Outdoor basketball is always going to have a specific niche for a variety of reasons. Not only do people love playing outdoors when the weather is nice, but it is much more affordable than trying to find time to play in the gym.
While there are some differences to outdoor basketball compared to indoor, maybe the biggest one is the change in ball. A player can use an indoor ball outdoors if they want to, but it is not built to last for a very long time. Fortunately, companies make basketballs specifically for outdoor use, and these will hold up very well.
1. Spalding NBA Outdoor Basketball
From a distance, this ball looks exactly like the real NBA basketball. It is made of a much different material, and that is good news for people who are going to be playing outdoors. It is designed to hold up very well, and since it is specific for outdoor, it is a little rougher than some of the other options out there.
There is always a debate between whether to go with a truly outdoor ball, or a hybrid option. Some people like the feel of the hybrid option, but it is not going to last as long because of its composition. A proper outdoor ball will last for a long time, but it might be a little rougher to the feel.
For a pretty affordable price, this is a ball worth checking out and having as part of an arsenal. It might not be a go-to ball for play, but it can work as a trainer for sure.
- Looks nearly identical to a real NBA basketball
- Built specifically for outdoor use
- Extremely durable
- Feels a little rough to the touch
- Collecting dirt somewhat easily
2. Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball
A lot of people look at the Zi/O Basketball as one of the best overall for any type of play. It is technically for indoor and outdoor use, but most people will pick one or the other before they make the purchase. Switching back-and-forth can make it not perform as well on either surface, so keep that in mind.
The cover is very durable, and it has the right amount of tack that works well outdoors. It looks a lot like a regular NBA ball, and it holds air extremely well. A lot of shooters like this ball in particular, as it has a good weight to it while sticking to the fingers just the right way.
- Composite cover works on outdoor and indoor courts
- Excellent tack
- Ships inflated
- Works for either surface, but tough to transition back-and-forth
- Wears out somewhat easily
3. Spalding NBA Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball
All it takes is one look at this ball to notice that it is different. It comes in a blacked-out look with different colors for the print, and it looks like it is made for the streets. The sponge rubber is excellent for consistent play on any surface outdoors, and it is not going to show dirt like some of the other balls either.
The feel is something that players need to get a little used to with the ball, as it is not going to be as soft and buttery as some indoor options. It actually gets better as it goes through use, which is perfect for people who are trying to get consistent workouts in.
All in all, the Street Phantom is definitely one worth checking out at an excellent price point. They are only sold in size 7, which is the official size of an NBA basketball. It is a bit disappointing for younger fans wanting the look. However, prices can fluctuate quite a bit to fit nearly any budget.
- Soft grip for and all outdoor ball
- Blacked out look
- Strong durability
- Can perform very well on all indoor courts
- Only available in size 7
4. Spalding NBA Varsity Neon Outdoor Basketball
The final ball to make a list from Spalding is this unique multicolor option. It is a perfect solution for people who want to have a ball that looks a little different than the others out there. Instead of getting the same old look, there are a few options that add color to the mix.
Performance-wise, this is going to be pretty similar to all the other Spalding outdoor balls. It uses the same type of material, and the color does not change the texture too much. It is all a matter of getting a different color, and maybe paying a bit of a premium for that.
Paint holds up pretty well after heavy use outdoors, but it will eventually start to fade away. People who are worried about the aesthetics of a ball might keep that in consideration when making a final decision.
- Very cheap
- Performs like all of the other outdoor options
- Color fades a little too quickly for some
- Color choices can be a little too loud
5. Wilson NCAA Replica Outdoor Basketball
Go to any local park, and the most common basketball there is Wilson. Players use this ball all around the United States, and the world for that matter. It is the official sponsor of the NCAA, and this ball is designed to work outdoors.
Even though it is an outdoor ball, this is about as close as a person can get to an indoor type of feel. The composite leather is very solid, and it holds up pretty well after extended use. It also absorbs moisture very well, making sure that people do not lose grip of the ball during those really hot games.
Overall, this may be the best ball for actual gameplay. Try to save it for play only, so that it does not wear out as quickly as it might under heavy use.
- Very soft touch
- Easy to grip even during sweaty games
- Popular pick for outdoor game use
- Not the most durable
- A little on the expensive side
6. Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball
If the one above is all about looking and feeling like the official option from Wilson, this is a more fun basketball that is priced affordably and extremely durable. The Killer Crossover is a very consistent ball that is made up of sponge rubber on the outside. It can work on many different surfaces, but it really excels outside.
