Best Portable Basketball Hoop – Lifetime, Spalding or Silverback?

My love for the game of basketball started very early when my parents installed a driveway basketball hoop for my brother and me. It wasn’t anything special – a cheap backboard mounted to the wall of the garage probably only 8 feet high. But I loved it! I spent every day of the summer shooting hoops with my friends and neighbors; I even made my first dunk on that basket. One thing is clear: this basketball hoop was definitely one of the best investments my parents ever made.

These days, a lot of neighborhoods don’t allow permanent basketball hoops anymore. Fortunately, if you don’t want to miss out on the fun of shooting hoops in your driveway, there is an easy solution: portable basketball goals.

In this article, I want to recommend different hoops for every budget and to help you find the best fit for your situation.

The Best Portable Basketball Hoops:

Basketball HoopVolume of BaseBackboard SizeBackboard MaterialPrice
Lifetime Pro Court27 gallons44 inchesPolyethylenefrom $100.99 *
Lifetime Front Court34 gallons50 inchesPolycarbonate$272.14 *
Lifetime 5235 gallons52 inchesPolycarbonatefrom $329.98 *
Spalding Pro Slam34 gallons54 inchesAcrylic$278.93 *
Silverback NXT35 gallons54 inchesAcrylic$499.99 *
Spalding NBA - 5440 gallons54 inchesTempered Glass$599.99 *
Spalding "The Beast"55 gallons60 inchesTempered Glass$1,099.99 *

* Prices are from Amazon.com and were last updated on 2018-11-20 at 19:21

Click on any of the links to read an in-depth description or continue with this article and find out which hoop will fit best in your driveway or backyard.

What to look for:

There are a lot of things you want to consider when looking for the best portable basketball hoop; in the following paragraphs, I want to talk about the most important ones.

Backboard

Whether you want to practice the iconic Tim Duncan bank shot or work on your lay-ups, the backboard of your hoop better be of good quality! You want to look for these three factors:

1. Size of the backboard:

The regulation basketball backboard used in the NBA and NCAA is 72 inches wide and 42 inches high, but you will rarely see a backboard of these dimensions in a driveway. If money’s no object and you are building a professional basketball court in your backyard, then go for a 72″ backboard (and an in-ground basketball hoop). Otherwise, there are more sensible options on the market.

Backboards usually start at 44 inches wide, which is very small, makes layups hard and bank shots almost impossible. Backboards offering better playability start at 54″ inches. These give a much more professional feel and allow for easy layups and angled floaters. More expensive, high-quality hoops often come with 60″ backboards while regulation 72″ backboards are almost entirely reserved for the most luxurious and professional basketball goals on the market.

2. The material of the backboard:

Backboards are usually made of either one of these three materials:

Polyethylene (or Polycarbonate) is a fancy name for plastic and is most often used for the cheapest basketball hoops. It has one significant advantage: it is almost indestructible and, therefore, a great option if you are looking for a basic hoop that will last you for years. If you want a high-quality basket, however, plastic has two problems. The rebound effect is pretty bad, which means the ball basically stops dead once it hits the backboard. Also, the look of plastic boards just screams “kids hoops”.

Acrylic backboards are a definite step up from cheap polyethylene backboards. Transparency offers a much more professional look. Unfortunately, acrylic is a very soft material and will pick up scratches over time, which will slowly spoil the great look.

Acrylic is very popular with hoops in the moderate price range because it weighs considerably less than tempered glass. This reduction of weight means that the support structure doesn’t have to be as sturdy in order to support the weight of the backboard. Unfortunately, lighter basketball hoops are more susceptible to wind, and the rebound response of the backboard is only average.

Tempered glass is the material used in professional basketball hoops in the NBA, NCAA and all over the world. It is by far the heaviest material used in backboards and requires a solid base and support pole. In return, you are rewarded with the best playing experience by far, with a true rebound response which makes layups and bank shots so much more satisfying.

