La Sportiva Bushido Review

A video review (with transcript) of the La Sportiva Bushido trail running shoe.

By on July 31, 2014 | Comments

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

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La Sportiva Bushido Review

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.

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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

Travis Liles is a gear reviewer at iRunFar. He’s been reviewing trail running and ultrarunning gear (and occasionally penning an article) for over 15 years. He is married to his Junior High sweetheart, has two amazing daughters, and works as a solution architect for a large software company. Originally from the Midwest but now based in Portland, Oregon, Travis is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner. Over the past 18 years, he has competed in many ultra-distance races and has completed 15 100-mile races, including Ozark Trail, Leadville, Big Horn, and HURT 100. He is a recovering RD and enjoys pacing friends, trail work, and volunteering at local events.