La Sportiva Bushido Review

[Check out our La Sportiva Bushido II review for the latest on the Bushido family of trail running shoes.]

La Sportiva seems to be reaching back in time and calling on some of their design cues from retired models like the Slingshot and Fireblade and applying them to their newest model, the La Sportiva Bushido ($125). This secure-fitting, lower-to-the-ground trail runner weighs in at 9.1 ounces. [Editor’s Note: As per the a comment from La Sportiva below, the final weight of the Bushido is actually 10.5 ounces. We apologize for any confusion.] It has a 6mm drop all while maintaining an aggressive, sticky outsole and a fairly structured yet lightweight upper. This shoe excels on the rough stuff but takes some breaking in before it feels flexible enough to transition well on more groomed paths. The Bushido runs a half size small. Check out the video below for more in-depth commentary.

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

La Sportiva Bushido Review Transcript

Hey and welcome to Trail Trials, the video review section of My name is Travis Liles, and in today’s video we’re going to take a look at the La Sportiva Bushido.

Bushido stands for ‘the way of the warrior.’ This shoe is really about setting out to create a midweight to lower-weight, low-profile, highly aggressive outsole, durable upper type of shoe that you would reach for when it’s really getting nasty out there without having to carry a brick on your foot to protect you from the elements. With that in mind, what we’re going to do is take a look at the 9.1-ounce, 6mm drop Bushido from the outsole to the midsole to the upper. [Editor’s Note: As per the a comment from La Sportiva below, the final weight of the Bushido is actually 10.5 ounces. We apologize for any confusion.] We’ll talk about the performance and some of the runs I did with it and see if it really holds up to its claims.

Let’s start off with the outsole. What you’re going to notice on this are a couple of things. One, you’re going to have La Sportiva’s classic approach shoe or climbing-shoe-type rubber. So we’ve got some very sticky rubber here in the middle. It works really great on lots of different terrain. Obviously, you have lugs there for traction, but it’s also really sticky. So when rocks are wet, these tend to grip really well. They have a slightly different kind of compound here on the outside with our yellow lugs which are going to be more for endurance. You’re going to land on some of these outside portions when you’re running, on the inside or the outside of the shoe. You see that both on the front and the back probably for your transition as well. Then you also see that a little bit of these lugs also extend up into some of the midsole portions. The idea behind that is to provide traction even in off-camber situations. In the midfoot, you can see some of these red spots in between the cutouts of the shoe. That’s going to be your rock plate in the forefoot. It doesn’t extend all the way across, but this is pretty dense rubber that’s on here. I would say the majority of folks that end up with some sort of bruise or something along those lines are going to get that really in this midfoot section versus in the heels. Plus, heels are usually a little taller, so that cushioning is going to absorb that.

One of the more interesting portions that we have here is this TPU cradle. It starts here on the bottom of the shoe. You can kind of see this grid-looking or slightly raised bumps that exist and actually wrap all the way up into the midsole. We’ll talk about that here and, of course, there. But the idea behind this is to start forming really a shell or a cage that your foot is going to sit down inside of and it’s really going to lock that foot in. That’s going to start here at the bottom, and then as we move our way to the back we can see some of the more traditional types of things that we’re used to seeing on trail running shoes—that line back here for braking and lugs being spaced differently for downhill versus uphill types of lugs. So overall, it’s a really good tread. You can see they are slightly deep—not as deep as something like a Crosslite—but overall, I would say above average in terms of aggressiveness, in terms of traction, and I really feel these things bite on rocky terrain. Doing hill repeats in these, I really felt super secure even on gravelly or scree-type areas. These things tended to dig in and bite really well. I really had a lot of confidence wearing these.

Let’s move onto the midsole. A couple of things here—one is we’ll just kind of talk about the general midsole which you’ll see with this black foam. That’s going to continue all the way around the shoe here to the back of the heel and, of course, continuing through all the way around. That cage that we talked about earlier, that TPU frame, you can see that sort of extend up. That’s going to extend about partially up the shoe onto both the outside of your forefoot as well as the arch area. What this does is really lock your foot in place. Your foot sits down inside of this. If you’re hammering really hard on turns, it locks in and doesn’t tend to let your foot move around too much, something that in lighter weight shoes does tend to happen at least for me. I get a lot of sloppiness if I’m really hammering switchbacks or something like that. I did not notice that at all when wearing these. As we move around, we’ll notice on both sides there are these little bars here. This is also something that existed on the La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0. It’s a little bit of a stability cage. There’s some plastic frame within here that’s going to really help ride the foot a little bit better. It’s not overly aggressive in its pronation control or anything along those lines, but it just adds a little bit of stability so it’s not just single density foam that exists here. You have a little bit of a cage that’s going to keep some support on that back part of the shoe as well as back here—so more of that ‘stride back’ part of your gait, you’re going to hit that back here.