On top of these advantages, tempered glass doesn’t scratch easily and keeps its clean look forever, unlike other materials which tend to yellow out after being exposed to the sun for too long.

3. Offset of the backboard:

The offset of the backboard describes the distance between the backboard and the support pole. If the offset is too small, it is easy to crash into the basketball post after a layup or dunk attempt. Professional basketball goals feature an overhang of at least 4 feet, but portable ones usually have far less, which is no problem if you just practice your shooting. But if you want to play real games, make sure that the overhang is deep enough, otherwise, padding the goal post is a good idea.

Rim

The rim diameter of 18 inches is the same for every hoop on the market. What is different, however, is the way the rim is attached to the backboard:

The standard rim is simply screwed into the lower backboard. This construction gives the rim a lot of stability, but it also results in a lot of long rebounds and shots that bounce in and out. You also don’t want to dunk on a rim like that, where all the force is transmitted (unchecked) onto the backboard. On rims like these, it is easy to injure your hands or tear down a part of the backboard.
Lifetime 5818 Classic Basketball Rim, Orange
Breakaway basketball rims with compression springs dampen the bounce of your shots, resulting in the “soft touch” every shooter loves. If you plan to dunk on your basketball hoop, a breakaway rim is mandatory. These rims come in two different variations: cheaper versions with exposed compression springs or more expensive and more durable rims with covered springs offering better rust protection.
Spalding Pro Image Rim (Red)

Support Pole

A stable and robust support pole is very important for the stability of a basketball hoop. Most portable basketball goals these days have the ability to adjust the height. Adjustable basketball hoops are great for kids who want to learn the game (or adults who want to pretend they can dunk), but it makes the construction of stable support poles difficult. Cheap and moderately-priced hoops often use three-piece pole constructions. If you want something less shaky, look for two-piece support poles – usually reserved for more expensive basketball hoops.

The height adjustment systems also differ widely in quality and ease of use. Cheap basketball goals often use a telescope pole fixed by a knob in 6-inch increments. More expensive hoops like the Spalding NBA system offer a screw jack adjustment system, which is much easier to use and allows you to choose any height between 7.5′ and 10′.

Base

The base is one of the most important parts of any portable basketball hoop. Not only does it provide the hoop with the necessary stability but it’s also a crucial part of its portability.

The base usually includes a container that is filled with water or sand. The bigger the capacity of the base, the more stability it provides.

Pro Tip: Add Base Gel to the water of the base to create a firm and stable gel that keeps your base from cracking in the winter, prevents leakage and adds extra stability.

Beginner hoops often come with a capacity around 27 gallons. But the plastic backboards of these basketball goals are rather light, so the base doesn’t need to be very heavy. More advanced hoops (with bigger backboards made from acrylic) usually come with heavier bases with a volume of around 35 gallons. The base of the most expensive (and much heavier) hoops can easily exceed 50 gallon, which has the negative side effect that it hurts the portability to some degree.

If you need to move the hoop after every basketball session and portability is very important to you, you should make sure that the base has wheels. Fortunately, this is the case for almost all portable basketball hoop these days.

Spalding NBA 'The Beast' Portable Basketball System - 60' Glass Backboard

Alright, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular portable basketball hoops:

