The 5 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 of shoes every other month, it is important to find shoes that can take the beating of playing on blacktop.

In this article, I am going to show you some great outdoor basketball shoes and talk about what differentiates them from regular indoor sneakers. But let's start with a quick overview of the best outdoor basketball shoes out right now.

I have read and watched literally hundreds of shoe reviews on sneaker blogs or youtube channels and recorded (among many other things) whether critics would recommend the reviewed basketball shoes for outdoor use. As a result, I came up with this list of shoes that feature durable rubber, sturdy upper materials and, therefore, work well on outdoor courts:

List of great outdoor basketball shoes:

  • Great traction
  • Comfortable cushioning
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 2 shoe reviews
  • Amazing Traction
  • Great Cushioning
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 2 shoe reviews
  • Great Traction
  • Very comfortable
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 2 shoe reviews
  • Very supportive
  • Good cushioning
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 2 shoe reviews
  • Adjustable Ankle Support
  • Very supportive
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 4 shoe reviews
  • Great for outdoors
  • Very affordable
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 2 shoe reviews
  • Fair price
  • Amazing traction
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 5 shoe reviews
  • great court feel
  • awesome traction
  • Recommended for outdoor use in 3 shoe reviews

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 hard 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 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 wide traction pattern 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!​

The Top 5 Outdoor Basketball Shoes

Let’s take a look at shoes that work very well on outdoor courts. This list is automatically created by filtering the complete list of reviewed shoes for recommended outdoor sneakers that have at least decent cushioning. This list was last updated on Dec 16, 2017 and shoes are sorted by average overall rating.

Average Expert Rating: 9.0 (see all reviews)
The Anta KT3 is the third signature sneaker of Klay Thompson and delivers significant improvements over the already very well-received KT2. The multi-directional traction pattern works exceptionally well on all surfaces, the cushioning is a little firmer in the forefoot but provides excellent impact protection in the heel, and the knitted upper is comfortable and feels very premium. The only downside is the specific fit which might not work for everybody. Other than that, at a retail price of only $120, this is one of the best performance sneakers on the market!
Average Expert Rating: 8.9 (see all reviews)
The D Rose 8 is an amazing overall performer. It absolutely nails the two most important features of any basketball shoe: traction and support. The new "zipper" traction pattern provides beastly traction, even on dusty courts. Full-length Boost cushioning is perfectly balanced and provides a lot of impact protection while still being very responsive. The materials are rather basic and may look a little cheap, but they absolutely get the job done. If you are looking for a supportive high top with amazing traction and support then this is the shoe for you.
Average Expert Rating: 8.8 (see all reviews)
Klay Thompson's second signature sneaker is a pleasant surprise. The material and cushioning are very soft and comfortable. Quick cuts and crossovers are no problem thanks to the tacky traction pattern. If you don't care about brand recognition and want to try out a chinese shoe, then this is the way to go. A very well-performing alrounder for an affordable price.
Average Expert Rating: 8.5 (see all reviews)
The Nike Lebron Soldier 11 gets good to great marks in every category. Unfortunately, traction is a little inconsistent, especially on dustier courts. The support and lockdown are the strongest features of this shoe making you feel very secure on the court. Overall, these shoes are recommended for bigger guys who look for impact protection and support and don't mind the slight bulkiness and inconsistent traction.
Average Expert Rating: 8.4 (see all reviews)
The Curry 3Zero is part of a slightly downgraded and more affordable line of Steph Curry shoes. The traction has remained the same and performs very well on clean courts but many reviewers complained about inconsistency on (mildly) dusty courts. The reduced price shows in the materials which are less premium than in the original Curry 3 but still do a good job. Universally liked by shoe critics is the innovative adjustable heel which provides great lockdown and works especially great for ankle brace wearers. Overall, the Curry 3Zero is a solid performer at a fair price.

If you have any questions about this list let me know in the comments and I'll try to answer as soon as possible.

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