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La Sportiva Bushido II Review

These protective tanks will keep going over rocky ridges and scree fields but aren't great for hotter environments
La Sportiva Bushido II
Credit: La Sportiva
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Price:  $130 List | $130.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good protection and sensitivity, stable
Cons:  Not particularly breathable, fit is small
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 6, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 19
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 20% 8.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 8.0
  • Stability - 15% 8.0
  • Comfort - 15% 5.0
  • Weight - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

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. Those who choose to add this shoe to their collection will be rewarded with 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.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Good protection and sensitivity, stableUnbeatable fit, very comfortable, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, ankle collar keeps out debris, very stableVery protective, roomier fit than other models from La SportivaUltralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agileAffordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option
Cons Not particularly breathable, fit is smallExpensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garageHeavily padded tongue results in sub-par breathabilityLoose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feelingSoft 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 environmentsThe cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performanceThis burly mountain runner is very protective and is an excellent choice for longer outings in rocky terrainAn ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever testedA 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 La Sportiva Karacal HOKA Torrent 2 Brooks Divide 2
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Sensitivity (15%)
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
6.0
Stability (15%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort (15%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Specs La Sportiva Bushido II Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 La Sportiva Karacal HOKA Torrent 2 Brooks Divide 2
Measured Weight (per pair) 21.9 oz (size 9.5) 21.5 oz (size 9.5) 20.2 oz (size EU 43) 18.3 oz (size 9.5) 21.5 oz (size 9.5)
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 19 mm, 13 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 29 mm, 22 mm 23 mm, 18 mm 25 mm, 17 mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 8 mm 7 mm 5 mm 8 mm
Lug Depth 5 mm 4 mm 3 mm 5 mm 3 mm
Upper Air mesh/thermal adhesive microfiber/high-frequency welded ripstop overlays/TPU toe cap Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner Mesh Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU Mesh, TPU
Midsole 4mm LaSpEVA/compression-molded MEMlex/1.5 mm dual-density compressed EVA Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection Compression-molded EVA/1.5 mm dual-density EVA HOKA Profly: dual-density foam Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam
Outsole FriXion XT V-Groove2 rubber with Impact Brake System Contagrip MA Rubber FriXion AT 2.0 Rubber Brooks TrailTack rubber
Rock Plate? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Lacing Style Traditional Quicklace with garage Traditional Traditional Traditional
Wide Version Available? No No No No No
Sizes Available 38 - 48.5 EU 4 - 13 US 38 - 48.5 EU 7 - 15 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.

Performance Comparison


La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - these shoes offer a decent balance of sensitivity and protection.
These shoes offer a decent balance of sensitivity and protection.
Credit: Matt Bento

Foot Protection


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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - a padded tongue and tpu overlay for increased structure protects the...
A padded tongue and TPU overlay for increased structure protects the foot from side and front impacts.
Credit: Matt Bento

Traction


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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - though the rubber outsole is hard and durable, it remains...
Though the rubber outsole is hard and durable, it remains surprisingly sticky on rocks.
Credit: Matt Bento

Sensitivity


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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - the bushido ii performed well in our traction test over smooth rocks...
The Bushido II performed well in our traction test over smooth rocks and scree.
Credit: Matt Bento

Stability


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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - we found this model quite stable for uneven terrain and great for...
We found this model quite stable for uneven terrain and great for bombing down hills.
Credit: Matt Bento

Comfort


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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - the lacing system is tight and secure, but the laces are almost too...
The lacing system is tight and secure, but the laces are almost too short for higher volume feet.
Credit: Matt Bento

Weight


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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - these shoes weigh 21.9 oz per pair according to our scale.
These shoes weigh 21.9 oz per pair according to our scale.
Credit: Matt Bento

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.

La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes - if they fit, the bushido ii is a great tool for exploring your...
If they fit, the Bushido II is a great tool for exploring your backyard.
Credit: Matt Bento

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The Bushido II is an affordable shoe, and while they are 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 an outdoorsman's footwear collection.

Matt Bento
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