Long-term review: La Sportiva Bushido || Perfect for high routes, if it fits

The La Sportiva Bushido, a 10.5-oz trail runner that is the most perfect “high route shoe” that I have found. But it will only work for those with small-volume and narrow feet.

Update: A second-generation Bushido II was released in spring 2019. I have posted a long-term review of it after wearing it in Alaska and Yosemite.

Last summer on the Glacier Divide Route, Dave raved about the La Sportiva Bushido. I made a mental note, and as I geared up for my yo-yo of the 77-mile Pfiffner Traverse last month, I bought a pair.

In fact, I picked up two. The other I purchased during the post-trip drive home — when you find a winner, stock up, especially when the current colorway is on closeout.

For narrow and small-volume feet, the La Sportiva Bushido is the most perfect “high route shoe” that I have found. It offers:

  • A form-fitting upper,
  • Superb traction,
  • Low center of gravity,
  • Underfoot stiffness,
  • Excellent durability, and
  • Light weight.

With these features and characteristics, the Bushido excels on terrain typical of high routes, which is notably different than what is encountered on a conventional backpacking trip. High routes frequently have:

  • Climbs up, descents down, and side-hills across very steep slopes that can be wet and loose;
  • Bushwhacks through dense brush and understory;
  • Scrambles on talus and slabs, and grinds through scree; and,
  • Travel on lingering snow, with occasional pitches that demand an ice axe and/or crampons.

Non-high route applications

For trail running — which is the intended purpose of the Bushido — I would use it on trails that are exclusively technical and muddy. But for the conditions I normally encounter (i.e. technical but dry trails, with several miles of pavement at the beginning and end of most runs), I prefer a more agile model like the Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra (my review) or a more cushioned generalist like the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 (review forthcoming).

And for conventional backpacking trips, which involve more (or exclusively) trail miles and linear travel, I like a more cushioned midsole and a more voluminous upper, as with the Salomon Odyssey Pro (review also forthcoming) or aforementioned Speedgoat.

High routes place different demands on footwear than traditional backpacking trips. Travel is a mix of lovely tundra, tedious talus, lingering snow, and wet meadows — and the footing is constantly off-camber and steep. Photo: Pfiffner Travese below Andrews Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Shoe specs

  • Weight: 10.5 oz (298g) for M9, 11.9 oz (337 g) for M45.5
  • Upper: Ripstop mesh, adhesive microfiber, and TPU exoskeleton
  • Midsole: Compression molded EVA with TPU shank and compressed EVA forefoot rock plate
  • Outsole: Proprietary FriXion rubber with substantial U-shaped lugs
  • Stack height: 25 mm heel, 19 mm forefoot
  • Drop: 6mm
  • $130 MSRP

European sizing

La Sportiva makes European half-sizes, which are on a different scale than US half-sizes. Use this conversion chart to determine your equivalent size.

Personal side note: I’ve always been a 45.5 in La Sportiva shoes, and size 11.5 in US (for Altra, Hoka, Merrell, Salewa, Salomon, Vasque), even though the 45.5 converts to size 12.


I have narrow and small-volume feet. With normal-sized shoes, I need to crank on the lacing to get them secure. With roomy Altra-style lasts and uppers, I’m limited to flat and linear multi-use trails — my foot swims in the shoe too much to tackle more difficult trails.

When I first slipped on the Bushido, they seemed small even for me, most notably with a low footbox. An hour-long run felt reasonable, but I wasn’t sure if I could hike in them all day. Thankfully, they pack out, and after a few miles they were wonderfully form-fitting, on par with the sock-like fits of the Hoka Clifton 2, Salewa Lite Train, Salomon Sense Pro and Pro 2, and Salomon Sense Ultra.

If you are skeptical of the Bushido’s fit, consider the Salewa Ultra Train (my review) or the La Sportiva Mutant, which are similar to the Bushido in their intended uses but which have wider lasts.


The upper consists of ripstop mesh, laminated microfiber, and a TPU exoskeleton. It strikes a good balance of breathability, drainage, and durability. For improved durability, I recommend applying Aquaseal to the seams, as Dave explains.

The Bushido doesn’t dry as quickly as I would like, but I haven’t yet found a shoe that does. It’s better than most, mostly because its upper is simple and minimally padded.

The upper combines ripstop mesh (black), adhesive microfiber (dusty gray), and a TPU exoskeleton (clear film strips at the midfoot). Before the trip, I protected the seams with Aquaseal for improved durability.

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 cap was especially helpful when I had to punch steps on steep snow on Paiute Pass and the Northeast Gully.

