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La Sportiva Bushido II - Women's Review

A snug-fitting trail shoe that offers solid traction and great sensitivity for extra technical runs
la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review
Credit: La Sportiva
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Price:  $145 List | $108.69 at REI
Pros:  Sensitive, stable, confidence-inspiring, good for technical terrain
Cons:  Lacks cushioning, better for narrow-footed runners
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 14, 2022
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 20
  • Foot Protection - 25% 7.0
  • Traction - 20% 7.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 8.0
  • Stability - 15% 9.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 5.0
  • Weight - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

La Sportiva knows how to make exceptional gear, and the updated Bushido II is no exception. From its incredible traction due to its FriXion XT V-Groove2 to its Ortholite insole, the Bushido is ready to take on the mountains. With a 6mm drop and an AirMesh and ripstop upper, this shoe makes a great trail companion for all of your alpine romps. It's rigid and boasts epic traction that combines with its excellent sensitivity to make a running shoe that is protective, springy, and tough. It is a bit narrower and harder to break in than some of our more tried-and-true favorites, but once you get accustomed to the sensation of the Bushido II, it could become a great long-haul running companion.

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Star Rating
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Pros Sensitive, stable, confidence-inspiring, good for technical terrainSuperior comfort, light on foot, protective cushioning, stable architecture, breathable upper, great tractionWell-cushioned midsole, excellent traction, good stability, excellent at everything including long distances, high valueLight, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stableAffordable, comfortable, good crossover shoe, great for beginning trail runners
Cons Lacks cushioning, better for narrow-footed runnersLace pocket is difficult to use, tight collar can bite into the ankle, pricyStack height takes some getting used to, less customizable lacebedNarrow fit, runs small, rigid construction, takes time to break-inNot rugged enough for technical trails, less sensitive
Bottom Line A snug-fitting trail shoe that offers solid traction and great sensitivity for extra technical runsOur favorite shoe offers a well-balanced ride with one of the stickiest and most confidence-inspiring outsoles we've ever seenWith a comfortable and responsive midsole and enough room in the forefoot for toe wiggle, you'll be happy running mile after mileStable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alikeIf you are looking for an affordable shoe to run light trails and fire roads, look no further because this is the perfect shoe for you
Rating Categories La Sportiva Bushido II Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo... Dynafit Feline SL -... Brooks Divide 2 - W...
Foot Protection (25%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Traction (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
Sensitivity (15%)
8.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Stability (15%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort and Fit (15%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Specs La Sportiva Bushido II Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo... Dynafit Feline SL -... Brooks Divide 2 - W...
Measured Weight (per shoe) 8.64 oz (size 7) 8.68 oz (size 7)
9.8 oz (size 9)
7.41 oz (size 7)
8.6 oz (size 9)
9.45 oz (size 7)
9.8 oz (size 9)
8.0 oz (size 7)
Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 8.6 mm 5 mm 8 mm 8 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 19mm, 13mm 26.8 mm, 18.2 mm 31 mm Not disclosed 20 mm, 12 mm
Upper Air mesh, microfiber, ripstop, TPU toe cap Textile/synthetic Engineered mesh Mesh, continuous nylon Synthetic mesh
Midsole MEMlex, EVA rock guard, TPU shank Energy Cell, polyurethane foam EVA Feline SL midsole EVA
Outsole FriXion XT 2.0 V-Groove2 Rubber Rubber Sticky Pomoco Outer Rubber
Rock Plate? Yes Not disclosed None Not disclosed Yes
Wide Version Available? No No No No No
Sizes Available 5.5 - 11 4 - 13 6 - 11 5 - 11 5 - 12

Our Analysis and Test Results

The rigid Bushido II doesn't provide the underfoot cushion or lateral flexibility of many of our highest-scoring running shoes. But if it fits your feet comfortably, it is a tough workhorse that will have you scampering up steep granite faces with ease.

