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La Sportiva - Bushido

posted Jan 21, 2015, 8:30 AM by Italo Balestra   [ updated Jan 22, 2015, 12:05 PM ]

The Bushido are shoes specifically designed by La Sportiva for Skyrunning competitions, an intense and extreme use, where grip, stability, and accuracy are key factors. Since their debut the Bushido had intrigued us, at first for their captivating look, but most of all for their technical features. As you know, we love to put gear to the test in our favorite lab: the outdoor! So we took the Bushido, we put them on, and we went out running!

Technical Description

The Bushido is a highly technical shoe specifically designed for mountain-running competitions. Its construction is a feast of technical features that La Sportiva has been able to combine very wisely, creating a product of the highest technical level: dual-density outsole with aggressively designed lugs for high traction on loose terrains, tightening system precisely and firmly wrapping around the midfoot, protective rubber toe-cap, upper with mesh reinforced with
rubber inserts for enhanced structural support, and much more... in short, an 
extremely technical tool for trail and mountain running.

Technologies & Materials
Upper: AirMesh/Thermal Adhesive Microfiber/High Frequency Welded Ripstop/TPU Toe Cap
Foot bed: Mesh/Highly breathable lateral mesh inserts/Stretch AirMesh Tongue
Midsole: Compression Molded MEMlex/ 1.5mm Dual-Density compressed EVA Rock-Guard in forefoot/ TPU Shank
Sole: Dual-Density FriXion® XT V-Groove™ with Impact Brake System™

Drop: 6 mm
Weight: 305 g per shoe (size 42)

Our Test

We tested the Bushido for such a long time that, rather than publishing a test, we could write a book about them! A whole year
through four seasons and for several trips in different continents
: from the extreme humidity and heat of the jungles of
Thailand to the snowy mountains of the Dolomites in winter, from sandy beaches to rocky trails. We ran and hiked for about 400 km, during heavy showers and dry conditions, on mud, rock, sand, grass, and snow.

First Impressions
As soon as you hold them in your hand you have the clear feeling that they are a highly technical product: the Bushido are full of technical features and carefully designed, small details, each one with its specific function. The quality of the manufacture is excellent. The design is very aggressive. Maybe not exactly a featherweight, but relatively light considering their complex construction. Flexible enough on the forefoot, but "as stiff as a stone" from the midfoot to the heel.

Certainly not the lightest pair of shoes we tried, but with
approximately 300 g (per shoe), the Bushido are relatively lightweight shoes, especially if considering their complex construction and the good quality of the materials used. The weight is slightly unbalanced toward the rear part of the shoe, due to the massive and very structured heel. When you lift the foot off the ground such a weight difference is quite noticeable.

The sole has a very pronounced tread. The lugs, made of two different rubber compounds, are oriented in different slanted directions to provide maximum traction, breaking power, and side grip all at the same time. The design of the lugs placed along the sides of the sole is peculiar. They reach up to the midsole to offer additional traction on steep traverses and on rough or irregular terrains. The prominent lugs sink deep into soft and loose terrains, providing excellent traction. However, we noticed that on hard and wet surfaces the grip is less good, especially in the central part of the forefoot: we often noticed some loss of traction in the last phase of the thrust. For those who need secure traction on ice and snow, dedicated metal studs are also available (sold separately).

If we were to describe the Bushido in two words, we would define it a "precision tool". It fits so well, following excellently the shape of the foot, that the feeling is that of wearing the most accurate running footwear you could wish. The tip is very stiff, thin, and tacky, providing maximum precision: you can always place it exactly where you want to. The 'STB Control' construction, which works in synergy with the lacing system, wraps the midfoot superbly. It forms a semi-rigid structure, which basically fuses the shoe and your foot together. The heel-cup is quite tight, so that the heel almost "gets stuck" in it. Indeed, at the beginning, most of us suffered the rubbing of the heel-cup collar against the malleolus. Finally, we really liked the 6 mm drop, which allows for more freedom to switch between heel-strike and forefoot-strike running.

Protection from the Elements
The Bushido protect quite well from cold wind and mud splashes, but, lacking a waterproof membrane, they have no sympathy for rainy days!

The number of insets applied to the upper, such as the rubber toe protection, the external reinforcement frame, and the Ripstop, tend to hinder transpiration and breathability. The heels and the toes are the only parts through which excess heat and moisture find their way out. In hot and humid conditions your feet suffer quite a lot the overall lack of breathability. The Bushido are definitely better suited for the winter months or colder climates!

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The Bushido is not very flexible due to the impact-protection systems located inside the sole. Unfortunately, we found this a big limitation. All of us appreciated the high degree of protection of the sole, but we also agreed on the fact that such a stiff sole prevents the natural function of the foot: that is to flex! We would have preferred less protection in favor of some more flexibility. The forefoot has a better flex, but the rear and mid sections of the sole are "as stiff as a stone", especially in torsion. However, the sole has in its favor a good snap and reactivity in the thrust phase.

The particular kind of EVA (compression molded EVA) used for the
sole of the Bushido results in a stiffer material
 with lower shock-absorption capability compared to the standard EVA. The feeling is that of a somewhat "woody" shoe, especially in the striking phase. However, while not very flexible, the sole is quite stable and reactive.

The 'STB Control' construction wraps around the midfoot always keeping the foot exactly in its correct position. The rubber tip helps to keep your toes in the right position without letting them slide inside the footbed. The heel-cup locks the heel in a "clamp". The sole is much wider than the foot, having a large and very stable base, which leaves a large footprint on the ground, The prominent lugs literally bite into the ground. In short, when you touch the ground you could not wish a better stability and you have the feeling of being "one with the ground". It's almost impossible to roll or twist your ankle: the Bushido have a fantastic stability!

Nothing prevents you from using the Bushido not only for trail running, but also for many other outdoor activities. However, because of the absence of a waterproof membrane, you will have to stay away from heavy rain, snow, and mud. For dry conditions and for almost any type of terrain they are great!

After 400 km the tread of the sole still looks almost new! This is because the compounds used for the outsole are quite hard. However, while extending the life of the shoes, this also hinders the grip on hard and wet surfaces. Thanks to its numerous microfibre-inserts and the robust rubber frame applied to the Ripstop fabric, the upper of the Bushido is highly resistant to cuts and abrasions and almost immune from the typical deformations due to the use! They are not only durable... they are almost IMMORTAL!

Our Verdict

In conclusion, we really appreciated the high quality and the high
technical level
 of the Bushido. More than a running shoe, it could be defined "a highly technical tool for running on rough terrain". It behaves very good on the rocks, but the kind of terrains that the Bushido prefers are the dirt trails, especially if they are steep. If you are a demanding trail runner and you need a shoe to attack the mountains without compromises, the Bushido is exactly what you are looking for!

+ High stability
+ Very precise
+ Great durability

- Limited traction on hard and wet surfaces
- Annoying heel-cup collar
- Poor cushioning

 Lightness    8/10
 Grip    7/10
 Comfort    8/10
 Protection from the Elements    7/10
 Breathability    6/10
 Flexibility and Responsiveness     7/10
 Cushioning    6/10
 Stability    9/10
 Versatility    8/10
 Durability    9/10
 Total Score  7.5/10