This ball does a remarkable job of staying dry and usable at all times. Outdoor courts can sometimes get wet, and once the ball starts to collect moisture, it is as good as done. This does not seem to be the case with this ball, as players can certainly try out different versions.
The 16 channel construction is nice for those who are shooters by nature. There is something to be said for having quick and easy access to grip when shooting the basketball, and this one makes a huge impact for sure. All in all, those wanting to save some money and have a slightly different design can give this ball a try.
- Durable rubber
- Different color choices
- Improved grip
- Feels a little heavy in the beginning
- Air pressure drops somewhat quickly
7. Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
There are a lot of people, especially international basketball fans, who love counting on Molten to provide a valuable basketball. This looks a lot like the same ball used in FIBA competition, and it can hold up on indoor or outdoor courts.
It is a little different than the NBA versions from Spalding, or even the NCAA versions from Wilson. There are additional channels that help some people get the right feel for shooting, and the grip, in general, is slightly different as well. A traditionalist might be thrown off by how the ball looks at first, but once they start to use it, they realize that it is one of the best of the best for outdoor use.
About the only complaint is that the ball seems to smooth out a little quicker than some of the other options. It is a sacrifice some people have to make to have that superior feel to the ball in the beginning. There is a one-year warranty if something goes wrong, so a person is not exactly out of luck if they end up wearing it out quickly.
- Increased number of channels for easier grip
- Wears out a little quickly
- Feels different in hand than more traditional balls in the United States
8. Nike Versa Tack
Getting great grip on a basketball can be difficult when playing outdoors. The warm weather can make any ball very slick, which is why grip might make more sense outdoors than indoors. No one will have problems with their grip when using the Nike Versa Tack, a basketball built for handling sweat and moisture.
It has a unique pebble surface with a soft rubber that just feels different from the very beginning. Most people are very happy with the feel of the basketball out of the box, but it shines when it starts to get a little wet. Instead of becoming slippery, it becomes easier to grab a lot of people.
The unique combination of rubber, nylon, and synthetic leather is what gives it the tack. It will last for a long time on indoor or outdoor courts, so do not be afraid to go out there and play with it consistently.
- Outstanding tack
- Extremely durable
- Unique feel when shooting
- Looks different than a standard basketball
- Can become dirty quickly
9. Chance Premium Rubber Outdoor Basketball
The final basketball to make this list is a bit different than the rest. Unlike every other company featured on this review, Chance is a relative newcomer to the game. They have thought outside the box with their design, and they have received some positive reviews for their high-quality options.
The color choices will be the first thing that stands out, as Chance takes a lot of opportunity to give people something different. They do not look like other basketballs at all, which can be a turn off for some. Younger players seem to love the opportunity to you something a little different.
Another somewhat shocking thing is that they are fairly expensive for a new brand. They justify the cost because they offer a basketball made of premium material that will last a long time. For outdoor use, it will live up to expectations, and people will have a basketball that will last for a while.
It is worth giving it a try if a person wants something different. It is definitely going to catch attention, but at the end of the day, it performs much like all of the top choices.
- Many different color choices
- A unique opportunity to try a different ball
- Premium rubber used increases the lifespan
- Not everyone will be a fan of the crazy colors
- Tough to find anywhere but online
Making The Final Decision
While all the basketballs mentioned above are great options, there are 2 that stands out from the rest. If you are on a budget, I would suggest going with the Spalding NBA Street Phantom, I have never played with a better performing basketball at a similar price point. It’s also conveniently available on Amazon, You can check the current price here.
If you aren’t on a budget and is looking for one of the best performing outdoor basketball available right now, I would go with the Molten X-Series basketball. It’s a little different to the NBA versions from Spalding, but once you’ve starting to get used to the ball, you will realize that it’s one of the very best outdoor basketballs on the market. The prices fluctuates quite a lot, but, you can check the current price on Amazon here.
Here is the full list of the best outdoor basketballs
- Spalding NBA Outdoor Basketball
- Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball
- Spalding NBA Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball (Best Budget Option)
- Spalding NBA varsity multicolor outdoor basketball
- Wilson NCAA Replica Outdoor Basketball
- Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball
- Molten X-Series Outdoor Basketball (Best Overall)
- Nike Versa Tack
- Chance premium rubber outdoor/indoor basketball