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, the 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

Inr eality, 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 585 reviews of 110 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:

Overall Rating: 8.9
  • 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
  • Deals from $55.00
Overall Rating: 8.9
  • 8.9 rating based on 8 expert reviews
  • Provides balanced cushioning, traction that works on all surfaces, and premium BattleKnit upper
  • Especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 3 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $106.97
Overall Rating: 8.8
  • 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
  • Deals from $119.99
Overall Rating: 8.8
  • 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
  • Deals from $109.99
Overall Rating: 8.8
  • 8.8 rating based on 6 expert reviews
  • Dame's best shoe so far! A great all-around performer at a very affordable price
  • The Dame 5 works best for quick guards who prefer responsive cushioning
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 4 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $58.00
Overall Rating: 8.8
  • 8.8 rating based on 3 expert reviews
  • A budget shoe with premium materials and great all-around performance
  • Perfect shoe if you are looking for an affordable, top-tier performer, that you can play outdoors too.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $60.00
Overall Rating: 8.7
  • 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
  • Deals from $119.99
Overall Rating: 8.7
  • 8.7 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • Traction pattern provides great traction on all surfaces
  • Great bang for the buck and should work well for positions 1-4.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $64.99
Overall Rating: 8.6
  • 8.6 rating based on 2 expert reviews
  • The Zoom Zero Gravity is a solid budget model with no real weaknesses.
  • A great shoe for price-conscious hoopers looking for a fast low-top.
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $55.00
Overall Rating: 8.4
  • 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
  • Deals from $69.97

The Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes

1. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3

8.9 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Really good traction
  • Super lightweight
CONS:
  • Very firm cushioning
Traction
9.5
Cushion
7.5
Materials
9.0
Support
9.0
Fit
9.5
Outdoor
100%
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 16

8.9 Overall rating based on 8 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Premium materials
  • Traction works well even on dusty courts
CONS:
  • Expensive retail price
Traction
9.1
Cushion
9.0
Materials
9.0
Support
8.7
Fit
8.4
Outdoor
83%
All sneaker critics agree: The Lebron 16 is a huge improvement over the XV and one of the best shoes of Lebron's signature line in a long time. The traction works on all surfaces, the cushioning is a little more versatile but still very comfortable, and stability is much-improved thanks to the use of tiny lateral outriggers on the outsole. The Battleknit 2.0 looks and feels very premium and provides great lockdown and containment. Overall, the Lebron 16 is an outstanding performance hoops shoe that is especially recommended for explosive and powerful wing players.

3. Puma Clyde Hardwood

8.8 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Premium leather and knit materials
  • Beastly traction
CONS:
  • Slightly heavy
  • Basic foam cushioning
Traction
9.3
Cushion
7.5
Materials
9.3
Support
9.0
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
100%
Waiting for 3 expert reviews to post summary.

4. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

8.8 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Awesome traction
  • Very supportive
CONS:
  • Cushioning could be more comfortable
Traction
9.4
Cushion
8.3
Materials
8.8
Support
9.0
Fit
8.7
Outdoor
83%
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.

5. Adidas Dame 5

8.8 Overall rating based on 6 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Responsive Bounce cushioning
  • Very comfortable
CONS:
  • Slippery on dusty courts
  • A little dead space in the toe box
Traction
8.7
Cushion
8.8
Materials
8.2
Support
9.0
Fit
9.1
Outdoor
88%
The Dame 5 is Damian Lillard's latest signature shoe, and it's also his best! The traction works amazingly well on clean courts, but the translucent rubber versions are a little too slippery on dusty courts. The full-length Bounce cushioning provides a great balance of responsiveness and impact protection. The materials are super comfortable and very supportive, but the felt that is used on some colorways receives very little love from sneaker critics as it feels cheap and gets dirty easily. Overall, this is a great performer, especially at the very affordable retail price of only $115.

6. Jordan CP3 12

8.8 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Flyknit upper material
  • Good outdoor shoe
CONS:
  • Generic aesthetics
Traction
9.2
Cushion
8.7
Materials
9.0
Support
8.3
Fit
8.7
Outdoor
100%
The CP3 12 deserves more attention than it's release got! The traditional herringbone traction pattern is squeaky, tacky, and performs on all surfaces - even outdoors! The Phylon midsole and Zoom unit in the forefoot provide a well-balanced cushioning that should work for most players. The Flyknit material feels premium in-hand and comfortable on-foot and is usually reserved for much more expensive sneakers! To sum it up: the CP3-12 is a huge sleeper. It's a great shoe at an even better price!

7. Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2

8.7 Overall rating based on 3 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Premium materials
  • Comfortable fit
CONS:
  • Inconsistent traction
Traction
8.0
Cushion
8.7
Materials
9.0
Support
9.0
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
100%
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.

8. Adidas Pro Bounce Low

8.7 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Amazing traction
  • Well-balanced Bounce cushioning
CONS:
  • Materials feel a little cheap
Traction
8.9
Cushion
8.8
Materials
8.5
Support
9.0
Fit
8.3
Outdoor
75%
The Pro Bounce is Adidas' new team model similar to Nike's Hyperdunk line. One of the highlights of this shoe is the traction pattern that offers great bite on clean courts but also works well on dusty courts or outdoors. Adidas uses its Bounce cushioning system which gives you a nice balance of responsiveness and impact protection. The upper material feels a little cheap but it is very sturdy with excellent containment and support. Overall, the Pro Bounce Low is an awesome basketball shoe that offers great bang for the buck and should work well for positions 1-4.

9. Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity

8.6 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Great traction
  • Very affordable
CONS:
  • Cheap materials
  • Firm cushioning
Traction
9.3
Cushion
8.0
Materials
8.5
Support
8.5
Fit
9.0
Outdoor
100%
The Zoom Zero Gravity is one of Jordan Brand's most affordable performance shoes and provides a lot of bang for your buck! The traction pattern works well on all surfaces - even outdoors. The Phylon midsole and Zoom unit in the forefoot don't give you a ton of impact protection but you get a very responsive court feel - great for quick players. The materials feel cheap in-hand but they require very little break-in time and get the job done. The addition of outriggers and a wider base would have made this shoe more stable but the reviewers didn't experience any issues with stability or support. At $100 retail, the Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity is a very solid performer - especially if you are okay with a rather firm cushioning setup.

10. Adidas DON Issue 1

8.4 Overall rating based on 6 expert reviews
PROS:
  • Affordable price
  • High-quality materials
CONS:
  • Inconsistent traction
  • Heavy and bulky for a low-top
Traction
7.3
Cushion
8.7
Materials
8.5
Support
8.6
Fit
8.4
Outdoor
100%
Donovan Mitchell 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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