The Rundown

Surface:
Trail
Stack Height:
Moderate

Born in the Dolomites of Italy, La Sportiva is over 90 years old. The company is steeped in a mountaineering and climbing heritage that helped shape the Bushido, a favorite of the line. Given the strength of the original, fans will be pleased that the second round is only a mild tweak and not a major remake.

The Bushido II remains a precision instrument that was crafted to navigate rocky surfaces with confidence and aggressiveness, knowing the traction and agility will be there when you need it. Not the most cushioned of shoes, the Bushido is more about protection and getting around hard trail obstacles rather than running over or through them. It’s light weight and responsive ride lets you dodge rather than absorb rocks, roots and ruts on the trail. The Bushido II remained faithful to the first version, keeping the shoe’s mountain running acumen—in a more refined form.

The Specs

Weight:
8.8oz W, 10.5oz M
Offset:
6mm
Heel/Forefoot:
19mm/13mm
Midsole:
EVA with a thin rock guard (in forefoot) of dual-density compressed EVA, plus stabilizing TPU inserts
Outsole:
Dual-density FriXion XT V-Groove rubber with Impact Brake System
Upper:
Welded with mesh and rubberized tongue
Price:
$130

100 Miles In: The Review

Winter snow and spring mud were ideal conditions for Bushido II testing. The shoes really shine when the going got challenging, showing their impressive handling attributes where other shoes would have made the conditions a slip-and-fall in waiting. The outsole was quite grippy, but not over the top, so the Bushido II wasn’t a dog on pavement, as is the case with some trail shoes. The tread pattern did well in shedding mud but, more importantly, keeping a hold on slick mud, snow, slush and wet rock, and the edges of the outsole are stiff enough that the shoe holds its grip quite effectively when traversing sloping or irregular, slick surfaces.

LaSportiva Bushida II Sole
photo: Adam Chase

The FriXion XT V-Groove outsole held up well with one exception of the lug on the lateral fore lug, where as a forefoot runner I both land and take off from that point almost every step, causing notable wear and tear after 100 miles, regardless of the shoe. I consider it “personalizing” the shoe to accommodate running mechanics, so it isn’t wearing out but, rather, “wearing in” or adapting the shoe for my gait.

The fit of Bushido is somewhat “European” in that it is has a lower-volume last that is longer and skinnier than it is wide. The padded, ergonomic and gusseted tongue is the highlight of this easy to wear shoe with laces that stay tied when double knotted. The shoes held my feet securely enough that the shoes felt like a natural extension on rugged footing, and the updated heel design worked so well with the whole update that you simply didn’t notice it, a high compliment.
The durability of the arch area was one of the original Bushido’s weaknesses. La Sportiva addressed this issue by adding rugged materials that didn’t detract from the flex or add much weight. The updates also features an ever-so-slightly-enhanced midsole to improve responsiveness.

There’s The Rub

The Bushido is a technical shoe made and made well for a particular use. If you don’t use it for that purpose—taking this neutral, low-profile shoe on roads or bridal paths instead of challenging trails—you are likely to be disappointed. But that would also be the case if you had a mountain goat as a domestic pet in a city apartment. These are not cushy and they don’t pamper your feet—but that is not their intended design.

Additionally, as mentioned above, the fit is fine for lower volume feet but those needing a wide toe box or used to a full splay are likely to be put off by the Bushido II.

TL;DR

As a rugged mountain running shoe that was lightly modified to retain its outstanding qualities for neutral agility, protection, responsiveness, traction, stability and relative comfort, the Bushido II is a fine option for lower-volume feet, one of the best in the “way-off-road” category. It has been improved for even greater durability so that the $130 purchase price is good value as it will be around for many a rugged mountain run, one where you are likely to feel more secure as you face the elements and natural obstacles.