12 Best Shoe For Outdoor Basketball Right Now!

As an outdoor basketball player, you need to have great skill, athleticism, and energy. You need to have the stamina to run around, strength to maneuver the ball, and quite a bit of fortitude to withstand the elements of nature that come at you and you need this best shoe for outdoor basketball review.

Outdoor basketball isn’t the same, and that is why you can’t play outdoor basketball the same way either. You need to be better, and you need to have better. And that includes basketball shoes. To make sure you are at your best, you need to get shoes that will do you justice.

Table of Content - Best Shoe For Outdoor Basketball - Review

Lebron’s Soldier lineup is a stellar overall performer, so it should come as no surprise that this takes the number one spot on the list. These are exceptionally high-quality basketball shoes that will serve you well in all kinds of situations, even outside basketball. While it does not stand out in a particular quality, to say it is exceptionally imbued with many of them is no understatement.

Where do we begin? The cushion of course! The Soldier XI has excellent cushioning, thanks to Zoom Air cushioning on the shoes. Even though the shoes are extremely lightweight, the fact that the outsole extends slightly gives it some extra impact absorption. The compression is quite apparent underneath, but that is why the cushioning is superb.

This is achieved by leaving a gap at the bottom between the Zoom bags underneath and the foam carrier. Needless to say it leaves for gap for the Zoom bags to sink to, reducing the impact of landing. The Zoom bags are also decently thick, with 8mm and 14mm vertical height in the front and back of the shoes respectively. In simple words, cushioning on this is awesome!

Let’s talk about the traction next. While the Soldier XI has decent traction, it isn’t perfect. In fact, there are extremely rare, but noticeable lapses in traction performance. There have been instances where players witness a marginal slip while turning the foot around while attached. But again, these are somewhat limited in occurrence, so you don’t have to worry much about it.

Of course, you also get better traction on this with the rubber sole variants. And much of the issue is central to spinning, and also on the rear of the outsole. The rest of the outsole performs consistently well. Missteps and sudden jerky movements get stopped fast, preventing slips.

This is the best shoe for outdoor basketball which is made of either a single, wrapped mesh for both, with ballistic nylon for the mudguards on the basic version, or nubuck mudguards on the premium variant. Both of these are durable, don’t worry about that. They are made to withstand the wear and tear of the environment regardless.

The primary difference is also quite marginal. The nubuck mudguard variant is slightly heavier, and while it is noticeable because of the fact that the overall shoe is lightweight, that is the point! The entire thing is so light that you won’t really have to think much about the slightly heavier weight.

The overall balanced, yet excellent performance gives this the top pick and we can tell you that this is the best shoe for outdoor basketball.


  • Super comfortable
  • Exceptional cushioning
  • Super-durable


  • Minor slipping

Sometimes, paying through the nose will get you everything and more, even if it is a bit steep on the price. That is definitely what Adidas’s Performance D Rose 6 Boost is trying to achieve. Although you part with quite a bit of money, you get what you paid for in this shoe. Where do we even begin?

How about the cushioning? Well, cushioning is incredible on the shoe and it is all thanks to the feature mentioned at the end of the name. Yes, Boost is the secret of this shoe’s cushioning. The impact absorber on the Rose 6 is superior to the Zoom Air, and it is no surprise either.

The key ingredient in this is StableFrame, which is basically what the name says, a stable frame! While the frame puts the Boost in place, the frame on this has a cavity for the Boost to do its magic. While this means that you get a better contraction, a plus side is that you have super-efficient expansion as well, hence the name Boost!

We talked about impact absorption, let’s focus on the grip next. Traction is also a strong suit with the D Rose 6, particularly because of the pattern under the outsole. You don’t have to worry about slipping at all because once your foot firmly places itself on the ground, it isn’t going anywhere! The pattern itself is compact and leaves little space, so it does a good job holding tight.

On that note, we should also mention how durable the patterned grip is as well. You can jump around, skid, even strut through uneven ground and it will not only keep you stable but also resist any physical wear and tear.

Like most other shoes, this too is made of mesh but has a synthetic leather variant added to the mix for all the color variants. Then, to switch things up, some colors have synthetic suede in the material composition too.

The core of mesh or synthetic leather provides choice for either sturdiness or lightweight, two qualities not always found in one. While mesh itself is quite light, it is extremely inelastic and will not stretch, so there is great durability on it. As for the synthetic leather, it brings added rigidity and toughness, letting you do more footwork!

Overall, this excels in everything, but given what you need to pay to get it, you deserve it as your best shoe for outdoor basketball!


