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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Loved the shoe but the toung, which was minimally sewn on, detached after about a week. Back to REI.
Wha? Sounds like someone should have caught that sewing error, or like someone doesn’t care.
Hey Andrew. Awesome review. Just picked up my first pair because they were just ultra comfortable. Replaced my altra lone peaks.. which.. were huge on me.
What do you mean when you say, “not for high mileage”? What is high mileage? I’m in the 20 +/-5 range for trail miles.. is that still in the comfortable range or should I be concerned?
Wearing the Bushidos for 25 miles of trail hiking sounds like a lot to me, but your feet will tell you if that’s high for you.
Thank you Andrew. Love your blog.
I pair them with Sole Performance Medium insoles, makes a big difference.
Pulled the trigger on some bushido2s and I am so very pleased. Such a technical shoe. I have had them on some great scrambles and a lot of rough terrain and they really inspire confidence.
They were tight on the toes for the first 20 miles. I got some blisters on the outside of my pinky toe. But they have loosened up very nicely and I have gotten better at tieing them. I use either my darn tough hiking socks or smart wool lightweight hiking socks and my toes are plenty comfy with no rubbing.
I now wear them on backpacking trips. Pack weight is around 20-25 lbs. Daily mileage up to 17 so far with absolutely no problems. They definitely not “cushy” but I am a former boot wearer so it’s fine.
In warm weather they dry in around 20 miles if I dip my toe in a puddle or creek.
I tried a pair of the original bushido and found them too tight in the forefoot- not enough vertical space. I found the bushido II to have slightly more fore foot volume and fit my (also low volume) feet well. I have some heel rub with high miles, but a piece of leokotape on the heel fixes that with no issue. Good shoe, thanks for your recommendation on them.
Great shoe, and spot on review. I concur with all of it and if I had to write a review, the description would be the same.
(If anyone is reading this) To me, because of where I often hike and explore, the stand out feature would be it’s stickiness. I found them to grip wet rock the best of the Salomon’s and Altra’s that I’ve tried.
The only thing that I would add is that the mesh uppers let sand into the tops of my shoe while walking through parts of the desert near the Grand Canyon.
what was the weight of your backpack? Since these shoes were made for skyrunning in the mountains.
Hi Robert, my base pack weight is about 9 pounds 6 ounces, plus food and water, and any other specialty gear required for certain trails. Im usually not heavier than 25 pounds, (plus or minus a pound of two).
Another decent contender for those that cant fit in the Bushido is the La Sportiva Akyra. Very aggressive lugs, with a fit that’s more inline with average foot shapes. Dries vey quick.
Surprisingly, no one had these, because they would work. Justin Simoni had used them in SEKI the year prior, and they struck me as being a lot of shoe: very robust and capable, but kind of stiff and heavy. Interestingly, he complained about them not drying quickly.
I have the original bushido too and second the tongue and heel rub problems . The last I guess it could be solved with a bigger size, at least that is what I am doing when I buy the second generation, as I really love the fit. Thanks for the recommendation and great review!
What recommendations do you have for more on trail hiking? Working my way up to high routes, but not quite there yet.
I have the Saucony Peregrines which fit well, but the durability is lacking. Less than 200 miles in and there’s already holes developing in the upper along the toe crease.
In that same thought string…can you point me to your article on preemptively treating/fixing shoes with Aquaseal? I know I read it on here somewhere before but cannot find it…
It’s not complicated. Just rub it in/on/into the problem spots. So if there’s a seam that regular blows, put a bead over the seam. If it’s a mesh panel, then rub into the mesh.
I’m not as up on the popular trail shoes of the day. I haven’t pounded out endless trail miles in years.
I use the bushido for on trail and have been happy with them for up to 17 miles and about 20 lbs in the pack.
They’re not cushy, but as a former boot wearer I am okay with that.
The other contender in this category for me was the topo mountain racer. I chose bushido because the toebox was more narrow and allows me to stand securely on the outside edge when screaming or on tech terrain. Wide toe box can be a bit more floppy in that situation. But they’re super comfy, the lacing system locks you in really well and they’re cushier.
Love the Bushido II for the usage you highlight. Another great similar shoe I am currently reviewing is the Salomon XA Alpine Pro, has a little more of a forgiving toe box as compared to the Bushido and other Salomons, while still retaining excellent foothold and control. The outsole and upper protection (and I predict durability) are outstanding.
I’ve checked in with Salomon a few times about this shoe, and last time it was still not available. As soon as I saw it at OR, I thought it fall into this same niche. My preview of it, https://andrewskurka.com/preview-salomon-x-alpine-pro/
A perfect alternative to this is the La Sportiva Mutant. Good for scrambling due to its sticky rubber, very good lugs for in muddy or loose ground conditions.