The most significant sign of wear on the upper is the seal between the toebox mesh and TPU cap — it has started to peel. I think a bead of Aquaseal should fix it, and an application of Aquaseal to new shoes in this area may prevent it entirely.

The nicely padded tongue is anchored internally on both sides of the foot, keeping it in place.

Besides the outsole, there are two other visible signs of wear: the toecap is delaminating from the toebox mesh, and fabric overlaying the TPU shank has been abraded off.


The Bushido features an aggressively lugged outsole made of a proprietary premium rubber, FriXion. It stuck reliably to bare rock, and it bit well into vegetated slopes. Honestly, it’d be greedy to ask for better performance.

After 160 hard miles, the lugs show signs of wear, but so far the stickiness and traction is unaffected. 300-400 “high route miles” is probably a reasonable expectation. That may sound low if you are accustomed to thru-hikes on manicured trails, but it’s actually very good.

After 160 hard miles, the Bushido’s aggressive and grippy outsole is showing wear relative to a fresh pair, but still mostly intact.


Performance on uneven terrain is not solely a function of the outsole design and materials. The midsole and aforementioned upper also have pivotal roles.

The Bushido has a thin midsole: its stack height is 25 mm and 19 mm at the heel and toe, respectively, and these measurements include substantial outsole lugs. This gives the Bushido a low center of gravity, reducing its inclination to roll on off-camber surfaces.

The forefoot includes a compressed EVA rock plate and the midfoot has a TPU shank. These features:

  • Achieve underfoot protection without a generously cushioned midsole that is top-heavy; and,
  • Add torsional stiffness, which reduces the strain on foot muscles when edging.

I’m happy to have a rock plate, but I’m dubious of the EVA. It will probably break down prematurely relative to other parts of the shoe. Perhaps the inherent stiffness of the shank and outsole rubber will help offset its deterioration.

What’s been your experience with the Bushido? Or, what questions do you have about them? Leave a comment.

Buy now & support this review: La Sportiva Bushido

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in , on August 6, 2017


  1. Juha Ranta on August 6, 2017 at 9:16 am

    # Skurka response
    Earlier this year I posted a comment in other thread where I told about my foot issues around the joint above the big toe, generally around the area people also get bunions and gout I think. I thought I have maybe used too narrow shoes for my too wide feet (which I may have) . I may have also have had wrong kind of stepping, or maybe even actual medical condition.

    I tried Altra Lone Peak 3.0 at size 42 this spring, hoping it would help with my issue, but it was really bad for my feet because the space above the joint was too restricted. I also tried the same show in size 43, and it didn’t have issues with the joint, but it was way too sloppy for Dolomites from where I just returned. I bought La Sportiva Bushido size 42,5 when I was there, and guess what? It seemed very good for me at least in those conditions, so good that I’ll get another pair. The company La Sportiva is located in Dolomites, by the way.

    I think the thing for my specific feet is the issue with easily swollen and inflamed joint above the big toe, and though Bushidos are somewhat tight and sock-like, they have this stretchy mesh upper around which allows the shoe to conform to my feet around the trouble area.

    It’s good to learn what kind of shoes are proper for my needs, even if it’s through trial and error. I’m also keeping the old shoes that didn’t work so well for at least reference, maybe they’ll be useful later on. And I’ll keep exploring if there’s something to do with my foot issues.

  2. Brad R on August 6, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Ho does the fit compare to the La Sportiva Ultra Raptors or Salomon XA Pro 3D

    • Meg Cooke on September 11, 2018 at 12:18 am

      I find the Bushido to be narrower in the heel, mid foot, and toe than the Ultra raptors. Interestingly though, I can wear my usual size in the Bushido whereas I had to size up a half size in the Ultra Raptor to get enough length, so either the Bushido fits my foot better or runs a little longer. The Salomon XA PRO 3D is wider in the heel and midfoot and also runs longer than the Bushido. I wear the same size in both, but the Bushido is a close fit whereas the Salomon is slightly too long on me and roomier all over.

  3. Susan S on August 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    In my second season with them and the lugs are just about chewed over due to a lot of travel over sharp talus on high routes. The sticky rubber is as good as some approach shoes I’ve had. My feet have largely gone without complaint except after 10 miles on a high traverse over large, rolling, uneven talus. My pinky toes got hot spots/blistered from rolling around so much. Still, solid shoe that fits me well since I have low volume feet. I just wish there was a bit more room for that pinky toe.

  4. Eli on August 6, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    I’ve probably had 10 pairs of Bushidos since they came out. They’ve been my go to for steep technical running on and off trail. The grip is great, they are very precise, and well protected for bombing down rocky terrain. I’ve experimented with plenty of similar shoes but I’ve never really liked anything else quite as much.

