Ever wondered if changing your shoes can improve the way you play basketball outdoors? The answer is yes.
But where do you start looking for a good pair of outdoor basketball shoes? Well, we had our team of athletes and coaches check and review the 5 best outdoor basketball shoes available, and they will be sharing what they’ve learned.
This guide will help you learn:
- Whether running shoes make for good basketball shoes
- What traits to look for in good outdoor basketball shoes
- Whether basketball shoes look great with casual wear
Before we tell you about the details of each of our top-rated products, you can check out a quick preview of those items from the list below:
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
After testing several outdoor basketball shoes, our clear winner is the Nike Kobe Mamba Focus Basketball Shoe. The team’s decisions were based on several factors, including the shoe’s form factor and performance in and out of outdoor courts.
This shoe features an upper that’s made to provide a great fit and comfort for playing on concrete.
Furthermore, the responsive cushioning of these shoes is made to protect against hard landings. Additionally, it’s tough to beat the great balance between comfort and durability provided by this piece of basketball footwear.
Ultimately, we can safely say that any basketball enthusiast that likes to play outdoors won’t find this shoe disappointing.
What's In This Guide?
Our Top 10 Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes
If you’re looking for the best outdoor basketball shoes on the market, the following choices can be at the top of your shopping list. We bought and tested these products so you can make an informed decision by the end of this article.
Is it OK to Use Outdoor Basketball Shoes on Concrete?
If you have been playing a lot of basketball, then you’d probably know that playing on an indoor court is very different from playing on the outside, particularly with concrete and asphalt. Concrete is certainly harder and less flexible than hardwood floors, which means they can be a bit unforgiving on your feet each time you take a step, or every time you land after jumping.
Now, there are basketball shoes that specialize in outdoor environments, and they share similar characteristics with regular basketball shoes, including ankle support and ample cushioning. What sets outdoor basketball shoes from regular basketball shoes, however, is that they are made to be more durable, and have extra cushioning and support.
You also need to consider that outdoor courts will be more likely to have dust and debris in them, so the outsoles of outdoor basketball shoes will offer more traction. That is, the right kind of traction that will grip better on rough and hard surfaces, as opposed to the smooth hardwood of most indoor basketball courts.
Is it OK to Wear Basketball Shoes Casually?
What’s great about many basketball shoes is that they look stylish and cool. They are also made with comfort and support in mind. Certainly, the design that offers the best amount of support also seems to naturally look the best. A better question to ask is whether certain basketball shoes look great with certain outfits.
If you want to wear basketball shoes casually, nobody will stop you. Of course, you need to consider the basketball shoe’s lifespan if you do decide you use it casually on top of using it as a basketball shoe.
Basketball shoes, like any other shoe, have a limited lifespan. In the case of basketball shoes, they are designed to last for 350 to 500 miles only, or about 70 hours’ worth of running or game time. Wearing a shoe both for basketball and for casual use will wear them out a lot faster.
If you do find a basketball shoe that you like enough that you’d wear it casually, then we recommend buying two pairs of it, one for casual wear and one as sportswear.
Can I Wear Basketball Shoes with Jeans?
Again, the answer to this question mostly depends on your choice of wardrobe. Generally, basketball shoes are designed with high tops, that is, tops that go higher than your ankle. Wearing the bottom of your jeans over your basketball shoes generally results in baggy-looking pants, which do look a little sloppy, unless it’s a look that you are aiming for.
The jeans best suited for basketball shoes are slimmer ones, though not too slim. A straight-cut pair of jeans can have their bottom rest comfortably on the top of your basketball shoes without looking too baggy. Just because most basketball shoe designs are stuck in the ’90s and early 2000’s, doesn’t mean your jeans should be, too.
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Can I Use Running Shoes for Basketball?
Basketball does involve a lot of running, so in theory, a good pair of running shoes can pretty much carry you through a game of basketball. Most running shoe designs have many similarities with basketball shoes, namely the increased support around the ankle and arch. Running shoes are also designed to help you spring off hard surfaces, which is very important for basketball.
Running shoes are also designed to be lightweight, but still, provide enough cushioning whenever your foot hits the floor. Of course, if you put a pair of running shoes side by side with a pair of basketball shoes, you’ll see a big difference.
Basketball shoes tend to have a taller profile, with thicker cushioning at the bottom. The extra support around the ankle is meant to let you turn your ankle quickly during those fast maneuvers without injuring yourself, which can be a problem with running shoes since they are built to be lighter.
Of course, if the problem here is you’d want to use running shoes for running and play basketball as well, then it’s probably best not to. Overusing your shoes can greatly reduce their lifespan. But if you are bent on using running shoes for running and basketball as well, we recommend opting for cross trainer shoes as a compromise. These shoes can offer you most of the protection and support basketball shoes can, but still feel flexible enough that you won’t have a problem moving in them.