  • Excellent all-rounder shoe
  • Choice of lightweight or durability


  • Moderate breaking-in time

The Nike Air Versitile II is a stellar performing shoe that is available at a mid-price range. Although the color choices are limited to 4, mostly plain colors, the overall shoe quality is simply astounding, which is why we set it as the best value shoe.

First, the cushioning. Air Versitile II literally is named this because of the Air-Sole part, the material of the sole being very light and soft. It is capable of taking up much of the strain from landing force felt while running or landing from a jump.

Of course, with the softness, you do lose out on a bit of responsiveness, but it is still quite good for what it is worth. The front of the sole is plastic, so forward thrusts from the toe will still have decent feedback regardless of the lightweight cushioning.

The traction on the shoe can be a hit or miss. The shoe has a combination of an altered Herringbone and the usual Frisbee-like pattern, which again, has a very low cavity and ample pattern to have a firm grip onto the group. It is also made of rubber too. But there is a catch.

This overall build makes it difficult to maintain traction on smooth, flat surfaces. But since you are concerned mostly about outdoor basketball, this will do the trick no matter what. Although you would fare better on a clean outdoor court, a dirty one will require a bit of cleaning once in a while. Still quite good if you ask me.

The game changer here is definitely the build quality of the shoe itself. The upper portion of the shoe is made of synthetic textile of very high quality, with a superior mesh on top of the textile for even better durability. Towards the rear, the mesh is replaced by more high-quality textile and indicated on the shoe by the color.

The plethora of mesh on top of tough synthetic textile makes this a unique combination of lightweight and durable. In fact, this is easily the most durable outdoor basketball shoes we have on this list. Most shoes need to strike a balance between weight and durability. The Air Versitile II maxes out on it while maintaining weight.

This best shoe for outdoor basketball, right here, is a real champ. It doesn’t excel in all departments, but in the ones it does well in, it goes in hard. As for the other properties, it does well enough to warrant consideration.


  • Extreme durability
  • Premium build quality
  • Impressive shock absorption


  • Limited traction

Nike’s KD 8 is another solid performer on this best shoe for outdoor basketball list. While it does do well in most areas, there are certain hiccups here and there, but none of them are things that you will lose sleep over. In terms of what you pay for it, it may not be the best value for money. But if you have your own quirks and preferences, you will surely like it!

To start off, cushioning is good on this shoe. Nike uses Zoom Air units on this shoe as well, and we can see why. The impact reduction is fantastic, and with certain adjustments, such as having it along the entire shoe and having the bottom loaded, you get a great mix of shock absorption and reaction too.

Of course, the Zoom Air units are held in place by plastic, and that does tend to reduce a bit of responsiveness in return for giving a bit more rigidity. Nonetheless, a bit of compromise on this does not make the cushioning any less impactful. If you look at it as a whole, you get a good balance with the cushion.

What it lacks due to compromise in cushioning, Nike made sure it recovered when it came to traction. By using a herringbone pattern underneath, it is capable of performing well in terms of grip on most surfaces, especially outdoors.

There are particular issues with the pattern gathering dirt, and also some issues with regard to wear and tear resistance. Although the impact is also quite visible, with the bottom carrying dust and also having snippets chipped off, the performance remains solid nonetheless. And who looks under people’s shoes during games anyway?

What the shoe is made of probably takes the cake, because Nike introduced a new shoe fabric called Flyweave. The ‘weave’ portion of the name is apt because the top of the shoe is woven, which means it will adjust to your feet. What about ‘fly’? Well, it is lightweight!
What you effectively get is a shoe that is very light and easy to run with while wearing, while also adjusting to your feet almost instantaneously. While the advantages are clear, you do run the risk of having it torn if you rough it up quite a bit.

But even with all the compromises, it is a great shoe with some great parts on its own that make it unique.


  • Very comfortable to play in
  • Extremely light
  • Low breaking-in time


  • Wear-and-tear prone

When it comes to cheap outdoor basketball shoes that are actually quite decent, look no further than Nike’s Zoom KD 9. The KD 9 tries to match affordability for quality shoes, two things that usually don’t go well together. As such, you do have to let quite a few things go if you buy this. But for the price, this is really great and best shoe for outdoor basketball and you get quite decent shoes.

Cushioning is a huge victory for the shoe. This uses a different kind of Zoom cushioning units that are yielding better bounces and shock absorption. The great part of this is that it uses unaltered, not encapsulated units that many Zoom cushion shoes use. This uses raw shock absorbers throughout, which does really well.

The Zoom units are quite soft too, which does run some risks in terms of damage. But when it is intact and working, you won’t feel a thing. Plus, the cushioning on this feels the same throughout, without a single portion being hard. The flexpoint, unlike other Zoom versions, sit at the end, letting your feet rest fit in easily.

