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10 Best Outdoor Basketballs in 2020 – Buyeing Guide & Reviews

By Martin Marinov

July 17, 2020

Matching the right basketball to the right basketball court is the first step to enhancing your performance gaming and experience. With outdoor courts, numerous factors can affect your game, including the wind and dust particles on the court that cling on the ball.

Buying the outdoor basketball can improve grip, bounce, and even the odds for you. But purchasing an excellent outdoor basketball is not as straightforward as you might think, especially if it’s your first time.

In this guide, we will look at some of the best outdoor basketballs in the market, cover what you need to look out for and answer the most common questions that other buyers ask. 

The Top 5 Outdoor Basketball Reviews 

1. Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball

The Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball is designed for summer tournaments and pickup games at the park in the evening and on Saturdays. With a durable outdoor rubber cover, the ball can stand up to the demands of the concrete or asphalt floors of outdoor courts.

To give you maximum control of the ball, the ball features a deep channel design paired with a friendly size for youthful players.

This unique outdoor basketball still maintains the NBA’s official size and weight. By keeping all the metrics standard, you don’t have to worry about your feel for the game or the ball changing significantly. 

What We Like

  • Durable rubber cover 
  • Deep channel design for enhanced grip 
  • Comes inflated 

What We Don't Like

  • Gripping the ball is hard because of the rubber cover.

2. Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball for Girls 

The Spalding NBA Street Outdoor Basketball for girls comes inflated and game-ready. It features a durable rubber cover able to keep with the rough concrete and asphalt finishes popular on outdoor courts and a two-tone finish to give it that feminine feel. 

To enhance grip and improve control, the ball features a deep channel design with a rough finish for easier handling. 

Per FIBA regulations, the ball is a size 6, which is the official size for basketballs designed for women and also features the official weight.

Once inflated, the ball does an excellent job of keeping in the pressure for an extended period, which is perfect, especially if you don't have a pump and needle.

What We Like

  • A strong, durable outer cover
  • Retains pressure over a long period 
  • Deep channels for better grip and control 

What We Don't Like

  • Over time, the rubber coat smoothens out and loses grip.

3. Spalding NBA Varsity Multi-Color Outdoor Basketball 

The Varsity Multi-Color Outdoor Basketball addresses two main pain points – price and quality. Fitted with a high-performance outdoor rubber cover, the ball offers a fine blend between quality and price, ensuring you get the most bang for your buck.

At size 7, the ball is the recommended size and weight for adult male players, and it comes inflated with the recommended PSI and is game-ready.
To address the weak handles, Spalding takes a two-pronged approach. The first is the deep channels and the second is the textured cover to help improve control and grip while you play.

With just the right collection of features for outdoor play, it’s hard to find another ball that provides the same bang for your buck as the Spalding NBA Varsity Multi-Color Outdoor Basketball.

What We Like

  • A durable cover capable of taking the rough treatment of outdoor courts
  • Textured cover and deep channels for improved grip and control 
  • Great value for your money 

What We Don't Like

  • After prolonged use, the rubber cover becomes smooth and compromises grip.

4. Wilson NCAA Replica Game Basketball 

Wilson has made a name for itself making composite leather basketballs, particularly for indoor use. With the Wilson NCAA Replica Game Basketball for indoor and outdoor use, it's safe to say the brand has successfully broken into a new market. 

This basketball offers several exciting features that include a composite leather, and a moisture absorbing material that maximizes grip.
The ball also features laid-in composite channels and a cushion core carcass that gives the ball a softer feel and unravels more confidence for the player to take a shot.

The proper inflation level for the ball is between 7 – 9 PSI and is a standard 29.5 inches in circumference. It's an excellent ball for players who occasionally have access to an indoor court and want a ball that can handle both indoor and outdoor surfaces relatively well.

What We Like

  • Excellent leather composite material for superior grip and feel 
  • Great value for money given all the superb features 
  • A great all-rounded ball for a pocket-friendly price

What We Don't Like

  • The bounce doesn't seem entirely consistent, which is common with most budget basketballs.

5. Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball 

The Spalding Excel is perfect for intermediate players. At size six, it’s a better pick for female and younger players under 11 years who could benefit from a smaller and slightly lighter ball. 

Like the Wilson NCAA Replica ball, the Spalding Zi/O is also an indoor/outdoor ball and comes with all the features to ensure it can flourish on the hardwood as well as on the concrete or asphalt. 

