Back in 2020, due to the global pandemic, most indoor basketball courts were closed. Outdoor basketball, therefore, saw a huge boost in popularity. A lot of people headed out onto the blacktop in their regular hoop shoes and tore them to shreds. There’s often big differences between shoes that are well suited for indoor basketball and those that are better outdoor basketball shoes.
It’s important to understand how to find shoes meant for outdoor play so you don’t throw away your hard-earned money on shoe’s that lack durability or don’t have enough cushion to spare your joints from a beating.
Last updated 9.04.2022
10+ Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes Hide
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes Overall
- Most Comfortable Outdoor Basketball Shoes
- Best High Top Outdoor Basketball Shoes
- Best Low Top Outdoor Basketball Shoes
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Ankle Support
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Wide Feet
- Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Flat Feet
- Best Budget Outdoor Basketball Shoes
- Best Retro Outdoor Basketball Shoes
- How to Choose an Outdoor Basketball Shoe
- Outdoor Basketball vs Indoor Basketball
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes Overall
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoe
Nike KD 15
The Nike KD 15 is a great outdoor option, especially if you get the EP version, usually available in Asian markets, with the extra-durable rubber (XDR). Another reason why this works well for outdoor hoopers is the cushioning system. Cushlon is used as the primary foam carrier and on top of that is the full-length Nike Zoom Air Strobel unit to provide impact protection and bounce under your feet. It’s a combo that makes hours of outdoor hooping much more manageable. See the full review. Price: $150
Adidas Son of Chi 2
The adidas Son of Chi 2 may end up as the best adidas basketball shoe of 2022. The traction is a big highlight of its performance. Even with translucent rubber, the shoe gripped all floors well. It’s also durable and will last longer outdoors than most rubber outsoles today. The midsole is full-length Bounce, providing the impact protection needed for long hours on outdoor courts. Everything aspect is well-balanced and functional. Read the full review. Price: TBA
Puma Court Rider 2
The Puma Court Rider 2 is the follow-up to the shoe LaMelo Ball wore before he got his own signature sneaker, the MB.01. Though he’s 6’8” and can jump, he’s still a point guard. And that usually means preferring a lower-to-the-ground ride, which is the case with the Court Rider. What makes these more interesting are the layers of materials, a rarity nowadays. Puma has been doing a great job with their basketball shoes, and these are their best outdoor basketball shoes. Read the full review. Price: $110
Nike KD 14
The Nike KD 14 is great for outdoor courts for a lot of reasons. First, and most importantly, the cushion set up is ideal to protect your joints against the impact of the blacktop. The full-length Zoom Air strobel in conjunction with the soft, plush Cushlon are more than enough and comfortable. If you get leg soreness playing outdoors, these should help immensely. The rubber compound may not be insanely firm, but there’s a lot of tread to go through, so it should last you a while. Plus, the grip is fantastic. As with any shoe, make sure you get your right size. See the full review. Price: $150
The Curry 3Z6 is solid, though some aspects need improvement. Our favorite feature is the traction. It’s thick and grips well on all courts, including concrete and blacktop outdoor courts. If you can deal with the minimal MicroG midsole, you’ll enjoy a stable ride. These shoes are a great option for shooters that need a solid, flat base. Plus, they’re easy on the wallet. See the full review. Price: $80
New Balance TWO WXY V2
The New Balance TWO WXY V2 is an upgrade from the last version and is even better than their flagship model for the Klaw. The traction is fantastic for as long as it lasts. The cushion with FuelCell and Abzorb DRS works well for most positions. The FitWeave upper is comfortable and moves well with your feet. A very solid outdoor offering from New Balance. Read the full review. Price: $130
Air Jordan 36
