Basketball shoes that are designed for indoor plays may not work well outdoors. The outdoor environment can be harsh and hot for which you need breathable shoes. That is not the case when you play indoors. Indoors have a controlled environment with smooth floors, and you don’t have to worry much about traction or cushioning.
The sad news is that only a handful of manufacturers cater to designing dedicated outdoor basketball shoes. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t have some high-quality and best outdoor basketball shoes options. This article has compiled a list of the best outdoor basketball shoes out there. All listed basketball shoes have been tested for their essential features like traction, material, design, etc.
No time to read? Here is the comparison chart of our Top 5 Picks
|Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3
|Micro G cushioning technology
|Heavily sculpted and padded
|Nike LeBron 16
|Straight lines with slight angles
|Clutchfit Drive 2 by Under Armour
|Micro G insole
|Combination of mesh & synthetic leather
|Snug fit with a thick & durable upper material
|Nike Lebron Soldier XI
|Air Zoom technology
|Ballistic nylon mesh
|Innovative strap system that provides 360° of lockdown
|Adidas Crazy Explosive
|Digitally-designed power pattern
|Full-length Boost cushioning technology
|GeoFit Bootie lockdown
How To Recognize A Good Outdoor Basketball Shoes?
- The bottom of the shoes should support elite traction. The pattern should have grooves that are deep and wide.
- The outsole should withstand harsh and rough terrain. Outsoles made from solid rubber are the best for outdoors.
- The materials used for making the shoes should be resilient and breathable. They should feel comfortable and give a good grip.
- The outdoors will have rough floors. Therefore, the shoes should have adequate cushioning that gives a spring effect.
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes: What To Consider?
There are a few important things you should consider if you want the best outdoor basketball shoes. They are:
The shoe’s sole is most crucial because it defines the durability of the shoe and its performance. The material of the sole and the traction pattern are the two important features to consider. The sole should be made of solid, dense rubber. The constant wear and tear of the soles against the hard outdoor surfaces can make your soles go bald very soon. Make sure that the rubber is not soft.
The traction pattern should smoothly allow multi-dimensional moves. A herringbone traction pattern that is slightly recessed into the outsoles works best for outdoors. Also, deep and wide grooves on the outsoles increase the longevity of the shoes.
The weight of your basketball shoes can determine the flexibility and the speed of your moves. Outdoor basketball shoes tend to be slightly heavier than indoor shoes. That is because of the thick midsoles that provide an extra cushioning effect. The best outdoor basketball shoes may come a little heavier than the rest. However, heavier shoes provide added protection to your feet while playing on uneven surfaces.
The material should be breathable and feel comfortable on your feet. Your feet should not start sweating in them. You experience the risk of your feet slipping if your feet start sweating. Also, the material should be resilient enough to withstand outdoor elements.
The Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes
1. Under Armour Curry 3Zero 3
Fans of Under Armour love the Curry product line for its comfortable cushioning and excellent traction. The Curry 3 Zero 3 is unlike its predecessors. It comes with a unique low top design, micro G cushioning, and lots more. Some of its important features are:
- Traction: The rubber soles are solid and come in a herringbone pattern. This pattern is the best for traction since it allows multi-dimensional movements. It gives stability and a good grip on all kinds of courts. The pattern is tight around the toe area, and it becomes wide and deep from mid-foot down. The traction pattern makes these shoes as one of the best outdoor basketball shoes.
- Cushion: The cushioning is great with Micro G cushioning technology. It provides good shock absorption from an impact. The midsole has Micro G foam that enables cushioned landings and explosive takeoffs.
- Material: The material used is fully synthetic and doesn’t feel stiff or plastic-like. It has a soft feel, and is breathable and flexible.
- Lockdown: It has a uniquely designed lacing system. The collar area is heavily sculpted and padded and cups the Achilles area. That ensures that the ankle area is secure and the heels remain locked down.
|The material may feel cheap.
|Lightweight with micro G cushioning
2. Nike LeBron 16
The Nike LeBron 16 is built for a King. It has a more stable midsole, better traction, and more responsive cushioning. This pair of shoes is considered the best outdoor basketball shoes because of their versatility. Some of its important features are:
- Traction: The rubber sole may not be very hard, but firm enough to give good traction. LeBron 16 gives you one of the unique grips. It comes with straight lines with slight angles that are deep and widely spaced. You can push out any dirt from the shoes easily.