Basketball Hoop
Features
Build Quality
Lifetime 1221 Pro Court
Price: from $100.99
Build Quality:
starstar_borderstar_border
  • Very affordable beginner hoop
  • Light & portable, adjustable from 7.5 to 10 feet
  • Great for kids <13 years old
  • Price: from $100.99
    Buy on Amazon
    Build Quality:
    star starstar_border
  • Easily change height of the rim
  • 50-inch, see-through backboard looks great
  • Great hoop in the medium price range
  • Price: $297.76
    Buy on Amazon
    Lifetime 52
    Price: from $329.98
    Build Quality:
    star starstar_border
  • Big 52-inch backboard made from Polycarbonate
  • Even small kids can adjust the height of this hoop (7.5-10 feet)
  • Best Lifetime hoop in the moderate price range
  • Price: from $329.98
    Buy on Amazon
    Build Quality:
    star starstar_border
  • Big 54″ backboard made from Acrylic
  • NBA license
  • Best bang for the buck
  • Price: $240.80
    Buy on Amazon
    Silverback NXT
    Price: $499.99
    Build Quality:
    star star star
  • Excellent build quality at a fair price
  • Very detailed instructions and easy assembly
  • Frameless backboard offers unique style
  • Price: $499.99
    Buy on Amazon
    Build Quality:
    star star star
  • Tempered glass backboard provides best rebound
  • Very stable due to big 40-gallon base
  • This heavy duty hoop will last for years!
  • Price: $599.99
    Buy on Amazon
    Spalding 'The Beast'
    Price: $1,099.99
    Build Quality:
    star star star
  • Huge 60″ tempered glass backboard
  • Dunking and hanging from the rim is no problem
  • Not very portable due to size and weight
  • Price: $1,099.99
    Buy on Amazon

    Best Portable Basketball Hoops for every Budget

    Lifetime Pro Court

    Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System, 44 Inch Backboard
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:44 inches
    Backboard Material:Polyethylene
    Base:27 Gallons
    Rim:Fixed
    Height:7.5 - 10 feet
    Price:from $100.99
    on Amazon

    If you are looking to buy the first height-adjustable basketball hoop for your kids, and you don’t want to spend a fortune, the Lifetime Pro Court is a great choice. Very light and portable, the height is adjustable from 7.5 feet to 10 feet and the material is durable enough to withstand rain and wind for years.

    The assembly of the Lifetime Pro Court is relatively easy and shouldn’t take you longer than two hours. While you can put it together on your own, a second adult makes the process much easier. Once the hoop is assembled, fill the base with water and you are ready to go!

    If you want to lower the hoop for your kids, you can adjust the height using the telescope mechanism of the support pole. Unfortunately, this takes two people and is a bit complicated. If you need to change heights often and quickly, there are much easier adjustment systems available in more expensive basketball hoops.

    The backboard of the Lifetime Pro Court is made of Polyethylene and only 44 inches wide. That’s perfectly fine for kids, but if you want to practice bank shots, you should probably look into options with bigger backboards.

    Another reason this hoop doesn’t work for more serious play is the fact the backboard is screwed directly onto the support pole. So if you want to work on your best Michael Jordan imitation and dunk from the free throw line, you will inevitably crash into the post. The Lifetime Pro Court is best used for shooting around and less for real basketball games.

    Overall, this is a great basketball hoop for goofing around or for kids under the age of 13. For older (or very dedicated) kids, you may want to look into something closer to a professional basketball hoop.

    Buy on Amazon

    Lifetime Front Court

    Lifetime 51544 Front Court Portable Basketball System, 50 Inch Shatterproof Backboard
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:50 inches
    Backboard Material:Polycarbonate
    Base:34 Gallons
    Rim:Uncovered Breakaway
    Height:8 - 10 feet
    Price:$272.14
    on Amazon

    The Lifetime Front Court is a clear step up towards more professional basketball hoops. The 50-inch, see-through backboard looks great and allows for more creative layups; the rim has a breakaway mechanism that softens the bounce and is great for dunking. The Lifetime Front Court is a little heavier than its little brother the Pro Court, but it is still very portable and can be moved easily by one adult.

    If you have kids of different ages and you are looking for a basket where you can adjust the height quickly, this hoop is a great choice. The one-hand, speed shift adjustment allows you to change the height in 6-inch increments within seconds. In fact, it’s so easy, your kids can do it on their own!

    Speed shit adjustment
    Speed shift mechanism

    What’s also great about the Lifetime Front Court hoop is the backboard is not directly screwed onto the support pole, instead, the backboard hangs 18 inches in front of the goal post. This overhang is a real game-changer because it gives you extra space to land after a layup and allows for real basketball games.