The fit of the Mutants seem to be good for wide and very narrow feet. I’ve read reviews of people with wide feet finding them great, but I have super narrow feet (have to really crank down on Salomon Ultra) and the Mutants fit great.
Solid heel cup, roomy toe box, and a mid section that you can perfectly adjust to your feet. Partly this is due to the very smart tongue. It wraps your feet and snugs up the upper when you tighten they laces.
Worth a look / try.
Looking forward to that review, Jeff. I’ve got 400 rugged miles on my xa alpines with the gaiters and they’ve held up great. Been wanting the meshy version for some time now. Curious to see how protective they are. The bushidos are excellent, but I get nasty poke through on the type of alpine runs I’d like to take them on. I definitely prefer salomons more maleable profeel film to whatever hard rigid rock plate is in the bushidos. I also think that the salomons grip to rock better for the same reason. The bushidos feel pretty board like on the sole, so doesn’t conform to the terrain much. Just my take. Thanks for the review, Andrew. The brooks range is going on my list!
What sock/shoe size combo do you recommend? I’ve seen some people use thicker light hiking socks and buy running shoes one to two sizes larger.
I prefer buying my actual size and use “ultrathin” wool compression running socks like the SmartWool PhD or Defeet.
Of course super thin socks leave you at the mercy of the shoe interior but in my opinion gives you more nimble footing when off trail.
My sock of choice, with the Bushido and running shoes, https://andrewskurka.com/long-term-review-defeet-wooleator-sock/
I love the fit of those shoes, have super narrow feet and those are the first shoes with such a good fit and are super lightweight. Totally agree with your recommendation for the use, I used them on lot on High Routes/Trailless hiking and some trail running this season and the grip is pretty phenomenal.
– my sole wore down super fast and gets too soft for longer days on rocky terrain (only 500 km on them so far) but the grip is still pretty good.
– developed a weird tendonitis the week after I started running in those shoes which makes me believe that there might be some connection – that’s only for running, for hiking that’s not a problem
At this point, I’ve gone through three pairs of the original and I am on my second pair of #2’s.
I think it’s the perfect shoe for me and for those that want more cushion, do what I do: Add a stiff or plush insert like the powerstep pinnacle but make sure you size up in the shoe if you are going to do this.
Maybe it’s how I travel but I find the lugs ceased to be as reliable after about 200 miles.
Hi Andrew, I want to like these shoes but am thinking I may need something different. You say:
“Due to its firm and thin midsole cushioning, it’s not well suited for high-mileage on-trail hiking, specifically thru-hiking”, and “it’s not adequately cushioned for high-mileage outings”.
I’m not a thru-hiker but found the cushioning to be inadequate for short, high-daily-mileage outings in the Eastern High Sierra where I typically go. I bought the Bushido for the durability and grip over high rocky passes and generally liked the shoe, but my feet were pretty sore afterwards.
Do you have any recommendations for comparably grippy/durable shoes that have a bit more cushioning for high mileage, rocky outings?
Any of the shoes listed at the bottom of this review will have more cushioning.
* The Wildcat is built on the same chasis as the Ultra Raptor, but the upper is made of softer but less durable mesh.
* Would also look at the Akasha, based on my on-paper understanding of them.
* The Akyra is a lot of shoe, but definitely has more cushioning than the Bushido.
I’ve been using Akyras for the past 3 years for 40 km per day treks. I agree – cushioning is really there and at the end of the day really makes a difference IMO.
They dry out slower than wildcats of course, but are still reasonable. If conditions get dry, it’d take a good 2 hours to dry.
Hi Andrew, you suggest swapping out the laces on the Mutants. What would you swap them for?
Just about anything but the stock laces.
I run the Ultra Raptors without insoles and with different laces. My only wish is for more aggressive lugs.
I ordered a pair to see if I’d like them better than the Wildcats I’ve been wearing the last 3-4 years. It turns out the fit of the Bushido II is way narrower than the Wildcat. I was told by the seller that they were the same in this regard. The same size Bushido was so narrow I could barely push my foot in wearing my Darn Tough socks, where with the Wildcats, I have plenty of room. Very tight on the sides. Seemed like a little less toe room too. I’d hoped to go a little lighter and perhaps dry a little more quickly with the Bushido’s.
The seller was clearly misinformed about width/volume differences between the Bushido and Wildcat.
On the bright side, this disappointment led to a bunch of research, so I’ve learned a lot.
I wanted to love these shoes but they ripped my heels to shreds. I’ve often had problems with heel slip … but never like this. Part of the problem is that the heel cup is rather short (top to bottom).
The mutants have a much deeper heel cup and have worked very well for me … maybe the best trail shoes I’ve had.
Hi Andrew! I’m pretty late to the comment game so forgive me.