- Cushion: The overall setup of the LeBron 16 is stiff. However, it gives maximum protection from an impact. Once you wear them down completely, you will feel the Max Air bubbles underneath. The cushioning provides a smoother and quicker jump.
- Material: A nylon sleeve backs the upper of LeBron 16. It uses nubuck and Battleknit 2.0 for extra breathability. The Battleknit 2.0 gives added flexibility with great locked-down strength.
- Lockdown: The high tenacity of the Battleknit 2.0 yarns provides the best lockdown than any other. It allows you to jump, run, or go in any direction without slipping.
|Battleknit 2.0 upper
|Can be slightly expensive
|Traction works well even on dusty courts
3. Clutchfit Drive 2 by Under Armour
True to its name, the Clutchfit Drive 2 is known for its ‘clutch fit’ and strong lockdown. It is one of the best outdoor basketball shoes for those who struggle with poor lockdowns or loose toe boxes. Some of its features are:
- Traction: The herringbone pattern of the outer soles makes them one of the most effective and best outdoor basketball shoes. This pattern provides great traction for multi-dimensional moves.
- Cushion: These shoes come with Micro G insole with a firm foam in the midsole. The charged cushioning foam in the midsole is shock-absorbing and turns an impact into a bouncy effect with ease.
- Lockdown: The Clutchfit Drive 2 leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the shoes’ lockdown. It gives a snug fit with a thick and durable upper material. The shoes fit firmly on the feet and keep them intact.
- Material: The material used here is a combination of mesh and synthetic leather. Synthetic leather is durable and protects the sides of the shoes while giving a snug fit. The mesh part makes the shoes breathable.
- Design: These shoes are designed to keep your foot locked into the shoes. The molded Micro G sock liner ensures the stability of your foot. The foot and ankle are surrounded by the 3D molded tongue to give you the perfect fit.
|Tight lockdown and snug fit
|Breathability may be compromised due to tight lockdown
|Herringbone pattern for added traction
|The toe box may feel tight.
|Good cushioning on the midsole
|Breathable mesh upper with durable synthetic leather
4. Nike Lebron Soldier XI Men’s Basketball Shoes
The Nike LeBron Soldier XI is regarded as one of the most durable and best outdoor basketball shoes. What makes this model stand out from the rest is its innovative lockdown feature. Some of its features are:
- Traction: These shoes come with solid translucent outer sole with decoupled rubber pods. These provide extra durability and a range of motion. It features a hexagonal pattern with works great for multi-directional traction.
- Cushion: The Air Zoom technology of Nike gives low-profile, responsive cushioning to these shoes. There are air compressed tensile fibers located in the midsole. Whenever you press your foot, the compressed tensile fibers give back a springing effect.
- Material: These shoes feature a ballistic nylon mesh upper construct. The mesh gives maximum durability and is resistant to abrasion. The sides of the shoes and the toe part are made of synthetic leather for lightweight support.
- Lockdown: The Nike LeBron Soldier XI features an innovative strap system that provides 360 degrees of lockdown. It boasts of four hook and loop velcro straps that secure the foot from side to side and front to back.
|Innovative four hook and loop straps for lockdown
|Laces give a solid lockdown with internal cables than straps
|Ballistic nylon mesh upper that is abrasion resistant
|The herringbone pattern provides better traction than other patterns.
|Air Zoom Technology cushioning
|Triangular pattern traction with solid rubber sole
5. Adidas Performance Crazy Explosive Basketball Shoe
The Adidas Crazy Explosive is a stylish pair of shoes. It is considered one of the best outdoor basketball shoes because of its soft cushioning and strong traction. Some of its features are:
- Traction: Adidas’ Crazy Explosive features a digitally-designed power pattern for strong traction. The pattern consists of different shapes, such as straight lines, circles, and curved lines. These combine to give the shoe its traction. It has a translucent rubber sole that is durable.
- Cushion: The full-length Boost cushioning technology of Adidas gives good cushioning to these shoes. This technology consists of cells of TPU that are located in the midsole. These cells provide excellent shock absorption when compressed. The energy-returning properties of the boost technology give you the much-needed launching needed to dunk a hoop.
- Lockdown: The innovative lockdown of Adidas Crazy Explosive is commendable. It uses the GeoFit Bootie lockdown that has a foam construction. It gives you a glove-like fit that conforms to your unique foot shape and size.
