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 649 reviews of 126 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:


1. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3

  • 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

2. Nike Lebron 16

  • 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

3. Adidas Dame 5

  • 8.8 rating based on 7 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 5 shoe reviewers

4. Puma Clyde Hardwood

  • 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

5. Nike Lebron Soldier 13

  • 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

6. Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2

  • 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

7. New Balance OMN1S

  • 8.7 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • New Balance's first basketball sneaker in a long time really knocked it out of the park
  • A durable performer with comfortable cushioning, good materials, and great traction on clean courts
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 1 shoe reviewers

8. Adidas DON Issue 1

  • 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

9. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 2

  • 8.3 rating based on 4 expert reviews
  • The traction performs well on all surfaces - even outdoors
  • Solid performer at an affordable price
  • Recommended for outdoor use by 2 shoe reviewers

10. Adidas Pro Model 2G

  • 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

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%
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.
Available at 3 shops:
Colorways of the Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3:

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%
What do the experts think?
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.
Available at 2 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Lebron 16:

3. Adidas Dame 5

8.8 Overall rating based on 7 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
8.0
Support
9.1
Fit
9.1
Outdoor
90%
What do the experts think?
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 a very affordable retail price of only $115.
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the Adidas Dame 5:

4. 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%
What do the experts think?
Waiting for 3 expert reviews to post summary.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Puma Clyde Hardwood:

5. 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%
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.
Available at 6 shops:
Colorways of the Nike Lebron Soldier 13:

6. 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%
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.
Available at 4 shops:
Colorways of the Under Armour HOVR Havoc 2:

7. New Balance OMN1S

8.7 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Comfortable Fuel Cell cushioning
High-quality and durable materials
Cons:
Rubber picks up dust quickly
Traction
9.0
Cushion
9.0
Materials
9.0
Support
7.8
Fit
8.5
Outdoor
100%
What do the experts think?
The first New Balance basketball sneaker in a long time gets a lot of love from sneaker critics: The herringbone traction pattern has you stopping on a dime on clean courts, but the translucent rubber picks up a lot of dust if you play on dirty courts. The Fuel-Cell foam cushioning is the highlight of the shoe and provides you a very well-balanced and comfortable ride. The upper materials are of high quality and should last for a long time, even if you play outdoors. Overall, the New Balance OMN1S comes highly recommended for players of all positions that look for a well-balanced performer.
Available at 7 shops:
Colorways of the New Balance OMN1S:

8. 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%
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.
Available at 5 shops:
Colorways of the Adidas DON Issue 1:

9. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 2

8.3 Overall rating based on 4 expert reviews
Pros:
Very affordable
Great traction
Cons:
Missing heel counter
Minimal sliding in the footbed
Traction
8.6
Cushion
8.4
Materials
8.4
Support
7.9
Fit
8.4
Outdoor
75%
What do the experts think?
Most reviewers like the performance of the Under Armour Curry 3Zero2, even though nobody likes its looks. The traction is one of the standout features and works well on all surfaces - even outdoors. The mix of MicroG and Charged cushioning provides a great mix of responsiveness and impact protection and beats the cushioning of more expensive Steph Curry signature models. The only downside of this shoe is the lack of a traditional heel counter and the slight issues with containment in the forefoot. Overall, this is a very solid performer at an affordable price.
Available at 1 shop:
Colorways of the Under Armour Curry 3Zero 2:

10. Adidas Pro Model 2G

8.3 Overall rating based on 2 expert reviews
Pros:
Super durable materials
Bouncy, low-to-the-ground cushioning
Cons:
Minor heel slippage
Traction
8.5
Cushion
8.5
Materials
8.0
Support
8.0
Fit
8.5
Outdoor
100%
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.
Available at 6 shops:
Colorways of the Adidas Pro Model 2G:

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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