As mentioned before, playing outdoor basketball is a different beast compared to playing in indoor courts. Not only do you have to deal with a harder, rougher court, but you also need to deal with more dust, debris, and even the weather. To help you out, here are some of the things you need to look out for when buying your outdoor basketball shoes.
The hardwood floors of indoor basketball courts grip differently than the rougher, harder, concrete, or asphalt floors of outdoor courts. You’d want traction patterns that are sunken into the outsole just a little bit. Raised traction patterns will wear down much faster if you play them outside. Shoes with flat patterns also work great for outdoor use, but those tend to not grip as well in wet conditions.
You would want a more robust shoe when playing outside. So, try to pick shoes with a solid construction, preferably one with a rubber outsole, since those last much longer. You should consider materials that are breathable as well, but you will have to weigh the risks of your shoe getting wet when playing outside.
Concrete and asphalt can be pretty unforgiving, especially when it comes to impact. If you don’t have enough cushioning, you not only run the risk of ruining your feet, but you can also injure your knees and even your hips. Find a sneaker that has a lot of cushioning without being too heavy.
- Upper Security
There are many different ways you can secure your upper on basketball shoes. You can opt for regular shoelaces, but straps and hooks are available. A good closure system can not only keep your shoe from slipping off, but it can also add support to your entire foot, which is important in outdoor basketball.
- Rubber Outsole Thickness
The thickness of the pattern on the rubber outsole can also be a key component when it comes to determining the shoe’s longevity. Generally, if the pattern is too thin, it may not be durable enough for consistent use. On the other hand, thick patterns can offer great traction. But the added bulk might reduce the wearer’s performance.
Once you’ve decided what you want, the next step is finding the product that fits your needs and budget. Regardless of how you use your money, it’s yours. But, if you want to know where all of your hard-earned money is going, you can continue reading to know more details about our top-rated outdoor basketball shoes. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what shoe to buy by the end of this guide.
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Many people regard outdoor shoes as good for both indoor and outdoor wear. However, understanding the key differences between indoor and outdoor shoes is important to getting the best value from the footwear, especially for basketball players.
For instance, many outdoor shoes don’t last as long as their indoor counterparts. Outdoor pieces of footwear will eventually wear down because many people generally wear them more frequently than indoor shoes.
Therefore, choose outdoor shoes that have high-quality builds. That way, you can make the most out of the product for a longer time than average, particularly if you’re going to buy outdoor basketball shoes.
Pick #1 - Nike Kobe Mamba Focus Basketball Shoe
The cushioning itself is designed to be very responsive, thanks to a stiffer midsole, but is also designed to protect from hard landings. And trust us, when you are playing on concrete or asphalt, there will be plenty of hard landings.
Traction itself seems to be designed to help you move quickly into any direction, couple that with a low profile and you have a shoe that is perfect for the guard position. A problem we did find is that the traction didn’t grip as well on indoor courts, particularly the cleaner ones. Still, with the protection it offered and the overall quality, you can’t go wrong with this pair.
Pick #2 - Nike Air Ao9378 Flightposite Basketball Trainers
On top of reliable traction on all courts, the Flightposite also provides excellent comfort and support. It achieves this by having a PU insole that contains Nike’s Zoom Air technology. The cushion itself is very comfortable, but still very responsive. If you find that it gets in the way, however, you can remove the insole.
Of course, this pair of shoes is not without their flaws. The upper that is built so well and offers so much support doesn’t offer much ventilation. This can be a problem if you often have sweaty feet.
Pick #3 - Nike PG 2.5 Basketball Shoes
The Nike PG 2.5 is a solid performer on the court. The cushioning itself is a low profile 10mm soft foam midsole that can give you a smoother experience, but still, give you plenty of responsiveness. On the forefoot, the wider outsole offers plenty of traction thanks to more surface area. The outsoles are also raised slightly to help the shoe move just as you do.
The excellent cushion also extends to the lateral parts of the feet, offering enhanced stability there, as well as comfort. Compared to its predecessor, the PG 2, the PG 2.5 has an extra strap over the shoelaces, which offer extra support for your feet.
Although the outsole itself offers excellent cushioning, we did find it a bit soft, which in turn reduces its durability.
Pick #4 - Nike 2007 Air Force 1 High
If a shoe has been in production for more than 30 years, then you can be sure it’s been doing something right the whole time. That is certainly the case with the Nike Air Force 1 High Sneakers. These shoes have remained consistent in offering great support, cushioning, and comfort, and it has all those years under its belt to prove its worth.
The Air Force 1’s main selling point is probably the Air Tech cushioning on its midsole, which has changed little for over 30 years. This is where it’s cushioning and phenomenal comfort comes from. The leather construction also means it will last you a long time and is very easy to clean.