    The only downside to this hoop is probably the assembly process. A lot of customers complain about the poor quality of the instructions and the number of tools needed. So, if you are not a talented handyman, you better reserve enough time!

    Overall, the Lifetime Front Court is a great hoop in the moderate price range that is especially awesome if you need to adjust the rim height often and quickly.

    Buy on Amazon

    Lifetime 52" Portable Basketball Hoop

    Lifetime 1558 52 Inch Portable Basketball System
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:52 inches
    Backboard Material:Polycarbonate
    Base:35 Gallons
    Rim:Covered Breakaway
    Height:7.5 - 10 feet
    Price:from $329.98
    on Amazon

    This Lifetime portable basketball hoop is very similar to the “Front Court” shown in the previous paragraph. It comes with a slightly bigger 52″ backboard that is made from the same transparent and durable Polycarbonate material, and a 35-gallons base that provides good stability while still allowing you to move the basket from the driveway to the garage without too much of a sweat!

    Where this hoop differs from the “Front Court” is the height adjustment system: The pneumatic “Power Lift” system lets you adjust the hoop from the regular 10 feet all the way down to 7.5 feet – that’s 6 inches lower than the “Front Court” model. And that’s great if you have little kids that are not yet strong enough to shoot baskets on higher hoops and will increase the fun factor for them by a lot!

    This hoop is priced similarly to the “Front Court” and offers a slightly bigger backboard and a more flexible height adjustment system – overall this is my #1 Lifetime hoop in the moderate price range.

    Buy on Amazon

    Spalding Pro Slam

    Spalding 66291 Pro Slam Portable Basketball System with 54-Inch Acrylic Backboard
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:54 inches
    Backboard Material:Acrylic
    Base:34 Gallons
    Rim:Covered Breakaway
    Height:7.5 - 10 feet
    Price:$278.93
    on Amazon

    Moving farther up in the world of portable basketball hoops, the Spalding Pro Slam features a 54-inch, acrylic backboard, a covered breakaway rim, and a 34-gallon base.

    Spalding is the largest basketball equipment supplier in the world and the official sponsor of the NBA. This allows Spalding to print the NBA logo on the backboard​ – a nice touch for every basketball fan who wants to replay the biggest shots of his NBA heroes in his own driveway.

    This Spalding hoop has a forward-bent support pole that extends the backboard in front of the base, which is great for under the hoop play and layups. The 54-inch, see-through backboard should be big enough for almost any recreational basketball player and the covered breakaway rims make dunking fun.

    The adjustment system couldn’t be easier to use and allows you to change the height of the hoop quickly in 6-inch increments from 7.5 to 10 feet. Another nice touch is the tilted cover of the base, which not only protects you from stepping on it and spraining your ankle but also automatically returns the ball when you are swishing your free throws!

    Exacta height adjustment

    Like for most portable basketball hoops, the assembly of the Spalding Pro Slams seems to be quite an adventure and can take you (and a buddy) up to 5 hours. Luckily you only need to assemble it once and will have fun for years. (If you can afford it – pay an experienced handyman to do the assembly or get the Amazon hoops assembly service!)

    No doubt – the Spalding Pro Slam offers the best bang for your buck. A large 54-inch backboard, a sturdy base, and adjustable height make this hoop perfect, not only for little kids but also their basketball-obsessed fathers!

    Buy on Amazon

    Silverback NXT

    Silverback NXT 54' Backboard Portable Height-Adjustable Basketball Hoop Assembles in 90 Minutes
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:54 inches
    Backboard Material:Acrylic
    Base:35 Gallons
    Rim:Covered Breakaway
    Height:7.5 - 10 feet
    Price:$499.99
    on Amazon

    The Silverback NXT features a 35-gallon base, adjustable height, and a covered breakaway rim. The most obvious distinguishing factor from other basketball hoops is the infinity edge backboard, which is not covered by a frame like every other backboard and offers a very modern, clean look.

