The La Sportiva Bushido has been at the top of our trail running shoe rankings for years thanks to its excellent traction, stability, and all-around performance on technical terrain. Compared to the first iteration, the latest “II” features a compression-molded EVA midsole, burlier upper, and upgraded rubber toe cap. Eager to see how it performed, I took the Bushido II onto the tricky and often slippery trails of Vancouver’s North Shore. The result: everything I loved about the first generation remains, including its fast-moving and confidence-inspiring feel. Below we outline our experiences with the Bushido II. To see how it stacks up, see our article on the best trail running shoes.
Table of Contents
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
For road running shoes, I typically prioritize comfort above all else—pavement is predictable, and foot strike remains similar step after step. However, for trail runners that I take on rough and rocky terrain, I place a big emphasis on traction and stability. And I'm happy to report that the La Sportiva Bushido II excels in both departments. Starting with traction, the Bushido performed similarly to its predecessor: its FriXion rubber outsole is extremely tacky whether ascending or descending and regardless of the quality of the trail. I found it deftly conquered everything from dirt to mud to slippery rocks and roots.
Throughout the Bushido II’s testing, I felt noticeably connected to the ground. In fact, I trusted the shoes enough to hurtle down technical trails without any hesitation. I should note, however, that like the original Bushido, there is a bit of a learning curve to adjust to its extremely high level of traction. Rather than anticipating a skid, I've found it's best to power through over anything from slippery rocks, wet creek beds, and slimy roots. The II’s multi-directional, wrap-around lugs confidently gripped steep sections of trail and tight corners, allowing me to run as aggressively as I wanted to (I was more limited by my own fitness than the shoe).
One of the Bushido II's standout features is its supportive and extremely stable ride. The low-slung design and stiff construction allow it to power through rough sections of trail, and the snug fit offers a connected feeling between my foot and the ground (there was no movement between my foot and the shoe). Further, I’ve been especially impressed by the Bushido II’s confidence on off-camber surfaces. It’s worth noting that I do pronate a bit (my foot rolls slightly inward with each step), and I prefer a neutral shoe like the Bushido on variable terrain. Unless you have a major issue with significant pronation or supination (rolling to the outside edge of the foot), the Bushido II should provide ample stability on most trails.
Upon trying on the Bushido II, it was immediately apparent that La Sportiva boosted the cushioning compared to the past model. I had the opportunity to wear the original Bushido and updated version together at my local shop, so I put one on each foot to compare. While I was only on a treadmill, the difference was clear: the Bushido II felt noticeably more padded and springier underfoot thanks to its compression-molded EVA foam midsole.
Despite the midsole upgrade, the Bushido II’s stack height—19mm at the heel and 13mm at the toe—offers far less cushioning than many other rugged terrain-focused trail runners. For comparison, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is heavily cushioned at 32mm, while the Altra Lone Peak 5 sits at 25mm (both measured at the heel). That said, I didn’t feel rocks and pebbles underfoot with the Bushido II, and I appreciated how the modest cushioning allowed me to feel connected to the trail without sacrificing comfort. In the end, it comes down to personal preference: designs with less cushioning in the midsole are nimble and allow more precision while traveling over tricky terrain, while some runners might prefer the additional isolation of foam-heavy shoes.
I’ve worn the Bushido II on trail runs up to 25 miles and have experienced no slippage, hotspots, or comfort-related issues. The heel collar is notably shallow—meaning no pressure on my ankles or Achilles tendon—and can easily be paired with shorter socks. In fact, I’ve found the shoes so comfortable that I’ve often chosen to keep them on to walk my dog, Nelson, after returning from long runs. While the Bushido II wouldn’t be my first choice for a pavement-heavy race (they’re OK on my 2-mile commute along pavement and crushed gravel to a local trailhead), they're a great match for extended trail runs on rockier terrain.
At 1 pound 1.6 ounces for a women's pair, the La Sportiva Bushido II falls right in line with most of its direct competition. For example, the Saucony Peregrine 11 weighs 1 pound 3 ounces, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 comes in at 1 pound 2.4 ounces, and the Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2 is 1 pound 4.2 ounces. Another one of our top picks for rough trails, the Salomon Speedcross 5, also outweighs the Bushido II by over 2 ounces at 1 pound 3.8 ounces. However, it’s worth noting that the Bushido II tends to grow heavy when wet and does not drain quickly. That said, we think it balances weight, performance, and durability (more on this below) better than most shoes in its class.
The Bushido II, like its predecessor, might appear a bit overkill on paper (and in person). The busy-looking upper is constructed using a microfiber overlay and welded ripstop fabric. And the front of the shoe gets a burly TPU toe cap to take the sting out of a direct hit to a rock or root. In practice, these materials add just enough structure and protection where it’s needed without sacrificing flexibility in the rest of the shoe. Further, the top incorporates strategically placed panels of mesh for added breathability with compromising toughness. Overall, while noticeably stiffer than a standard trail shoe, I appreciate the Bushido II’s hardy construction that’s truly built for rough handling.
I’ll readily admit that I’m not easy on my trail runners, and Vancouver’s North Shore is known for its technical and “messy” terrain. Because of this, I’ve already gone through two sets of Arc’teryx Norvan LDs—they both frayed and split in the forefoot—as well as Brooks Cascadias and Saucony Peregrines, which began tearing along the inner toe. Impressively, the only shoes that haven't worn through or completely fallen apart are the original Bushido and now the latest II. For those who frequent tough trails and need a long-lasting and trustworthy shoe, I can't recommend it enough.
