The 10 Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes – Durability and Performance

If you play a lot of outdoor basketball you are probably familiar with this problem: Most basketball shoes are designed for indoor use and won’t last very long on rugged outdoor courts.

So, unless you want to buy a new pair every month, it is important to find shoes that can take the beating of playing on blacktop.

How do you recognize good outdoor basketball shoes?

  • The outsole is made from hard and durable rubber
  • The traction grooves are wide and deep
  • They shouldn’t cost a fortune because they won’t last forever
  • The upper material needs to be tough and resilient

Unfortunately, big basketball shoe brands release very few (or none) dedicated outdoor basketball shoes these days. So if you can’t afford to customize your favorite Nike ID sneaker with a durable XDR outdoor rubber sole, you need to find regular basketball shoes that also work well outdoors

In reality, this means you need to watch dozens of shoe reviews and hope that the reviewer mentions if this particular shoe works outdoors. Check any Youtube video about a basketball shoe and there is a good chance that someone asked this question in the comments!

To help you avoid wasting so much time watching sneaker videos I have checked out 855 reviews of 191 of the most popular basketball shoes and recorded the opinion of the reviewers about traction, cushion, material, support and their fit.

But most importantly for this article, I also looked if the reviewer would recommend the tested shoe for outdoor use. You can check out the complete list of shoes here.

Below you can find a list of affordable basketball shoes that are recommended for outdoor use:

  • 8.8 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • The KD 13 is a great all-around performer with one of the best cushioning setups available.
  • A great pick if you are looking for a comfortable shoe that will also work outdoors.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 4 shoe reviewers

  • 8.7 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • Damian Lillard's 7th signature shoe is a significant upgrade over last years model.
  • A perfectly balanced shoe that fits any position or player.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.7 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • A great all around performer at a solid price.
  • Great for any position or style of play.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.7 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • A nice blend of old-school leather and new-school performance textiles and synthetics
  • Great shoe if you are looking for beastly traction and minimal, responsive cushioning
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers

  • 8.5 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Kawhi's first official signature shoe is a solid performer.
  • Best for bigger players who need a very supportive and rigid shoe.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers

  • 8.4 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • The D Rose 11 is a solid all-around performer with nice cushion and traction
  • Great for wide footers or those who prefer a roomier fit.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.4 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • J. Cole's first signature sneaker is a solid performer and fun to play in.
  • Great for guards or big guys that need a supportive shoe.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 3 shoe reviewers

  • 8.3 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • The budget model Harden Stepback 2 is arguably better than the signature Volume 5.
  • Best for guards or wings who want court feel and don't need a lot of compression.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.3 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • A supportive, low-to-the-ground, all-around performer.
  • Perfect if you are looking for affordable shoes that work outdoors.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.2 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • A very affordable sneaker with great traction and impact protection
  • Best for outdoor use or those looking for a good deal
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers

The Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes

1. Nike KD 13

Performance Rating:
8.8
The KD 13 is a great all-around performer with one of the best cushioning setups available.
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable full-length cushioning
Great traction indoors and outdoors
Cons:
Materials could be more premium
What do the experts think?
The nicest part of the KD 13 is the full-length Zoom Strobel which provides one of the best cushioning setups in basketball. The traction pattern does a good job in all directions and is tough and thick enough to last outdoors. The materials are thin, lightweight, and perform well but the quality doesn't feel premium in-hand. Support comes from the wide base and good fit however the minimal upper doesn't provide as much lockdown as previous KD models. As for most KD models, the fit of the KD13 is very comfortable if you have regular or narrow feet, wide-footers should go up half a size or look elsewhere. Overall, the KD 13 is a great basketball shoe with outstanding cushioning.

2. Adidas Dame 7

Performance Rating:
8.7
Damian Lillard's 7th signature shoe is a significant upgrade over last years model.
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Balanced cushioning
Solid traction indoors and outdoors
Cons:
Not the most premium materials
What do the experts think?
The traction on the Dame 7 performs well - significantly better than the 6. Good news if you play outdoors a lot: the outsole is made of very durable rubber and performs well on the blacktop. The Lightstrike foam cushion setup is also an upgrade over the 6 and is a good balance of impact protection, court feel, and responsiveness. The materials are of decent quality, well ventilated, and get the job done performance-wise. The support offers good lateral stability and containment but the low cut doesn't provide any additional ankle support. Overall, the Dame 7 is a great all-around performer - especially for the price!

