If you play basketball, whether at the collegiate level or in a local adult league, owning a pair of good basketball shoes is a must. Basketball shoes are different from your average street sneakers or tennis shoes; they’re purpose-designed to protect your joints from basketball-specific stress and injury while promoting qualities that up your game, like better traction. The right pair of basketball shoes make or break a game, and just as basketball shoes differ from sneakers, there’s a big difference between outdoor and indoor basketball sneakers. The main difference is the sole and the tread on the sole, which both have to be sturdy enough to handle the rougher surfaces of outdoor basketball courts. The best outdoor basketball shoes also have durable upper construction, too, because they have to be able to stand up to the elements you’ll inevitably encounter outdoors. If you play basketball both outdoors and indoors, it’s best to get a separate pair for outdoor play for this reason.
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes 2017
Adidas Performance Men’s D Rose 6 Boost Basketball Shoe
The Performance Men’s D Rose 6 Boost Basketball Shoe is a high-top basketball shoe that has a 5.5-inch shaft from the arch to the top.
Ethyl vinyl acetate (known as EVA) is a foam that’s often used in the midsoles of sports shoes, especially running shoes. The midsole of a shoe is located between the outsole and the upper part. EVA midsoles protect your joints while sprinting; this is often overlooked in basketball shoes, which makes this pair one of the best outdoor basketball shoes for that reason alone, because you’re more likely to sprint when playing outdoors, and this pair of shoes anticipates that need.
Two Boost cartridges
adidas’s Boost technology returns impact energy back to you, literally giving you a boost, allowing you to push that much more.
The D Rose 6 basketball shoes have synthetic soles so they’re versatile enough for indoor or outdoor play.
The Boost technology and the EVA midsole are big selling points for these shoes. They make them more comfortable when playing outdoors, which some would argue can be more taxing than indoor play.
These take a while to break in, and like many of the others, run a bit small. If you plan ahead, you can work around this, but it’s still annoying.
Nike Lebron XIII
Zoom L.E.A.P. Technology
Ever have trouble making that flawless jump shot? The Zoom L.E.A.P. Technology is designed to help with propulsion, making jump shots and slam dunks a little more attainable for those of us who aren’t Lebron.
Six total Zoom Air units
Nike’s Zoom Air cushions are extremely thin, which keeps your feet close to the ground, allowing for more surface sensitivity, increasing your performance when it comes to fast multidirectional movements and quick cuts. Four of the Zoom Air units are located at the forefoot while the larger Zoom Air units are located at the first metatarsal head (first met head) and heel for extra support and responsiveness.
Mesh upper construction lets your feet breathe, keeping you more comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the better you can play.
Flywire is another Nike technology; they’re filaments that are placed in the upper part of the shoe and attach to the outsole, adding a lightweight, architectural-style support that keeps your foot secure inside the shoe.
The Zoom Air cushions are comfortable and live up to the hype of making quick cuts and other fast movements easier; you also feel like you’re closer to the ground below, making it great for outdoor play when you need a feel for potential flaws that wouldn’t be present in an indoor court. I would definitely say the Lebron XIII’s are the best outdoor basketball shoes when it comes to surface awareness and sensitivity.
They run narrow, so you have to size up, which can be annoying, so plan ahead and consider whether or not your feet are wide when purchasing, as that might impact which size you ultimately choose.
Under Armour Men’s UA ClutchFit Drive II
Under Armour ClutchFit technology
Under Armour’s ClutchFit technology cradles the foot and encases it in, as Under Armour puts it, “a lightweight second skin”. The result is a super-supportive fit.
Micro G sockliner
The Micro G sockliner adds cushion and aids ClutchFit in keeping your foot in place. They have a sort of symbiotic relationship, and work well together to create great support.
3D molded tongue
The ClutchFit Drive II’s 3D molded tongue forms to your foot, creating a better fit.
The midsole of the Under Armour ClutchFit Drive II’s features charged cushioning which returns impact energy back to you, enhancing your overall court performance.
You could say the overall theme of the Under Armour ClutchFit Drive II’s is a better fit, but that better fit does go towards making the shoes not only more comfortable, but easier to play in. And that ease of play transfers to the court as better play, so the better fit engineering scheme has paid off in that respect.
