A top technical trail-running shoe, the La Sportiva Bushido II performs well in most off-road conditions and over any distance, but it has a sole made for mountain trails and a soul suited to skyracing.
Superb grip on a highly technical sole
Very stable ride
Robust but lightweight upper
Slightly stiff collar
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Italian brand La Sportiva are best known for their climbing shoes and mountaineering boots, and it’s obvious the La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes mean business as soon as they bounce out of the box. These shoes are intended for running technical trails on pointy shaped hills, and that’s where they’ll take you, like it or lump it.
The design and fit is aggressive, with a big emphasis on stability in the way the upper connects to the sole, so you can be confident and really drop the hammer and go for it on technical trails. It’s not about encouraging recklessness, though, and the style and layout of the lugs means runners can stay comfortably in control during descents, putting faith in the ‘impact brake system’.
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There’s a lot going on in the dual-compound ‘FriXion Red’ sole: the outer lugs actually rise up and wrap around the midsole, which inspires confidence when cornering and provides extra protection against sharp sticks and stones on the paths, while the studs on the central section supply extra traction and support. There’s a reasonable amount of cushioning in the midsole, and the upper is constructed from a tough TPU skeleton combined with mesh, to keep the weight down.
The lace loops are strongly stitched to the chassis, and there are two higher eyelets so you can lace them up good and tight, for a better connection and less chance of losing a shoe in deep mud. It’s not waterproof, but the mesh means water quickly exits the shoe, and it has an integrated tongue, to prevent grit getting in.
• RRP: $130 (US) / £130 (UK) / €170.50 (EU)
• Weight (per shoe): 305g/10.75oz
• Materials used: TPU skeleton and synthetic mesh upper, compressed EVA midsole, Frixion Red rubber compound sole
• Drop: 6mm
• Colours: Black and yellow / Opal and apple green / Carbon and tangerine / Black and tropic blue / Neptune and kiwi / Pine and kiwi
• Compatibility: mountain paths and technical singletrack trails
In the field
You don’t have to be an elite skyrunner to get a lot of enjoyment out of using the the La Sportiva Bushido II , but their competitive design and technical capability will push you to take on more technical trails, and you’ll feel more comfortable doing so while shod in such a trusty pair of hooves.
I ran several hundred kilometres in the Bushidos, and they were my shoe of choice when taking on anything rocky, high and/or technical. The stability levels are excellent, and I felt confident and comfortable when tackling technical descents while wearing these shoes.
There is a modest 6mm drop between heel and toe, which is something of a compromise height, meaning the shoe will be comfortable for the majority of people, regardless of whether their forefoot, midfoot or heel hits the ground first. If you’re a purist barefoot runner, however, this drop might be a tad too much for your liking.
The grip is great on rocky, root-strewn paths, and after stream crossings, they shed water quickly. They’re not designed for heavy claggy mud, but the layout of the lugs, which extend around the side of the sole, did provide extra traction when things got slippery.
The level of cushioning is decent enough, although not as generous as some shoes. Performance has been prioritized over comfort levels, and I would recommend pairing these shoes with substantial socks that cover your ankles well, otherwise the collar can rub a little bit.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.