After 17 hours of researching, speaking with basketball players and testing. We believe that the Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball, FIBA Approved – BGMX is the best among all we have picked. The basketball is made up top grain leather which is both comfortable for the hands and durable in years to come. We loved the signature Giugiaro 12 panel design that improves ball handling and gripping as well as the enhanced visibility which makes the ball more visible for players
Basketball has been part of our American life and it’s a sport many can’t live without.
Growing up with a family who is into basketball and as an occasional player, I’ve been attuned to some of the things about the sport. However, I have limited knowledge with the specifics of the game including one of its main components– the basketball. This product review is a welcome challenge to come up with the best outdoor basketball for you, which targets mainly recreational and semi-professional basketball players.
We know that choosing the right basketball is never gonna be easy as there are so many factors to consider such as price, type, material, indoor vs outdoor, grip-ability, handling, durability and many more! And if you are not savvy enough you could easily get overwhelmed and confused by the numerous choices on the market.
So today we have done the hard work for you and put together everything you need to know in getting the right basketball.
In this article, we will be covering the factors you should consider, and our top 5 picks & reviews.
So without further ado, let’s begin!
5 Best Outdoor Basketballs 2018
|Name of Basketball||Gripping Feature||Material||Size|
|Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball||Deep channel design||Composite||Official (7)|
|Wilson NCAA Wave Microfiber Composite Basketball||Recessed ridges||Composite||Official (7)|
|Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball, FIBA Approved - BGMX||Giugiaro signature 12 panel||Composite||Official (7)|
|Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball||UA Gripskin||Rubber||Official (7)|
|Mikasa BX1000 Premium Rubber Basketball||Deep-pebble design||Rubber||Official (7)|
What To Consider When Choosing Basketballs
How is an outdoor basketball differs from indoor basketball?
Before getting into our product review, let’s understand how an Outdoor Basketball is different from an Indoor Basketball.
Firstly, it lies in the material used for the outer covering of the basketball. Indoor basketball oftentimes uses a leather material to cover the surface of the ball. But, a drawback is that it can be slippery and weaken when bounced on a cemented floor.
Outdoor basketball usually is made with rubber because it is designed for rougher grounds. Thus, rubber is deemed more appropriate to be used as ball cover.
And according to Barbara Conn of Livestrong.com, an Indoor basketball has approximately 35, 000 pebbles on the surface as compared to Outdoor basketball which has lesser. Which is why it can feel rough than our usual indoor basketball.
Through our research we came across two types of material — composite and rubber. We learned that rubber material is traditionally used for outdoor games over the leather ones. It is not surprising that some of the products we’ve looked into are made from a rubber material. In fact, two of our top 5 are made from rubber.
There are also Outdoor Basketballs made from synthetic leather, which is known as a composite material. Basketballs having this material can still be played outdoors since it is not actual leather.
Basketball size depends on the age and gender of the players. It is often sized as junior, intermediate and official size, which are size 5, 6, or 7, respectively. However, there are sizes that are smaller that are often used by kids.
The junior size (Size 5) has more or less 27.5” circumference, which is geared for children aging 8 to early teens.
Intermediate size (Size 6) have a circumference of 28.5” more or less. This basketball size is commonly used as the official basketball size for women’s basketball games. But, it can also be used for middle and high school children.
The official size (Size 7) measures about 29.5” in circumference. This size is used in men’s basketball like the NBA.
Ultimately, for home or personal use, you are not restrained from using whatever basketball size you are comfortable with.
The material and size of the ball may affect your grip on the basketball. What we want to emphasize is the design of the ball that can improve or decrease gripping that are specific or exclusive to the product.
Some of the features that we found from the review are pebbling and channel or panel designs. Each product, especially from our top five, has various design to help with your grip. You might also need to consider looking for characteristics when choosing your outdoor basketball.
Assessment and Evaluation
Initially, I did an offline research from family members, friends, and colleagues who play a lot of hoops. An interview was conducted on what they think are the best outdoor basketball as well as the considerations when looking for one. This activity has contributed to developing the buyer’s guide and the outdoor basketball selection.
We’ve also looked online and to see what other users say about the product. Coming across difficult terms, jargons or explanations, I looked them up to better understand the product. This is especially true for the specific features of the basketball.
Most of our research time was spent combing through sites looking for whatever basketballs we can find for this review. The result was overwhelming and a little bit confusing, especially when it comes to the features. Aside from the numerous brands, there are also many models and series in a single brand. This had us have a rough list of about 20 basketballs.
We lowered it down to our top five basketballs with the pre-determined criteria identified from researching about basketballs and the discussion we had with some of our friends and family. We used these criteria to rate the basketballs to trim the list down.
These criteria were further used to identify which will be our Editor’s Choice and Runner-ups.
Our Top Picks
1. Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball (First Runner-Up)
The first on the list is the official basketball brand of the NBA -Spalding.
The Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball comes in the official Size 7 that is suited for outdoor and indoor basketball.
With the development of composite materials, basketballs can now be suited for dual settings. The composite leather makes the basketball appropriate for both for indoor and outdoor hoops.
Spalding designed deep channels around the ball to help improve grip and handling. It can help with better control when dribbling and shooting. The foam backing can also help increase your control over the ball. One thing we’ve noted is that have is that this backing makes the ball bouncier.
Since it is in the official size, it can give you the ultimate feel of the ball used in actual games. It may be useful when you are practicing for a competition.
