Expert Review: La Sportiva Bushido II Mountain Running Shoe
This review is my honest opinion of the hiking shoes, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2019.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the hiking shoes, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2019.
Though I don’t like running in them, the women’s La Sportiva Bushido II is a great day hiking shoe for warmer days! They have a really breathable mesh/ripstop upper that keeps the feet cool and still protected. To match, they also have a really hard and durable rubber sole that will offer great traction.
About the gear
- Model: 2019 La Sportiva Bushido II
- Size: 36
- Width: Regular
- Fit: Narrow but true to size
- When I bought these: August 2019
- Days tested: 60
- Terrain: Rocky trails, dirt trails, and loose scree fields
- Used for: Day hiking, trail running
- Where I’ve used it: Wasatch Mountains, Utah; Rocky Mountains, Colorado
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring, summer, winter, and fall
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 110 lbs
- Usual shoe size: Women’s 6.5
- Foot Width: Regular
- Foot Arch: High Arch
- Experience: 25+ years of camping and hiking
How it performs
What I was looking for
At the time of buying these shoes, I had been running only in my Salomon Sense Ride GTX shoes. I liked my Salomons, but the fact that they are GoreTex makes them a bit hot for the summer. I was looking for a shoe that was a bit more breathable for the season.
Why I chose this gear
I considered a few other options prior to buying the Bushido IIs: the Hoka One One Challenger ATR and the ON Running Cloud 4. I was deciding between these since I had tried them all on, and they had seemed like a good fit, and I had heard good things about them. However, I ultimately decided to go with the Bushidos in the end because they had a much smaller sole, which seemed more maneuverable and like they would be safer on rocky trails. I also had a good friend who is really into running that had switched to the Bushidos from Salomon Sense Rides, so I figured if that was an easy switch for him, they might work for me.
What I love about it
- Durability: They are really durable. The rubber on the bottom is tough. I have taken these on some really rocky, long trails, and they have done really well holding up against the terrain.
- Break-in period: The Bushido IIs have a really short break-in period. On the first day, they were a little uncomfy and took some squeezing the ball of my foot. But after that, I have had no break-in issues whatsoever.
- Comfort: They are pretty comfy. They are lightweight, have a small sole, and it feels like I am not wearing much of a shoe at all when I have them on. The fabric on the upper part of the shoe is really breathable, which also influences and helps with comfort on hot days.
- Fit: I have a regular width foot and find that these are a bit narrower in fit. It’s not enough that it’s an issue for me at all, and if anything, it makes them feel more snug and maneuverable like a second skin, when I am running in them. However, because of this closer fit, I would not recommend them for someone with a wider foot.
- Weight: Compared to other shoes, specifically the Challenger ATRs and Cloud 4s I was looking at, the Bushido IIs are lightweight because they have such a small sole. The Challenger ATRs and Cloud 4s have a thick rubber to absorb more shock when the foot hits the ground, but the Bushido is more of a minimalist trail shoe, just having one thinner yet durable layer of rubber.
- Material: The base/bottom of the shoe is made of a very hard rubber, and this makes them really durable and much more rigid than other shoes. The upper part is an AirMesh and ripstop combo. This construction makes the shoes breathable and light yet durable and uncompromising–a challenging coupling to master in a product. I think these materials incorporated together in such a way within the Bushiods are great at keeping my foot comfortable without making me worry that it might rip if I scrape the upper part on a rock.
- Toe protection: Over the toe, there is a thicker rubber and ripstop combo material that guards really well. I have definitely kicked a few rocks while running that might have hurt in other shoes, but I could barely feel in these. Overall, the material is well-designed to keep the foot safe yet prevent it from overheating.
- Day hiking: Day hiking is my favorite use for these shoes. Though I originally got them for trail running, which they aren’t great for (more on that in a moment), they are still a great day hiking shoe. They have awesome traction on the bottom and feel agile and maneuverable on any kind of terrain.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Waterproofing: These shoes are not waterproof, nor do they claim to be. They are really breathable and better for summer/fall/spring activities where there is a low chance that large sums of liquid moisture like snow will be present.
- Insulation: They are also not insulated, though they do not claim to be.
- Ankle support: The Bushido IIs have a low ankle and don’t have ankle support. I don’t look for trail running shoes with ankle support, but these shoes actually hurt my ankles a lot to run in (more on that below).
- Arch support: The insole that comes in this shoe doesn’t have arch support, which is pretty common. But for those with high arches or in need of extra assistance, a Superfeet Green insole is a great option. They’re what I put in these shoes when I ran in them.
- Trail Running: Though these are great shoes for hiking, I actually hate them for trail running. Historically, I have never had any ankle problems or ankle soreness despite running frequently. The Bushido IIs have a really hard rubber base, which is intended to make running over rocky trails easier on the feet because the rocks aren’t felt as much. Yet, I have found that because of that hard rubber, when I am running on rocky or non-flat trails, my foot forcibly strikes the ground at an angle. This is different from the sole absorbing the shape of the rock or trail as it would in a shoe with a thicker sole. I thought it was just a break-in period thing the first few times, but then I noticed I consistently had really sore ankles after every run in the Bushidos. I think they might be good for really flat trails or even road running. But where I live in Utah, those are few and far between, and I would rather have a trail running shoe that can handle that kind of terrain if it comes up instead of being six miles into a run and finding there is a rocky section that I’ll be forced into tackling with subsequent soreness. It’s a really odd issue that I have never found with any other shoe.
- Backpacking: For the same reason as the ankle issues, I would not take these backpacking. They are good on day hikes. However, for trail running, where really far distances are covered and striking the ground one foot at a time, or backpacking, where one is carrying a lot more weight than normal, I would not risk the ankle injury from the shoes’ lesser versatility.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was a hike in Utah near my house with my dog and partner at the time. It was just a leisurely walk to get the dogs outside, but it ended up being the prettiest sunset above the city! (The photo above is from that time.) It was fall, and the ground was pretty hard and frozen, but that was no problem for the Bushido IIs. I felt like I had excellent traction the whole time (no winter slipping!), and we were able to hike up pretty high to get a better view of the sunset!
Value for the money vs. other options
For those looking for a good, lightweight hiking shoe that feels really aerodynamic and has awesome traction, the Bushido II is a great bet. But if the hunt is for a trail running shoe, this is not worth the money because, as mentioned above, I personally think it is a bad shoe for running. If I could have made the decision over again, I would have purchased the Altra Lone Peak shoes. This is what I ended up buying later on for summer running, and I think they are the best shoe ever. They are breathable, don’t have the ankle issue, and are about the same price as the Bushidos. They are also great for day hiking, backpacking, and anything else.
The La Sportiva Bushido IIs are a really durable, well-designed shoe that will keep the feet well ventilated on hot days on the trail. Though I do not think they are a good shoe for trail running, I think they are awesome for day hiking on any kind of terrain!