Now, the traction will give you mixed feelings. Regardless of which color or variant you buy; the bottom holds firm to the ground. Of course, there are particular issues with dirty terrain, and that might be an issue if you play outdoors. But on the plus side, it is easy to clean and doesn’t naturally hold much dirt.

The core issue is poor durability, because the rubber sole is something that will wear away, especially with heavier use. It’s what you get for a low price, but it is a bit disappointing nonetheless. Right after it wears off, you have the Zoom bags. Yeah, not a good idea to let that happen if you don’t want to slip!

Now, Nike decided to make this a nice knitted, lightweight shoe. The obvious name, then, has to be Flyknit doesn’t it? That is what they used for this, which makes it so pleasing to wear without feeling discomfort! Not only does it settle into your feet in no time, it is quite versatile and doesn’t stretch either.

On this front, you won’t get premium shoe performance, but it stands tall and proud. The mesh body gets the job done well.


  • Decent for the price
  • Well-balanced


  • Poor durability

The Nike Air Versitile is a shoe with a different architecture and comes mid-priced. Because of this, it has some essential qualities, but also some minor lapses in other aspects.
First of all, cushioning! The cushioning consists of a combination of Vis Air Bubble towards the heel, but changes to phylon as you go midsole and further forward to the toes. The combination is good for balance, the Air Bubble providing cushioning while the phylon provides stabilization.

Needless to say, though, you do lose a bit of responsiveness to achieve the stability. As a result, it does strain the feet slightly not having extremely high shock absorption. But let’s face it, as long as it gets the job done you can ignore this. At least it brings the best of both cushiony worlds!

The sole is made of rubber, which really helps a lot with the traction on the shoes. In addition to the rubber, the pattern consists of a dual pattern combination with little spacing between gaps. All of these ensure proper grip on the ground across the entire shoe, but also prevents dirt and dust from gathering.

Additionally, the Achilles is notched and padded, which makes the heel heavier and grip tighter to the ground. But there is an issue with using the shoe on smooth, flat surfaces. The grip pattern is so tight that on wooden surfaces, for example, traction does not come easily. However, you playing outdoors on a wooden surface seems unlikely!

The shoe is made of nubuck and mesh on the top. We discussed how both are quite lightweight and also quite sturdy. What’s more is that the shoe has the mesh on top of the nubuck, so the nubuck acts like a secondary barrier. Rest assured, the shoe isn’t taking much damage easily.

But the mesh exterior is a slight cause for concern. It does tear much easier than the nubuck, so with torn mesh pieces, the shoe wouldn’t look too nice. But even then, the mesh itself is decently durable, so it ought to take a bit of time before you see actual wear and tear on it.

We ought to put in a good word about the internal bootie because the sandwich mesh that it is comprised of makes it a lot more comfortable to wear.

All in all, it is a good performer overall, but as a best shoe for outdoor basketball, some small issues here and there.


  • Comfortable
  • Fast breaking-in
  • Lightweight


  • Mesh can wear off
  • Inconsistent traction

Under Armour’s ClutchFit Drive 3 is another pair of exceptional and best shoe for outdoor basketball. While this is considered another mid-tier shoe at best, the performance it delivers is pretty great on all fronts. A shout-out to the design on the exterior as well, because irrespective of the color you pick, it is quite sexy too!

To get started, it has decent cushioning thanks a dual layer which Under Armour calls Charged and Micro G. The Micro G layer provides the primary cushioning, especially because it is softer and takes up the portion above the Charged layer of the footbed. This portion is much thicker, takes up more space, and since much of the impact is under the heel, it does exceptional shock reduction.

As for the Charged layer, it is placed below for being stiffer. This is the part that has greater reaction, and since most players jump on the front, it plays its part well. The two combined give you cushioning and responsiveness. What a win! It plays in a manner where the step first feels very cushioned, thanks to Micro G, but then you get pushed upwards immediately.

The bottom of the sole, at first glance, might make you go “No way is that going to give good grip!” Well, you would be wrong! The pattern underneath seems a bit underwhelming, but the fabric rear sole alongside the front rubber does the job of gripping really well. The fabric part is also more intricately designed for sturdier grip.

The rubber tends to pick up quite a bit of dirt, which will need you to clean it off every few minutes. Not that the change is extremely noticeable either, but you shouldn’t take chances regarding traction. And if the court you are playing on is squeaky clean, then you have nothing to worry about at all. It sticks hard, and releases just as quickly.