    This basketball hoop is produced by the same company that makes the Goalrilla in-ground baskets which are very well known for their incredible build quality. The excellence of this hoop is obvious the second you unbox the Silverback NXT packaging. Every part is numbered and the instructions are very detailed. You can easily assemble this hoop in 2 hours, and if you need help there is even a youtube assembly video!

    The Silverback is a great example of thoughtful engineering – the frame is very stable, the hoop doesn’t rattle at every shot and the 26-inch overhang gives you a lot of space under the backboard. The adjustment system is easy to use and allows you to change the height from 7.5 feet to 10 feet in 6-inch increments. If you want to get an idea about the quality of the Silverback NXT, check out this video:

    The Silverback is not cheap, but it is a great choice if you want to invest in a really high-quality basketball hoop engineered to last. If you want to save a little bit, there is also a smaller version with a 50-inch frame.

    Buy on Amazon

    Spalding 54" NBA System

    Spalding NBA Portable Basketball System - 54' Glass Backboard
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:54 inches
    Backboard Material:Tempered Glass
    Base:40 Gallons
    Rim:Covered Breakaway
    Height:7.5 - 10 feet
    Price:$599.99
    on Amazon

    This portable basketball hoop by Spalding is the first one in this article that comes with a tempered glass backboard – the same material used in professional indoor hoops. The glass is less thick compared to the NBA (1/4″ instead of 3/4″) which reduces the weight but still gives you that nice rebound effect that only real glass can offer. You will notice it immediately when you are working on your bank shots!

    While this hoop features the same dimensions as the Spalding Pro Slam presented earlier, when it comes to build quality and stability, this basket is in another league entirely. In fact, this portable basketball hoop comes very close to in-ground basketball hoops.

    The 40-gallon base is massive and provides the necessary weight to avoid the shaking and rattling which is present in a lot of cheaper baskets. Adjusting the height, using the screw jack mechanism, is easy too – your kids will be able to lower/raise the hoop to their height preference without any help from an adult.

    Unfortunately, your kids will not be able to move this basket on their own. Once the 40-gallon base is filled with water the hoop gets very heavy and hard to move. But a strong adult should have no problem rolling this basket from the driveway back to the garage.

    Overall, this Spalding is an extremely solid, heavy duty hoop that could easily last you 10 years. If you don’t want to compromise and need that true feel of a big 54″ tempered glass backboard, then this is the perfect hoop for you!

    Buy on Amazon

    Spalding "The Beast"

    Spalding NBA 'The Beast' Portable Basketball System - 60' Glass Backboard
    Technical Specifications:
    Backboard Size:60 inches
    Backboard Material:Tempered Glass
    Base:55 Gallons
    Rim:Covered Breakaway
    Height:7.5 - 10 feet
    Price:$1,099.99
    on Amazon

    This portable basketball hoop by Spalding was named “The Beast” for a reason. With a huge 60-inch backboard and a massive 55-gallon base, it comes closer to a professional basketball hoop than any other portable hoop on the market.

    This portable basketball hoop has a backboard made from high-quality tempered glass. Combine this material with the weight of the huge backboard, and you get a rebound efficiency unlike any other. If you plan to throw alley-oop passes off the backboard, this is definitely the hoop for you.

    Other advantages: while cheaper and lighter baskets tend to vibrate/rattle after long shots, this baskets stays quiet and unfazed. And even if you are a big and athletic player, you can still hang on the rim without worrying about getting buried underneath the basket.

    Unfortunately, all this weight has one negative side-effect. It is not exactly easy to move this basket. You can certainly do it with two adults, but if you plan to stow it in the garage after every basketball game, this is probably not the perfect hoop for you. If you are looking for a high quality basketball hoop that you can move easily, I would go for the Silverback NXT. On the other hand, if portability is no issue, I would skip the “Beast” and go for an in-ground basketball hoop that will provide even more stability and longevity.