I loved the comfortable, snug fit of the original Bushido, and the Bushido II is no different. The updated shoe features the same internal slip-on construction that wraps around my foot like a sock, and the addition of a pull tab along the back of the ankle makes putting it on even easier. As far as sizing goes, I chose a 40.5 (La Sportiva uses European sizing and equates this to a women’s U.S. 9), and it fit very well overall. I’ve worn the shoe in both 40 and 40.5, and despite the half-size difference, both sizes hug my feet and lock them in place even on steep sections of trail. With the 40.5, I do get a little more room in the toes, which might be good news for my toenails this year.
Men’s Version of the La Sportiva Bushido II
We tested the women’s version of the updated Bushido II, but La Sportiva makes the same shoe in men's sizing. The men’s Bushido II shares the same design, overall construction, cost, and feature set as the women’s but comes in varying colorways and weighs slightly more at 1 pound 5 ounces per pair. Although we haven’t had a chance to test the men’s model, we imagine it warrants similar praise: superb traction and stability, comfortable fit, and great performance on technical trails.
- Like the original Bushido, the Bushido II offers excellent traction and stability on highly technical terrain.
- Responsive and predictable without heavily impacting comfort (although there are definitely more cushioned models available).
- At 1 pound 1.6 ounces per pair, the Bushido II is lightweight without sacrificing performance.
- Snug, comfortable fit resulted in no hotspots, slippage, or other common issues.
What We Don’t
- Overkill for tamer terrain like pavement and smooth, flat trails.
- Drainage remains underwhelming: once wet, the shoes stay wet and become noticeably heavier (not ideal for snow).
- Laces have a tendency to untie themselves unless I double-knot them.
|La Sportiva Bushido II||$130||Rugged trails||1 lb. 1.6 oz.||Light/moderate||6mm|
|Arc'teryx' Norvan VT 2||$170||Rugged trails||1 lb. 4.2 oz.||Light||8mm|
|Salomon Sense Ride 4||$120||Rugged trails/all-around||1 lb.||Moderate||8mm|
|Saucony Peregrine 11||$120||All-around||1 lb. 3 oz.||Moderate||4mm|
|Hoka One One Speedgoat 4||$145||All-around/rugged trails||1 lb. 2.4 oz.||Maximum/moderate||4mm|
|Salomon Speedcross 5||$130||All-around/rugged trails||1 lb. 3.8 oz.||Moderate||10mm|
The La Sportiva Bushido II is designed for rugged trails where roots, rocks, and steep sections are commonplace. In this category, there’s no shortage of technical trail runners. Like the Bushido, Arc’teryx’s Norvan VT 2 is designed for moving quickly on challenging ground. Mixing traits from both trail runners and approach shoes, the Norvan is lightweight at 1 pound 4.2 ounces (around 2.5 oz. heavier than the Bushido) and has a nicely cushioned midsole and breathable upper. However, the Norvan boasts a slightly burlier build and adds a climbing zone at the forefoot, which provides great edge support and makes it the more capable scrambler. In the end, the Bushido is the better all-rounder (especially on more moderate terrain), but the Arc’teryx gets the edge on ultra-technical mountain runs.
For a more on-trail-friendly build, we like Salomon’s Sense Ride 4. To be clear, the Salomon still is a highly capable companion for demanding outings with a firm midsole, tacky Contagrip rubber outsole, and a very durable and protective construction. The Bushido offers better grip and ground feel, but the Sense Ride’s less aggressive lug pattern and better cushioning underfoot make it the preferred option for covering long distances, and especially over less rocky ground. All in all, we’d break it down as follows: the Sense Ride is the better pick for routes that combine both on- and off-trail travel, but the Bushido offers a step up in performance for when the terrain turns decidedly rugged.
Saucony’s Peregrine has been another favorite of ours for multiple generations, and the “11” carries the torch in 2021. This shoe has great traction, ample cushioning, solid protection, and a reasonably low weight (1 lb. 3 oz. ounces per pair vs. the Bushido’s 1 lb. 1.6 oz.). That said, despite its sharp lugs, the Peregrine 11 pales in comparison on rough terrain—its midsole is designed more for comfort and flexibility over long distances than stability on variable surfaces. For highly technical trails with steep climbs and descents over rocks and roots, the stiffer Bushido is our top pick. For tamer outings, the $10-cheaper Peregrine is a nice option.
As we touched on above, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is another good option for rugged trails, but with much more cushioning than the Bushido II. At 1 pound 2.4 ounces, the Speedgoat 4 outweighs the Bushido by around an ounce but doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of performance with an aggressive lug pattern, great traction, and an energetic feel. However, even though its thick midsole (32mm at the heel) inspires a lot of confidence while running over roots and sharp rocks, it also results in less precise foot placements and more isolation from the ground. All told, we prefer the nimbler Bushido II on technical terrain, but for runners who like the added cushioning, the Hoka One One is a nice choice.
Last but not least, Salomon’s Speedcross 5 is a similarly aggressive shoe designed for gripping variable surfaces. What sets the Speedcross apart is its 6-millimeter arrow-shaped lugs, which provide excellent traction over soft ground like dirt, mud, and even snow. But the Bushido II gets the advantage in stability due to its lower stack height (19mm at the heel vs. 30mm for the Speedcross), which feels much less prone to rolling over on trail obstacles. The Speedcross’ narrow fit might also be a deal-breaker for some, but its traction is impressive nevertheless for those who spend a lot of time on wet trails. However, for the same price, we think the Bushido is the better all-rounder.
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