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How to Find & Buy The Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes of 2021

How to find and buy the best outdoor basketball shoes.

As an outdoor basketball player, you will no doubt have felt a longing for better durability, performance and traction from your shoes that will help maximize your performance on outdoor courts. So, to save you having to buy 20 different pairs of shoes to accommodate all the different court surfaces available to play on, we put together this guide to buying the best outdoor basketball shoes.

Why Outdoor Shoes Are Necessary

Put simply, because many basketball sneakers will quickly become worn and uncomfortable if they are forced to stand up against the tough, harsh terrain of an outdoor court. Not only will you save money in the long term, but your play will be considerably more comfortable (meaning you can keep your focus on the game at hand).

What Makes a Good Outdoor Basketball Shoe

Now that you know you need a pair of shoes specifically suited for the harsh conditions offered by a blacktop/outdoor court, you need to know how to select the right ones for you. By keeping an eye on the things below, you can ensure that the shoes you purchase are right for you.

Outsole

Outdoor courts can be harsh on your shoes and feet, so you will want a pair of shoes with a solid outersole. The best ones for this purpose tend to be made out of quite thick and durable rubber. The traction grooves on the sole should also be wide and deep, you will be likely to get endless debris stuck in between them after all.

Materials

The rest of the shoe also needs to be made out of tough, forgiving and resilient materials (even if they won’t be pounding the tarmac or concrete throughout the game). A firm shell fill provide a secure and comfortable area for your feet to sit and can even help prevent ankle injuries. You will want the shoe tongue to shape/adapt to your foot also for maximum comfort.

Cushion

Not only are indoor courts easier on your feet and joints, they are easier on your shoes too. This is even more important if you have chronic and/or recurring knee injuries or pain. Make sure that the shoes you are buying have ample cushioning which can help protect you from vibrations and shock. For those younger and more active players, this won’t be such an issue. However, part of preventing chronic pain as you age is using the very best equipment even in your younger years.

Price

Outdoor shoes will take a beating if you play in them at all regularly. As such, they shouldn’t cost a fortune as you will find yourself needing to replace even the best outdoor shoes sooner than you would a pair that you only use for indoor play. Having said that, fewer basketball brands produce dedicated outdoor shoes these days. So, you should expect at least some pricing adjustments as a result. Really from a cost point of view, your best bet is finding a solid general shoe that performs strongly indoors as well as outdoors.

The 10 Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes

1. Adidas Originals Men’s Vs Hoops Mid 2.0

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

If you’re looking for shoes that will stop on a dime on slick surfaces, this may not be your best choice. The treads are sufficient for use on rough, outdoor courts, though. Be wary when cutting or doing fast turns, and you should be fine.

We’re kicking this list off with a shoe that balances classic style and affordability without sacrificing comfort. Powerful adhesives and fine stitching make for an extremely solid and durable shoe that will hold tight to your foot. Thick cushions provide relief during intensive play periods and alleviate chronic pain and discomfort.

2. Nike Men’s Basketball Shoes

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

Durable rubber soles make these shoes as long-lasting as they are responsive. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, you will need only light, occasional dusting to maintain grip day after day on the court. These may provide the most traction of any shoe on this list, but the grip is more than enough to satisfy.

The pleasant cushion and thorough ventilation make this a top-notch choice for outdoor players looking for comfort. Like the previous entry, the only potential issue you might have is in width. These shoes are a bit narrower than many other choices, so if your feet are wide, you might want to try them on before making a purchase.

3. Under Armour Men’s SC 3ZERO II Basketball Shoe

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

Whether you are playing indoor or outdoor, dusty or clean courts, this shoe provides long-lasting, durable traction. The herringbone traction pattern responds to omnidirectional footwork on the basketball court.

This is an extremely lightweight shoe, which is both an asset and a drawback. While it feels utterly weightless, it doesn’t provide the same intensive comfort that many other shoes provide. The upside is that the lack of support makes the shoe even more dynamic in motion. We recommend this one for players who don’t plan on being on the court for hours at a time.

4. PUMA – Men’s Clyde Hardwood Team Shoes

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

This shoe has some of the best traction on the market. The tacky rubber milk crate pattern on the soles will have you stopping on a dime, making a sharp squeak as you change direction in an instant. The only potential downside is that the pattern is conducive to collecting dust on the outsole, so wipe regularly to maintain the grip when you play outdoors.