As for material composition, the ClutchFit Drive 3 decided to go against the grain and put the sturdier material on top. The rubber portion remains outside, with ClutchFit’s super sexy pattern embedded on it. Underneath this is the mesh portion, soft, but not very stretchable. This gives it a good balance between flexibility and durability.

The foot also fits well, mainly because the midfoot is trapped by the inside of the shoe once you tighten it, while the forefoot relies on the ClutchFit’s rubber for staying in place. Needless to say, once your feet are inside, it stays put!


  • All-rounded, versatile shoes
  • Good balance of properties


  • Picks up dirt on the sole

When it comes to superior quality, Adidas’ answer to Nike’s Jordan’s is probably the Crazy Explosive. In simple terms, you get what you pay for, straight up. The quality is great, and in terms of features, it does well in almost all regards.

Crazy Explosive’s cushioning comes from a little feature Adidas likes to call Boost. Boost, which is obviously located at the very bottom, gives both shock absorption and swift reactions to steps. For icing on the cake, it even comes with TPU wrapped over the Boost towards the middle of the sole.

For starters, this gives crazy good cushioning and response. There is more space for the Boost to compress and decompress which allows it to cushion better, and with the extra extension that can happen the response is also much more noticeable. A massive portion of the Boost emphasizes on the rear, making it more prominent there while leaving the front lighter. Not a bad combo!

Now, the traction is where it starts to set itself apart quite a bit. The bottom has a coral reef pattern, which looks eerily like an endless maze of sorts (take a closer look!). All the unevenness really helps keep the shoe tightly locked to the ground. In addition, the sole is made of rubber, just to add more grip.

However, the rubber is not the hardest, and rough use can cause damage quite easily. There are two variants of the shoe with the same traction pattern, while both have great traction, but the choice of material leads to differences in weights. Regardless, no matter which you choose, traction will be a front where the shoe will perform well.

Regarding the variants, they differ based on the material they are made of. The two versions are a Primeknit version, and a neoprene version. The Primeknit variant has nylon in between the Primeknit is places where the fabric can be damaged or stretched too far. You also get Primeknit in its raw form, with no fuse layers in between.

As for the neoprene, it does have fuse layers in damage prone areas, but the neoprene itself covers much of it. In essence, the key difference is the presence of fuse layers, because both fabrics lie on top of the shoe. Neoprene is lighter, of course. But the difference is small.

With a combination of durability, traction, and cushioning that is excellent, it doesn’t fall too far from being the top of the best shoe for outdoor basketball list.


  • Excellent all-rounded shoe
  • Supreme cushioning
  • Good durability


  • Breaking-in takes time

The Crazy Bounce is another Adidas shoe with great cushion and overall decent performance, especially considering the price point. It brings the unique Bounce, found in some of Adidas’s best shoes, and also has others as well.

The cushion is where the Bounce rules. It gives top notch impact reduction when running or jumping with the shoe, and at the same time does a stellar job in making sure it is responsive to forward thrusts on the foot.

You also get a tad bit of rigidity thanks to the TPU plate located in the middle. Though it is common in many Adidas shoes, it does its job well here, rectifying whatever issues the Bounce has with stability.

Now, with respect to traction, you get pretty much standard stuff. The traction pattern underneath is a simple Herringbone pattern, uniformly placed throughout the bottom of the shoe. Additionally, the outsole is made of rubber, including the pattern, giving it even better grip.

While there are cavities in the pattern where dirt gets trapped, wiping it away is quite easy to do. But it does tend to pick up dirt a bit too easily, so there’s that. And performance does drop quite a bit if the dirt stacks for a while. Though cleaning it isn’t at all difficult, people have had to deal with a frequent rubbing of the bottom.

The shoe itself is made of fully synthetic textile for the upper part of the shoe, with an open mesh encasing the entire shoe. The mesh allows for air to circulate, while the textile lets the shoe endure wear and tear without taking damage. To add to that, the front portion is wrapped with a hot mold, making the front even more durable.

While the mesh has low stretching, it is less durable than the interior textile, making the shoe more susceptible to damage. Another issue is that the fabric beneath the shoe strings is fixed in place, making it difficult to tie shoe strings.

The fit in the shoe is also an issue because of the rigidity across the entire shoe. It is quite narrow to begin with, so people with broader feet should be a bit concerned.

But hey, it is a budget shoe for outdoor basketball what do you expect? For what you pay, you get quite a bit of goodness.


  • Good value for money
  • Comfortable to wear


  • Poor fit
  • Breaking-in time longer

The Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation Mid is a pair of great mid top basketball shoes, and have some really great qualities for a mid-range price point. It comes in four different color combinations too, and all of them look quite good.

