFAS-Free Targhee IV Became the Brand's Cleanest Hiking Boot Yet

By eliminating harmful forever chemicals & introducing innovative construction tech, the new Targhee IV is KEEN's best (and most sustainable) boot yet

How KEEN's PFAS-Free Targhee IV Became the Brand's Cleanest Hiking Boot Yet


Tanner Bowden


Courtesy KEEN

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Every year, humans make more than 24 billion pairs of shoes. It's a vast understatement to say that that's a lot of shoes, but to say so also underlines how much progress can still be made toward lessening our impact by innovating new ways to more consciously create longer lasting products. One company taking these steps is KEEN, the Portland-based shoemaker that's been family-owned and values-led for over 20 years. Recently the company doubled down on its ongoing mission to make the world's cleanest shoes with their flagship hiking boot, the Targhee IV.

Even within KEEN's vast and unique catalog—which includes the beloved OG Newport, a staple sandal since 2003, and the eye-catching UNEEK, blazing runways and trails since 2014—the Targhee stands apart. The boot has been a fan favorite since its introduction in 2005 and countless hikers have logged millions of trail miles in them. To tinker under the hood of a boot that's become such a classic is proof of how determined KEEN is to continue to reduce the impact of how they make shoes.


So, what does a Consciously Created Targhee look like? For one, it's PFAS-free. PFAS aka per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances aka forever chemicals are found in everything from non-stick pans to cosmetics to, unfortunately, a lot of outdoor gear. But not the Targhee. The harm posed by PFAS has only recently been exposed in a broad way, but KEEN has been ahead of the game, being PFAS-free since 2018. You won't find these forever chemicals in any KEEN shoe, or in any part of its supply chain for that matter.

Another one of KEEN's beliefs is that durability equals sustainability. You’ll find no planned obsolescence here—KEEN made the Targhee IV to last as long as possible. One component of this effort is the KEEN.RUGGED outsole that's twice as abrasion resistant as typical rubber. Another is the introduction of KEEN.FUSION technology, which replaces the use of toxic glues with a heat activated, direct-injection process that fuses the upper to the sole using 3.5x less energy than traditional, solvent-based manufacturing. Without glue and with this bonding tech, KEEN guarantees your Targhee IV boots will never fail from delamination or sole separation—one of the main reasons hiking boots fall apart, caused by glue deterioration. And if things do start to fall apart, KEEN will happily replace your boots with a new pair (or an equivalent credit) through their Delamination-Free Guarantee warranty.



These sustainability efforts are built on top of the long-since-proven foundation that is the Targhee. You can get a pair with low or mid-height ankle support, waterproof or vented, wide or standard. The burly uppers are made of ethically sourced, Amazon-safe leather processed in Leather Working Group-certified tanneries. Even the laces are made of 100% recycled plastic. The Luftcell midsole is comfy and supportive and the outsole, with multi-directional lugs, is extremely grippy. Point is, the Targhee IV isn't just an excellent example of consciously made footwear, it's a fully capable hiking boot.

KEEN's on a mission to create the world's cleanest shoe. It's a journey, and the new Targhee is a step in the direction of conscious footwear manufacturing. The company also knows that it can't solve these problems alone. While the makers of forever chemicals cover up their harm, KEEN is committed to sharing what it's learned about cleaning up its methods of making. Using its business to do good, after all, is the best way to ensure that it can keep doing business at all.



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