These features include a touch composite leather cover that is foam-backed to improve bounce and give the ball an excellent feel and a pebbled design with deep channels for better grip. 

In addition to the careful selection of materials and features, the ball comes out of the packaging fully inflated and ready for action. This is vital because there's no break-in time required, and you can take the ball out for a test run as soon as it arrives.

What We Like

  • Great indoor/outdoor basketball with excellent features 
  • Holds pressure for a long-time
  • Pebbled design and deep channels provide plenty of grip and comfortable feel 

What We Don't Like

  • The cover feels somewhat flimsy and tacky compared to other composite leather basketballs.

6. Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball 

The Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball takes a simple approach to outdoor basketballs and blends it with state-of-the-art features resulting in a quality yet affordable product. 

This particular one features an Optima rubber cover, which, together with deep channel construction, enhances grip and handling.

Even though the Wilson Killer Crossover basketball ticks on all the right boxes, including size and weight, it’s best suited for intermediate players and works for indoor and outdoor surfaces. 

The ball's premium carcass construction emphasizes excellent rebounding and durability, ensuring players get an exceptional experience whether the ball is in the air or on the floor.

What We Like

  • Excellent choice of materials and design to enhance performance and grip 
  • Premium carcass construction for improved durability and rebounding

What We Like

  • It's not a standard professional ball, but for the price, it's a great bargain.

7. Spalding NBA Street Phantom Official Outdoor Basketball 

If you’re looking for an outdoor basketball meant for pick up games or one you can pull out and play in your driveway, the Spalding NBA Street Phantom Official Outdoor Basketball fits the description perfectly. 

It features a trustworthy and predictable bounce, which, when paired with Spalding's Soft Grip Technology, ensures the ball sticks to your palms for better grip and control. The ball's grip is further enhanced by the wide channel design that makes it easy for players with small hands to palm the ball.

Despite the soft touch, this basketball is designed to last. It has a top-quality, durable rubber material that can take anything the asphalt throws at it without cracking. 

What We Like

  • A sponge rubber design for a comfortable, yet sturdy grip 
  • Has an affordable price tag 
  • Comes inflated and game-ready 

What We Don't Like

  • After a while, the pebbles on the cover wear out, compromising the ball's grip.

8. Mikasa BX 1000 Premium Rubber Basketball 

Most basketball conversations don’t include the Mikasa brand. But in the background, the company is busy making some great products, among them the Mikasa BX1000, an excellent outdoor rubber basketball. 

This size 4 basketball is perfect for juniors. It provides maximum grip, with the help of a pebbled rubber cover with a deep channel design. The unique rubber cover is ideal for those dusty, rough outdoor basketball courts ensuring maximum durability and value for money.

The most impressive feature of the Mikasa BX 1000 has to be the price. If you're looking for a high-quality outdoor basketball for dimes on the dollar, this one is it. 

What We Like 

  • Extremely reasonable price 
  • Comes in various sizes for different ages and skill levels 
  • Durable cover with enough grip and enhanced control of the ball

What We Don't Like

  • Requires inflation on arrival and doesn’t come with a pump

9. Baden Contender Indoor/ Outdoor Composite Basketball 

To close out our list of the best outdoor basketball is the Baden Contender Outdoor Basketball. At first look, the quality and design of the ball are unquestionable. The ball features an alluring color scheme and a look that speaks of its quality.

Baden Contender uses a composite cover to guarantee durability while improving the consistency and grip of the ball. It also features symmetrical design for a balanced ball to eliminate lumps and ensure predictable bounces.

With its recessed Soft-Valve System, the valve stays out of your way as you play but ensures optimum air retention, so you get more playing time instead of maintenance time.

What We Like

  • Excellent build and design 
  • Comes in various sizes including youth and intermediate 
  • Excellent grip, longevity, and consistency

What We Don't Like

  • On indoor wood floors, the bounce is a little weak. But it works great on concrete.

Outdoor Basketballs Buying Guide 

There’s more to buying an outdoor basketball worth your money and time than simply picking the first ball you lay your eyes on. To squeeze the most out of your budget, there are a few things you need to check to ensure you get the good quality outdoor basketballs. 

Size 

Your priority is buying a ball that not only serves the purpose but also serves the user. For kids, big and heavy balls won't work and the reverse is true for older players. If you're not sure which size of basketball works for your cause, here's a quick chart that can help you make the right decision.