The Air Jordan 36 is the latest flagship model of the Jordan Brand and it doesn’t disappoint. Unlike its predecessor, the Air Jordan 35, this model actually has some nice deep grooves. It isn’t anything crazy, but it will last longer. If you get the XDR version, all the better. The cushion is also a plus with a full-length Zoom Air strobel and an additional forefoot Zoom unit. Don’t be fooled by the upper material made up of leno weave as it’s a lot more durable than it looks. Support is enhanced by the Eclipse Plate. See the full review. Price: $185
Nike LeBron Witness 6
The Nike LeBron Witness 6 is a great outdoor option. The shoe features full-length Air and a durable outsole for just $100. On top of that, the Nike LeBron Witness 6 offers some beefy support features which will help you feel confident cutting and changing directions out on the blacktop. This shoe is proof of how much budget models have evolved and improved over the years. Read the full review. Price: $100
361° Zen 3
The 361° Zen 3 is one of those shoes that not a lot of people will be interested in because of the brand, but that’s honestly a mistake. There’s so much to love about this shoe, especially for outdoors. The traction is thick and beefy and will last you a while, definitely a lot longer than many other shoes on the market. Plus, the cushion is plush and forgiving for the hard concrete with the brand’s Quikfoam Lite. It feels like Nike’s Cushlon, but on steroids. That’s how comfortable they are underfoot. This is a serious outdoor shoe. See the full review. Price: $80
adidas Dame 8
The adidas Dame 8 is the latest in the signature line of the brand and it packs a punch, albeit a balanced one. You definitely won’t feel like you’re jumping out of the gym with the Bounce Pro setup but you won’t feel like you’re walking on bricks either. It’s just right. The traction is also durable enough, especially the solid rubber sections. The materials are durable where they need to be and breathable where they need to be. Some may look at it and say that it looks basic, but we think it’s one of the best out there. Plus, the price isn’t out of reach. See the full review. Price: $120
Nike KD Trey 5 X
The Nike KD Trey 5 X is Kevin Durant’s latest budget signature model that takes cues from his flagship, in this case the Nike KD 14. The biggest and most welcome surprise is the cushion. The foam midsole is React, and a rectangular forefoot Zoom Air unit is in the forefoot, similar to the Nike Kyrie Low 5. It provides impact protection without making you sink into the midsole, thus making it a viable outdoor option. Read the full review. Price: $100
Most Comfortable Outdoor Basketball Shoes
Nike KD 14
Of all the best outdoor basketball shoes, the Nike KD 14 is easily the most comfortable among them. The full-length Zoom Air strobel plus the Cushlon midsole is hard to beat. The KD 14 is so good all around that it’s one of our top overall picks for the year. See the full review. Price: $150
Best High Top Outdoor Basketball Shoes
Air Jordan 36
If you are into high tops and are looking for a great outdoor basketball shoe, the Air Jordan 36 is the shoe for you. The shoe is an awesome on-court performer, whether it be indoor or outdoor, and it’s higher cut makes it a must if you don’t trust low-tops. See the full review. Price: $185
Best Low Top Outdoor Basketball Shoes
Nike KD 15
The Nike KD 15 is a terrific low-top outdoor option, especially if you get the EP version, usually available in Asian markets, with the extra-durable rubber (XDR). Because it’s a low-top, it provides more ankle mobility. Cushlon is the primary foam carrier, and on top of that is the full-length Nike Zoom Air Strobel unit to provide impact protection and bounce under your feet. It’s a combo that makes hours of outdoor hooping much more manageable. See the full review. Price: $150
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Ankle Support
New Balance TWO WXY V2
The New Balance TWO WXY V2 is an upgrade from the last version and is even better than their flagship model for the Klaw. The traction is fantastic for as long as it lasts. The cushion with FuelCell and Abzorb DRS works well for most positions. The FitWeave upper is comfortable and moves well with your feet. All the support features you’d need, including a beefy heel counter, are here. A very solid offering from New Balance. Read the full review. Price: $130
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Wide Feet
361° Zen 3
The 361° Zen 3 is a great all-around outdoor option, but if you need a wide-foot option, this is our top pick. 361º is a Chinese brand, and Chinese brands usually build their shoes on wider lasts. Wide footers that want to be able to play outdoors for hours, this is the shoe for you. See the full review. Price: $80