Of course, since these sneakers haven’t changed much in decades, the design is a bit outdated for us. We found the shoe a bit bulky, but you do get used to them.
Pick #5 - Nike Jordan’s Proto-max 720 Basketball Sneaker
The outsole is a translucent rubber that offers great and reliable traction that is also very durable. Aside from that, the perforated tongue and upper gives you extra breathability for comfort.
Pick #6 - Nike Mamba Rage
First, the rubber outsole has a multi-directional pattern. This feature promotes excellent traction on outdoor basketball courts. However, we noticed that this traction design gathers a lot of dust. Although we felt that the additional dust doesn’t reduce the traction significantly, but it pains us to remove the extra filth every time we finish an outdoor basketball session.
We also liked the Lunarlon system for the cushioning. It adds extra comfort to the shoe. Furthermore, it enhances the safety and responsiveness of the footwear during intense plays.
Next, we admire the use of the Flyknit upper. If you know your Nike athletic shoes, then you should already know that this material promotes excellent breathability and durability for the brand’s footwear.
On the downside, we found that the Nike Mamba Rage runs a bit narrow. Some of our team members with wide feet complained that the shoe is a bit too tight for them. Therefore, if you’re a person with wide feet, consider adding half-a-size when buying this shoe.
Pick #7 - Nike LeBron Soldier XIII SFG
At first glance, the midsole of the shoe looked a bit chunky. However, the fit and comfort were still good enough to warrant this extra heft. We also liked the bottom loading units that make the LeBron Soldier XIII more comfortable than we initially thought. But these features don’t provide significant feedback after each step. It’s because they don’t have the same spring as the average outdoor basketball shoe.
Moving forward, the impact protection on this shoe is quite impressive. Thankfully, it exists for some of our teammates that tend to get into plays too much that they slam their feet into the ground when landing. This excellent impact protection still carries some plushness to provide wearers with optimal comfort during those hard landings.
Also, the fit was perfect. However, folks with wide foots should try on the shoes before they purchase to make sure the shoes aren’t too snug. Nonetheless, we found and liked that the Soldier 13’s lockdown is one of the best out of all the laceless models out there.
Pick #8 - Nike Zoom KD 12
Let’s begin with the materials used in creating this outdoor basketball shoe. The KD 12 has the Quad Axial Flywire, which can be a mouthful if you say it three times fast. Besides the name, this relatively new technology uses a four-way web-like design that works by placing the cables all over the upper part of the body. Additionally, it has a couple of thin mesh layers to keep it reasonably lightweight for those blocks and jump shots.
Next is the cushioning system, which is, hands down, the most exciting element of this shoe. For the first time in history of basketball sneakers, the Air Zoom pillow is sewn directly onto this shoe’s upper. It means that it felt like I was standing on air in a truly immersive sense.
As for the traction, The KD 12 has a circular traction pattern, which is second best to herringbone. With this design, it still works seamlessly with both indoor and outdoor courts. Traction remained excellent when playing in a relatively dirty outdoor basketball court.
Despite all the lovable things I would like to say about this shoe, it did feel a bit too tight. The top portion is narrower than I anticipated. Therefore, I suggest people with wide feet to buy this shoe at half-a-size larger than their original foot size.
Pick #9 - Under Armour Curry 6
One of the elements that we liked about this shoe is the traction. Although it uses a circular traction pattern (which is only second to the herringbone design), it still provided excellent grip during casual or active use. Additionally, the traction performed well even on dusty outdoor courts.
Next, the cushioning system uses a full-length HOVR technology, and it’s found on the entire midsole. Take note that it’s different to the HOVR Havoc technology. This time, Under Armour tweaked the HOVR tech to be incredibly bouncy, perfect for jumping around the court.
As for the materials, this shoe uses a full-length knit, which is usually found for high-wear shoes. We also found fuse overlays around the toe and the eyestay to prevent the lace from ripping.
However, the shoe felt a bit stiff during the first few days of wearing it. Thankfully, the fit adjusted after that breaking in period.
Pick #10 - Nike AIR Zoom BB NXT
Aside from the excellent traction, the durability of the outsole surprised me. Upon testing different athletic shoes from Nike, I found that the brand’s models tend to be highly focused on indoor use. In other words, the durability on outdoor surfaces are only above average at best. However, it’s not the same with this particular shoe as it didn’t show immediate signs of wear and tear after rigorous use.
Then there’s the cushioning system, which also holds quite well. In my experience, the extra materials tends to let me sit high off the ground, which means that these shoes will require some adjustment. However, after that adjustment period, the extra padding feels like it’s barely there.
On the downside, the lateral Zoom unit has a tendency to compress too much on certain movements. If you’re not careful, it might lead to certain injuries.