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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
Photo: La Sportiva
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Price:  $130 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Good protection and sensitivity, stable
Cons:  Not particularly breathable, fit is small
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 16
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8
  • Traction - 20% 8
  • Sensitivity - 15% 8
  • Stability - 15% 8
  • Comfort - 15% 6
  • Weight - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Narrow and fleet-footed 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 this shoe will be rewarded with a durable model adept at long runs in the mountains.

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$125 List
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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 stableExcellent traction, protective and sensitive, light, comfortable, durableStable, low to the ground, great tractionG-grip graphene enhanced outsole is very durable, super comfortable, low to the ground and responsive
Cons Not particularly breathable, fit is smallExpensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garageExpensive, tongue comfort affects someA little heavy for a trail shoeNot as sticky as previous versions, not super protective underfoot or in the upper
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 performanceThe perfect definition of a do-everything trail running shoe, which also happens to be zero-dropThis is a very stable shoe with a sticky outsole that's perfect for putting in miles over varied terrainA very comfortable, low riding shoe that has excellent and durable traction
Rating Categories La Sportiva Bushido II Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Inov-8 Terraultra G... Saucony Peregrine 11 Inov-8 Roclite 290
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Traction (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Sensitivity (15%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Stability (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Comfort (15%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
Specs La Sportiva Bushido II Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Inov-8 Terraultra G... Saucony Peregrine 11 Inov-8 Roclite 290
Measured Weight (per pair) 21.9 oz (size 9.5) 22.4 oz (size 11) 20.9 oz (size 11) 22.5 oz (size 9.5) 21.6 oz (size 11)
Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 8 mm 0 mm 4 mm 4 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 19 mm, 13 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 22 mm, 22 mm 27 mm, 23 mm 17.5 mm, 13.5 mm
Upper Air mesh/thermal adhesive microfiber/high-frequency welded ripstop overlays/TPU toe cap Anti-Debris Mesh with sockliner Breathable Mesh Reinforced mesh Mesh upper with ADAPTERWEB foot cradle system
Midsole 4mm LaSpEVA/compression-molded MEMlex/1.5 mm dual-density compressed EVA Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection Powerflow Max PWRRUN PowerFlow
Outsole FriXion XT V-Groove2 rubber with Impact Brake System Contagrip MA Rubber Graphene Grip PWRTRAC Tri-C Sticky
Lacing Style Traditional Quicklace with garage Traditional Traditional Traditional
Wide Version Available? No No No Yes No
Sizes Available 38 - 48.5 4 - 13 7 - 15 7 - 14 7 - 15

Our Analysis and Test Results

The La Sportiva Bushido II ratchets up the sensitivity factor without sacrificing too much protection, making it a great 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 rocky ridge runs.

Performance Comparison


These shoes offer a decent balance of sensitivity and protection.
These shoes offer a decent balance of sensitivity and protection.
Photo: 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 translates into good protection from side impacts and from 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). This 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.

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.
Photo: Matt Bento

Traction


We've used shoes with larger, deeper lugs than those on the Bushido II, but they still perform respectively on mud and loose gravel. We really 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 really shines on smooth granite slabs and rock hopping while crossing streams.

Though the rubber outsole is hard and durable, it remains...
Though the rubber outsole is hard and durable, it remains surprisingly sticky on rocks.
Photo: Matt Bento

Sensitivity


Sensitivity is the strong suit of the Bushido II. Without a lot of cushioning, we could easily 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.

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.
Photo: 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 feel of the shoe, 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 life of the shoe.

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.
Photo: Matt Bento

Comfort


We've said it before (and we're going to say it again): comfort is subjective. If the shoe doesn't fit, it's not going to be comfortable. The Bushido II is narrow, and it feels especially so when compared to offerings from Salomon or Inov-8. 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 pavement with these 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.
Photo: Matt Bento

Weight


While these are no minimalist featherweights, the Bushido II are well in line with the competition weight-wise. At 21.9 oz for a US 9.5, they still feel fairly light on foot, even with the extra tongue padding and TPU on the uppers.

These shoes weigh 21.9 oz per pair according to our scale.
These shoes weigh 21.9 oz per pair according to our scale.
Photo: Matt Bento

Value


The price on these puppies isn't likely to raise any eyebrows, and we mean that in a good way, as there are trail running shoes out there inching their way towards a two hundred dollar price point. The Bushido II is an affordable shoe, and while the less than fully mesh upper reduces breathability, it makes for a more durable, longer-lasting option.

These shoes have a narrow fit, so if you have a wider foot, there is...
These shoes have a narrow fit, so if you have a wider foot, there is no room for your feet to swell as the miles rack up.
Photo: Matt Bento

Conclusion


"Bushido" refers to the Ancient Japanese Samurai honor code. They valued things like justice, courage, and mercy. Through our research, we didn't see anything about stability, sensitivity, or TPU reinforced toe protection but had 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 little ridge scrambling, and if you have narrow feet, they're definitely worth checking out.

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.
Photo: Matt Bento

Matt Bento