Let’s transition up to the upper. We’ll start off at the toe cap. What you’re going to notice here is that you have a toe cap that really extends across the entire portion of your foot. A lot of shoes will just stop kind of on the apex. This has a really broad one that’s going to help with your pinky toe getting messed up as well as your big toe. The one thing I’ll note though is that even though this has a good toe bumper, the toe box itself is a little bit low. This took a little while for me to get adjusted to the shape of this. Generally, I’m more lower profile, so if you’re someone that likes a really, really big open toe box, it’s going to take a little bit for that to happen. Over time, probably the 115 or so miles, this has stretched and stretched and stretched more; now it’s a really natural fit and it doesn’t bother me. But the first couple times wearing it, I really felt that my toes were kind of pushed down a little bit. As we work our way around the medial and lateral parts of the shoe, you’re going to see some added reinforcements on some of those high-pressure points. Again, when you’re cornering, if you’re running fast or are a big midfoot striker, these are huge blowout points on most shoes. La Sportiva addressed that by putting this reinforced suede along both the inside and the outside of the shoe. We also have extending up from that TPU cradle, this mask, this plastic mask that exists here. This is not stitched on which is nice. So it’s laminated here which is nice because you’re not going to have a bunch of pressure points or seams to worry about. That’s going to extend all the way to the midsole and then, of course, all the way up to your lacing points here to really wrap. When you pull on that, that’s going to create a nice tight, or maybe secure fit is a better way to put that, around your foot. That, of course, exists on both sides.

The shoe is pretty much fully gusseted, so it has a really boot-like fit. You put your foot in there, and all of this is guarded in terms of you don’t really have any seams anyway, but there’s a booty on the inside of this that you can sort of see stretching out here and, of course, on the other side as well. That’s going to be those yellow pieces in there. In terms of externally seeing that, it’s going to come up to about here and, of course, all the way down to where the tongue originates. The tongue is lightly padded. They really put the most amount of padding in the areas that are important, so where your laces are to reduce fatigue on the top of your foot. And I’m somebody who likes to use that back lace, and there’s still plenty of room for the laces to come across and not creep up and end up over later on.

Lastly, the heel cup, you have a very nice padded heel cup. Though I’d say in terms of comparing it to most shoes it’s a little bit tall, but it’s well-padded and it’s flexible at the top. I didn’t feel it interfering with anything when I was running downhills or anything along those lines. You also have a structured heel cup that exists in this as well. Overall, really a lot of protection, a lot of work to keep this shoe durable but still keeping it in the moderately lightweight package.

In closing, I think La Sportiva did an excellent job with the Bushido. This is a shoe that falls in between a lightweight and a midweight shoe which we don’t see a lot of. It has a highly aggressive, highly grippy outsole, a sock-like fit that really locks your foot in, and an upper that so far after some pretty nasty runs on it and lots of high-pressure downhills and busting around corners doesn’t seem to be showing any major signs of seams blowing out. So I’m really pleased with that. A couple downsides—I don’t feel like it transitions super great on roads or flatter areas. It took a little while to break in, but once that happened it was really good. The water doesn’t drain quite as well as I would have hoped. Outside of that, I think for a midweight, low-profile shoe that you can really just hit some aggressive terrain and feel confident in the steps you’re going to take, La Sportiva really hit the mark with this.

Any questions or comments? Place those below this video. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you run in the La Sportiva Bushido? If so, what are your overall thoughts?
  • When and how have you seen the Bushido excel most in terms of terrain and weather?
Travis Liles

resides in Portland, Oregon where he is a husband, father, and a technical specialist for a software company. In his spare time, he is exploring his new home in the Pacific Northwest, getting more vertical but still not living in the thin air, while producing "Trail Trials with Travis Liles" video gear reviews for iRunFar.

There are 4 comments

  1. LGarten

    Good review. I am starting to break these shoes in as I switch between them and the La Sportiva Helios. I was first concerend with thinking I got a slightly too small of a size but after 90 miles they have stretched out a bit and are far more flexible than when they were new. They are perfect for rocky terain where the Helios will beat up my feet. I just tried them through a river crossing a few days ago and they do not drain well at all. Maybe one of the worst shoes for draining. They do have a place in my shoe rotation but I still prefer the Helios over the Bushido. I also felt that they put a bit more pressure on the inside of my arch, but that may just be a personal thing.

  2. Mic_Med

    I wanted to like these, and I can tell La Sportiva REALLY wanted me to like these as they are making a huge PR push between ads and having them on the feet of their ambassadors… but I just can't do it. They never felt comfortable on my feet and more importantly I could't figure out exactly where I was supposed to be wearing these. They're not grippy enough for muddy conditions, where I would prefer a shoe like the Salomon SG, they're not comfortable enough for average trail like the Pearl Izumi N1 or N2, and they're not protective enough if I'm running on something incredibly rocky. I just couldn't find a place for them in my quiver.