Performance Comparison


la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the bushido ii is one of our favorite shoes for rugged alpine...
The Bushido II is one of our favorite shoes for rugged alpine running due to its traction and toe cap.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Foot Protection


The updated Bushido II has an exterior toe cap made of soft yet thick rubber; for us, it's a dream come true. It encases your toe tips in just the right about of protection, and we love how it feels flexible in motion. This is especially well-balanced because of how rigid the shoe is overall. Some runners might prefer a more rigid toe cap, while others might prefer a softer option. For us, this toe cap provides the perfect balance between structure and flexibility.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - we love the flexible protection of the toe cap on the bushido.
We love the flexible protection of the toe cap on the Bushido.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The latticed rubber outer of the Bushido II is another great protective element, though this shoe didn't score super high in this metric. When combined with the thermal microfiber and AirMesh upper, it becomes pretty impermeable to sand and debris. La Sportiva does make a GTX version, which we did not test, but we assume it offers even more profound protection from the elements.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the rubber pattern atop the engineered mesh upper provides a strong...
The rubber pattern atop the engineered mesh upper provides a strong fortress against sand and small rocks.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The Bushido II has an integrated rock plate, which helps to disperse the feeling of being stabbed by sharp underfoot protrusions. Even when compared to less-plush running shoes on the market, the sole of the Bushido is quite stiff and thin. While we love a run where you can get intimate with the trail, the lack of underfoot cushion translates to less overall protection. Heel strikers might have better luck in the Bushido over long distances because that is where more of the cushion resides. The overall stack height is 19mm at its highest and 13mm at its lowest, which is fairly minimalistic compared to many trail running shoe options on the market.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the sensitivity of the bushido (right) is much higher than many of...
The sensitivity of the Bushido (right) is much higher than many of our favorite shoes. This makes it a great choice for trail runs that lack sharp rocks and features, especially if you are a runner who has sensitive feet.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Traction


The traction of the Bushido II is interesting, to say the least. The lug pattern and placement have stayed the same throughout recent years and are incredibly strong. However, the forefoot lugs all face forward, which leaves you susceptible to some slippage, most notably on loose downhills.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the forward-facing lugs cut down on the bushido's ability to grip...
The forward-facing lugs cut down on the Bushido's ability to grip super slick surfaces.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Aside from that, we tested this shoe on dirt roads, hard-packed trails, over kitty litter, and snowy surfaces. In all these conditions, the outsole does a great job of grabbing and sticking to the surface.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - testing traction on a small snow patch in early spring. the heel...
Testing traction on a small snow patch in early Spring. The heel stomper works well for minor snow sliding fun while the lugs do well on some not-super soft surfaces.
Credit: Edward Kemper

The shoe is pretty rigid, making it easy to kick in a snow step for enhanced stability on technical surfaces. The Bushido II scored similarly to many other trail running shoes in this metric. The lug pattern offers a noticeably good mud shed, an understated feature we have grown to appreciate.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - while not our top-scoring shoe, we love so many things about the...
While not our top-scoring shoe, we love so many things about the updated Bushido by La Sportiva.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Sensitivity


This is one of the metrics where the Bushido II really shines. Because of its lower-riding profile, you are closer to the ground, which means you can feel the trail beneath your feet. Even with the integrated rock plate, the ground and its topography feel close.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the bushido is a great choice if you desire a shoe that allows you...
The Bushido is a great choice if you desire a shoe that allows you to connect with the varying terrain beneath your feet.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Foot protection is "about right" for those who prefer a thinner shoe, and sensitivity is ample. You can feel where you place your toes, which ultimately helps you keep your balance and stay upright. While this is a technical shoe, it offers an immense sensitivity that we appreciate. This shoe can take a beating for many miles, but you might find that you have to condition your feet to get used to the impact.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - it took some getting used-to to adapt to longer runs in the bushido...
It took some getting used-to to adapt to longer runs in the Bushido II (left). Ultimately, we are glad that we persevered through the break-in period and found our stride in these shoes.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Stability


We love the stability of this shoe. It has a more rigid construction surrounding the midsole and outsole with integrated shanks in the heel. The outsole is fairly flexible back and forth but doesn't offer much lateral torsion, keeping your foot straight on the trail. This is huge for when your legs start to fatigue, and you default into using your arms as airplane wings for balance.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the 19mm stack height and 6mm drop combined with the strong lateral...
The 19mm stack height and 6mm drop combined with the strong lateral structure of the Bushido make for a comfortably stable trail running shoe.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The stack height isn't very high, only 19mm, which aids in providing strong stability. We tend to think about stability going hand-in-hand with how low to the ground you ride — or how minimal the heel-to-toe differential is. In the case of the Bushido II, a 6mm differential and low stack height make for a very stable ride.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - where do you run-hike? checking out this traverse to red mountain...
Where do you run-hike? Checking out this traverse to Red Mountain requires a shoe that is both stable and confidence-inspiring. The Bushido II can take on high and loose ridge lines with ease.
Credit: Amber King

