Today, we’re going to check out some of the best outdoor basketballs on the market.
If you have ever wrecked your nice (and expensive) indoor ball playing on concrete courts, then you are well aware of the need for a good outdoor ball.
If you’re like me, you also hate the feeling of those super cheap rubbery outdoor basketballs that pierce or stick to your hands when you shoot, or are just way too bouncy (jammed fingers anybody?).
Below are five outdoor basketballs that try to find a balance between durability and feel.
Let’s get started!
Top 5 Best Outdoor Basketballs
First, here is a summary of my requirements for the best outdoor basketball:
- be durable (i.e. grip/surface won’t wear down after playing a few times)
- feels good to dribble and shoot with (i.e. as close to an indoor ball as possible)
- specifically designed for outdoor use
- not too expensive
Note: For this particular list, I have chosen basketballs that are purely designed for outdoor. I have not included indoor/outdoor basketballs. That will be for another list 🙂
Read on for my top 5 picks:
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Budget pick: Spalding Street Outdoor Basketball
If you’re just looking for a decent cheap ball to play with outside, the Spalding Street is one of the best choices. It retails for just $20 (or less on Amazon)!
It uses a rubber material specifically made for outdoor courts (concrete/asphalt), so you know it is durable and will last for a long time.
It doesn’t feel exceptionally great on the hands, but for the price you can’t ask too much.
It’s also available in three official sizes (5, 6, 7), so hoopers of all ages can get an appropriate ball.
It is very popular and highly rated on Amazon (4.5 / 5 stars). At time of writing, the size 7 ball is on sale for just $17.99 (on Amazon)! Make sure you get it while sale lasts.
- Reputable basketball brand
- Great price
- Durable material
- Multiple sizes available
- doesn’t feel great
NBA design: Wilson NBA Authentic Series Outdoor Basketball
Wilson is the new official ball brand of the NBA (replacing long time partner Spalding).
This Authentic Series outdoor ball has the exact same outer design as the official NBA game basketball, down to commissioner Adam Silver’s signature. Even the seams of the ball are the same width/size as the NBA game ball.
The main difference is that instead of a leather cover, it uses Wilson’s so-called “tackskin cover”. It is basically a composite rubber material which is more durable for playing outdoors, and offers better grip when the ball gets dirty/wet.
The other main difference is that it cost 85% less than the official game ball. 😀
It is also available in the three main basketball sizes. The size 7 version currently retails for about $27.
- Official NBA design
- Durable material
- Multiple sizes available (27.5″, 28.5″, 29.5″)
- Not much — you’re paying a bit extra for the “official NBA” design
Also check out the Wilson NBA DRV Pro Outdoor Basketball. It’s basically the same, but comes in various colorways.
Best value: Wilson NCAA Killer Crossover Basketball
Wilson also happens to be the official ball of the NCAA (they kind of have a monopoly on basketballs right now).
The “Killer Crossover” ball is part of their NCAA series that is specifically designed for outdoor use.
It is made with super durable rubber cover. The rubber material gives the ball great grip which is useful for playing on those dirty outdoor courts. Any other material would start to get too slippery. The ball still feels good to handle, and doesn’t have that weird sharp plastic-y feeling.
The pressure lock bladder helps keep the ball well inflated, so you don’t need to pump it too often.
One downside of this ball and its rubbery material is that it can be a bit TOO bouncy. So, don’t inflate it too much, or your shooting percentage is going to take a big hit!
The NCAA Killer Crossover ball comes in variety of cool colorways to choose from. The striped pattern also makes it easy to see the rotation of the ball when shooting.
It is well priced, and available in multiple sizes. The size 7 version current retails for just $21!
- Super durable construction
- Great grip and feel
- Great value for money
- Lots of colorways
- Multiple sizes available (27.5″, 28.5″, 29.5″)
- A bit too bouncy
Durability + Feel: Spalding NBA Street Phantom
The Spalding Street Phantom is easily one of the best rubber outdoor basketballs.
The rubber cover material features Spalding’s “Soft Grip Technology”. Basically, it feels softer to the touch compared to those cheap, hard, plastic-y feeling basketballs. A comfortable ball makes playing much more enjoyable.
The rubber material also gives the ball excellent grip. It is great for dribbling, and for playing on dirtier outdoor courts, where a leather ball would become too slick.
The ball may feel a bit TOO grippy for some people. It may take awhile to get used to shooting the ball, as it can feel like it is sticking to your fingers.
The Street Phantom only comes in black, but with different neon-colored channels. It looks pretty cool, but might not be so good for playing at night. 😂
Overall, this is the best outdoor basketballs for the combination of both durability and feel. It is currently only available in one size ( 29.5″ / size 7).
The MRSP is $24.99, although it currently sells for just over $20 on Amazon.
- Best combination of durability and feel
- Excellent grip
- Cool design
- Fairly priced
- Only available in one size (29.5″ / size 7)
- Maybe too grippy
Also check out the Spalding Marble Series Outdoor Basketball
Just do it: Nike Everyday Playground 8P Basketball
Nike is the undisputed king of basketball shoes and apparel.
They also make some pretty good basketballs.
The Nike Everyday Playground 8P is their ball specifically designed for outdoor courts.
It is made with a very durable rubber cover that can withstand the rougher surfaces, and also offers excellent grip. It bounces true, and feels good to handle.
It comes in multiple sizes and colorways, so you can definitely find something that suits your style.
The only downside of this Nike outdoor basketball is that it is a bit more expensive than the other products on this list. Prices for size 7 ball start from around $25 and up depending on colorway.
- Excellent combination of durability and feel
- Great grip
- Lots of colorways to choose from
- More expensive than average outdoor ball
For additional colorways of the Nike Everyday 8P ball, click here
Before You Buy an Outdoor Basketball
That was my list of the 5 best outdoor basketballs. Of course, there are many other options out there that you can check out for yourself. Before deciding on which outdoor basketball to buy, here are a few things to remember/consider:
- The basketball’s size. Choose according to the age and sex of the player (5 = kids, 6 = women’s, 7 = men’s)
- Material. Most purely outdoor basketballs will be made with some sort of tougher rubber material. There are some composite materials that are usually for indoor/outdoor. They tend to wear out quicker than rubber.
- Choosing a trustworthy brand. There are a lot of cheap balls out there that may seem great at first, but will get worn out / deformed quickly. Stick to reliable brands like Wilson, Spalding, or Nike.
- Try to visit a store before making an online purchase, so you can actually feel the ball in your hands. Or, just make sure the online purchase has free returns!
For outdoor basketballs, there is always trade-off between feel and durability. The best products offer a good balance between the two.
If budget is no concern, I would definitely go for the Nike Everyday 8P or Wilson NBA Authentic outdoor ball. Otherwise, the Wilson NCAA Killer Crossover or Spalding Street Phantom offer the performance value for money.
Now, I’d like to hear from you:
Which outdoor basketball do you think is the best? Which ball do you currently use?
Let me know in the comments below!