By Jonathan Doyle
Famed for its impressive stability and durability, the La Sportiva Bushido has been a long standing favourite amongst trial runners worldwide. I for one loved my original pair of Bushidos. The model got a revamp in 2019, and of course I had to get my hands on a pair! I am now on my second pair of the Bushido II and so I thought it was about time I shared the love.
Bushido vs Bushido II
Much of the design remains unchanged with the second edition using the same narrow, low-volume shape, the same outsole rubber and lug pattern, and the same 6mm drop.
The biggest upgrade to the Bushido II is to the EVA midsole, which has been designed to be even more responsive and springier, while retaining its cushioning. In fact, there has also been 6 mm of cushioning added throughout. The exterior arch material has also been toughened as this area was known to be the first part to break on the originals. The upper mesh is said to be somewhat more breathable, and finally both the toe guard and tongue have also been redesigned.
I found the Bushido II felt snug right out of the box, which was unsurprising considering the general consensus being La Sportiva tend to size their shoes slightly smaller than some other brands. It took me about 25 km of running and a day of general ‘out and about’ wear to break them in. Following this, I found them to be very comfortable, providing good support throughout. Furthermore, they held my feet securely in place, even on difficult terrain, so my heels remained in place and I didn’t get any blisters.
I used my first pair of Bushido IIs for a little over a year, and for the first three months wore them every day. I used them for everything from cycling across Tasmania, to chasing runners and cyclists while filming a documentary, to trail running through Strzelecki National Park, Flinders Island and even crossing rivers. Needless to say they took a hammering, but it was not for another 8 months before I really decided they needed to be replaced. I was thoroughly impressed with how well they lasted.
As expected, the tread was the first aspect of the shoe to show signs of wear, eventually wearing smooth towards the end of their life. What surprised me was just how grippy they remained, even in this sorry state! Their final run was along some particularly icy trails, I was expecting to be doing a lot of walking that day, yet much to my surprise I didn't fall once! The main points of wear with the upper was along the outside edges of the mesh panels, which did eventually begin to fray.
Designed as lightweight mountain running shoes the Bushido II weighsin at only 596 g (UK size 8.5, pair). The midsole cushioning has been increased by 6 mm front and back from the original model, with a 25 mm heel stack and 19 mm up front, giving them the same 6 mm drop. While this is a welcome improvement, some may find it not quite enough for longer duration routes. The under-foot rock plate and the strong TPU around the bridge of the foot provide excellent protection against sharp rock strikes and uneven terrain. This of course lessens over time, but that is to be expected.
The upper is a combination of mesh, laminated microfibre and TPU, all of which are light and resistant to wear in all the key places. With plenty of mesh, they are not especially water resistant, so even a quick 5k round the block in wet conditions will see you with soggy feet, not the end of the world, but slightly inconvenient when they are not the fastest drying shoes out there. The updated toe box was excellent. It protected my toes perfectly, did not cause any rubbing or blisters, and only started to show signs of significant wear towards the end of their lifespan.
Finally, the outsole is much the same as the original Bushido design. Strong, surprisingly durable and arguably gripper than the first model too. As before, the lugs, at 4 mm, are trail specific and fairly shallow, so not the best option for dashing down muddy slopes.
I still love them just as much as the original Bushido, so much so that I am now onto my second pair of Bushido IIs and looking forward to abusing them for another year or so.
If you’re after a durable mountain running shoe, which has excellent protection against rougher, rocky terrain, then it is certainly worth putting this trail shoe at the top of your list.