Narrow and fleet-footed trail runners will enjoy the La Sportiva Bushido II for its incredible combination of sensitivity and protection. At the same time, folks with wider feet will struggle to dial in the fit. If your foot is a match for the Bushido II, expect a stable ride capable of moderate scrambling thanks to its excellent sticky rubber outsole. But be aware that these kicks don't breathe well, so you'll want to go with a more breathable shoe when the mercury rises. This is a durable model adept at long runs in the mountains.Editor's Note: The La Sportiva Bushido II review was updated on March 6, 2022, with more tips on which products we would buy and more specific product comparisons.
La Sportiva Bushido II Review
Cons: Not particularly breathable, fit is small
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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La Sportiva Bushido II
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|Pros||Good protection and sensitivity, stable||Unbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stable||Ultralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agile||Unparalleled comfort, unrivaled traction, ample foot protection||Affordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option|
|Cons||Not particularly breathable, fit is small||Expensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garage||Loose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feeling||Aggressive heel-to-toe drop, lack of stability||Soft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction|
|Bottom Line||These protective tanks will keep going over rocky ridges and scree fields but aren't great for hotter environments||The cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performance||An ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever tested||A legendary shoe that gets better by the year with minor tweaks to improve the performance of this specialty off-trail runner||A comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva Bushido II||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Speedcross 6||Brooks Divide 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva Bushido II||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Speedcross 6||Brooks Divide 2|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||21.9 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)||18.3 oz (size 9.5)||21.4 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||19 mm, 13 mm||26 mm, 18 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||32 mm, 22 mm||25 mm, 17 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||6 mm||8 mm||5 mm||10 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||5 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm||3 mm|
|Upper||Air mesh/thermal adhesive microfiber/high-frequency welded ripstop overlays/TPU toe cap||Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner||Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU||Synthetic mesh, Ripstop, TPU||Mesh, TPU|
|Midsole||4mm LaSpEVA , Compression molded MEMlex, 1.5mm dual-density compressed EVA rock guard (in forefoot), TPU STB inserts||Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection||HOKA ProFly: dual-density foam||Salomon EnergyCell+ EVA||Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam|
|Outsole||La Sportiva FriXion XT V-Groove2||Salomon Contagrip MA||Rubber||Salomon Mud Contagrip||Brooks TrailTack|
|Lacing Style||Traditional||Quicklace with garage||Traditional||Quicklace||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Sizes Available||38 - 48.5 EU||4 - 13 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 14 US||7 - 15 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva Bushido II ratchets up the sensitivity factor without sacrificing too much protection, making it an excellent choice for runners who often find themselves jogging over smooth slabs, hopping from boulder to boulder, or navigating scree fields. Like many other models in the La Sportiva line-up, the Bushido II runs narrow, keeping the heel locked solidly in place but leaving little room for swelling in the toe box. Those with narrow feet will find these shoes comfortable, stable, and plenty protective for long days on rocky ridges, making them a good alternative for a pair of the best hiking shoes.
Compared to many top-scoring shoes for long-distance trail running, the Bushido II has a lot going on up top. The uppers have a busy appearance, balancing a breathable mesh with TPU reinforcement around the sides of the toe box. This combination translates into good protection from side impacts and rocks and sticks.
Turning our attention to the bottom of the shoes, we noticed the 13mm of FriXion XT V-Groove2 rubber and compressed and molded foams under the forefoot (19mm under the heel). It is more cushioning than previous versions of the Bushido, but it's still on the low end of thickness compared to much of the competition. Despite the "sparse" cushioning, the midsole is adequately stiff, and while we could feel the general contours of the terrain under our feet, we didn't take much of a beating from sharp rocks.
We've used shoes with larger, deeper lugs than those on the Bushido II, but they still perform respectably on mud and loose gravel. We enjoyed them in muddy conditions since the shallow lugs provided traction, but not so much that we ended up with a pound of earth caked on each foot.
No stranger to high friction rubber, Sportiva opted to use FriXion XT-Groove2 rubber, which shines on smooth granite slabs and rock hopping while crossing streams.
Sensitivity is the strong suit of the Bushido II. Without a lot of cushioning, we could feel the contours of the trail and rapidly adapt to changing angles, roots, and rocks — we moved along blissfully over uneven terrain. A minimalist shoe might offer better sensitivity but can't provide the foot protection needed for endless miles on rugged terrain.
Since the Bushido II doesn't have a thick, cushioned platform, it feels very stable underfoot. Additionally, the narrow fit and locker heel allowed us to quickly adjust to the shoe's feel, making it more of an extension of our foot. Our lead tester pronates ever so slightly with his left foot, and the Bushido II is a good option for him since the pronation causes the cushioning on the inside edge of his running shoes to wear faster than the outside. Without a thick cushioned platform, the shoe wears more evenly, even with some pronation, causing it to feel more stable throughout the shoe's life.
We've said it before (and we're going to say it again): comfort is subjective. If the shoe doesn't suit your foot shape, it's not going to be comfortable. The Bushido II is narrow, and it feels especially so when compared to offerings from other manufacturers that offer more voluminous lasts. The advantages of a narrow shoe are increased stability and sensitivity, but if the shoes are too narrow, they'll be restrictive as your feet swell over longer runs.
Aside from their shape, the Bushido II has a few comfort-enhancing design features. The tongue is heavily padded where it meets the ankle, and the heel collar sits low around the ankle, so you can crank down the laces without causing uncomfortable pressure around the ankle or your Achilles. Because there isn't a ton of cushioning, we recommend limiting the amount of time you run on the pavement with these shoes.
While these are no minimalist featherweights, the Bushido II are well in line with the competition weight-wise. They still feel relatively light on foot at 21.9 oz for a US 9.5, even with the extra tongue padding and TPU on the uppers.
Should You Buy the La Sportiva Bushido II?
"Bushido" refers to the Ancient Japanese Samurai honor code. They valued things like justice, courage, and mercy. We didn't see anything about stability, sensitivity, or TPU reinforced toe protection through our research, but if the Samurai needed to run long distances through the forest, the Bushido II would be a good choice. In all seriousness, these shoes are an excellent option for the dedicated trail runner who likes to mix things up with a bit of ridge scrambling, and if you have narrow feet, they're worth checking out.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
While the Bushido II is lacking somewhat in comfort, they have above average scores in almost every other metric, making them a hard shoe to beat. Another top-scoring option is the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3, which is more comfortable, stable, and protective, although a bit heavier. Thanks to its super breathable mesh upper, the Salomon Sense Ride 4 is a great option for warm climates. Any of these three would be a welcome addition to a footwear collection.
— Matt Bento
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