Wednesday, September 17, 2014

LaSportiva Bushido Trail Shoe Review - With Photos

LaSportiva Bushido Trail Shoe Review - With Photos

Writing reviews of products is always difficult for me. Most products are pretty good (or else they would never hit the market), and to some extent, most products fulfill a particular nitch within their market area. Shoes are no exception, and to some extent, they are even more difficult to write about then say pants, hydration packs, or something similar. Everyone's feet are unique, and what shoe fits them the best is unique to them, let alone the different “types” of shoes one may be looking for – minimal, maximal, zero-drop, trail, road, and so forth. So with this in mind, it is obvious why I find writing a shoe review that will benefit someone other than myself difficult. However, when I do find a shoe that I like, I want to share it with people who might be looking for a similar type of shoe for their quiver.

I received a pair of La Sportiva Bushidos back at the beginning of June, but am only getting around to writing a review now because I wanted to put enough miles on them to make sure my review was informed and honest. I don't run for them, and so my review is purely my own opinion – I get no kick-backs.

The Bushidos among Old Man of the Mountain wildflowers on the Congressional Circuit run.

At first glance, I was pretty excited to try out the Bushidos. Coming in at ~10 oz the shoes were on the lighter end for a trail shoe, and with their La Sportiva sticky rubber on the soles I was interested in trying them out in the mountains. My normal go-to shoe is the Brooks Cascadia. I like the Cascadia (version 8 and 9 only) because it is a solid, all around trail shoe. Yes, it is a bit clunky, and a bit heavy, but when most of your running is on rocky trails, up and down mountains, over talus, through alpine rivers and the like, you kind of need a solid, slightly beefier shoe to stand up to the wear and tear. The Bushidos seemed like they might be a nice alternative, if not a bit lighter. And so over the course of the summer I intermixed my mountain runs between my Cascadias, the Bushidos, and the Pearl Izumi N2 Trail. Overall, I've put about 300 miles and 75,000' of gain on the Bushidos, and so far they are holding up very nicely. Before I get into my particular likes and dislikes, here are the pertinent stats:

Weight: ~10 oz (depends on size)
Drop: 6mm
Sole: FriXion XT sticky rubber
Upper: Mesh with welded ripstop and a toe cap

Looking down 3,000' of class 3 talus on the north ridge of Torreys Peak

The Fit 

The first thing I noticed about the Bushidos is their glove-like fit. Unlike the Cascadias or N2s, where the shoe comes up and cradles the foot, with the Bushidos the foot rides on top of the insole, almost like on a platform. The mesh upper then surrounds your foot in a very snug and secure glove-like fashion. At first it feels like the shoe is really “shallow” and you are riding up on top of it with a protective mesh layer holding you in, rather than a feeling of wearing a shoe that protects and surrounds your foot. This glove-like shallow feeling – which I got used to pretty fast – is, however, what gives the shoe an extremely nimble and fast feeling. Running up a rocky hill with the Bushidos feels fast, fun, and easy – making quick steps and leaps from rock to rock becomes easy and a joy.

Still holding up really well after 300+ miles and 75,000' of gain

The Sole 

The Bushidos come with LaSportiva’s FriXion XT sticky rubber, which allows them to grip almost any type of rock in all conditions. I took them out the other day during an early fall rainstorm and had no problem running over granite slabs and sandstone cobbles. The shoes tread pattern seems to work well, and although I can’t really say whether the "impact break system" is effective or not, I have been very pleased with it overall. There does seem to be a bit of tread breakage or aggressive wear, similar to what I’ve noticed on the Cascadias, but then again, I don’t know what kind of rubber would hold up to miles of Rocky Mountain talus. Like the Cascadias and the N2, the Bushidos come with a “rock plate” that does an adequate job. I can still feel some of the sharper, smaller pebble size rocks, but I can in other shoes with rock plates as well.

The sticky rubber is holding up pretty good - some chunk wear to the edges however


I really only have one dislike about this shoe, and that is the midsole. La Sportiva describes it this way: "MEMlex — A compression molded midsole of 80% EVA and 20% SBR that provides a firm, cushioned midsole that is very lightweight." I agree, that is basically how it felt - firm. For how I am using this shoe in my running quiver, that works fine, but I could see using this shoe for longer runs or races if the midsole was a bit softer or thicker (19mm at the heel, 13mm at the toe). La Sportiva categorizes the shoe as a "performance" shoe, and I would have to agree - so really this is more of a want then a dislike.


For me, the Bushidos are a great shoe for technical, super rocky, shorter runs and races. For anything between 5K and 15 miles that involves a significant amount of vert. or technical footwork, the Bushidos would be my go to shoe. If the race or run were longer, I would probably go with my Cascadias – even though they are a bit heavier, beefier, and a tad more lumbersome – simply because the Bushidos don’t seem to offer enough midsole protection for the longer stuff. On fast and fun runs in the Flatirons, around Apex or Mount Falcon, or on the higher stuff like Grays and Torreys (especially the Kelso Ridge), the Bushidos are the perfect shoe. They provide enough protection, offer superior traction and rubber, and feel light, nimble, and fast. In my quiver of running shoes, that is the role that they seem to play, and will continue to play. For the flatter stuff, sandy runs out of Pine or Buffalo Creek, or for the longer mountain trudge days linking up several peaks, I’ll still select my N2s or Cascadias. But for when I want to go fast over technical terrain, the Bushidos are an excellent choice.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pettingell's East Ridge, Hassell Peak, Diets, Races

