La Sportiva Bushido II - Women's Review
Cons: Lacks cushioning, better for narrow-footed runners
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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La Sportiva Bushido II - Women's
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|Pros||Sensitive, stable, confidence-inspiring, good for technical terrain||Superior comfort, light on foot, protective cushioning, stable architecture, breathable upper, great traction||Well-cushioned midsole, excellent traction, good stability, excellent at everything including long distances, high value||Light, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stable||Affordable, comfortable, good crossover shoe, great for beginning trail runners|
|Cons||Lacks cushioning, better for narrow-footed runners||Lace pocket is difficult to use, tight collar can bite into the ankle, pricy||Stack height takes some getting used to, less customizable lacebed||Narrow fit, runs small, rigid construction, takes time to break-in||Not rugged enough for technical trails, less sensitive|
|Bottom Line||A snug-fitting trail shoe that offers solid traction and great sensitivity for extra technical runs||Our favorite shoe offers a well-balanced ride with one of the stickiest and most confidence-inspiring outsoles we've ever seen||With a comfortable and responsive midsole and enough room in the forefoot for toe wiggle, you'll be happy running mile after mile||Stable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alike||If 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%)|
|Comfort and Fit (15%)|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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