Size Circumference Ideal for

  • Size 527.5 inches Youth ball (Ages 9-11)
  • Size 628.5 inches Women’s ball (also for boys aged 12-14)
  • Size 7 29.5 inches For men aged 15 years or older 

Durability

For outdoor balls, durability is a concern. The outdoors environment and the surface are less forgiving. Check the materials used to make the ball. In most cases, rubber and leather composite are the perfect choices for outdoor balls. 

Grip 

When playing outdoors, water and dust can compromise your feel and control of the ball. With features like pebbled covers and deep channel technology, you have sufficient control of the ball regardless of the prevailing circumstances. 

Weight 

For outdoors basketballs, the weight is a double-edged sword. If the ball is too heavy, the dirt on the court whittles at the ball, causing it to wear out faster. If it's too light, it's hard for the player to control, and the bounce is unpredictable.

The weight has to be just right. What's more, the ball should retain its weight over a long period for longer playing to prevent messing with your shooting and dribbling mechanics.

Bounce 

The bounce of the ball if often under-looked when purchasing a good outdoor basketball. With so many factors working against you, the last thing you want is a ball with an unpredictable bounce and keeps straying away.
Symmetry and balance are key in ensuring pin-point predictable dribbling. Some brands will go the extra mile and improve the carcass composition to guarantee better bounce and performance for their balls.

Deflategate 

Pressure is a vital factor in the performance of the ball and can consequently impact your performance. A ball that doesn't bounce right can make transitioning to passes and shots harder, not to mention easy steals and turnovers.

Good quality basketballs deflate much less when it's cold outside. In most cases, the difference is unnoticeable, while cheaper options can go flat in a single night. When making the purchase, incline towards balls that come inflated. Upon arrival, the amount of air inside the ball should tell you how fast or slow it deflates.

Even the best ball will not hold the pressure for a long time, especially in cold weather. It's good to have a ball pump to top up in case the ball deflates too much.

Skill level 

Your skill level will affect the type of outdoor basketball you buy. For players taking the sport seriously, the best outdoor basketballs are made of composite leather. These have an excellent feel and are fun to play with. Composite leather balls are not as durable as rubber balls, but they are outstanding performers for players that care about statistics and their performance.

Younger kids, intermediate and amateur players, will do just fine with a rubber ball. In addition to durability, rubber balls can handle most of the abuse that comes with learning how to play basketball like hitting the curb or rolling into a thorny bush. 

What is the Difference between Outdoor and Indoor Basketballs?

Difference between Outdoor and Indoor Basketballs

If you’ve played in both indoor and outdoor courts, you can agree that they both have a different feel and experience. For that reason, indoor and outdoor basketballs are designed to make the most out of the environment you’re in. That means the two differ in more ways than one. These include:

Materials – Indoor basketballs are almost exclusively made of full-grain leather. Outdoor basketballs, on the other hand, are made of either rubber or composite leather.

Durability

Both indoor and outdoor basketballs can last for years when used in the right setting. However, because outdoor basketballs are used in a harsh and aggressive environment, the design and materials have to account for this. If you use an indoor ball outdoors, it wears out faster and the performance is subpar.

Cost

The price of both spectrums can differ for various reasons. However, on average, an indoor ball will cost you more compared to an outdoor ball.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Composite Leather good for outdoors? 

Yes! Composite leather is excellent for outdoors, particularly for skilled players. However, it's not as durable as rubber but has better performance, provides a better feel of the ball and better grip. If you’re after a premium feel and experience when shopping for an outdoor basketball, go for one made of composite leather.

Do the various outdoor basketball models perform differently? 

Different brands design their basketballs differently, and as a result, the performance and feel of the ball differs even though they are all designed for the great outdoors. Some of the factors that lead to different performances include the overall design of the ball, the cover materials and the carcass construction. 

Where can i play with my outdoor basketball? 

Outdoor basketballs are incredibly versatile and can tolerate and put up with different surfaces. They are most commonly used on concrete and asphalt floors but can also work on paved floors like your driveway. 

Last Words 

Enjoying basketball outdoors comes with various challenges. You have to worry about the wind, weather changes, and the state of the basketball court. Taking time to find the outdoor basketball can help you even out the odds and stand a chance of enjoying the game while unleashing your lethal skills.

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