By Jonathan Doyle
After being thoroughly impressed with my previous pair of La Sportiva trail running shoes, the original Wildcats, I was certainly excited to try out their highly rated Bushido trail shoe. La Sportiva describe this shoe as a technical model, designed to guarantee perfect stability on all types of terrain as well as being super lightweight, sticky and aggressive. In general I was won over by La Sportiva’s Bushido, they tick all of the boxes a quality trail running shoe should, and they will certainly be my faithful running companions for the duration of the foreseeable future.
Foot protection was of upmost importance when La Sportiva designed the Bushido. The shoe’s outer has a layer of TPU (thermoplastic urethane) covering key areas, creating a supportive frame about your foot while allowing the Bushido to maintain its structural integrity. Combining this feature with the midsole rock plate means that your foot is well protected against sharp rocks. The toecap is also very tough, protecting your toes from unexpected stubs. Finally, the tightly woven outer material is extremely effective at keeping out grit, dirt and sand, and while it is not waterproof, it does dry quickly.
The La Sportiva Bushido is designed to be super lightweight (610g for a pair of UK size 8) yet supportive in order to handle the roughest of terrain. The company has done this by creating what could be described as a somewhat minimalist shoe. The upper simple, constructed from Air Mesh and rip-stop material, and while there is little padding, the bushido is well ventilated, breathable and dissipates heat well.
The padding in the Bushido’s midsole is quite thin, measuring just 14.5mm. While this allows the shoe to be very stiff and supportive, it does mean you tend to feel a bit more through the soles of your feet than other trail running shoes. That being said, having worn my pair for a good few months, I have never experienced any major discomfort resulting from this, even when running on particularly rocky, technical terrain. Overall I found that after only a short amount of ‘wear-in’ time, the Bushidos were supremely comfortable. They felt snug, fitting my narrow foot so well they almost felt as if they were custom made for me. I can happily wear them for an entire day with the thought of taking them off never crossing my mind.
The traction on the Bushidos is great; the rubber is a dual mix FriXion XT and Impact Brake System compound, making it particularly sticky and amazingly grippy, especially on dry rocky terrain. They also performed to a satisfactory degree in damp conditions, holding traction on damp footpaths and grassy slopes; however, these somewhat gentle conditions appeared to be their limit. When used on a properly wet day, I found them to be rather slippery on the wet rocks and often failing to grip sufficiently in deeper mud due to the lugs only being 4mm deep. In addition to this, the softer sticky rubber means that they are liable to wearing faster on hard ground such as roads and pavements. As a result, while the Bushido will do you well on a wide range of terrains, it will certainly perform best on single track trails and looser rocky terrain.
La Sportiva’s Bushido is a fairly lightweight, incredibly supportive low profile trail shoe (6mm drop) but with limited cushioning. It is best advised to give it a good ‘wear-in’ period before taking on anything particularly lengthy, however once you’ve done this, the trail shoes will feel as though they are an extension of your leg. In general, they are a solid, high-performing off-road running shoe, perfect for loose trails and big mountain routes; just avoid particularly hard surfaces and roads in order to maximise their lifespan.