Pettingell's East Ridge, Hassell Peak, Diets, Races

Early yesterday morning I got up for a fun ridge scramble on Pettingell's East Ridge. The original plan was to do the traverse over to the Citadel, but when I got up to the ridge the rain clouds were already present and I did not want to get caught on the ridge between the two during a rain storm. The ridge from Pettingell (13,553') to the Citadel (13,294') goes at solid class 4, and with no bail points, it is not the place to be when it is wet. Pettingell's East Ridge, however, is a classic class 3 ridge scramble that can be done quickly from Herman Gulch. Since I had to bail on going over to the Citadel, but still had some time and plenty of energy in the legs, I ran back across the ridge and then continued on the Divide over to Hassell Peak (13,215') for a quick tag before taking the Continental Divide trail back down and around to the car. I hadn't been on this side of the highway all summer, and forgot how remote and empty these 13ers are compared to the 14ers on the other side of the road. The East Ridge is fairly easy, with about 3 cruxes that can be negotiated either by staying directly on the ridge for some fun and airy class3/4 or by dropping down about 20' to the south. I stayed on the ridge most of the time except for one airy section of class 4+ where I went around to the south before coming back up to the ridge to tag the summit. Doing the ridge twice and then cruzing over to Hassell Peak is about 13 miles roundtrip with about 4,000' of gain. It took me 3:35 total time, including doing the ridge twice which is slower going then say Kelso Ridge or similar class 3 ridges in the area.

 Ran into a ptarmigan family in the talus... I could only get two of the seven in the photo.
 Looking at the ridge towards the summit.
 Fun talus scrambling...

 One of the airier sections... don't look down.

Although the Paleo diet is all the rage among certain folks that I know, I have a hard time subscribing to any "diet." This is especially true when it has not been studied long term, nor have any studies on the diet's health consequences been studied. As this recently published article notes, most studies on the various diets out there are done in terms of obesity and weight loss, and not in terms of overall health or long term impacts. Similarly, as the study notes, most diets work because they limit calories in some fashion, and not because of any secret dietary formula.

Bouldered up at Eldora the other day again. Although not packed with hard problems, this little area has about 15 problems and projects that go up to V8, but the real draw is that it is usually 20-30 degrees cooler then anything down in town and only about 25 minutes away.

Really bummed that I have to work this Saturday, as I was hoping to run one more mountain race. Now I look at my options and can't find anything that is very exciting... I might have to see how I fare at a flat, loop race with all of the real runners. Anyone have any leads on upcoming races that are worth checking out?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend - Gondwanaland Plus

Labor Day Weekend - Gondwanaland Plus

Well, sometimes things don't go as planned, and you have to suck it up and roll with the punches. I had big plans for this weekend, and was pretty psyched to get after it, but then things quickly changed and I had to deal with it. Originally I was to give Nolans a second attempt starting on Friday with the big group, but near the summit of Elbert I noticed that my back was wet - more so then from just sweating. A quick check at the summit showed that my bladder had sprung a leak at the seam. No problem I thought, I'll just have to deal and make my way down to La Plata and grab one of the two back-ups I had brought. At La Plata Tara and I rummaged through the car, but couldn't find the bag with the extra bladders in them! This was devastating, as I was feeling good and had everything else lined up. There was no way to fix the leaking bladder, and with no reasonable method to carry water, I had to make the tough call to bag it. I was really disappointed. When I got back home, there was the bag, sitting in the middle of the floor - apparently in the rush to get up to Leadville Thursday after work we had somehow missed that bag. A really stupid mistake that I will be kicking myself over for some time. A big congrats to everyone who gave it a go, and for Gavin McKenzie and Brandon Stapanowich for finishing the beast!

This was the first bladder failure that I have ever had, and my first "equipment" failure. It happens, but never to me - until now. I guess I've got another year to get stronger.

To make up for it, I went and did a version of Gondwanaland on Monday. Gondwanaland is the name some have given to the line that goes from Guanella Pass to Loveland Pass along the Continental Divide. The normal line tags six summits over 13,000'. I threw in a couple other summits along the way to make up for Friday. My goal on this line is to keep going and to complete what I am calling Pangaea, which continues on the Divide all the way to Berthoud. The conditions were not the best yesterday, with some cold, fierce wind and a bit of rain to go for the full route - the Divide has its own weather (and wind) as it is the natural dividing range for the North American continent. This line will be an instant classic once it is done in its entirety. If we get an Indian Summer, I might give it a go still this year, but it is looking like it will have to wait until next year too. So I ran over Square Top Mountain (13,794'), Mount Argentine (13,738'), Mount Edwards (13,850'), McClellan Mountain (13,587'), Edwards again, Grays Peak (14,270'), Torreys Peak (14,267'), Grizzly Peak (13,427'), Cupid (13,117'), and Mount Sniktau (13,234') before calling it a day. With the extra peaks, I finished the line in 5:12 in a decent pace, but without really pushing. The wind between Square Top and Edwards was incredible, and I ran/hiked as if in an old V8 commercial - with occasional gusts strong enough that I literally moved one to two feet east for each step north. It's a great line, with a touch of class 3 depending on your route, and being Labor Day I only encountered people on G&T and Grizzly - the 13ers are always so quiet.

Now to rest and see what happens for the Kite Lake Triple-Triple.