    Buy on Amazon

    Final Thoughts

    Portable basketball hoops come in a very wide price range! If you are looking for the first basketball hoop for your little kids, and you are not sure if they are going to stick with it, then the Lifetime Pro Court is a great beginner hoop.

    The Silverback NXT is my top pick for basketball players who are looking for a moderately-priced quality hoop that will last a long time.

    If you are an ambitious basketball player and you want the true feel of a tempered glass backboard then the Spalding NBA system is the way to go!

    15 thoughts on “Best Portable Basketball Hoop – Lifetime, Spalding or Silverback?”

    1. The good thing about this Splading is that It ischeaper and lighter baskets tend to vibrate/rattle after longer shots, this baskets stays quiet and unfazed. Also, even if you are a big and athletic player, you can still hang on the rim without worrying about getting buried underneath the basket.

    2. Thank you so much for this super helpful, well written post. I needed to choose a hoop for my son, his first one, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. But you walked me through the selection process and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Thanks a lot!

    3. Hi thanks so much for your very useful website. I’ve not bought a hoop before and looking for a portable one. As we’re in the UK some of these are not available, so I’m looking at the Lifetime 52 which is available. My only one reservation would be it has a plastic backboard and you seem to say that’s not great. However a Spalding acrylic (Highlight) doesn’t have the compression springs. Then it really seems to jump to £600 which is a little too much for me to spend. My son is 11 years old and what this to last hopefully till he leaves home!! Would you go for the Lifetime 52 with plastic backboard or the Spalding Highlight ?? Thanks so much for your advice!

      1. Hey Liz,
        if I had to choose between a rim with compression springs or an acrylic backboard I would go for the acrylic backboard as it makes a bigger difference in the playing experience (and you can always replace the rim). Also check out the Silverback NXT which seems to be available in the UK and is a great hoop with an acrylic backboard and compression springs (and still affordable).

    4. This is incredibly helpful. How do these portable hoops hold up to blizzards and severe weather with very high winds? Also, are the tempered glass backboards able to handle falling tree limbs, etc?

      1. I don’t have much experience with severe blizzards myself. But the tempered glass hoops are much heavier than the plastic ones, so they should be able to withstand blizzards much better.
        But I would still try to safely stash the hoop if it get’s too intense, as I wouldn’t want the backboard to shatter.

      2. I don’t have much experience with severe blizzards myself. But the tempered glass hoops are much heavier than the platic ones so they should be able to withstand blizards much better.
        But I would still try to safely stash the hoop if it get’s too intense as I wouldn’t want the backboard to shatter.

    5. Michael O'Brien

      My son is turning 9 and I know nothing about basketball. This was so enormously helpful! Thanks so much!

    6. Hi Andy, I was wondering if you could helps me we live in Sydney Australia and have had a Dr Dunk basketball hoop for the last three years (our first hoop), very dissapointing, unfortunatley has not weathered well in the Australian sun or weather. It cost nearly $400.00 and looks tattered and very beaten. My son shot some hoops the other day and smash, backboard with a big hole so we are up for a new hoop. Do you know if these brands you are recommending are in Sydney Australia? Also my son is 13 years old and just loves shooting hoops all the time so durabililty is a big point. Looking to spend around the same money but no more. Love your blog and thanks . Sue

      1. Hey Sue, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the basketball hoops you can get in Australia. Sorry!

    7. Hi Andy, I’m from Australia as well, down south in Melbourne. We rented a place with a hoop which also ended up with a broken backboard. We’re in another house and our 11 year old and 9 year old boys miss that hoop! Your website is one of the best things on the internet. If more people did reviews like you we’d all have more time to shoot hoops. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to do this and pass on all of your knowledge – it is greatly appreciated. Take care, Mark.

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