3. Jordan React Elevation

Performance Rating:
8.7
A great all around performer at a solid price.
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Great cushion setup
Traction works well on all surfaces
Cons:
Materials could be more premium
What do the experts think?
The traction of the Jordan React Elevation performs nicely on clean courts, dusty courts, and outdoor courts. They have you covered no matter where you play. The cushion setup with React foam in the heel and Zoom in the forefoot is very comfortable and provides nice impact protection as well as court feel. The materials are nothing crazy, but they get the job done well and provide good support. The lacing system provides very good lockdown and reviewers found that true to size worked great. The support is also fantastic - you should have no issues with lateral containment or stability. Overall the Jordan React Elevation is a very good performer that comes in at a nice price. Reviewers had a lot of fun playing in these!

4. Puma Clyde Hardwood

Performance Rating:
8.7
A nice blend of old-school leather and new-school performance textiles and synthetics
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Premium leather and knit materials
Beastly traction
Cons:
Slightly heavy
Basic foam cushioning
What do the experts think?
Puma is still relatively new back in the basketball shoe game, but the Clyde Hardwood is a hit! The traction is great (and squeaky) on clean courts and with an occasional wipe, you're good to go on dusty courts too. The ProFoam cushioning feels rather basic and minimal but gets softer after a while. Overall the setup is more catered to players looking for court feel and response. The genuine leather in the heel and the textiles and synthetics in the forefoot are soft, comfortable, and feel very premium. The support is excellent thanks to a wide and flat base and heavy caging on the lateral side. Overall, the Puma Clyde Hardwood is a great mix of old-school leather and modern performance with beastly traction and decent cushioning.

5. New Balance Kawhi 1

Performance Rating:
8.5
Kawhi's first official signature shoe is a solid performer.
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Very supportive
Durable outsole
Cons:
Heavy
Could have more premium materials
What do the experts think?
Kawhi Leonard's first real signature shoe provides good traction on indoor and outdoor courts, but you will need to wipe regularly on dusty courts. The FuelCell cushion setup is very similar to the OMN1S, but with caging in the heel. Overall this setup is very responsive and bouncy with a lot of court feel, but the heel is a little firm. The materials are decent, but considering the premium price, they could have been better. Reviewers found them to be stiff even after breaking them in. The support is the highlight of the shoe - it's top tier! You won't be sliding on the footbed or experience any lateral instabilities thanks to the sturdy materials and good fit. Overall, the Kawhi is a solid first signature shoe that works especially well for bigger players who value stability and durability.

6. Adidas D Rose 11

Performance Rating:
8.4
The D Rose 11 is a solid all-around performer with nice cushion and traction
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable cushion
Very good traction
Cons:
Unorthodox fit
Materials could be better
What do the experts think?
The traction pattern is very similar to the D-Rose 7 which had some of the best traction ever. The D-Rose 11 will provide great traction indoors and outdoors after they break in a bit. The cushion features a good implementation of full-length Lightstrike. You'll get a nice balance of cushioning and impact protection with a bouncy heel and a firmer forefoot. The materials are nothing special and feel a little flimsy and cheap but they get the job done performance-wise. The D Rose 11 runs a half size big and reviewers noted a wide roomy fit in the forefoot. A great fit for athletes with wide feet, but if you have narrow feet you better stay away. The support provides very good lateral containment and stability, but there is no real ankle support. Overall, the D Rose 11 is a solid performer that's especially recommended to wide footers.

7. Puma RS Dreamer

Performance Rating:
8.4
J. Cole's first signature sneaker is a solid performer and fun to play in.
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Great traction indoors and outdoors
Very supportive
Cons:
Minimal impact protection
Pretty heavy
What do the experts think?
How does the first collaboration between Puma and hip hop legend J.Cole perform on the hardwood? The traction on this shoe was one of the highlights and it worked well indoors and outdoors. The rubber should be durable enough for outdoor use. The cushion lacked impact protection and wasn't super comfortable, but provided a responsive setup with a nice court feel. The materials performed well and are pretty nice considering the affordable price tag. The fit was good and provided a locked-in feeling without being uncomfortable. They ran a little long in the toe area. Another strong point of the shoe is the support. Reviewers had no issues with lateral containment or stability. For $120 the RS Dreamer is a really good performer and fun to play in.

