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 745 reviews of 164 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:

  • 8.9 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • Outstanding traction, comfortable fit and very supportive upper
  • Great budget option for players who prefer lightweight and minimal shoes
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.8 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The Lebron Soldier 13 provides awesome traction and no real weaknesses
  • A great all-around performer that works very well for heavier players
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 3 shoe reviewers

  • 8.8 rating based on 2 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

  • 8.7 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 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 3 expert reviews
  • Comfortable fit and premium upper materials
  • Best for players looking for a supportive shoe with well-balanced cushioning
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers

  • 8.6 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • An upgrade over the first model and an all around performer
  • Any type of player who wants to be light and quick on their feet
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

  • 8.6 rating based on 3 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 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

  • 8.4 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Donovan Mitchell's first signature sneaker is very affordable at only $100 retail price
  • Recommended for explosive guards looking for a supportive and responsive low-top
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

The Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes

1. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3

Performance Rating:
8.9
Outstanding traction, comfortable fit and very supportive upper
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Really good traction
Super lightweight
Cons:
Very firm cushioning
What do the experts think?
At only $90 retail price, the Curry 3 Zero 3 is a surprisingly good performer! The traction is absolutely top-notch on clean courts and doesn't require any wiping on dusty courts either. The synthetic leather breaks in very nicely and provides a comfortable and supportive 1:1 fit. The only downside of this shoe is the very firm Micro-G cushioning. This setup works well for lighter players who prefer responsiveness and court feel over impact protection, but heavier players looking for impact protection should probably look elsewhere.

2. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

Performance Rating:
8.8
The Lebron Soldier 13 provides awesome traction and no real weaknesses
Overall rating based on 4 reviews
Pros:
Awesome traction
Very supportive
Cons:
Cushioning could be more comfortable
What do the experts think?
The laceless Lebron signature model is very well-received among sneaker testers. The upper material is comfortable, durable and provides a ton of lockdown, in part because the straps do a great job and never come undone. The simple solid-rubber herringbone traction pattern is deep, attracts very little dust and works well - even outdoors. The cushioning is a little bit divisive, some like the forefoot and heel Zoom units, others would have preferred a more comfortable setup. Overall, the Lebron Solider 13 is a great allrounder with outstanding traction and no real weaknesses.

3. Puma Clyde Hardwood

Performance Rating:
8.8
A nice blend of old-school leather and new-school performance textiles and synthetics
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Premium leather and knit materials
Beastly traction
Cons:
Slightly heavy
Basic foam cushioning
What do the experts think?
Waiting for 3 expert reviews to post summary.

4. 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!

5. 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!

6. Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2

Performance Rating:
8.7
Comfortable fit and premium upper materials
Overall rating based on 3 reviews
Pros:
Premium materials
Comfortable fit
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
What do the experts think?
The first Under Armour HOVR Havoc was a hit with reviewers, so how does the second version perform? Unfortunately, the traction has taken a step back and is inconsistent, even on clean courts. The HOVR cushioning is a nice mix of responsiveness and impact protection, not too firm but not too soft either. Materials feel surprisingly premium in-hand, comfortable on-foot and do a great job locking your feet down. The mid-foot shank, outrigger, and heel counter provide a lot of support and stability. Overall, the HOVR Havoc is a good performer that could have been great with more consistent traction.

7. Adidas N3XT L3V3L 2020

Performance Rating:
8.6
An upgrade over the first model and an all around performer
Overall rating based on 2 reviews
Pros:
Comfortable laceless upper
Responsive and plush cushioning
Cons:
Traction suffers on dust
Hard to put on at first
What do the experts think?
The traction on the N3XT L3V3L 2020 was definitely improved from the first version, but still had some issues on dust. The cushion was one of the highlights as reviewers loved the impact protection and responsiveness of the Lightstrike cushion. The materials are also very nice, using an all knit upper that is comfortable on foot. The lack of laces works well and the upper conforms to your foot. The fit is okay but runs a little long in the toe area. It is recommended to go down half a size. The support is great and the reviewers had no issues laterally or in the heel. Overall, the N3XT L3V3L 2020 is a great upgrade from the previous model, and at $30 less, it's worth picking up if you like to play fast.

8. New Balance Kawhi 1

Performance Rating:
8.6
Kawhi's first official signature shoe is a solid performer.
Overall rating based on 3 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.

9. 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.

10. Adidas DON Issue 1

Performance Rating:
8.4
Donovan Mitchell's first signature sneaker is very affordable at only $100 retail price
Overall rating based on 6 reviews
Pros:
Affordable price
High-quality materials
Cons:
Inconsistent traction
Heavy and bulky for a low-top
What do the experts think?
Donovan Mitchell's first signature sneaker is a divisive shoe among shoe critics. Some really like the traction, but others complain that they are slipping a lot - even on clean courts. The Bounce cushioning is responsive and offers a lot of court feel, but impact protection is only decent. Materials feel pretty premium in-hand and on-foot, especially considering the very affordable retail price of only $100. The shoe also provides a lot of support and stability, but this comes at the expense of added bulk and weight.

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. 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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