The cushioning in this shoe is carried out by the Cloudfoam. The cushioning starts from below the sole and goes all the way to the outsole. The large space that Cloudfoam occupies lets it compress quite a bit, meaning you get good impact resistance with it. Since the material is also foam-like, it is very light and easy on the feet.

The Cloudfoam also has good responsiveness, aided in part by the sturdy rubber material of the sole which helps transfer energy quickly. Feedback is swift, so with Cloudfoam, you can expect both good cushioning and good reaction. Plus, to make it even better, it is a mid-top shoe, so the cushioning affects the heel and toe portions better.

The outsole is made of rubber, so it has a good grip right from the get-go. The traction pattern stands out quite a bit, with a flat line going through vertically across the center. The heel portion sees the line turn into some kind of diamond, and towards the top, there are several other white lines cutting the center line in 90-degree angles.

As for the parts in between, they are a mix of Herringbone lines, curved lines, and a modified version of the two combined.  Yeah, the pattern may seem complex, but it isn’t exactly a big hitter of any kind. The traction is decent, you know, the kind that does the job without wowing anyone.

Now, material quality is a strong suit with this shoe. It is made of full-grain leather, which is why it feels authentic to the touch and comfortable while wearing. This makes the upper portion of the shoe really durable and capable of taking quite some beating. With the shaft positioned mid-top, you get good support as well.

As for the remaining parts of the shoe, it is made of Air mesh, a soft, spacious shoe material that ensures air circulation inside the shoe while also making sure it fits well and keeps your feet comfortable.

Overall, this is a top-notch mid-top shoe which comes at a great price. While it does let loose in some areas, but it can be your best shoe for outdoor basketball which is a decent performer nonetheless.


  • Great cushioning
  • Good build quality


  • Average traction

Another top quality addition to the LeBron Soldier line, the Soldier XII keeps much of the virtuoso Soldier traits that fans know and love while adding some tweaks that enhance the overall shoe performance. It is a top brand, and what it provides definitely lives up to the name.

With the cushioning, we once again go back to the Zoom Air units. A classic with the LeBron line-up, the Zoom Air is the essential component which provides much needed shock absorption in the shoes. There is also decent feedback when taking steps on the shoes, transferring energy smoothly to move you forward.

Do note, the cushioning is extremely effective, the side-effect of which is that there is decent, but not excellent, responsiveness on the shoes. It sure gets the job done, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t the best out there. And it is present both in the heel and the front too.

Now traction is one place where the Soldier XII excels and excels majestically. The traction pattern on the bottom is complex and unique, with several patterns strewn across the entire shoe. The sole is a suede sole, which makes the grip even more solid. Overall, traction is one aspect where it does no wrong.

The upper part of the shoe is made of high-quality mesh, and it looks and feels the part too. The mesh has thicker, sturdier strands while still maintaining a cavity between them to let air pass throughout the shoe. The toe cap is made of strong leather, which only makes it even better in terms of durability.

The laces on the shoe are gone, and in its place are only straps that stick to the sides of the heel. At first thought you might be prompted to think “There is no way this fits well!”. Take our word for it, it fits even better than the ones with laces.

The straps come inside from the side, which helps keep the front part of your feet attached. Then they crisscross as well, which tightens the middle of the shoe to your foot. Assuming you chose the size correctly, it will lock onto your feet like they were magnetic to them.

Overall, this is a beastly performer as a best shoe for outdoor basketball, with certain quirks of course, but one that anyone would prefer nonetheless.


  • Excellent durability
  • Near perfect fit
  • Looks great!


  • Picks up dirt easily

The last name on the list, the Lebron XIII is the latest in the series and they really tried to put in upgrades in several areas. This is another great mid-top shoe that tries to take it a step forward previous iterations, being a premium and best shoe for outdoor basketball that delivers tip top quality.

The 13th iteration steps up the cushion game by introducing something new to the line, ones that they call Hex-Zoom units. These are similar to the Zoom units of old, but do a much better job because of the architecture. These are essentially hexagons that are found in the shoe which provide comfort, shock absorption and responsiveness.

The particular units that made a difference are the met and heel units. Because these were larger and extremely thick, they took up and also transferred much more energy much quicker. It is so sensitive that you can literally feel it all happening too. The units are also supported by lighter Phylon midsoles which make the energy transfers smoother.

What it lacks in cushioning, the hexagonal sole pattern makes up for with great traction. While it may seem like nothing more than a gimmick, the hexagonal patterns alongside the linear, multidirectional traction patterns do some great gripping. The hexagons deserve a special mention in this regard.

