“Incredibly flexible, with phenomenal support and traction.
I was surprised how well it flexes underfoot considering how robust it feels in-hand.”
La Sportiva Bushido Trail Running Shoe – Gear Review
I’ve put just over 100 miles on these badhawks, and by now it’s safe to admit they’re my favorite trail shoe to-date. In the past year, I’ve run in Salomon’s, Inov-8’s, Altra’s and The North Face(TNF)’s. My Salomon S-Lab’s fit like a glove and perform great in technical terrain, plus use a simply genius lacing system, but they lack the protection underfoot and the 4WD capabilities the Bushido offers. My TNF’s provide the cushion and support I desire, especially on rocky terrain, but they’re not quite breathable or flexible enough. My Inov-8’s protect underfoot and have good traction, breathe well, and flex great, but don’t provide the lateral support I need. Same goes for my Altra’s. Although they boast the wide toe-box I appreciate so much, and until I tried the Bushido were my go-to’s, they also lack lateral support. It’s funny because after I’d modified my Altra shoes by adding Salomon’s quick-laces, I swore they were the ultimate trail running shoe. Then I got the Sportiva’s, and I’ve gone back and forth, alternating through the aforementioned pairs, but keep finding myself coming back to the Italians.
When I first got them I was hardly running due to a knee injury. I was afraid to get back into my Inov-8’s or Altra’s because my right foot was dramatically pronating and each time I ran I felt like I reversed any recent rehab. But on July 3 I laced up the Bushido’s and headed up the hill behind my house in North Lake Tahoe. I couldn’t believe that I was able to go six miles before my knee started talking to me, and even then it was more of a whisper to “chill a little” than a command to “stop running”. They offered everything I looked for in a shoe, plus the lateral support I had never experienced in something so lightweight and flexible. At just 11 ounces per shoe (size 42.5), it’s amazing how robust and responsive they are. They even have a semi-wide toe-box so my lil’ guys can stretch out.
Since I felt so good, I signed up for a 10K the next day. Since I had the chance to race for free (in exchange for cross-promoting the race online) and it was technically a “fun run”, I figured I only had something to gain. If my knee wouldn’t let me finish, no worries; I could always just bail and meet friends for beer on the beach. Instead, I kicked butt and took first in my age group. I’d never timed myself running more than a mile (high school P.E. class), so I guess you could say I also set a P.R. This was especially cool because it was the first race I’d ever entered. I gave a lot of credit to my powerful and supportive, yet incredibly agile, footwear. After experimenting on both sides of the spectrum, from zero drop shoes to 12mm+, I’ve decided 6mm of drop is where I want to be. So are the mountains. These mountain running shoes seem like the perfect fit.
– The heel hold is fantastic. The cuff is rigid but doesn’t dig into the back of my ankle, and I can wear low-cut running socks without blistering. The shape of these shoes seems ideal for the average foot profile: narrow-to-wide heel, wider toe-box.
– TPU (Thermoplastic Urethane) wrap around the arch helps keep the foot in place on more technical terrain, and a 1.5mm rock plate protects against sharp rocks, roots, etc. The TPU wrap does a great job securing the foot for quick pivot-turns, maneuvering through rock fields, traversing steep slopes and scrambling up mountains. Thermoplastic Urethane is also good for cold-weather running because it doesn’t lose flex or strength under extreme changes in temperature.
– Slip-on style stretchy mesh tongue fits like a glove, and a really comfortable glove that moves with you, not a tight one that limits dexterity:
– The outsole has a ridiculous amount of traction. At first sight, it resembled a tractor tire. It was rugged and rigid, and I assumed it wouldn’t flex very well. Man, was I wrong! The sticky sole feels kind of like the rubber on climbing shoes and grips rocks really well. The lugs also wrap around part of the midsole to add even more traction and, according to La Sportiva, “enhance stability on off camber terrain.”
– Impact Brake System points the outsole lugs in multiple directions to help you stop, or slow down, on steep and slippery hillsides. It also helps minimize impact when your feet are feeling heavy during quick descents.
I really racked my brain to come up with something negative to say. I came up short-handed. Even the laces are ideal. They’re not too long or thick and a single knot usually holds up through my runs. But since a solid review usually requires at least one recommendation, I guess I could spit something out: How about an all-black version so I can wear them to an upcoming wedding?
I’m stoked to take these back to their Italian stomping grounds this fall. I’ll spend a week riding a bike through the Dolomites and can’t wait to break from pedaling to explore some of that heavenly terrain by foot. They’re so light they won’t slow me down, so flexible I can stuff them in my panniers, and so built for that type of intimidating terrain they just might not let me come home :)
Here’s a cool video review of the Bushido from Buddy Jones of the La Sportiva Mountain Running Team:
Reviews from others – I ripped these off the La Sportiva site:
Chase – Strongsville, OH
Hands down I have to say this is the best trail running shoe I have ever own. La Sportiva continues to make amazing products. I love the shoe feels and its super comfortable. It works great from the 5k to the marathon distance and I recommend this shoe to anyone.
Jared C – SLC, UT
Wow! You guys nailed it. I’ve only done a handful of runs in the Bushido so far, but I am fairly confident that it is the shoe I’ve always been waiting for. It has the perfect mix of low weight, reduced drop, aggressive tread, AND finally some rock protection in the forefoot, something I’ve wanted for years. Please pass along my thanks to the design team for this one. I’ll happily talk this shoe up at every opportunity.
I wear these shoes running. I wear them hiking and backpacking. And to get groceries. Shoot, I even wear them to work.
I hope you found this review helpful. If you have questions or comments, praises or contentions, please leave them below.
Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.