- Material: The upper material used in these shoes is neoprene. Neoprene is not commonly used but offers a strong lockdown with breathable membranes. It has a mesh tongue that offers ventilation to your foot. A protective layer of TPU covers from the toe box to the heel.
|Innovative GeoFit Bootie lockdown
|Digitally designed power pattern
|May face difficulties with the lacing system.
|Strong lockdown because of neoprene
|Boost technology on the midsole
6. Adidas Dame 5
Are you looking for the best outdoor basketball shoes that can custom-fit your foot shape and movements? If yes, then you should checkout Adidas Dame 5. Some of its features are:
- Traction: These sneakers are one of the best outdoor basketball shoes because they are designed for Damian Lillard’s signature game. They provide the right kind of support and ensure great quality. The rubber sole feels solid and gives excellent traction. The soles help in maintaining balance while jumping, running, or moving on outdoor courts. They come with a herringbone pattern outsole that gives maximum traction.
- Cushion: The footbed has responsive cushioning that supports certain targeted areas on the feet. It aims to reduce pain and fatigue when playing. The cushioning on the midsole offers lateral stability and allows quick directional changes. The footbed features internal pods that feel soft on the feet and give extra comfort.
- Material: The fused mesh used on the upper conforms to your foot shape and size. It gives a great customized fit that adapts to your movements on the court. The upper mesh is breathable and flexible too.
- Lockdown: The lacing system of the shoes gives a lock-in fit. Once you tighten up the laces, you don’t have to worry about your toes wandering.
|Herringbone pattern for added traction
|May experience slippage while breaking in
|A fused upper mesh that is breathable
|Not enough heel cushioning
|Internal pods for extra comfort
7. Nike Lebron Soldier 13
The Nike LeBron Soldier 13 is a blend of modern styling, quality leather, and excellent cushioning. Some of its features are:
- Traction: These shoes offer good traction through the hex pods found throughout the sole. These hex pods act like herringbone and direct towards multiple directions. They give you full coverage no matter where or how you are moving.
- Cushion: You can feel responsive cushioning and bounce with every stride when you wear the LeBron Soldier 13. The lateral section has two small hex-zoom units, along with zoom units on the heel. These zoom units are 13 mm thick, which provides excellent cushioning.
- Material: The upper material has multiple additional overlays and is made up of one-piece booty. They give you flexibility and support wherever needed. The Dynamic Flywire at the base gives a comfortable fit. The zoned areas have Fuse or TPU that offers zero stretches. Therefore you don’t have to worry about compromised fits even when making changes in directions.
- Lockdown: The Fuse or Posite layer on top of the midfoot gives a fantastic lockdown. They have zero stretchability and hence may not work well for those with high arches. These need time to break-in but will lock your foot down once the materials are warmed up.
|Not very affordable
|The heel has two Zoom Air Units for extra cushioning
|Fantastic lockdown with Flywire cables
8. Nike Zoom Freak 1 Basketball Shoes
The Nike Zoom Freak 1 is a comfortable pair of outdoor basketball shoes to play in. Some of its features are:
- Traction: These shoes offer great traction because of the combination of crystal sole and rubber. This kind of configuration can be controlled very well. The pattern on the rubber sole resembles that of a herringbone pattern, thus offering good traction on the court.
- Cushion: The heel section of these shoes has double-stacked zoom units that provide the best cushioning ever. The forefoot has a phylon that is not very hard but gives impact protection. The heel cushioning gives crazy bounciness and great protection.
- Material: The textile upper mesh on Zoom Freak 1 is breathable and lightweight. The rear portion of the ankle collar and the tongue is made up of neoprene. The mesh is covered by a welded plastic shroud from toe to heel. That provides extra durability to the shoes and additional support. There is no break-in period with these shoes.
- Lockdown: A unique lockdown system here is the interconnection of the internal strap and the lacing systems. The tightening of the laces also leads to the wrapping of your foot by the internal straps. Therefore, your foot is pushed down, and there is no space for slippage issues to appear. The heavy internal padding on the heel portion also gives plush heel lockdown.
|Unique lockdown system
|Traction is inconsistent
|Great heel cushioning
|The forefoot cushioning is firm.
|Good heel lockdown
9. Nike Men’s Zoom KD 9
The Nike Men’s Zoom KD 9 is considered to be one of the best outdoor basketball shoes. It is due to the combination of fantastic cushioning, premium materials, and strong traction found in them. Some of its features are:
- Traction: The solid rubber sole offers stability and durability to the shoes. The multi-directional tread pattern of the soles works perfectly for outdoor gameplay.