The way these are placed, these basically cover all angles of lines. These are vertical, horizontal, and even diagonal in two of the hexagons. With all the possible angles covered, it is no wonder it goes a great job. Plus, it is made of rubber, which only makes the gripping better.

As with many others, this too suffers slightly when exposed to dust and dirt. It doesn’t matter much in a clean court, or one that is made of harder substances. But dusty outdoor courts will be an issue, because there is ample space for dust to gather between the gaps in the hexagons. And these do affect traction noticeably.

Unlike the previous version, this one gets rid of one of the two booty pieces, namely the rear booty piece. The shoe is made of a combination of synthetic fiber and mesh, neatly mixed in together to look good and feel good too. The mesh has TPU layers inside as well, reducing stretch significantly while making the shoes more robust.

All in all, it is a notable upgrade and a great mid-top basketball shoe that is sure to get impressed on the court. We can say for sure, this is the best mid-top basketball shoes out there right now.


  • Excellent traction
  • Superior build
  • Locked-in fit


  • Size mismatch due to the precise fit

Buying Guide

When it comes to buying a basketball shoe, especially for outdoor basketball, there are several things that you need to consider. While some aspects are important for any kind of court or setting, playing outdoor will require a few other things to work better so that you can have smooth playing experience. Let’s start with the basics though which can help you to get a best shoe for outdoor basketball.

Upper Shoe Top Height

Upper shoe top height refers to the portion of the shoe that curves upwards from the front of the shoe and goes towards the heel. Essentially, this refers to the place where the laces are placed. The feature in question is the vertical height of the portion. So what difference does the height make?


With high-top shoes, you get a larger area of the upper shoe. This does a better job in keeping the ankles safe by holding still in place. This is achieved by the portion wrapping around the ankles to the sides, making the larger portion very important in stabilizing. You do pack more weight as a result, so whether it is worth it or not is personal preference.


Mid-tops are essentially a compromise between ankle support and flexibility. With mid-tops there is a bit of ankle support because there is a bit of the shoe surrounding the ankle. However, it does not cover all of it. Because of this you feel freer to make micro movements across your feet.


It is fairly obvious now what low-top shoes are for. You get to move around freely because the upper part of the shoe takes up significantly less area. Your ankles feel spacious and at ease, so you can run quicker and put more energy behind the running. Of course, your ankles are at risk of damage because they aren’t surrounded.


The next factor to consider is the material of which the shoe is made of. The choice of material basically determines the balance between durability, air circulation, level of comfort, movement speed and movability. Let’s look at some of these materials.


This is probably one of the most common materials that you will find for your best shoe for outdoor basketball. Mesh is a kind of thread that is woven together into a crisscrossing fabric with holes between the threads. You can get varying degrees of thread thickness and durability, and different levels of air circulation based on that. These are mostly found in low-top shoes but are also found in mixed material compositions too.

Mesh is soft, which is why it is the go-to material for many. With the right kind of thread, the mesh can achieve a combination of fabric that is both quite durable and also lightweight. Making sure shoes do not tear while also being low weight is a challenge, yet shoe makers seem to have found the right combinations which include mesh.

Because it is threaded, mesh provides the kind of soft texture that caresses the feet. It makes keeping the shoes on for long periods much more bearable and comfortable. It is also good because it holds your feet into place without causing irritation.

Having it soft also lets you make micro movements with your feet. This helps keep your feet comfortable and also lets you move your feet easily. This lets you run faster too. The air pockets allow air to move through the shoe, thereby reducing the effect of air resistance while moving while ensuring proper ventilation as well.

Soft Synthetics

Softer synthetics are a sturdier version of the mesh. While there is a degree of softness for comfort and flexibility, you also gain better durability and ankle protection. This is because the harder material is able to absorb more of the impact and dissipate it instead of letting it reach your feet.

These synthetics tend to be uniform and plain in texture, unlike the threaded texture of the mesh. Basically, it looks like a single piece of synthetic that takes up the entire thing without gaps (often, but not always) in between. Needless to say, air circulation is not the goal here.

However, you can still move your feet around somewhat, make micro adjustments to your feet so that you can find comfort if it feels a bit too static for too long such as stretching the toes. Additionally, you can also get a bit of comfort because while the material isn’t exactly thread-like, it is soft enough to be gentle on your ankles.

However, one issue with such materials is that the ability to micro move the feet can lead to twisting the ankles, since your ankles can move far enough. While there is some degree of protection, unlike mesh ones, it isn’t exactly enough to compete with harder material choices.