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes for Flat Feet
Anta Shock the Game 5.0
The Anta Shock the Game 5.0 looks to be a mix of the old and the new. Which is great because older sneakers tend to be more durable. The old part comes with all the overlays and even a vent on the upper. The newness comes from the cushion, which is the brand’s very bouncy and plush A-Flash Edge foam. They added a stabilizer so you don’t roll your ankle and get injured. Even with all the thick overlays, the main build is still textile mesh which means it will be comfortable and flexible. See the full review. Price: $100
Best Budget Outdoor Basketball Shoes
Nike Air Max Impact 3
The Nike Air Max Impact 3 is one of the cheapest Nike basketball shoes out there. But don’t be fooled by the price. Cheap does not equal cheap performance. Although the cushion is just basic Phylon, it’s way more plush than other shoes such as the Nike Giannis Immortality. The rubber outsole is one of the thickest and most durable we’ll ever get from the brand. The heel Air Max unit gives great impact protection without sacrificing stability due to its not-over-the-top volume. We don’t think there’s any shoe that performs better at this price point. See the full review. Price: $90
Best Retro Outdoor Basketball Shoes
Air Jordan 12 Playoff 2022
The Air Jordan 12 Playoff 2022 is one the best retro Air Jordans for basketball and just one of the best retro basketball shoes out there period. They have very durable materials with an all-leather upper. It will get scuffed and all, but it won’t rip like knits and meshes. The cushion is full-length Zoom Air, which was not seen again in the main Air Jordan line until the Air Jordan 18. The rubber outsole is extremely thick and durable and will grip any surface, much like most of the shoes from that era. There’s little to complain about here. See the full review. Price: $200
How to Choose an Outdoor Basketball Shoe
Admittedly, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing an outdoor basketball shoe. We have a full article on how to choose the perfect outdoor basketball shoe for you, but here are a few quick tips that will help you quickly distinguish a good outdoor basketball shoe:
- First, let’s talk traction and rubber. Will it grip the surface well? Will it last long enough? Preferably, you want to find a shoe with a tough rubber sole that has its traction pattern recessed into the outsole a bit.
- You also have to think about cushioning. Playing on concrete for hours on end is a lot to handle for your joints. Shoes with more cushioning will be better suited for outdoor hoops.
- You will also want a shoe with durable materials along the upper.
- And, lastly, there’s the price of the shoe. No matter how well built a shoe is, it will break down quicker when playing outdoors. You probably don’t want to wear (and trash) a $200 pair of shoes outdoors.
Outdoor Basketball vs Indoor Basketball
The main difference that affects your footwear for indoor basketball and outdoor basketball is the court itself. There are other differences like court size, types of rims, and even rules of the game that can vary greatly, but none of those directly impacts your shoes.
Outdoor basketball courts can have very different finishes going from the more abrasive, sandpaper-like courts, to the sleekest, concrete style ones. This is why the rubber compound of the sole and the traction pattern are so important. The rubber compound needs to bite the court surface while not wearing down too quickly.
Whereas the surface texture is different, all outdoor basketball courts lack impact absorbent floors like we get indoors with parquet wood floors. Whether the floors are plastic, concrete or asphalt you know that it’s going to be less forgiving than an indoor court.
Abrasive courts will chew through your shoe’s outsole and upper and these harder surfaces don’t absorb any of the impact when you jump, change directions or start sprinting. Your ankles and knees end up absorbing the majority of those impacts. That’s why cushioning is an important feature to take into consideration when choosing a good outdoor basketball shoe.
There’s no question that it’s hard to find a shoe that checks all the boxes. Because of this, and because we end up testing hundreds of basketball shoes every year, we at WearTesters have compiled a list that highlights the best outdoor basketball shoes you can buy today.