- Cushion: The shoes feature full-length Max Zoom that gives you the ultimate responsive cushioning. The impact protection is marvelous and gives a smooth transition. The Zoom Air Unit is thicker on the heel to support hard landings and thinner on the forefoot.
- Material: The sock-like Flyknit upper provides support, breathability, and good stretch. The rear section is made of a combination of textile mesh, fuse, and foam. It provides support and enough structure for the foot.
- Lockdown: The upper part has a one-piece boot construction with a nylon lacing system. These ensure that your foot is properly locked down while moving. The lacing cables do not move much; therefore, you should opt for a true-to-size fit.
|Multi-directional tread pattern for good traction
|Cleats may loosen when not used for long.
|Full-length Zoom Air cushioning with double cushioning on the heel
|Good shoe lockdown through Flyknit on the forefoot and lace loops
10. Air Jordan 7 Retro
If you have performance and durability in mind, then opt for the Air Jordan 7 Retro. These are the best outdoor basketball shoes for those who like bulky and durable shoes. Some of its features are:
- Traction: The Air Jordan 7 offers good traction that can keep you stable throughout the game. It has a thick rubber sole construct that is highly durable for outdoor games. The tread pattern on the outsoles doesn’t have many grooves where dirt could accumulate. Overall, these shoes provide a good grip on concrete or rough floors.
- Cushion: Amongst all the Air Jordans, 7 offers the most amount of comfort and cushioning. It comes with full-length air unit cushioning that gives the ultimate impact protection and responsiveness. The midsole in these shoes is also more forgiving than others.
- Material: These shoes are great for long gameplays since the uppers are a breathable mesh interior lining. It keeps your feet dry and comfortable. There are different colorways and materials differ according to it. They also come in soft tumbled leather that works great but is not properly ventilated.
- Lockdown: These Air Jordans have the traditional lace-up closure that securely holds your foot into the footbed. The high-top ankle offers flexibility, mobility, and support.
|The shoes are stylish with an iconic design and you can wear them as lifestyle shoes
|Maybe bulky for some
|Durable rubber sole
|Need time to break-in
|Not very breathable
|Different colorways available
|Good cushioning elements
11. Nike KD 8
The Nike KD line of shoes is inspired by the legend Kevin Durant. It is one of the best outdoor basketball shoes because of its traction, breathable construct, and perfect cushioning. Some of its features are:
- Traction: The rubber sole is soft that gives great traction on concrete floors-the pattern on the outer sole looks like a digitized herringbone pattern. The modified pattern gives added traction.
- Cushion: The Zoom Air units give a low-profile cushioning. These units add flexibility and extra bounciness during every stride.
- Material: It features the Flyweave technology that makes it exceptionally breathable and extremely light. The upper Flyweave gives great flex support. It gives comfort while making sharp cuts or during big sprints.
- Lockdown: It features a lacing system with light and ultra-strong Flywire cables. There is an integration of cables and the laces for maximum support. A tight anchoring of the laces locks down the foot. But, they also provide flexibility and are responsive to movements.
|Superior comfort and cushioning due to Zoom Air units
|Break-in time is long
|Different color options available
|Does not come with ankle support
|Flywire cables for strong lockdown
|Breathable uppers with Flyweave technology
12. Adidas Performance D Rose 7
The design of the Adidas Performance D Rose 7 will give the ultimate performance of a beast. Unlike its predecessors, it features a more elegant and simple design. Some of its features are:
- Traction: The traction of these shoes outstands most other outdoor basketball shoes. The traction pattern has a wave-bone like a pattern that grips as good as the herringbone pattern. To increase coverage, the thickness of the grooves varies throughout the soles. It has a translucent rubber sole that feels soft but gives good traction.
- Cushion: The Adidas D Rose 7 features a full-length boost that feels firm on the forefoot and plush at the heel. The cushioning on the forefoot excels in motion. Whereas, the Boost cushioning on the heel is best for landing and slow movements.