Rubber or Hard Synthetics

Now, these are quite hard materials for shoes to be made with, so it should come as no surprise that these aren’t the kind that focus on mobility or air circulation. These are basically best for ensuring that the shoe is a tight fit while keeping your ankles safe from damage if the shoes face strong impacts of any kind.

Rubber is a particularly good material for its strength and solid hold onto objects, which having near zero stretching. This means you will experience almost no movement of the shoe, which will help hold your feet tightly in place to maximize stability.

These also tend to last longer while in use, because the material can take much more damage before showing clear signs of damage, and even more so to become unusable. If you want a best shoe for outdoor basketball that last you quite a bit, you will ultimately have to settle for hard material such as rubber or hard synthetic.

Of course, this does make the shoe a lot heavier, so there is an added burden while walking. Whether it makes a big enough difference is up to you though.

Tightening Mechanism

While this is a seemingly simple addition, how you have to tighten the shoe also makes a bit of a difference in how the shoe will go around daily use.

First of all, the most common kind of shoes are those with laces. You basically tie them into knots and tighten them so that your shoes stick to your feet. Laces have the added advantage of choice regarding how tight you want it, but in return, there are many ways they could malfunction. The laces may not fit properly or may need to be too tight.

Other shoes use straps and similar mechanisms, often for increased stability and ankle safety. The straps we have already seen on the last Soldier shoe, for example, had a mechanism where tightening would lead to the ankles being safeguarded while increasing the fit of the shoe through crisscrossing.

The real question to answer boils down to finding a balance between two properties, coverage against weight. If you try to have better coverage so that your ankle stays put better while being better protected, you will have to carry a larger weight. As simple as that really. You need to find your own sweet spot.


Cushioning is an essential property when it comes to selecting one for basketball. In case of cushion, the matter is a tug of war between the degree of shock absorption and responsiveness to impacts. There are some cases where the material choice will help have both, but you rarely get equal proportions of both.

The key component in cushioning is a foam that is located in the midsole, which separates the sole of the shoes and the outsoles. The thing that makes the difference is the foam material.

Most of the shoes are made of softer foam variants that focus more on impact reduction. EVA and similar foams do this job because they are light and thick as well. The increased expandability helps reduce shock more. However, in doing so, it gives up responsiveness, making it imbalanced in the process.

Stiff variants of foams include polyurethane variants. These foams are significantly denser than most regular foams, meaning these expand and contract less than average foams. These sacrifice a bit of cushioning in return for faster responsiveness and better feedback.

Additionally, there are some that mix things up, with the shoe having certain portions stiffer and other portions more cushiony. Usually, the cushioning is focused on high impact areas, namely the toe cap and the heels, while the cushioning is harder in between these two regions. Such combinations give the best of two worlds.


Traction is another necessary ingredient in the making of a great and best shoe for outdoor basketball. Basically, traction refers to how hard the bottom of the shoe grips the floor. Better traction means that you have much better stability when moving around in the shoes, especially when making particularly jerky movements.

The basic idea is to make sure you don’t slip, while still having a shoe that isn’t too bulky, and also to make sure that the bottom does not accumulate too much pollution. Not only does it make the bottom dirty, but also reduces traction.

A durable material such as rubber is, by default, going to provide really great traction. Rubber’s grip on any surface is already a huge plus point in terms of traction. The catch here is that most rubber isn’t the most durable, especially when you consider the kind of work it is likely to endure.

Most outsoles are made of rubber, however, and with the right kind, most people would have their outsoles lasting for quite a while.

Another factor to consider is the traction pattern, which can significantly increase the grip of the outsoles on the ground. A flat pattern is unlikely to aid much in terms of grip. On the other hand, uneven, crazy patterns such as Herringbone or Hexagon patterns, with many directional lines and spaces, is more likely to stick to the ground.

At the end of the day, it is difficult to get wrong with this one, so do some research and find one that has a durable outsole with good grip.


Certainly, as the best shoe for outdoor basketball need to have your ankle in place properly for you to get the best out of them. Heck, sometimes if fit is a big miss, it can render a pair of shoes completely useless! That is why it is important to have a good fit in the shoes. But if the fit is too precise, then you may run into some issues with size.

Good fitting shoes are ones where either the inner material adjusts to the size of your ankle, or where the build and measurements match up with your feet size. Either way, having it like this keeps the feet locked into place, giving much-needed stability for playing better. Bad fitting shoes can make some dangerous problem and you can read this post about basketball shoes and injuries from the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Well, you may wonder, why do some shoes have a mediocre fit then? Well, for one, having a perfect fit will cause issues with shoe sizes. An extremely precise fit might end up being smaller than your usual size, especially if your ankles are wider, for example. It is important to know about this because getting the size wrong can be disastrous!

