Finding the best outdoor basketball shoes is hard; you always suspect that the reviewer is on the take. But I can confidently tell you that the winner in this comparison has barely no flaws and is by far the most performing pair of sneakers if you like to play basketball outside.
When looking for the best outdoor basketball shoes, you need to consider hitting the right balance between fit, traction, support, comfort and flexibility. Hitting all of these points at once is technically impossible. Support is a compromise between rigidity, ventilation and give. Snug fitting heel guards increases support in some cheap outdoor basketball shoes and increase rigidity in others that become too uncomfortable to play in.
Combine that with ease of cleaning and low dust retention for outdoor use and the best basketball shoe becomes more of the best compromise, than a best in class, everything else is just not worth the money and they should be ashamed to even compete. And that’s before I point out the fact that not only are feet different, it is scientifically proven that everyone walks differently. A walking analyzer that identifies people from how their walk has been proven to be more accurate than fingerprinting.
And on top of that let’s add another level of complexity because you don’t use sneakers to walk, you sprint, you support yourself, you dribble and you jump. All of these movements require different physical characteristics from each shoe in different ways for each individual player. And as a final level of complication, uneven terrain and surfaces make looking for the best outdoor basketball shoes an almost impossible endeavor. You know how they slip, they gave out in all the right places to give you some added comfort but not sacrificing performance.
But as my old pair gave out, I set on to try a wide variety of sneakers and find out what the best outdoor basketball shoe would be for me and like always I decided to put that search online as some sort of “Outdoor Basketball shoe review” for other people’s benefit.
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes Review
ClutchFit Drive 2 By Under Armour
Under Armour said no to all that when designing the ClutchFit Drive 2. They looked at the mechanics and just removed everything that doesn’t make you a better player. The charge cushion is half way decent in terms of impact protection, but it gives a lot of court feel. Most of your cushion comes from a thick and very nice insole.
The multidirectional herringbone sole latches on to the court and stops on a dime. The walls are very supportive and the heel cup is a suction cup. The lock down is grade A, from toes to the ankle and the plasticky Fuse-like material manages to strike a great balance between being firm but not rigid and stopping movement. The interior is very snug and gives amazing an amount of control, no dead spaces. But that’s if you can fit in it. And here come the compromises, this shoe is narrow and the walls do not give.
That padding combined with the plastic shell means these get hot. That firm sole gives control but has almost no give compared to the soft plushes of other manufacturers. And the grippy sole, get’s dirty and needs to be brushed every couple of plays to keep it in top shape.
- Good traction
- Good support
- A performance beast
- No bounce and limited impact protection in the sole to maximize court feel.
- Sacrifices ventilation for support(this will be a recurring issue)
Crazy Explosive Performance By Adidas
This is such a good sneaker; it’s probably the best Outdoor basketball shoe in the line up if you buy all 5 of them. Adidas went all out on the materials and made almost made the perfect basketball shoe, but because of this, the shoe is basically a consumable. Its durability is ridiculously low.
Bad things aside, let me fawn over this amazing feat of engineering. All that compromised durability, however, has a huge payback. On squeaky clean indoor courts, this sole is a beast. Those weird fingerprint looking grooves latch on to the floor and enable you to stop on a dime in every direction possible.
The cushion is amazing. This shoe has a full-length Boost and it shows it, you are walking on clouds… almost. Because as you can imagine cloud footwear would be really bad performers so Adidas wrapped the boost in a hard rubber on the outside and propped it around a hard shark that offers a lot of stability for your foot, without negating too much of the cushioning of the Boost as you can see in some other sneakers on this list.
The fit is on another level, the high-quality materials make it very comfortable and snug. But again, to achieve that amazing fit and make this upper so comfortable they compromised on cooling and ankle support.
A couple of additional paradoxes. The shoe looks huge, but it feels as small and as light as a thick sock. The shoelace is full length and contributes a lot to the very snug fit and this is an on a high sneaker but it only has 4 eyelets on each side. Adidas is clearly practicing the dark arts to give us a shoe like the Crazy Explosive.
- Full sole Boost
- Fingerprint sole pattern
- Snug as a sock
- The best outdoor basketball shoes (in my opinion)
- The push interior padding means they get hot.
- That amazing fingerprint patterned rubber sole wears off like crazy, but that grip is unbeatable.
Hyperdunk By Nike
The old HyperDunks are some of the best indoor basketball sneakers you could have reasonably got. They built the sneaker from the inside out, the ankle wrap around tongue and ankle foam is amazingly comfortable and supportive while still nonrestrictive. The FlyWire excels in this shoes because of the long toe to ankle lace design.