I just bought the Bushido 2’s and they fit my feet absolutely GLORIOUSLY except for one little thing…The top of my foot right before my toes is a bit tight. I was able to walk 30,000 steps in these shoes without any blisters or rubbing, but do you think the tops will stretch out in time? I need to know whether to return them or not (I really don’t want to, they are very comfortable). Going to take them on Timpanogos in a couple of weeks!
Most shoes stretch and pack out, these included. Out of the box, I find these to be a little too snug, but after a few short hikes they are where I need them to be.
That is good news. One last thing if you have the time: In your years as a hiking pro, have you stumbled across an online resource where one can measure their feet thoroughly for shoes? I can’t get to a professional shop where I live to get anything professionally fitted.
Nevermind, I took the plunge and did a hike (point of no return policy), and the shoes fit like a dream and are absolutely amazing. Best shoes I’ve ever used. I wouldn’t have found them without your blog, thanks Andrew.
I took your advice a few years ago and purchased the Bushidos for use in the NH White Mountains. They have worked out great for me. Do you know of an insole that would work with the narrow width of the shoe. I’m recovering from plantar fasciitis and would like to add a bit more protection without having to change to a different model shoe.
Thank you for your assistance,
I’m sure Andrew will weigh in at some point with his recommendations, but personally I love the powerstep pinnacle inserts paired with the bushido. It’s a fantastic combination that works very well for me.
Thank you Hunter for the info! Just ordered a pair of the pinnacles.
These shoes work so damn well for me that I’ve been using them for all of my purposeful locomotion outdoors for the last two years- off-trail, on-trail, Road running, and whitewater paddling. But putting over 200 miles on them every month leaves me getting at most 3 months out of them and often significantly less if I’ve spent a good number of those miles off trail or repeatedly soaking the shoes. That’s a lot of money and a big environmental footprint going into shoes every year. I’d love to switch to using them only for big off-trail trips and doing lower-key on trail and road-running stuff in different shoes that don’t both bottom out and lose their tread as quickly. Do you have any suggestions for a pair that might work in lower intensity environments for someone who loves the Bushidos that also might hold up better and allow me to reduce my shoe budget? Or is 200+ miles per month just gonna have me buying a lot of shoes however I slice it?
For what it’s worth, I have the exact same issue, and I’ve just accepted it.
There are a lot of other ways to reduce your environmental impact than worry about Jedi footwear like this. 🙂
Personally, I use the Akyra for on trail, regular activity and I simply use my older, worn out Bushidos for every day use.
I agree with Hunter–having a good pair, a medium pair, and a yard work pair squeezes the maximum life out of them.
Yeah that’s what I do too, but I’m still buying 4 pairs a year. But yeah might just come with the territory.
I also agree with Hunter. I have been getting 600+ trail miles of dedicated running. Then to prevent injuries I repurpose the shoes to hiking and other low impact pursuits.
The Bushido is my favorite shoe of all time and is my go to for mountain runs as short as the second Flatiron and as long as the Boulder Skyline Traverse. I am now wearing the Bushido 2 and it definitely felt more tight in the toe box than my old Bushidos. Even caused some pain in my pinky toe on first long run. They may be breaking in now after the first two weeks. Did you experience this?
I don’t recall them fitting differently than the first-gen, though you may be picking up on something with your foot shape that doesn’t get picked up with mine. La Sportiva did try to replicate the fit exactly for the second-gen, though there may be some small differences due to material changes.
Most shoes need a few miles to pack out and soften up, so I’d give them a few outings before you make a conclusion.
It most likely is your specific foot shape like Andrew was saying. Give it some time. I’ll add to this by saying that I did not have any problems with my toes in this shoe. It felt a little tight at the top when I first got them but after they broke in they perfectly hugged my feet as if they were made for them specifically, so you definitely might just need to wait it out and let the shoe mold to your foot. Amazing shoe. (Have gone on over 30 hikes in them and counting, still going strong).
Andrew, I found these per your recommendation and it was a revelation for me. I had spent years doing tricks with lacing and adding padding inside my boots – none of which ever really worked that well.
Do you have any recommendation for a snow boot that will fit a narrow, low volume foot? So far my research has led me to the Salomon X Ultra Winter.
The Salomon X Ultra Winter CS is my winter boot of choice for all the same reasons I love the Bushido for most 3 season trips. It’s an awesome pick.
Did you find any other boots that had a similar fit? Those Salomon’s are out of stock and the customer service team said they wouldn’t be back until spring 🙁
The Keen Durand Polar and Salomon Toundra Pro are both similar but warmer and sturdier.
One pair of these got me through the whole Arizona Trail, around 800 miles with no complaints. Comfy from day one and handled harsh rock/grit conditions well. No slips, dried quick. The grip was gone by the last 50 miles and finally started to split under the toe pad, but the uppers held together really well. I’d wear them again.