  3. almondine3

    I thought these would be incredible shoes, and they are except for the heel cup. They caused terrible blisters, and are not well padded… they are not "sharp", but so rigid that you can't "break them in" so if your foot does not perfectly fit into the cup, you will get some nasty blisters pretty quickly. I did 3 or 4 runs of 2-10 miles each without too much problem, but when I tried to do a more aggressive hike/run (Presidential Traverse in a day), they tore my heels up in the first few miles and I had to duct tape everything to make it to the end. And then return them. Beware.

  4. msmidt

    How would you say the level of cushioning is? I currently have Salomon XT Wings 3, and my feet feel tired and beat up after just 10 miles or so. Would these be more cushioned?

  5. stayvertical

    I want to see all reviewers weighing their shoes with an accurate kitchen scale (grams) in the videos. La Sportiva is claiming 9 oz for a size 9, but other sites like Running Warehouse lists it at 11 oz. No more going with manufacturer claims on weight. Let's see the real weight!

    1. @Sportiva

      Hi there. This is JD (marketing manager at La Sportiva). We really work hard to keep our specs accurate, despite variations in production, etc.

      The actual weight of a size 9 Bushido (with insole) is 298g (10.5 oz.) The original published weight was 278 g (9.8oz) and was based on a final round prototype. In response to runner feedback on the proto, we added some forefoot cushioning, which accounts for the additional 20g.

      No sure where Running Warehouse gets their stats, but if you weigh a new Bushido <with the paper stuffing>, it comes out to 11oz.

      1. stayvertical

        Awesome, thank you for the reply JD. I am not as interested in the weight of this shoe, as much as I am interested in reviewers not taking manufacturing claims for granted and actually measuring and testing the goods. I have a cheap Polder kitchen scale that is accurate to the gram. The first thing I do when I get some new shoes is to throw them on there. I want to know actual weight of the shoes, but most importantly I want to know if there is a weight difference between the 2 shoes. If there is a difference, then why? Is it a quality control issue? Is it just more glue or a tighter seam tolerance on one vs the other. Or, is it something more insidious like a durometer difference or a big air pocket in the midsole due to manufacturer defect. It is not uncommon for differences of 20 grams or more between some shoes left and right. The tall stack midsole shoe models are the one to watch for these issues as it is easier to hide a big bubble in a big pile of foam.

        1. @Sportiva

          Happy to help clarify the stats. We use a Soehnle digital scale that is accurate to .1g and try to round up whenever possible.

          You are totally right that there are lots of factors that can yield variation. First and foremost is the fact that all our products are handmade. Combined with variables like glue quantities, thread thickness, sole density and the subtractive process of trimming fabric uppers, it is totally possible to find some differences. When we've spot checked shoes, is is usually a matter of a few grams.

          Either way… thanks for paying attention!

  6. MtUnpaved

    I have them and love the way they feel but on my third run ( 7 miles of trail) with them they gave the worst heel blister I've ever had. I'm going to give them a few more runs but if they don't break in I'll get rid of them.

  7. Alessandrots

    The heel cup feels very stiff if you aren't used to it. Coming from Montrail Fluidflex and Altra shoes that gave me some bruising on the first runs, but now I got used and they feel ok. They are great on rocky terrain, even wet and my feet feel ok after 30+ miles. I think of them as a beefier sister of the Salomon Slab Sense Ultra…same glove-like fit (like having the outsole sewed on your foot), low to the ground, precise and protective (just love that stellar shield toe protection :-))

  8. Ben Woo

    Hi there
    Unfortunately I can confirm the "problem" with the heel. I also got heavy blisters and I now have to tape up the heel in order to avoid filling up the shoe with blood again. That's a pitty. However, I just ordered another pair and I will race the first half of UTMB with the Bushido and will change to Salomon XT 6 SLABs for the part after Courmayeur.
    Since years I'm running in Salomon XT only and the Bushido was the first shoe I liked from the first step (and I tried many!). The Bushido is low on the ground and I've never rolled an ankle (my achilles heel, so to speak). Also, the shoe provides a very good fit and I like the Bushido in the downhill, because the shoe is very precise.
    On the downside I have to mention the "poor" quality. The toe-cap got loose after 150k already. Unfortunaltey I couldn't return the shoe because of the blood stains :)
    – Low on the ground
    – Good grip
    – Very good and comfy fit

    – Toe cap (quality)
    – Heel

  9. @andy_dt_82

    These are brilliant shoes, never had a blister or hot spots from them.(even running for 12 hours with wet feet); the heel cup is a lot better than the Anaconda, which gives me blisters after a couple of hours. They could do with bigger lugs for muddy descents, but other than that they make a great mountain shoe as they are stiff and sticky enough to climb/scramble in; there is more than enough protection for rocky trails. Not quite perfect for the UK fells due to the shortage of grip in mud, but they were perfectly at home in the Dolomites (as you'd expect for an Italian shoe!). The Helios is a nicer shoe for smoother trails, and gives more confidence on loose rock as the soft sole seems to wrap itself around everything, but my feet got beaten up on rocky trails.