Mesh ventilation is decent and works really well with the Fuse, but you can tell Nike made it only complement the Fuse. The one-piece Fuse is thin and you can’t say it’s rigid but it’s still offering proper support. The stand out feature of this shoe is the Lunarlon midfoot cushion. It works amazing, it gives you a moderate impact protection, it feels plush but still gives you effective responsiveness.
The rubber sole has a herringbone pattern with an interesting spin on it. That pattern makes or breaks this shoe for you, inside, it provides amazing stoppage power and side grip, making it ideal for guards. Outside however it’s grabbing any debris it can find and gets clogged up very fast with some very large pebbles.
- Great fit
- Great heel support
- Lunarlon midsole cushion
- Weird herringbone pattern is very good for stoppage, but the wide grooves get clogged up fast
- Support over breathability, they get hot.
Hyperdunk 2015 By Nike
This is HyperFuse the sneaker. The unibody upper offers great support but is also very rigid. The only ventilation you get is from the tongue and even that is reduced in surface area since the previous generation. Flywire is thicker and offers great performance as always, but I wonder if it’s needed due to the rigidity of the HyperFuse walls.
That support does pay dividends in the back. There’s a very strong heel and a high ankle collar makes support and stability top notch even without a heel counter. But obviously, mobility will suffer. They tried to mitigate that by using 2 lateral support beams that allows for front to back ankle movement but it doesn’t really do enough.
Besides mobility, the rigid unibody doesn’t really fit right on the midfoot and there’s a lot of dead space over it even with laced very tightly. All that HyperFuse does make this very durable and you can play on outside courts without any issues. HyperFuse is, however, hard to clean so don’t get the white model.
As far as traction goes, this is good, even great on the clean indoor court. There’s a very effective herringbone sole that stays reasonably clean but isn’t all that squeaky. Cushion wise, it’s a step back from the 2014 model as Nike used Zoom cushioning that isn’t all that good. There’s plenty of impact protection and ground feel but still feels very rigid.
- Amazing traction
- Good support all around
- Great heel control
- one of the best outdoor basketball shoes available on the market
- Dead space over midfoot for increased vertical mobility can be an issue with some players.
- Sacrifices comfort for support
Lebron Soldier IX By Nike
Nice focus on lock down. The strap wraps around your midfoot and links up with fly wire forming an X brace around your midsole. The second strap is a one piece ankle wrap attached to the heel counter/mid food support element. This unibody locks onto your feet and amplifies the lockdown effect, which makes the Soldier IX one of the best outdoor basketball shoes on the market today.
As fit goes they are wider than the Hyperdunks. So keep that in mind, if you have thin feet, they might not be as snug as you want them to be. This is combined however with a single piece upper that has no stretch which makes actually putting the Soldier IX on quite aggravating if you have wide feet. Segmented low profile bottom loaded Zoom cushioning, you can’t really feel it but it does provide a lot of court feel. If you are susceptible to shin splints, try something else.
Traction is great but less than some other options at this price range. The hexagonal treads offer a crazy amount of flex and feel but not all that much stopping power. But the upside is that the sole is made of very durable rubber and it can perform really well outdoors. The triangular nubs do their job well enough and aren’t very squeaky.
Ventilation is good, there’s a good balance between reinforcing the front mesh with hyper fuse and offering enough opening to cool the feet down. Mostly it’s focused on the toes and medial segments.
- Good lock-down
- Good ventilation
- Good ankle support
- Good court feel
- Cushion is framed, for more court feel
- Hexagonal patterns sacrifice indoor traction for a more flexible sole that conforms to the terrain.
The best one to buy is obviously the Crazy Explosive. Hands down. Wear an ankle support with them obviously and replace them every quarter but there you go. But that’s sort of expensive. It can take the beating for a couple of hours a day. And they will probably outlast my hot sweaty feet. Because they are the exact opposite scale in terms of durability as the Adidas.
That cloud feel is basically a modern innovation. I can play without it especially outside. But I don’t wanna play without a snug fit, ankle support and amazing lockdown. While I would get more grip from the Adidas, I don’t know if I would take the risky plays that I do in the Under Armour because of those soft side walls. Because all things being equal material wise and wearing an ankle support with the Adidas, you won’t get the support you can get with the Clutchfit. In the same measure, if you have wide feet and can handle less “performance” and a less “tight” pair of sneakers, the Lebron’s are a decent second and decent alternative for those with wider feet.