Comfort and Fit


The compression foam in the midsole of the Bushido II is hard and quite responsive, which isn't always a sought-after feature in a trail runner. Overall, it's not seriously cushioned and is not the most comfortable. The fit is specific, and we love it since it works for us. Our narrow-footed runners like this shoe a lot, but it can also work for those with wide feet, as the upper is soft and flexible. La Sportiva also offers a wide version to further accommodate runners with different foot shapes.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the mid and front foot offer huge amounts of sensitivity as the...
The mid and front foot offer HUGE amounts of sensitivity as the cushioning is far from ample. The heel is more cushioned, offering more protection and less sensitivity in this area.
Credit: Amber King

Still, we hesitate to fully recommend this shoe to runners with wider feet. The toe box offers enough space, but so many trail running shoes are adding more space, so the Bushido comes up short here. Due to its rigid construction, it doesn't really give in after a few break-in miles, either. If it doesn't feel comfortable off the rack, it likely won't feel more comfortable 10 miles into a training run.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - a look at the overall fit and profile of the still-awesome la...
A look at the overall fit and profile of the still-awesome La Sportiva Bushido II.
Credit: Edward Kemper

The lacing system integrates a TPU overlay that completely wraps the foot for the right amount of tightness and precision. The arch has some support, and the heel cup fits nicely and is tight. We love that the collar is thick and well-shaped. There is no "extra" material inside the shoe, which contributes to its overall minimalistic feel. The tongue has a few cushioned areas to help it lie flat and protect the upper foot from the laces cutting in, but even that cushion is quite scarce.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - a close-up look at the scant tongue cushioning. it provides just...
A close-up look at the scant tongue cushioning. It provides just enough to be comfortable without anything extra.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Weight


Each women's size 7 shoe weighs in at 8.64 ounces, which is pretty standard for the market today. Anything under 9 ounces works for us, though we often opt for speedy shoes that feel weightless underfoot. Despite its standard weight, the streamlined profile and snug fit of the Bushido II make it feel weightless once it is strapped to our feet. Once we got used to the weight distribution of these kicks, we loved them.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - running in the mountains is a great place for this shoe. it offers...
Running in the mountains is a great place for this shoe. It offers stability and support when running up or down super steep trails.
Credit: Edward Kemper

Should You Buy the La Sportiva Bushido II?


The durability and strength of the Bushido II help make it a good value. Price aside, the Bushido isn't right for all runners. The prime sensitivity might not be comfortable if the undersides of your feet are tender. The low stack height and lack of cushion allow you to feel sharp rocks, so if you describe your feet as sensitive, maybe forgo the shoes that provide extra sensitivity. The Bushido is also a narrow-ish shoe, which won't work for wide-footed runners. That said, if you like the idea of an intimate trail running experience and are comfortable with a rigid shoe body, this is a great shoe to consider.

la sportiva bushido ii for women trail running shoes review - the bushido is a worthwhile investment if you are looking for a...
The Bushido is a worthwhile investment if you are looking for a strong yet sensitive trail running companion.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


While the Bushido II offers plenty of tech and function in a svelte package, its tighter fit and narrower platform won't suit everyone. The Dynafit Feline SL feels similar and is slightly more suited towards extreme outdoor running. The Feline offers quite a bit more protection and slightly higher sensitivity ratings. The Brooks Divide 2 also fits like a traditional running shoe, but it is less likely to bite down on slippery surfaces. Regarding mountain running, the Bushido came up just behind our top pick for sloppy surfaces, the Salomon Speedcross 6. If you want a super rigid shoe that offers a bit more space for toes to splay, you should check out the Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max, which offers some of the best traction we have ever seen. Finally, if a well-cushioned running shoe is more your speed, opt to test out the Altra Lone Peak 6 or the Hoka Torrent 2 for a plusher running experience.

Ally Arcuri
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