La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Runner Review
Ever since moving back east from Utah, I’ve been on a quest to find a trail running and hiking shoe that is stickier and sturdier than my beloved Altra Timps. While I could switch to an Altra with a Vibram sole like the Olympus or the Mont Blanc (which I do really want to try), I’ve been curious whether zero drop shoes are slowing my recovery from several torn ligaments in my ankle and wanted to experiment with something new.
Enter the La Sportiva Bushido II. It won the Editor’s Choice Award from Trail Runner Magazine, and you can tell just from the looks of it that this is a no-nonsense shoe.
La Sportiva Bushido II At-A-Glance
Weight: 8.8 ounces / 250 grams each
Style: Low-rise running shoe
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm drop (Heel stack: 19mm, toe stack: 13mm)
The Bushido II is designed for trail running and hiking on rugged and variable terrain.
Circumstances of Review
I tested the Bushido II throughout the summer while trail running, day hiking, and backpacking. In addition to running relatively easy sections of the Mountains to Sea Trail near my home in central North Carolina, I tested these shoes on several trips to the mountains of western NC and an Appalachian Trail jaunt in New York. Conditions ranged from easy trails and sunny days to extremely challenging, technical terrain and soaking wet conditions.
Bushido II Features
- Outsole lugs wrapped to the midsole for added traction and enhanced stability
- Dual-Density FriXion® XT V-Groove2™ sole with Impact Brake System™ for superior traction on all types of terrain in all types of conditions
- Padded tongue is breathable and secure
- Breathable mesh lining and upper
- Toe cap for extra protection
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Fit, Comfort and Durability
I have been wearing La Sportiva Tx Guide approach shoes for years, and I love them. For an approach shoe, the Tx Guide feels really roomy, and I can actually hike pretty significant distances in them (e.g., I hiked across the Wind River Range in them a few years ago). I was thus surprised by how narrow the Bushido felt. At first, I thought maybe they were just too small. However, I wear a size 6.5 in pretty much all shoes, and there were no other indicators of poor fit (i.e., entire thumb’s length between big toe and end of shoe, toe wiggle room with snug heel and midfoot, no heel slipping); I decided they fit as intended and proceeded to review.
I guess I can mostly chalk this fit difference up to spending a lot of time in Altras over the past several years, but even compared to the Tx Guide (see photo above), you can see how the shape of the shoe is quite different and might feel constraining. With all those considerations in mind, I would say the Bushido is true to size in terms of foot length, but it’s a very narrow fit. You could maybe try sizing up a half size, provided it doesn’t compromise any other areas of fit (especially where the arch hits you).
Aside from the narrow fit, the overall comfort of the Bushido was good. They strike a great balance between cushion and protection from the ground, and the protection doesn’t come at the expense of flexibility and mobility. They provided superior lateral stability on extremely rocky terrain, and they are delightfully grippy, even in wet conditions. The mesh upper allows water to drain well. My shoes could mostly (humidity is a beast) dry out after a day of wet conditions.
I was also impressed with the durability of the Bushido II, although not surprised. I’ve had a couple different pairs of La Sportiva shoes over the years, including the Tx Guides I mentioned above, and all of them really let you wear them out without falling apart. In my opinion and experience, it’s hard to get rid of La Sportivas when they run out of life. Visually, they appear to be doing just fine even though they’re worn out.
La Sportiva Bushido II Pros
Grippy: In my opinion, the stability and grip of the Bushido II are what make this shoe a winner. If I still lived in Utah and had big mountain scrambles available to me, I would feel extremely comfortable in these shoes (which is really saying something because scrambles scare me a lot). And in the east, I was really impressed with how responsive they were on slick rock and highly variable, rugged terrain.
Comfortable: They are well constructed, have plenty of cushion, and breathe really well.
Affordable: They are also reasonably priced. As with all La Sportivas, in my experience, you really get your money’s worth because they hold up so well over time.
La Sportiva Bushido II Cons
Narrow: For me, the Bushido II’s biggest (and maybe only) downside is the narrow fit. If I had gone up a half size like many people do, I think they wouldn’t have fit well. It’s really more about the shape of the toe box than the whole shoe. The curve inward on both sides of the toe creates an unnatural point at the center of the toe box. Perhaps this just boils down to individual differences, but I much prefer an asymmetrical toe box.
Other than this, I truly cannot think of any cons. One thing to note: I unfortunately did not get any opportunities to test their grip on scree. I have heard that the Bushido II doesn’t perform quite as well in loose trail conditions and would be curious to test that for myself; I will update accordingly if/when I have the chance to find that out.
Overall, the Bushido II has way more pros than cons. Even though I don’t love the toe box, I will continue wearing these because they really are a terrific blend of cushioning and stability. If you’re looking for a grippy, responsive trail running / hiking shoe and don’t mind a shoe shape different from your foot shape, you should try the La Sportiva Bushido II.
Shop the Women’s La Sportiva Bushido II
Shop the Men’s La Sportiva Bushido II
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The La Sportiva Bushido II was donated for purpose of review.
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