The La Sportiva Bushido II ($130, 10.5 oz) is designed as an all-mountain trail running shoe. It may perform well in that application, but I bought a pair earlier this summer to instead hike in Alaska’s Brooks Range and on the Yosemite High Route in early-season conditions.
Over a 5-week period I put 315 demanding miles on the Bushido II, using them to scramble across granite slabs, hold my edge on steep tundra slopes, scurry over talus and through scree, kick steps into spring snow, and push through thick willow, dwarf birch, and alder. For the entirety of Alaska and for about half of Yosemite, they were soaking wet due to countless fords, water-logged ground, and melting snow.
How did the second-generation Bushido perform? And how does it compare to the original Bushido and to other popular backpacking shoes?
Long-term review: La Sportiva Bushido II
The original Bushido (my long-term review) was a winner for La Sportiva. It was the best-selling women’s trail running shoe at REI, and an employee favorite. Not wanting to ruin a good thing, La Sportiva made only a few tweaks to the second-generation, which it released in spring 2019.
Like its predecessor, the Bushido II is notable for its:
- Dreamy fit,
- Superb traction,
- Low center of gravity,
- Underfoot stiffness,
- Reasonable dry time, and
- Excellent durability for a 10.5-ounce shoe.
With these features and characteristics, the Bushido II excels on high routes, in trail-less wilderness areas, and during early-season conditions. Due to its firm and thin midsole cushioning, it’s not well suited for high-mileage on-trail hiking, specifically thru-hiking.
Also like the original, the Bushido II fits only narrow and low-volume feet (like mine). It retains the same last, and there are no discernible changes to the fit of the upper, either. This will frustrate some, but please its loyal fan base.
- Breathable upper made of mesh, synthetic leather panels, and TPU overlays and toecap;
- Grippy, heavily lugged, and long-lasting outsole made of Dual-Density FriXion XT;
- Low-volume upper and narrow Racing Lite Ergo last;
- Stack height of 19 mm and 13 mm at the heel and forefoot, with a 6 mm drop, not including the 6 mm outsole;
- 4-mm EVA midsole with a 1.5-mm EVA rock guard in the forefoot;
- Gusseted, thinly cushioned tongue;
- 10.5 ounces (300 grams) in men’s size 9;
- 8.8 ounces (250 grams) for women’s size 7;
- $130 MSRP
- More information
Bushido vs Bushido II
The original and second-generation Bushido are more alike than different. I detailed the similarities and changes in my Bushido II preview last year, and will summarize them here.
No changes were made to the:
- Last or fit,
- Outsole rubber or lug pattern,
- Stack height or drop,
- Redesigned but functionally similar tongue;
- Inclusion of a more responsive EVA midsole foam, which went unnoticed while hiking;
- Use of more abrasion-resistant material under the arch;
- Substitution of more breathable mesh in the upper; and,
- Redesign of the toe cap.
When reading shoe reviews, context matters. I have narrow and low-volume feet. My go-to running shoes are the Salomon Sense (any of them: SLAB, Pro, original Ultra) and the SLAB Ultra for longer trail efforts. The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 mostly fits, though I wish its toebox were not so conical. The Clifton 2 fit me better than the 4 and 5. And my feet swim inside the Altra Lone Peak.
La Sportiva carried over the exact fit of the original Bushido. The Bushido II has the Racing Lite Ergo last, and the upper feels identical despite some re-engineering of it.
Out of the box, the Bushido II is slightly snug on me. But after they pack out, which takes a few miles, I find the fit to be dreamy. My heel stays in place; the wide lacing system and gusseted tongue comfortably cradle my midfoot; and the toebox volume is “just right”: enough to prevent pinching and discomfort, but not so much that lateral control is compromised.
High routes, off-trail hiking, and early-season conditions are harder on shoes than conventional on-trail miles. The shoes are subjected to more lateral pressure, more stress on the outsole, and more abrasion from rock and brush. Also, the shoes are constantly wet.
After 315 miles on the Bushido II, my test pair still had life left: the uppers were largely intact, and the outsole still had tread. But I threw them out before my return flight home anyway — I didn’t want their horrendous smell to contaminate my checked luggage or the main cabin.
Based on this experience, I think a reasonable lifespan for the Bushido II is 400 to 500 “high route” miles.
The uppers of the Bushido II are slightly more durable than the original, due to improved construction of the toecap and arch. The first blowout points now seem to be:
- Fraying of the mesh panels, especially in vulnerable spots like along the outside edge; and,
- Loose thread ends along the lacing system, which I fixed with an application of Aquaseal.
I also became nervous about the loosening of the liner fabric around the heel cup. It proved immaterial, but I feared it would cause blisters or compromise the fit.
The upper consists of ripstop mesh, laminated microfiber, and a TPU exoskeleton and toe cap. It strikes a good balance of breathability, drainage, and durability.
The Bushido doesn’t dry as quickly as I would like, but it was better than the other La Sportiva and Salomon models in the group. With its simple and minimally padded upper, it just cannot hold onto much water.
The toebox is wrapped with a TPU cap, for improved resistance to abrasion and impact, like accidentally kicking rocks or snagging toes on talus. The new toecap is more durable than the original.
The Bushido features an aggressively lugged outsole made of a proprietary premium rubber, FriXion. It sticks reliably to bare rock, bites well into vegetated slopes and spring snow, and was on pace to last 400 to 500 miles. Honestly, it’d be greedy to ask for better performance.
The Bushido II sits low to the ground: including the 6-mm outsole, it has a stack height of 25 mm and 19 mm. This results in a stable shoe, but it’s not adequately cushioned for high-mileage outings.
The forefoot includes a compressed EVA rock plate and the midfoot has a TPU shank. When new, these features enhance underfoot protection without sacrificing stability, and add torsional stiffness for improved edging. Over time the rock plate softens, giving up some protection and rigidity.
If you like the performance of the Bushido but need a more generous fit, consider another model that proved worthy in Alaska and Yosmite. The:
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor ($130, 12 oz) has a lot of structure in the heel and upper, which makes it durable but potentially hard on feet. Its outsole is sticky, but less aggressive and long-lasting.
Salomon X-Ultra 3 ($120, 13 oz) fit and perform similar to the Ultra Raptors. They have aggressive and hard-wearing outsoles, and durable uppers. The Quick Laces will fray in gritty environments.
La Sportiva Mutant ($135, 10.7 oz) are the widest of this group, and the least rigid. The laces should be swapped out immediately, but otherwise the durability is very good. The burrito-style lacing system was applauded.
Leave a comment!
- What questions do you have abou the Bushido II?
- Do you own a pair? What’s been your experience with them?
- What other shoes have you found to excel off-trail and in early-season conditions?
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