- Material: These shoes come with two different materials with different colorways. They come in the Jacquard/ mesh option and PrimeKnit option. The PrimeKnit option doesn’t need a break-in time and is very comfortable to wear. However, there is a very slight chance of stretching in the PrimeKnit version. A neoprene-like material makes up the collar that fits perfectly. It is stuffed with padding and doesn’t feel restrictive.
- Lockdown: The lockdown of the shoes is great. From the heel to the forefoot, you are good to go once you lace up your shoes. The lace loops of these shoes are tight, and you don’t have to worry about your laces loosening up.
|Comfortable and lightweight design allows extended plays
|Translucent outsoles may not be long-lasting
|Full length Boost cushioning for ultimate responsiveness
|Can be slightly heavier than other shoes
|Enhanced traction that works well even on dusty courts
|Mesh and PrimeKnit materials are durable, breathable, and flexible.
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes: Buying Guide
It can be challenging to choose the best outdoor basketball shoes when you have so many options. But, we are here to make the task easier. Below is a list of specs you should consider before buying the best outdoor basketball shoes. We have also mentioned which shoes would best suit the features you are looking for in your shoes.
The best outdoor basketball shoes should come with excellent traction. For that, the outsole should be made of either solid or translucent rubber. A herringbone pattern is the best pattern for multi-directional movements.
In terms of outstanding traction, we loved the Under Armour Curry 3Zero3. It has a herringbone pattern with wider grooves around the heel and a solid rubber outsole. This pair gives solid traction not commonly found in others.
Cushioning is another important spec to consider if you want the best outdoor basketball shoes. The Nike Men’s Zoom KD 9 proved to give the best cushioning among the others on the list. The full-length Zoom cushioning gives an immense response and bounce with every stride. It even has thicker Zoom units on the heels for hard landings.
You should buy shoes that have a good lockdown feature. Lockdown of a shoe determines how well the shoe locks your feet and keep it close to the ground. If you want a shoe that gives an excellent lockdown, go for the Nike Zoom Freak 1.
This pair offers the best lockdown with its unique lockdown system. It has a lacing system that comes interconnected with internal straps that securely lock your foot down. The straps wrap around your feet while the laces tighten the grip. You won’t have to worry about slippage when you play with these shoes.
The material of your shoes should be breathable and flexible enough to allow quick movements. For those who prefer shoes that are breathable and lightweight, you should opt for the Adidas Performance D Rose 7.
This pair comes in both PrimeKnit and mesh options. The PrimeKnit is very flexible, breathable, and doesn’t need any break-in time. It has a sock-like fit and keeps your feet ventilated and cool.
Fit And Comfort
You should go for shoes that fit you perfectly and are comfortable to wear for long hours. One of the best outdoor basketball shoes that aces in this category is the Adidas Dame 5.
These shoes come with fused mesh uppers that conform to your foot size. This pair will fit you like a glove and flex according to your movements. If comfort and good- fit are on your mind, then choose the Adidas Dame 5.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Indoor Basketball Shoes Outdoors?
Yes! You can use indoor shoes for outdoor game plays too. However, it is highly recommended not to do so. Indoor basketball shoes are designed for hardwood floor plays. Wearing them outdoors may wear them down very soon.
Does The Weight Of Basketball Shoes Matter?
Yes, it does. Some prefer to wear extremely lightweight shoes while playing. And others may prefer a heavier or bulkier design. Therefore, it really comes down to personal choice.
Should My Basketball Shoes Feel Tight?
No, they shouldn’t! It is important to realize that your feet need enough room to breathe. It should fit snugly, but not to the point of your foot feeling crunched up. Leave little space between the toe box and the big toe to reduce the chances of injury.
Can I Improve The Grip Of My Basketball Shoes?
Yes! You can increase the grip or traction of your shoes can by using traction spray. You can even use a hairspray or ice grips.
How Long Will My Outdoor Basketball Shoes Last?
The outdoor environment is harsh and unpredictable. You may need to replace your shoes every six months if you play regularly. There are also factors like heat, rain, and surface that play a role in determining your shoes’ durability.
If you want to successfully play outdoor basketball, then you need the best outdoor basketball shoes. By wearing the wrong shoes, you put yourself at risk of injuries and low performance. For the best outdoor basketball shoes, you need to take traction, material, cushioning into consideration. There are so many options in the market; therefore, you should take your time in choosing the best one for you. The best outdoor basketball shoes will make you play like a pro at any game.