These probably run the smallest out of all the of the already-small running shoes we’ve mentioned. As you’ve likely realized by now, basketball shoes tend to run small and narrow—that’s nothing new. But just keep in mind that these, as I said, do run extra small.
Crazy Explosive Performance By Adidas
The adidas-exclusive Xeno uppers are inspired by the Xenopeltis snake found in Southeast Asia, which has highly iridescent scales. When you first see shoes with Xeno uppers, they look normal, even subdued. But when light hits them—like when someone takes a pic with their phone—the iridescent scales of the Xeno uppers make their appearance. They’re light reflective; unlike the iridescent shoes your sister had as a kid in the ‘90s, these Xeno uppers change color depending on the angle of the light hitting them, making them pretty awesome and futuristic from an appearance perspective.
Boost cushioning technology
Boost tech from adidas is amazing when it comes to increasing your performance. It takes impact energy and uses it to power your motions, supercharging your game.
Rubber sole with great traction
The soles are rubber with a sort of topographically patterned tread, which, believe it or not, creates an insanely awesome level of traction.
Great for outdoor play
The high level of durability combined with the Boost technology form an awesome outdoor basketball shoe.
These are some of the most comfortable basketball shoes I’ve ever worn, hands down. The fit is superior, the support is great, and the traction is outstanding. I played with these both on indoor and outdoor courts and felt like I had great control on both.
The only issue I have with these is I think the lacing could still use some improvement.
Hyperdunk 2014 By Nike
Rubber soles and unique tread
The rubber soles on the Nike Hyperdunk 2014 Men’s Basketball Shoe features a unique geometric mazelike tread that is concentrated in three areas at the forefoot at the first med het, big toe and outer forefoot. Likewise, a similar tread pattern concentrates on the heel; zigzagged tread covers the rest of the sole for full tread support.
Nike Hyperfuse technology
Nike Hyperfuse is a construction technology that utilizes hot-melting to combine three layers of material into one. The base material is a backing made of synthetic material; mesh lies at the center for ventilation; Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film lies at the top layer, providing a strong, sleek finish.
Lunarlon cushioning technology
Lunarlon is a cushioning technology from Nike that uses a foam core encased in a foam carrier to create the ultimate in lightweight, supportive cushioning. The big benefit of Lunarlon is that it redistributes impact force more evenly, reducing wear and tear on your joints, allowing you to stay in the game longer.
The Hyperfuse and Lunarlon technologies combine to make an extremely comfortable shoe in the Nike Hyperdunk 2014 Men’s Basketball Shoe.
The big deal about the Nike Hyperdunk 2014 Men’s Basketball Shoe is its precise mixture of performance, comfort and style. Rarely do you get all three in one, but you do with this shoe. The tread allows for quick cuts, the cushion is comfortable and the Hyperfuse material stands up to outdoor usage; in my opinion, this is easily one of the best outdoor basketball shoes because each feature stands alone on its own, but combined, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
The only downside of these is that they run small, but if you account for that and order a larger size and get the right fit, it’s not that big of a deal.
Lebron Soldier IX By Nike
Nike’s Flywire technology is essentially super thin filaments that can be flawlessly embedded into other parts of the shoe so that they’re not noticed, but they make a huge impact in terms of structure and support. In the Soldier IX’s, they’re integrated into the straps.
The straps of the Lebron Soldier IX’s are located at the top and cross across the arch area as well, creating an extremely reinforced strap system that’s capable of handling an outdoor basketball game without wimping out.
The robust hexagonal tread provides excellent multidirectional traction while being durable enough to hold up to an outdoor basketball game.
Ecoupled rubber pods
The ecoupled rubber pods increase range of motion exponentially, which is pretty cool.
The hexagonal tread and ecoupled rubber pods make movement easier and more confident while the Flywire in the straps add great support, which all combines to make a pretty good basketball shoe.
The zipper can be a bit annoying and finicky; once again, the too small/narrow issue is there.
The winner of the roundup for best outdoor basketball shoes is adidas Performance Men’s Crazy Explosive Basketball Shoe. It was an easy choice to make thanks to the combination of top-notch comfort, great traction and the Xeno uppers, which take the shoes to a whole new level.