    The only annoying thing is that the toe box, heel cup and soles are coming un­glued in several places, and they now squeak! I also had to go up one size to get a good fit in the toe box, but the extra length isn't too excessive (better than an Inov­8 Mudclaw, for instance) and helps with protecting the toes from stubbing on rocks.

  10. mibang316

    Awesome review! I'm debating between these and the new Inov-8 Trailroc 255's for the Spartan Beast. I currently use the Trailroc 235's, but tend to over pronate and these don't help much which leads to a lot of ankle rolling. Which would you recommend?

  11. Lcrannell

    I'm in love with the Ultra Raptors, how do they compare to the Bushido's?

    From right out of the box I've run on several types of terrain and feel the heel cup provides that stability I need. I have never had a blister or feel the shoe working against me. I can't say the same with my Brooks GTS.

    When I look at the Bushido they look beefier, so I am interested in comparing. I did learn from buying my Nepal Evos for mountaineering that 44's are the perfect size for me. Maybe I'm getting the correct size with La Sportiva?

  12. gabot123

    I have run roughly 150 miles in them, and ran the Sierre Zinal last week in them (btw, saw many other runners in them, although Salomon, with its many models, still seems to rule on the starting line). They performed very well. Low to the ground, fit like a glove, amazingly grippy on wet rock and humid tree roots. On the rocky bits of the Sierre Zinal the rock plate came very useful. They are stiffer than Inov8, paricularly torsionally, which in my opinion is an advantage on uneven rocky terrain (but it does take a bit of time to get used to it). Yes, they gave me blisters on the heels, but after two or three runs that was solved. The rubber toecap is great: finally a real toe protection on a light shoe. I always thought that Inov8 and most of the others were a bit lacking on this aspect. Overall i think they are a fantastic trail shoe. They might be an overkill on some easy/soft ground (and on very muddy trails something with deeper lugs might be better), but I'd ratehr have something that performs well on wet rocks and ok on dirt than viceversa.

  13. @ericmmcdaniel

    I swapped into these after my first pair of Ultra Raptors wore out for my 2014 Appalachian Trail thru hike. Comparing these to the Ultra Raptor-both are very VERY durable. I never had a torn or blown out upper, or issues with outsoles separating from the midsole like nearly every other hiker I saw all summer. I put over 2000 miles into just three pairs of Raptors and one pair of Bushidos (which I used for only about 200 miles-more on that below). The Bushido actually felt "cheap" out of the box because of the lighter design, but once on, they felt amazing: strong and secure.

    Bushido is:
    Lower to the ground
    Has a better toe cap that wraps all the way around
    Lower profile on the foot and the heel cup doesn't extend as high up
    More secure-fitting from forefoot to midfoot and laterally
    Rides MUCH stiffer. NOT a good road to trail shoe.
    Outsole is grippy but not as confidence-inspiring as the Ultra Raptor, which has more lugs in already aggressive pattern. This was unfortunate because the security of the fit was amazing without feeling confining.
    Heel cup is lined with a meshy fabric vs the Ultra Raptor's faux-leather. I found the heel lining abrasive and couples with the lack of cushioning there, it caused abrasion and blistering for me, and ultimately led to my returning the shoe after only about 200 miles.

    Which shoe to choose? The Ultra Raptor would be much better for mixed terrain (trails, rocks, some light road use) and long distances. Bushido is great for trail use on shorter distances if you're not bothered by the stiffer ride and lightly cushioned/tight and possibly abrasive heel cup. The Ultra Raptor's more plentiful and aggressive lugs make it a better bad weather shoe too for use on damp or wet trails.

  14. Kathy

    I actually have a question…I am looking for a trail shoe to wear on a variety of terrains: Pikes Peak Ascent (more of a hike for me than running), local training at a converted garbage dump on rocky old broken asphalt paths but also groomed and ungroomed (but not terribly technical) trails up the hill, and flatter/smoother trails. I live in So. Florida so no mountains here. I typically wear the Asics GT 2000 series (light/moderate stability) for road running in an AA width. Based on the research I’ve done, the Bushido seems like too much shoe, but given the conditions described…especially the need for stability and a narrower fitting shoe, would the Bushido be too much – and a bad choice. I got a pair online and they actually seem to fit me nicely, but if I’m going to be in pain wearing them in the conditions described it’s not worth it. Thanks in advance.

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