By Heather Madsen
It’s finally time to hit the trails again, and as such, I’ve been on the hunt for a great new pair of hiking shoes. In the past I’ve often opted for boots with rigid construction and high cut ankle support. These were great for day trips, backpacking, and held up to heavy use and trekking off trail. However, I’m not taking long hiking trips as much anymore, and want to get back into bouldering and moderate rock climbing. As such, I was on the hunt for a shoe that would allow me to hike to my destination while also functioning well as a climbing shoe and footwear that I could take off trail.
The pair I finally decided to purchase was the women’s La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes. As a company that specializes in climbing shoes, and has since expanded into combination hiking shoes, I figured La Sportiva’s product would be exactly what I was looking for, and luckily, I was right!
Straight out of the box they were pretty comfortable, but I still wanted to break them in a bit before I took them out on a strenuous hike. Over the next week I wore them around the office and to walk the dogs. The arch support and cushioning were very comfortable. I liked that the arch and drop height weren’t too high, so my foot didn’t have to adjust to a new angle and rest position, or suffer from fatigue. The only thing I was originally concerned about was the tread. The FriXion® XT V-Groove2™ sole is specifically designed for shock absorption and to be used on versatile terrain. Unfortunately, when I was walking on flat or paved surfaces, I kept scuffing the pad of my foot on the ground because of how large the tread is. This, combined with the grippy rubber, caused me to stumble or trip a handful of times. Nevertheless, I loved everything else about the shoe and wanted to test it out on the trails.
For their debut outdoor adventure, I decided to strap the Bushido IIs on and head out on a day trip to my state’s local geode beds. I figured this location would give me a great mix of terrain and climbing opportunities. I spent 11 hours out there, 7 of them with my feet on the ground, and these shoes held up to every minute of it.
For starters, the tread that I was concerned about on pavement was fantastic on the trails, gravel, sand, and rock I was hiking on. I didn’t trip once, and the grippy texture of the rubber kept me stabilized and confident while maneuvering around. The angle lugs of the tread gave me excellent braking power, so I could run down sandy hillsides without slipping or losing traction. The cushioning and padding also held up great. After a full day of trekking around my heels were still comfortable and I had very little fatigue in the muscles of my feet, or on the top of my feet where the cushioned tongue protected me from the tight lacing.
Another aspect I really enjoyed was how the shoe fit my foot. As a modified climbing shoe, the Bushido IIs do run a little small and narrow in the arch of but I just ordered a half-size up and they fit perfectly. In other hiking shoes I’ve often had to wear thicker socks or lace my shoes rather tight to make sure my narrow foot doesn’t slide around. These shoes fit like a glove though and really let me be confident in each step I took. Plus the roomier toe-box makes it so you can spread your toes while running and climbing to give you more control and support.
I also appreciate how flexible the Bushido IIs are. Depending on what kind of activity you’re doing, heavily protected shoes with high torsion rigidity can be great. However, as I needed to run and scramble over rocks and hills, the flexibility and lighter torsion rigidity made it so I could point my toes to reach a toe-hold, or push off of the pad of my foot while crouched with ease. They also absorbed the impact of each small rock I stepped on by absorbing the shape slightly. They are still shaped like a running shoe, so I wouldn’t do extreme bouldering or free climbing in them, but they were great for the large boulders and rocky hills I was travelling over at the time.
Finally, I have to give La Sportiva kudos on their construction. While I was originally concerned about the tread, the FriXion® XT V-Groove2™ 's uniquely designed texture absorbed impact and gave me gripping power. They managed to make the shoe lightweight by constructing it out of mesh, riptstop, and microfiber, while still making it durable enough to endure scrapes, scuffs, and being covered by numerous small rock slides. Plus, they’re extremely breathable. I was out in the desert, hunting for geodes during an extreme heat weather warning, and yet my feet never once overheated. With the mesh and light construction of the toe and body of the shoe, my feet had great circulation and dried quickly.
All in all the Bushido IIs performed exceptionally well. They’re my new go-to trail shoe and I can’t wait to get back out on my next hike or climb.
If you’d like to learn more about the La Sportiva Bushido II trail shoes, visit your local Sportsman’s Warehouse and speak to an associate, or visit us online at Sportsmans.com. You can also watch Dan Kidder put the men’s Bushido II shoes to the test in this video.