Saturday, April 27, 2019

La Sportiva Bushido II Review- Totally Confidence Inspiring. Now with More Cushion and Comfort

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

La Sportiva Bushido II

Weight: 10.5 oz. / 298 g US Men's size 9
Sample US Men's size 10: 11.2 oz. / 317 grams
19mm heel/13mm forefoot (6mm drop)
$130.00 Available now

Introduction/Initial Impressions:  

Jeff: The overall look of the Bushido II is very similar to the first version and unless I got a close look or saw them side by side, I would be hard pressed to differentiate them in passing.  I reviewed the Bushido years ago when they were first released and really appreciated their precise and secure fit, stability and coupled with supreme traction in wet or dry, slabby rock, off trail, they were confidence inspiring.  Add to that bombproof rock protection, they are absolutely made for talus hopping and rock scrambling in the high mountains. 
My biggest reservation however with version 1 was the very firm midsole, providing a bit of a harsh ride when actually running.  The Bushido II builds upon the success of it's predecessor by adding proprietary LaSpEVA to the Compression Molded MEMlex, an updated heel design for increased comfort and fit, an updated, more ergonomic and padded gusseted tongue, improved mesh upper for breathability and a more sturdy rubberized toe bumper and arch to improve abrasion resistance and add protection. The outsole is essentially unchanged.

Sam: I never ran the Bushido. With the half ounce weight reduction to a reasonable 10.5 oz  and the promise of fantastic traction, stability and support I saw them as an ideal rough terrain shoe that would not weigh me down. Due to the season, my testing was on moderate terrain hard packed snow, frozen and sloppy mud and while a bit too much shoe for these conditions they proved their promised versatility in rough conditions.

  • Superb traction in varied conditions, particularly excelling on rock, slab and wet
  • Locked in and precise upper for 100% confidence in any circumstance
  • Stability
  • Protection
  • Durability
  • Still a touch on the heavy side
  • Fit might be a bit tight for those with higher volume feet
  • Sam: Rigid mid foot arch support impedes smoother more moderate terrain transitions.
Jeff: Most of the changes as outlined above take place with the upper.  The mesh has been refined to be a bit lighter, more flexible and more breathable Air Mesh/Thermal Adhesive Microfiber with a nice webbing of smooth High Frequency Welded Ripstop overlays.  These upgrades add to the comfort and breathability without compromising security or performance.
The TPU toe bumper has been beefed up as well, a thick reinforced rubberized material that protects, as well as withstands a lot of scuffing and abrasion.

The Stretch Air Mesh tongue has been improved with more padding, a slightly more encompassing/ergonomic design and is notably more comfortable.

The heel counter is slightly more flexible, yet still very secure, well structured and protective.  

Collar height is on the low side and padding is moderate to minimal, yet still very comfortable.

The instep has also been reinforced, perfect for scruffing through scree and talus.

Fit is on the snug side, true to size in my size 10, but this shoe is very low volume and slim fitting, ideal for technical terrain and rock hopping.  No matter what the terrain, no matter how fast I am moving or how steep or off camber, this upper has my foot locked down such that I am completely confident with no excess movement or flex.  
Sam: Fit was as Jeff says on the snug side but comfortable and appropriate for rough terrain use. I was totally secure in this upper at all times. The overlays at the met heads are particularly well executed. I had no issues with my bunions despite the snug fit.
I  I did not find them overly low volume, and were comparable to many Salomon for me with plenty of toe box room and for moderate terrain lacing not as tight still gave me plenty of support.  If I had to describe the upper it would be that I was totally confident of its support at all times, and on all terrain.

The rear and mid foot of the shoe hold and stability is fantastic for rough terrain but a bit overdone for smoother less technical terrain,

The LaSpEVA with Compression Molded MEMlex midsole is a huge improvement over the first Bushido.  Responsiveness is increased and most of all, the addition of the LaSpEVA has made the cushioning and ride of the Bushido 2 much softer and more comfortable when compared to the relatively hard ride of the first version.  Cushioning is still on the firm side, but is compliant and somewhat forgiving, without compromising and in fact, increasing overall performance.
Sam: The midsole is dual density with Compression Molded MEMIex the full length of the shoe and with a softer LaSpEVA insert which appears to be concentrated in forefoot. Note in the photo how the outsole wraps up the sides to stabilize the forefoot and for off camber grip. The Bushido is also commendably flexible up front giving them strong uphill performance.  As with many Sportiva there is a compressed EVA rock guard which unlike plastic plates allows that good flexibility. 
The mid foot and rear has a rigid black TPU STB frame under the arch with pieces extending to the rear. 
The stability in rough terrain is incredible but all that rigidity can get in the way on smoother terrain. . I found the midsole, as the upper, totally appropriate for intended rough terrain use providing plenty of stable not overly harsh but still firm cushion. The cushioning is not what I would take on harder smooth terrain but its combination of a relatively shock free performance and stability is, as with the upper,  totally confidence inspiring. 

Jeff: The Dual Density FriXion XT V-Groove2 with Impact Brake System is among the best, if not the best overall tread for versatility and gravity defying traction on slabby rock, both dry and wet.  La Sportiva is well known for their climbing shoes and they do a great job at transferring that climbing knowledge into making a sticky and secure outsole, very reminiscent of an approach shoe, though much more runnable of course.  In addition to gecko like grip on slabby rock, wet or dry, the moderate height lugs are shaped, angled and positioned as such to provide very good grip on a wide variety of surfaces, be it snow, mud, loose dirt and off trail.  Durability is excellent, with just a touch of wear where I toe off, but otherwise is above average.

