The La Sportiva Bushido is an aggressively built shoe that’s equipped to handle the toughest of trails. The low-volume upper allows for very precise foot placement with zero slop or movement. The 6mm drop midsole is stable and handles very well with a heavy pack. The FriXion Red outsole provides phenomenal traction on a wide variety of surfaces, and although the outsole pattern isn’t the most aggressive, it provides more than adequate grip when things get sloppy.
The Bushido was released by La Sportiva a few years ago, and it’s taken me until this year to try a pair for a review. La Sportiva is one of the few shoe companies where an older shoe is worth reviewing, since they keep products in their lineup for multiple years. The Bushido first earned a place in my shoe rotation as an option for rocky and slightly technical hikes and ridge routes. Most recently, I’ve found that they are an incredible shoe for hiking, and backpacking with loads over 30lbs.
Fit and Feel:
I wear a size 13 (47) in the La Sportiva Bushido, a half size larger than my standard 12.5. This 47 is the same size I wear in the La Sportiva Mutant, Akasha, Akyra, and Ultra Raptor. The only La Sportiva mountain running shoe that I wear in my standard size, 12.5, is the Wildcat. My size 47 comes in at 12.6oz. You can reference the chart below to see where the Bushido slots into the La Sportiva mountain running lineup.
When I initially began looking at the Bushido online, the fit was difficult to gauge, as quite a few people wrote that they run narrow. I think this use of language is imprecise, and shouldn’t be the case if sized appropriately. A better word to describe the fit of the Bushido is low volume. The last and platform is quite ergonomic and accommodating. The toebox has adequate width and allows my toes to splay, but there isn’t much volume upfront.
The Bushido wraps my foot like a glove from the heel to the midfoot, then fans out just enough in the toebox to let my toes work independently. There is a slightly pronounced arch. This is a fit that works very well for me, as the Bushido provides a comfortable ride without any slop or unwanted foot movement. I can place my foot on any rock or jam it into any crack, and I know that my footing is secure.
The heel of the Bushido is a little lower than what I prefer, but I haven’t had any issues with slippage or friction using the stock footbed. When I carry a heavy pack or go hiking with my son, I’ll add a pair of Superfeet Insoles. If you’re a hiker that likes to wear after-market insoles all of the time, you might find some issues with the lack of heel height. I find that Superfeet Carbon works very well as there is almost no heel lift. Superfeet Blue and Green caused my heel to slip.
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The upper of the Bushido is La Sportiva’s Air Mesh and breathes very well. I’ve been on a few hikes in the Sierra this summer after our epic winter. The rapid snow melt has given me a chance to really test the drainage and dry time of these shoes like few others that I’ve reviewed. Just this weekend at Lake Sabrina, I had to hop through a few puddles and cross a few streams within the first few miles of hiking. The Bushido’s drained very well, and dried out quickly in the warm sun.
The Bushido’s have a tongue that is gusseted on it’s bottom half. The gusset is connected to the footbed for a sock-like fit. This design is very comfortable, but allows quite a bit of dirt and debris to get in. On a recent hike to Big Pine Lakes, I had to empty out my shoes every few miles due to the sandy trail.
As I mentioned in the Fit and Feel section, the Bushido has a very precise and secure fit. A lot of that fit is provided by the welded overlays on the midfoot that tie into the standard lacing. The heel counter on the Bushido is rigid from on the bottom half of the heel. The rubber toe cap is really solid and does a great job protecting my toes from obstructions on the trail.
At the bottom of the upper is a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) wrap called STB Control. You can see this in the image below as the part of the upper that continues onto the midsole. This TPU is hard to the touch and provides stability and torsional rigidity to the Bushido.
The Bushido midsole is built on a 6mm drop, with 25mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot. La Sportiva uses a very firm compression molded EVA MEMIex compound on this shoe. The ride is very responsive with no mushiness at all. If you like a soft shoe, the Bushido is not for you. This shoe rides firm and fast. This firm midsole is also what makes the Bushido handle heavy loads so well. I don’t feel any mushiness or instability, even with loads up to 40lbs.
La Sportiva calls this midsole compound 35A. For reference, the Akyra, Mutant, and Wildcat use 32A, and the Akasha uses 30A. The higher the number, the firmer the compound.
In the forefoot of the Bushido, La Sportiva uses a 1.5mm dual density compressed EVA rock guard for push through protection. I’ve really put this rock guard the test and have been very impressed. At the end of long days on the trail, my feet feel fresh and free from stone bruising.
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The Bushido uses La Sportiva’s FriXion Red outsole compound. As you can see in the graph below, FriXion red is geared for grip, traction, and durability. I’ve used FriXion Red on both the Akyra and Akasha, and it is a very effective outsole compound. For the outsole pattern, the Bushido has a pattern desired for ‘All Grounds’.
The outsole pattern on the Bushido uses chevrons on the inside of the foot, with ‘U’ shaped lugs around the perimeter. These lugs handle well over a variety of surfaces. The large amount of surface area provides great traction on smooth rocks and wet surfaces. The lug depth and spacing handles talus, scree, and sand without issue. The Bushido even does well in light mud.
I have yet to find a situation where the Bushido outsole didn’t leave me with complete confidence of my footing. This is saying a lot, since I do a lot of hiking with my one year old son on my back. Having traction and grip on all trails is a must for me these days. The Bushido outsole makes no compromises.
The La Sportiva Bushido is a low profile trail shoe with a very firm midsole and a no-compromise outsole. The Bushido lacks plush cushioning, but provides a solid and stable platform that works well on technical terrain and with a heavy pack. The low volume upper might turn some off, but is something I’ve learned to appreciate. At $130, the Bushido is a high value shoe that can take on many different roles in any shoe rotation, or be a the go-to shoe for those who prefer for one tried and true model. So far, the Bushidos have been holding up very well, without any premature signs of wear or deterioration.
- Top level traction and grip
- Low heel height
- Low volume toebox