8. Adidas Harden Stepback 2

Performance Rating:
8.3
The budget model Harden Stepback 2 is arguably better than the signature Volume 5.
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Great fit
Nice materials for the price.
Cons:
Minimal impact protection
Some heel slippage
What do the experts think?
The traction on the Harden Stepback 2 is pretty similar to the Volume 5, but performs better. The outsole is durable enough for outdoor use as well. The cushion setup features Bounce and has great responsiveness and court feel. There isn't much impact protection or compression though. The materials are really nice for a budget line shoe and feel great on foot. The fit runs slightly large and it is recommended to go a half size down. The overall fit is great partially due to the half bootie construction. The support performs well for the most part. The lateral containment and stability are solid, but reviewers had some issues with heel slippage when breaking these in. Overall the Harden Stepback 2 is a great performer, especially for the price!

9. Adidas Pro Model 2G

Performance Rating:
8.3
A supportive, low-to-the-ground, all-around performer.
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Super durable materials
Bouncy, low-to-the-ground cushioning
Cons:
Minor heel slippage
What do the experts think?
How does the updated version of Adidas' classic Pro Model perform in 2020? The traction is top-notch and sticks like glue on clean courts and needs little wiping on dusty courts. The Bounce cushioning is low-to-the-ground with nice, bouncy feedback and solid impact protection. The patent leather upper is super durable, supportive, and gets comfortable after the break-in period but there is no ventilation. Overall, the Pro Model 2G is a modern performance basketball shoe with retro looks that performs well across all categories and will work for players of all positions.

10. Nike KD Trey 5 VIII

Performance Rating:
8.2
A very affordable sneaker with great traction and impact protection
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Great traction on all surfaces
Good impact protection
Cons:
Lateral stability isn't great
Cushion can feel mushy
What do the experts think?
The traction on the Nike KD Trey 5 VIII is great and works well on clean and dusty courts. It is durable enough for outdoor use as well. The Nike Renew foam cushion setup is comfortable and has good impact protection, but is somewhat mushy and could be more responsive. The materials are an upgrade from the last Trey 5 and use a thin comfortable knit. They are surprisingly premium considering the cost of the shoe. These fit similar to most KD shoes - slightly narrow and a bit long. The support is okay and sometimes your foot will slide over the footbed on hard lateral movements. Overall this is a great budget shoe that performs as well as much more expensive shoes!

How do you find good outdoor shoes?

Before you start to search for your next pair of outdoor basketball shoes, you should be clear about what you are actually looking for. What differentiates a great outdoor sneaker from a regular indoor performer? Let’s find out!

Durability of the rubber​

The rubber of the outsole suffers the most from playing on rougher outdoor courts. If your shoes feature a soft rubber compound you will probably end up with a completely slick outsole, or even worse, holes in your shoes, pretty fast! Overall, there are two things you want to look for when it comes to outsoles:

Solid and dense rubber:

You can either go with regular shoe models that come with a firmer rubber compound out of the box like the Adidas D Rose or the Nike Lebron Soldier line. Or you look for shoes that are specifically made for outdoor use. Especially Chinese brands produce a lot of outdoor models like the Anta KT Outdoor Low as indoor courts are much harder to find there compared to the US.

If you can afford to spend a little more on your outdoor shoes, you can also customize your favorite Nike Sneaker with an XDR (extra durable rubber) outsole using NikeID.

Wide traction pattern:

A very narrow traction pattern will attract a lot of dirt and rubble and lose grip quickly. Make sure to get a traction pattern with wide and deep grooves that will last a lot longer on dirty blacktop.

Durability of the upper material

The upper material usually suffers less from outdoor play as it shouldn’t be in contact with the surface of the court all that often. But if you tend to toe-drag a lot, or if other players are stepping on your feet all the time you might want to look into more durable upper materials like fuse or mesh.

Cushion​

Indoor courts are much easier on the joints than less-forgiving outdoor courts. Especially, if you have recurring knee problems, you shoud look for shoes with more comfortable cushioning that reduce the stress you put on your joints. If you are a younger and lighter player, additional cushioning is probably not as important, but firm shoes can still lead to sore legs after a day of playing outdoors.

Price

Inevitably, shoes that you use outdoors will have a shorter lifespan than shoes that are only used on pristine hardwood courts. Therefore, it might make sense to look for cheaper shoes that you can replace more often. Playing in $200 Air Jordan outdoors could become expensive really quickly!​

2 thoughts on “The 10 Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes – Durability and Performance”

  1. Knick

    Don’t forget honorable mentions like. The Kobe protro’s , Q4 sports enforcer
    & Jordan jump man quick 23 (quick 6).
    I really got to say, I’m impressed by your blog. Keep up the good work!

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