Sam: Truly one of the best all around outsoles out there for snow, wet, mud and rock. I ran in sloppy mud as well as hard ground and in all conditions again... confidence inspiring grip to go with upper and midsole support.

Jeff: The Bushido 2 is a real improvement over the first version, retaining everything that I liked about its predecessor (secure fit, stability, traction, durability, protection) and then making some subtle improvements to the upper to add a bit of comfort, then majorly improving the midsole to make the Bushido 2 a much more forgiving, runnable shoe with a good bit more cushioned feel, yet while not compromising performance.  The Bushido 2 is ideal for technical trail running, off trail use and especially great for spending long periods of time above tree line skipping across talus and scrambling, where you want the utmost in traction, security, protection and predictable stability, all in a nimble package without extra bulk.
Jeff's Score:9.8/10
- .1 for weight, as it would be great to just drop a half ounce per shoe
- .1 for slim fit, ideal for me and for providing security in rough terrain, but may be a limitation for some.

Sam: Well the Bushido does well in mud, very well as shown in the picture above at the Antelope Island 25K where morning ice, some rockier sections then as sun came out lots of mud were on the menu. And that is the beauty of the Bushido. Not my first choice for the smooth and fast due to its super robust mid foot to rear support from the TPU STB plastic pieces which gets in the way of transitions for me. This great mid foot rear support should make them a good trail choice for severe over pronators in my view.  If the weather conditions are up in the air, the terrain rough, steep and varied, Bushido is ready and able to tackle just about anything.
Sam's Score: 9.6 /10
-0.4 for overdone (for me) plastic TPU STB support elements at mid foot which limit versatility and and also likely add weight.

Bushido 2 vs. Bushido 1
Jeff: As mentioned previously, the Bushido 2 has in improved upper with more protective toe bumper, instep, breathable material, heel counter and tongue, then the more forgiving midsole is a huge improvement over the original.

Bushido 2 vs. Kaptiva:  (RTR Review)
Jeff: The Kaptiva is lighter, more responsive and agile, with excellent tread.  The fit of the Kaptiva is slightly more accommodating, but is not quite as stable or adept at rock hopping and technical scrambling as the Bushido 2.

Bushido 2 vs. Lycan:  (RTR Review)
Jeff: The Lycan is lighter, has a more relaxed fit and a more comfortable midsole that I find to be better for longer distances.  The tread on the Lycan, while very sticky, is low profile and does not excel off trail.  Unless you go with the Lycan GTX, which has a very aggressive tread (along with Gore Tex upper), but then you are adding a lot of weight and changing the characteristics of the Lycan.  I much prefer the Bushido all the way around.

Bushido 2 vs. Salomon XA Elevate:  (RTR Review)
Jeff: Probably the closest comparison in the Salomon line up (at least until the X Alpine is released later in the year).  Both shoes offer supreme rock hopping protection, grip, stability and predictability.  The XA Elevate has a slight more relaxed fit, though still is very secure and arguably a more durable outsole, however the XA Elevate does not have the overall upper durability/protection of the Bushido 2.
Sam: Agree with Jeff that the Bushido upper (and midsole stability) is somewhat more secure than XA's particularly at the rear of the shoe but for all but the most extreme terrain the XA Elevate's is more than enough. The XA has a smoother transition and runs considerably better on smoother terrain than Bushido while still being able to tackle any extreme terrain.

Bushido 2 vs. Scott Supertrac RC:  (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both shoes for me fall into the supreme grip and locked in upper category.  The Supertrac RC, like the Bushido 2 is among the best out there for all around grip and security for pushing hard off trail and rock hopping.  The Supertrac RC is lighter and better for racing, though not quite as durable or protective as the Bushido 2.
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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mark said...

Guys, how's this shoe for easy pace long runs? Like say 20 miles over technical, rocky
terrain with some smoother dirt sections. I'm coming from XA Elevates. Thanks.

Jeff Valliere said...

If you like the Elevate, then I think you would like these.

Adam said...

How is the cushioning compared to the XA Elevate.


Jeff Valliere said...

I would say the Bushido 2 is slightly more plush and a bit more cushy.

John said...

Hi Guys,

The only La Sportiva shoe I own is the Akasha, which I’m on my 3rd paid.

How does the Bushido compare to the Akasha? And since the Akasha hasn’t been updated for several years, is there a shoe you recommend that does everything the Akasha does but better?


Jeff Valliere said...

Akasha still has better cushion and perhaps a bit better for running trails and longer distances, but if rock hopping, scrambling off trail and above treeline is your thing, then Bushido would be better.

guillet jean jacques said...

Bonjour. Quelle tailles devrais je prendre pour la Bushido 2 , je suis habituellement en 10 sur toutes les chaussures, mm mes altra Olympus, merci.

Sam Winebaum said...

Bonjour Jean Jacques,
Je conseille au moins une demi taille US de plus que tes Altra et meme la si tu a un pied large en volume pas sur qu'il y'aura la place. Sportiva sont tres étroit en comparison.
Sam, Editor RTR