Why Buy Outdoor Basketball Shoes?

The real question you should ask is why should you buy a pair of basketball shoes for playing outside to begin with? What makes it different to, let’s say any ordinary pair of basketball shoes? There are several reasons for this.

Nature of Outdoor Basketball Courts

Outdoor basketball courts are different because you are exposed to the elements of the environment. Many courts will gather dirt and dust due to a lack of maintenance and will clog up traction patterns as a result. Play in such conditions with an ordinary shoe and you will see how fast you begin to lose grip on the floor.

These courts also tend to be hard and capable of damaging your shoes, and possibly your ankles in the process as well. As a result, you are going to need shoes that not only do a good job of protecting themselves but also keeping your ankles safe.

Your shoes will need to do both without sacrificing properties pertinent to playing the sport. The right balance of all things is needed to excel, and outdoor basketball shoes really fit the bill.


One key difference between outdoor basketball shoes and ordinary shoes is traction. And this goes above and beyond just the pattern. We are talking about the quality and material of the outsole which is very important for a best shoe for outdoor basketball.

Most basketball shoes come in rubber outsoles, which seems obvious because they need to be able to grip the shoe well. But that by itself is nowhere near enough for outdoor courts, which are capable of causing more wear and tear on the outsoles. How do outdoor basketball shoes tackle this?

The answer is in the sturdiness of the rubber. Outdoor shoes have outsoles that are made of significantly harder rubber. These are able to endure significantly more impact without the rubber wearing away and causing the shoe to lose traction.

The traction is also superior because more complex traction patterns are used for better grip. Gone are the days when it was all simple, linear Herringbone patterns. Now you will find many combinations of lines, including altered Herringbone patterns, and a more recent trend of hexagonal patterns being used in some top quality outdoor shoes.

This was no gimmick or design choice. These unique and sophisticated patterns do enhance grip and give better traction as a result. And more recently, these are becoming increasingly dust and dirt proof or at least going in that direction. For many of them, you just need to wipe the dirt off from time to time to maintain good traction.

Enhanced Shoe Lifetime

One great reason to buy a great and best shoe for outdoor basketball is that they last a really long time. Because these are made to withstand more impact than indoor ones, they are naturally more resistant to all kinds of wear and tear. This includes natural wearing with time. As a result, these shoes stay intact for a much longer duration.

Again, this is because these shoes are more resistant to everything from physical impact to the gradual chipping away of the shoe material by wind, water and dust. Even if you kept an indoor shoe stored away for a good while without playing with it, it will start wearing. Keep an outdoor shoe the same duration, it will remain visibly fresher. You get the idea, right?


While you are well aware of what cushioning is for right about now, you might be wondering why it is better in outdoor shoes. The main reason is that most outdoor courts tend to be harder than indoor courts. Often they are made of some kind of stone. Without sufficient cushioning, you will certainly feel the impact each step you take.

Outdoor shoes achieve better cushioning by having a thicker foam, often made of a lighter material. This lets them expand more and dissipate more of the impact, hence preventing your feet from feeling the impact.

At the same time, these shoes should be able to respond swiftly to steps and jumps, and they must do so while maintaining a good degree of cushioning. Unique midsole architecture found in outdoor basketball shoes allows them to do just that.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best shoe for outdoor basketball?

The answer to that question depends on the wearer. Many different kind of shoes are good at many different functions. The key here is to find out what you need and get the shoes that best fit your purpose.

Can I wear shoes without socks?

Obviously, you can. But it isn’t a very wise idea. Socks provide additional cover and safety to your feet while also keeping them comfy and cozy. The best thing to do would be to find socks that complement your shoes.

How do I know the size is right for me?

You can feel the size is right for you when it perfectly balances out between locking your feet in position and giving your feet breathing space. It is the size where the shoe isn’t so tight that it barely fits, but is also tight enough to make sure your feet don’t experience minor movements.

Should I go for low-top, mid-top or high-top basketball shoes?

It depends on which position you play in and what your playing style is. A simplified way to decide would be low-tops for agility, high-tops for stability, and mid-tops for a balance between the two.

Let’s End With A 3-Pointer!

You have learned quite a bit about the best shoe for outdoor basketball. Now it is time to pick the one which suits you. All you have to do is decide on your budget, the shoe’s strengths, and of course your needs. Outdoor basketball shoes make a world of difference, and if you follow our words correctly, you won’t regret it. The right shoes will raise your outdoor basketball game to another level. Is it a confusing situation? We also have a detailed review of Nike shoes for you.

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