  5. Jay C on August 7, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I bought a pair of these after really beating up my feet on talus using my normal shoes, montrail’s mountain masochists. I haven’t haven’t had them out on any real trips yet, but they seem like an improvement.
    A question – are there any running or hiking shoes with a stiffer / more durable rock plate, one not made of EVA?

    • Andrew Skurka on August 10, 2017 at 10:06 am

      “Rock plates” always seem like an exaggerated description to me. I’ve never heard of a company using, say, carbon fiber, for one in a running shoe. That kind of material must be too stiff. So instead they put in something that it semi-stiff but that unfortunately breaks down with use.

      • Jay C on August 16, 2017 at 12:07 am

        I had some inov8 ( I think flyroc 315s) shoes that had some sort of white UHMV or HDPE plate in the forefoot. I loved the shoes, but alas the sole split right where the plate ended – the plastic was only in the fore-foot, and where it ended just after the fore-foot the sole split in half.

        Mostly I was just wondering if this material was common in newer shoes. It sounds like it isn’t.

        Thanks again for the review!

        • Andrew Skurka on August 16, 2017 at 8:43 pm

          I don’t think there’s a standard rock plate design. And I don’t know if La Sportiva avoided that material because of known manufacturing issues.

  6. Sam A. on August 7, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I was happy to see you reviewed these, because they have been working out really well for me and I wanted to know what you thought.

    I got a pair this past spring. While trying on shoes, I was debating between the Bushido and the Ultra Raptor. I also have very narrow, low volume feet, and deemed the Ultra Raptors to be too roomy for my feet, especially when in a contouring position. I swapped out the stock Ortholite insoles for running shoe insoles, and used them extensively for day trips doing field work for a month or two in the early Arizona summer. The terrain was granitic hills, bare at the ridge tops, with grus-filled washes. I was never that unsure about the grip of the shoes: wherever I stepped, if it was solid rock, I was confident that the shoes would hold (even on the bare weathered granite, although I had trekking poles to distribute my weight). I don’t remember my feet feeling overheated in the shoes. The lugs are showing wear, especially on the forefoot, which is to be expected considering there’s a 20-30′ approach to the field site of walking through grus-filled washes riven with ATV tracks. But besides the lugs and a few picked threads, everything else about the shoe is holding up well.

    There are a lot of speargrass-type grasses in the field site, which can be annoying and painful. The ripstop mesh upper by the toe box is great for breathability, but not so good with keeping those little suckers out of the shoe. The shoes fit me so well that it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

    I can’t speak to the shoe’s comfort in multi-day constant use, but I didn’t find the relatively thin cushioning to be uncomfortable. I’m really pleased with the shoes and will very likely buy them again once the present pair wear out.

  7. seano on August 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for bringing these to my attention with your detailed review. I haven’t tried this model, but they sound like a good peak-bagging shoe, so I may buy a couple of pairs on sale. Any problems with the goofy multi-part outsole peeling off? I wish companies would just stick to a single, solid piece of rubber…

    • Andrew Skurka on August 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Not in my experience, but I haven’t worn out a pair yet. No one with first-hand experience who commented about my review said anything like that.

  8. Kevin on August 9, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    I have a narrow foot of average to high volume. I am still breaking in my Bushido’s but find myself wanting a slightly wider toe box, which rarely happens in any trail or running shoe I’ve used. I’ll if I feel the same after doing a few 20 milers. Right now I don’t think these will work for 40+ days.

  9. Jmaes M on August 10, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    How do they compare to the Salewa Ultra Train?

    • Andrew Skurka on August 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Narrower and small volume
      More reliable lacing system
      Better toecap
      Outsole more appropriate for mud, snow, and slick slopes

  10. Justin LaFrance on August 11, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    There are two seams on either side of the heel. Did you find that these cause rubbing? Might just be my bony heels.

    • Andrew Skurka on August 12, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      No irritation for me.

  11. Gordon on August 12, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Sorry, Andrew, somehow I saw an earlier post of yours about the Bushidos that didn’t have the links. Got a pair (from Backcountry Edge for $80) to replace my wearing-out Wildcats. I guess I’m just not an aggressive enough hiker to have had the “too much mesh” problem with the Wildcats that you’ve mentioned, but, I thought, “why not?”, and I found a better deal on the Bushidos than I could on the Ultra Raptors.

    No kidding about “small volume”! That is a good characterization of my feet, but after putting on the Bushidos, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have gone up a half size (from 42.5 to 43).