The Clyde Hardwood blends old and new materials, from classic leather on the midfoot and heel to modern synthetics on the rest. This makes for a shoe that feels customized for ideal use on the basketball court. The leather is hard and durable, but it blends beautifully with the synthetics for streamlined comfort once it loosens up.

5. Nike Lebron Soldier XIII SFG

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The traction pattern featured on this shoe is simple herringbone, but the simplicity has a lot to offer. These shoes are built more for comfort than traction, but with a little care and the occasional dust wiping, these will keep traction on both indoor and outdoor courts.

The rubber is thick, so you’ll need to play a few times to break it in, but the shoe becomes comfortable quickly. Though the unconventional shape makes it look a little bulky, the large heel adds a lot of cushion that will keep your feet happy for hours of play. However, if you don’t like being high up from the ground, choose a different shoe.

6. Adidas Unisex-Adult N3xt L3v3l 2020

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

At first glance, this shoe’s outsoles seem slightly slippery, but they improve drastically after a few plays. The herringbone grooves are small and packed tightly together, so dust accumulation can be an issue. This shoe is ideal for outdoor use, but be wary of the soft rubber. It may not last as long as some other shoes.

This shoe has a unique shape that almost hugs your ankles and shapes itself naturally around them. The cushion is a relatively new style called lightstrike, a remarkably comfortable foam compound. It feels good on first use, but as the shape gets to know your feet, it only gets cozier.

7. Nike Men’s KD 13

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The KD 13 model does away with the previous model’s traction system and introduces something new and unique. Instead of a traditional pattern like herringbone, these feature a series of suction cup shapes. These provide the same traction level but deter dust accumulation since it can move more freely around the circles. It’s the best of both worlds.

These are much lighter than the KD 12s. Nike removed a great deal of the rubber content and streamlined the design to make up for the reduction. Any loss in comfort is negligible, and the increased responsiveness makes up for it. Nike retained vital aspects of comfort design like full-length zoom air strobels and rear midsole containment.

8. Nike Men’s Lebron 17

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The uniquely striated pattern is a mixed bag. If you play on an exceptionally smooth or slick court, you’ll likely have perfect traction sometimes and slip slightly other times. For outdoor use, you shouldn’t have any problems, and the comfort the shoe provides will more than make up for any traction shortcomings.

These are the best outdoor basketball shoes for players who prioritize comfort. The Lebron 7’s impact protection is without parallel, and the breathability will make you feel like you are walking on a cloud. You will barely feel the court at all. While some will love this feature, others might prefer to play in shoes that feel more grounded.

9. Under Armour Men’s Jet 2019

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The Jets have a simple but efficient traction pattern, but the thin, narrow spreading of the striations make it particularly conducive to dust accumulation. Like with the other shoes on this list with the same issue, a light dusting before play will fix the problem.

Under Armour blends perforated leather with textiles to balance ventilation and comfort. The internal heel counter also helps hold it in position against your foot for additional support. These are a good choice for players seeking comfort, especially those on a budget.

10. Adidas Men’s Dame 5

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The Dame 5 also uses the common herringbone pattern that provides impressive traction from heel to toe. What sets this shoe apart is the thick, wide spacing of the lines, which reduces dust’s ability to accumulate on dirty outdoor courts.

Adidas listened to customer complaints about the too-thin forefoot of this shoe’s previous edition. The Dame 5 has thick soles that provide a comfortable cushion as well as a prominent bounce. Unless you’re the type of player who loves feeling the court beneath their toes, this is an excellent choice for comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it ok to wear basketball shoes outside?

Any seasoned ball player will confidently tell you that you should never wear your indoor basketball shoes outside. The harsh elements found outside can result in your shoes losing their grip and color significantly quicker than they would have. With that in mind, you should invest in a pair of shoes known for performing well on outside courts and for being highly durable.

Is it bad to wear basketball shoes everyday?

For the reasons mentioned above, it is a bad idea to wear your indoor shoes in your day to day life (which naturally involves wearing them outside often). Unless your shoes are designed to maximise durability and performance (even on outdoor courts), you should avoid wearing them everyday.

Jake Dennon

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in football (soccer) and regularly played with my friends and for my school. We had an ex England ace coaching us at one point and he really motivated me to make sports a big part of my life.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from basketball to weight lifting and everything in between. I was lucky enough to train weekly at a local tennis club who's head coach was a at one point the 9th best player in India and within the top 100 ranked players in the world.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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