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 517 reviews of 92 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: 8.8
  • 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 $80.00
Overall Rating: 8.8
  • 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 $80.00
Overall Rating: 8.7
  • 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 $84.99
Overall Rating: 8.3
  • Great traction that performs everywhere - even outdoors
  • An affordable performer that will work for almost all players
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $84.99
Overall Rating: 8.3
  • Traction works great outdoors or on dusty courts
  • Top performer that works best for quick guards
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $67.99
Overall Rating: 8.2
  • Aggressive herringbone pattern works on every surface
  • Will work best for wide-footers
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 5 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $84.99
Overall Rating: 7.8
  • An insanely affordable basketball shoe with awesome traction
  • Perfect for light and quick players who don't need a lot of impact protection
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $80.00
Overall Rating: 7.4
  • Very lightweight budget model from Kobe's signature line
  • An affordable shoe for playing outdoors
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers
  • Deals from $100.00

The Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes

1. Adidas Dame 5

PROS:
  • Responsive Bounce cushioning
  • Very comfortable
CONS:
  • Slippery on dusty courts
  • A little dead space in the toe box
Overall Expert Rating: 8.8 (6 reviews)
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.
Best Deals for the Adidas Dame 5:

2. Jordan CP3 12

PROS:
  • Flyknit upper material
  • Good outdoor shoe
CONS:
  • Generic aesthetics
Overall Expert Rating: 8.8 (3 reviews)
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!
Best Deals for the Jordan CP3 12:

3. Adidas Pro Bounce Low

PROS:
  • Amazing traction
  • Well-balanced Bounce cushioning
CONS:
  • Materials feel a little cheap
Overall Expert Rating: 8.7 (4 reviews)
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.
Best Deals for the Adidas Pro Bounce Low:

4. Nike Lebron Soldier 12

PROS:
  • Sticky traction
  • Very comfortable
CONS:
  • Straps come undone easily
Overall Expert Rating: 8.3 (3 reviews)
Traction
 
9.3
Cushion
 
7.7
Materials
 
7.7
Support
 
8.3
Fit
 
8.5
Outdoor
 
75%
The Lebron Soldier 12 is a great performance sneaker! Compared to the Lebron 15 it's a little lighter and comes with a more responsive cushioning which makes it a better fit for guards and lighter players in general. The traction is absolutely amazing and works well even on dusty courts. Materials are very comfortable and getting into this shoe is a breeze. The only downside are the annoying straps that come undone easily - you will have to restrap a lot! Overall, the Lebron Soldier 12 is a great all-around performer at an affordable price that will work for a lot of players.
Best Deals for the Nike Lebron Soldier 12:

5. Adidas Crazylight Boost 2018

PROS:
  • Amazing traction
  • Works outdoors
CONS:
  • Heel slippage
Overall Expert Rating: 8.3 (5 reviews)
Traction
 
9.3
Cushion
 
8.8
Materials
 
7.8
Support
 
8.0
Fit
 
7.8
Outdoor
 
100%
The Adidas Crazylight Boost 2018 has amazing traction that works well on all surfaces - even on dusty courts or outdoors. The Boost cushioning is firmer and more responsive but less comfortable compared to the Adidas Crazy Explosive which works well for quick guards. A lot of reviewers complained about issues with the fit in the form of dead space in the toe box and problems with heel slippage - make sure to go down half a size to limit these issues. Overall, the Crazylight Boost is an underestimated performance basketball shoe that offers great bang for the buck!
Best Deals for the Adidas Crazylight Boost 2018:

6. Under Armour Drive 4

PROS:
  • Fair price
  • Amazing traction
CONS:
  • Cushioning is very firm
  • Heel cup lacks padding
Overall Expert Rating: 8.2 (6 reviews)
Traction
 
9.5
Cushion
 
7.3
Materials
 
7.7
Support
 
8.7
Fit
 
7.5
Outdoor
 
90%
The strongest point of the Under Armour Drive 4 is clearly its traction. The thick and aggressive herringbone pattern works on every surface - even outdoors. The Micro-G cushioning in the heel is nice, but the forefoot feels pretty much dead. The materials are very low-key and some reviewers mentioned a slightly painful break-in period. Overall, this is a solid shoe that outperforms its budget pricing and will work for every style of player - especially if you have wide feet!
Best Deals for the Under Armour Drive 4:

7. Nike Kyrie Flytrap 2

PROS:
  • Very affordable
  • Awesome traction
CONS:
  • Cushioning is super hard
Overall Expert Rating: 7.8 (2 reviews)
Traction
 
9.5
Cushion
 
4.5
Materials
 
9.0
Support
 
8.5
Fit
 
7.0
Outdoor
 
100%
At only $80, the Kyrie Flytrap 2 is one of the most affordable basketball shoes on the market, but how does it perform? The traction is top notch and works on all surfaces - even outdoors. The materials are surprisingly good considering the price point and the support is solid for a low-top. The biggest disappointment is the cushioning system which is hard as a rock and only recommended for light and young players without any foot or knee problems. Overall, this is a great shoe if you are looking for an affordable performer with a lot of court feel that you can also use outdoors.
Best Deals for the Nike Kyrie Flytrap 2:

8. Nike Mamba Focus

PROS:
  • Very lightweight
  • Affordable price
CONS:
  • Flimsy materials
  • Slippery traction and hard cushioning
Overall Expert Rating: 7.4 (2 reviews)
Traction
 
7.0
Cushion
 
7.0
Materials
 
8.0
Support
 
8.0
Fit
 
7.5
Outdoor
 
100%
The Mamba Focus is Kobe Bryant's latest budget model. Unfortunately, the performance is disappointing overall: The traction starts off really bad and gets slightly better over time, but you never get the hard stops you want. The cushioning in the heel is very hard, and the bottom-loaded Zoom unit in the forefoot gives you only a very minimal bounce. The materials feel cheap in-hand but get the job done. A large outrigger and sturdy heel counter provide good support and lockdown. Even at the affordable retail price of $100, this shoe is still underwhelming overall and not recommended by sneaker critics.
Best Deals for the Nike Mamba Focus:

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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