  12. Doug McCowen on August 16, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Have had a pair of Bushidos for a season and the only problem I have experienced is that the heel box is too loose for me. They just don’t hold my heel down, so I need to put tape on them before every hike or I end up with a blister midway up one or both heels. This is even after cranking the laces down pretty tight.

  13. John W on August 26, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I’m considering replacing my Salewa Alp Trainers and going with a lighter weight option of trail runners like the Bushidos. I primarily hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In your opinion, would the Bushidos make a good peak bagging shoe for the Whites? If not, any recommended alternatives. I weigh approximately 225lbs, if that is a factor. Thanks for the review and your excellent website!

    • Andrew Skurka on August 27, 2017 at 12:13 am

      I would wear them in the Whites. I think they be great on all the muck and granite.

      But at 225 I wonder if they will fit your feet.

  14. Max on September 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Andrew, many thanks for your highly informative blog and book.

    I have been using trail running shoes (Merrell Capra) for hunting Caribou in the Norwegian tundra. Great choice in terms of energy savings and quick drying versus heavy hunting boots. However, I have had the problem that my feet seem to slide to the side of the shoes or even slightly off the sole when I’m side hilling or stepping on very uneven ground or rocks hidden under the tundra. The problem is aggravated by wearing a heavy hunting pack (40 lbs without, 65+ lbs with meat).

    How did you deal with this problem on your recent elk hunts?

    Many thanks


    • Andrew Skurka on September 26, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Footwear is highly personal. I didn’t have that experience with those shoes. If you are, and can’t endure it, then I suggest you look for a tighter-fitting model.

  15. Geert van mourik on November 29, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Dear Andrew,

    Would you be using the Bushido’s in trailless terrain like the Gates of the Arctic with a backpack of say 50-60 lbs?

    If not, why?



    • Andrew Skurka on November 29, 2017 at 8:34 am

      First, I try hard to avoid carrying 50-60 lbs. The heaviest pack I had on my Alaska-Yukon Expedition was about 50, but that included a packraft and two weeks of food (for a ravenous hiker who’d been on the trail for 4 months already). The only instances when I’ve carried more than 50 lbs have been on elk hunts, when I’ve maxed at 70 lbs. That is approaching a prohibitively heavy weight, even for someone who is fit and trail-hardened, and I can’t imagine carrying anything close to that for days on end.

      Second, I think for Gates a more cushioned shoe (at the expense of some ground feel) would be better. Gates does not have the intensity of rugged terrain that a high route has. Yes, it’s all off-trail, but it’s rarely as steep. Something like the Ultra Raptor might work better. I think the Bushido might feel too thin in this environment.

      • Geert van Mourik on November 29, 2017 at 8:58 am

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for your reply! Would the Speedcross be comparable tot the Raptor you reckon?

        We are in fact carrying packrafts as well. We calculated food for 12 days to be approx 1 kg (2,2 lbs) per day (I weigh 210).

        We are trying very hard to shave off weight, but find it very hard. Feels like we are already down to bare essentials. Pack, sleeping bag, mat,tent, food, peddle and packraft already weigh about 22 kgs (48 lbs) combined.Then there is photo equipment, cooking stuff etc.

        We’ll see what the burden will be. Eight months left to shave weight!

        Kind regards,


        • Andrew Skurka on November 29, 2017 at 9:14 am

          No. The Speedcross have a very flexible outsole/midsole, which puts a lot of torque on your feet. If you want to try Salomon, look at the X Ultra. I reviewed the Odyssey Pro recently, but I’d be worried about its upper in Alaska.

          • Geert van Mourik on April 10, 2018 at 12:36 am

            Hi Andrew, well I went ahead and bought the Bushido’s! I might lose some cushioning but they are the shoes that fit best by a stretch.

            More importantly perhaps, due to you and Brad Rogers’ gear lists I managed to shave of some pounds of my pack and am at little over 40 lbs (I bought my way into to less weight haha)

            Thanks again!

    • Jay C on November 29, 2017 at 9:34 am

      I have done several trips in the Gates of the Arctic, using Salomon XA Pros, and montrail mountain masochist, they worked fine.
      I have used the bushido, though not in the Gates, and it would probably work great.

      I would stick to fairly fast draining shoes, as your feet are probably going to be wet a lot of the time.

      Have a great trip!

  16. Brad R on November 29, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I didn’t use the Bushido but I did use Salomon XA Pro 3D, a similar shoe for 11 days in Gates of the Arctic in 2015 and they performed well. My feet were wet the entire time but so were the other 3 in my group (all wearing GTX footwear).

    I spent 14 days in Wrangel St Elias NP this past summer and used the La Sportiva Raptor and was happy. I had been using the same basic Salomon style for a decade, but was impressed with the Raptors. The sole had fantastic grip but was toast after 14 days on talus, scree, and moraine.

    • Geert van Mourik on November 29, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Hi Brad, thanks for your input. Yeah I’ll be looking at wet feet so actually prefer non-waterproof shoes. What was you rpack weight in GAAR and the Wrangells?



  17. Brad R on November 29, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    My pack weight in Gates was ~42 lbs with a packraft.

    My pack weight in Wrangells was 35 pounds with no packraft, but the guy I was with twisted an ankle on day 3 so I carried some of his gear – so probably 40 lbs at times.

  18. Geert van Mourik on November 30, 2017 at 12:50 am

    How do you guys do it?! Coul you perhaps email me your packing ist, if you still have it, from youttrip to the Gates?

    Thanks again anyways!

  19. Louis on March 19, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Andrew,
    I have a 220 mile trip to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco this summer. I am looking for a single shoe to use on both the single-track trails as well as reasonably technical routes up multiple 4000m peaks, would the bushido be suitable?

    • Andrew Skurka on March 21, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Define “reasonably technical.”

      If you’re not having to jam your feet into cracks, I think the Bushido would work well. Low to the ground, sticky, durable, and tough.

  20. Akshat Meadipudi on March 21, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Louis,
    Have you considered the la sportiva Mutants?

    • Brad R on March 21, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      I am currently experimenting with the Bushido. Previously my go to shoe had been the Salomon XA Pro 3D and then for 2017 I used the La Sportiva Ultra Raptors. The Ultra Raptors really fit my feet well but seemed a bit more tipsy than the Salomons. I thought I might try something a little lower to the ground and ran across the Bushido’s. So far so good, but they are really low volume and this is coming from someone with narrow, low volume feet. I imagine they are about as approach shoe-ish as you will find for a trail runner.

      • Geert van Mourik on April 10, 2018 at 12:51 am

        Hi Brad, first of all thanks for your gear list again. I managed to lose (read: mostly buy my way into losing) more than 10 lbs from my original pack weight.

        And I bought the Bushido’s, they fit my feet best. My right ankle is wonky due to multiple sports related injuries so not everything fits both feet well.

        I’m sure they wont disappoint!



  21. Brandy McKenzie on June 7, 2018 at 8:01 am

    I tried these out for the first time yesterday on a 4 mile trail run. The very thick seam on the inside of the heel gave me a big blister on my left foot. I felt like there was a thumb tack repeatedly stabbing my heel. 🙁 Such a shame because although I have wide feet these seemed to fit/feel great. Maybe I’ll try to squeeze a few more miles out of my Salewa Lite Trains.

  22. Evin Ollinger on July 13, 2018 at 1:57 am

    The Bushido Way for me…FINALLY a lightweight, yet rugged, grippy and well-protected off-trail hiking/running shoe. Since I can’t seem to stay on the trail for long, the Bushido is the perfect shoe for my scree filled, bushwhacking, off-kilter, steep, rocky (wet and dry) backcountry exploratory adventures. I love the Bushido because they allow me to ‘feel’ the terrain, the rocks, the balance points – to move fast and agile over rough trails. I’m not a Hoka-style big cushion guy, okay and my Salomon Sense series just can’t stand up to this level of abuse. The Bushido’s outsize lugs and short 6mm drop give me a rock steady platform.

    I have put 750+ miles in grinding Big Sur and Sierra wilderness adventures on my first pair before wearing the sole lugs flat and the TPU shank mushed out, so a ~600 mile rugged trail limit I would say. With a ~25lb pack on I have taken direct hits to my arch and toes from dagger rocks/sticks/post-holing that should have disabled me – the TPU shank and toe cap shook them off. Best toe cap ever! Like you I have used them kicking out snow steps (rigid enough), slippery river crossings (friXion rubber really grips), and steep descents on gravel and scree (lugs really grip and break). The inner one-piece stretch ‘glove-like’ tongue – a style used in top running shoes – really holds my foot and keeps gravel out. The padded heel cup holds my heel firmly and I have never had even a hint of a blister. I often hike in dry/hot areas and the Bushido’s true mesh ventilation keeps my foot cool and dries out reasonably after river crossings.

    As you correctly point out the Bushido is for narrower/smaller volume foot shape. I had to size up two european sizes to find my fit – nice that they come in euro ‘half-sizes’. Go to REI and exchange pairs until you find your fit. Seam sealing does help the toe cup/mesh seam last longer.

    Bottom line, the Bushido allows me to move quickly and confidently on 15 – 35 mile days in backcountry conditions that have simply compromised other shoes.

Leave a Comment