A concern we’ve discovered from this outdoor basketball is that it has poorly glued edges. While in use, some of the outer covers came off easily, which we think is not normal for basketballs. The issue may not be big. But, it can widen over time that can affect the overall feel of the ball.
What We Liked
- Deep channel design
- Foam backing
What We Didn’t Like
- Poorly glued edges
The second basketball we have on our list is the Wilson NCAA Wave Microfiber Composite Basketball.
It is another basketball that can be played both indoors and outdoors, which is made from composite material which is also suitable for outdoor.
It is made from composite leather, which at first use will not require a break-in for this basket. It can give enough grip and a good bounce on the first try. But, there are concerns that the ball deflates easily than the normal deflation process of the other basketballs on our list.
This outdoor basketball packs butyl and sponge rubber that aims for an exceptional overall feel of the ball. These materials are common among the basketballs. This ball, however, feels harder than what we usually feel from other basketballs.
Aside from the composite material, its pebbled surface further helps in ensuring that players have a good hold of the basketball. The additional design feature meant for fine gripping is the “recessed ridges.” These ridges are etched into the carcass layer that gives the better handling over the ball.
These ridges further provide for a design that gives good comfort for the hands. We’ve observed that this can ultimately help with dribbling and shooting activities. We find the ridges an ergonomic design aside from aesthetic quality.
One of the benefits that we came to love about this basketball is that minimal dirt it can accumulate. These particles can cause the ball to become slippery which will affect your handling.
What We Liked
- Recessed ridges
- Pebbled composite leather
What We Didn’t Like
- Feels hard
- Seems to deflate easily
3. Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball, FIBA Approved – BGMX (Editor’s Choice)
For our third basketball we have the Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball, FIBA Approved – BGMX.
This is one of those basketballs that can played in an indoor or outdoor setting.
If the Spalding brand is the official basketball for the NBA, Molten is the official ball for the Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball Amateur (FIBA).
The X-Series is a set of basketballs with improved features.
Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball, FIBA Approved – BGMX is equipped with a Giugiaro signature 12 panels. Giugiaro Design is one of the leading design providers. They created both a creative and function basketball design since the panels can give players more ball contact and control.
We think that this basketball could have a better grip feature if the panels are carved deeper into the ball. It looks like the ridges or panel lines are not as deep as other outdoor basketballs in the list.
Molten redesigned their basketball in this X-Series with an aligned or uniform pebbling pattern. It provides the player an added contact with the ball. This is an essential feature to help ensure that regardless of position, it can improve shooting accuracy.
A trivial, but a useful added feature of this outdoor basketball is the sharpening of the color contrast of the basketball. For some players, this can help with ball visibility, which can ultimately help with your performance.
On initial use, the ball seems to be deflated but you can put more air to resolve the issue.
Also, its butyl bladder can help in retaining the air of the ball.
What We Liked
- Giugiaro signature 12 panel
- Uniform pebbling pattern
What We Didn’t Like
- Not so deep ridges
4. Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball (Second Runner-Up)
Our fourth basketball is made by a relatively newer brand than others on this review. The company, Under Armour started with performance apparel and eventually expanded to other sports goods as the Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball with exclusive UA Gripskin composite material, deep design, and nylon windings.
This official sized-basketball (Size 7) is offering a UA Gripskin material composite material. The material gives the player an extra grip over the ball. Therefore, as a player, you can have more control and improved accuracy during ball handling.
Size 7 basketballs may be good to help you familiarize with the feel of the ball if you are into men’s basketball. But, if you are competing in a different league or game, you might want to get another size of this ball.
To afford more gripping, the ball is designed with deeply imprinted channels for hand alignment when shooting the ball. This outdoor basketball also has a full pebbling design, which keeps the ball rough.
The feature that we like about the basketball is it’s nylon windings to help keep the proper ball shape. It may be too early to say that the ball retains its original shape. But, so far, the ball has a good feel in terms of its shape.
The weight of the basketball. It feels a little heavier than the other basketballs we’ve reviewed.
The ball packs a butyl bladder to ensure that it holds air. However, the basketball seems that it cannot retain air compared to other baskets in the review.
What We Liked
- UA Gripskin
- Deep channels
What We Didn’t Like
- Feels heavy
- Seems to deflate fast
An outdoor basketball made from rubber, the Mikasa BX1000 Premium Rubber Basketball completes our top 5.
It is specifically designed for outdoor ball play with its premium covers. Although it is made for the outdoor, the cover seems soft to the touch, but not slippery.
As to its gripping feature or mechanism, Mikasa designed it basketball with a deep-pebble design. It can be useful for a comfortable hold of the ball. This is another engineering process that can help in improving the skills when it comes to ball handling and control.
Like other products on review, this ball is an official size that suits to a specific competition or type of player. But, this BX1000 series is specifically made for the youth or for Varsity play. It can be advantageous if you prefer or need such size, this sizing may be suited for you. But, if you need or want a different size, there may also be sellers of different sizes.
Aside from the rubber material, it is equipped with nylon windings. This component of the basketball can contribute to the ball’s durability. From among the balls on review, the Mikasa has one of the good or consistent bounce features.
Similar to the Under Armour 495l, Wilson NCAA Wave and the Molten X-Series- BGMX, this basketball has butyl bladder to decrease deflation. But, there are reports that will tell that after several of the ball, it shows a decrease in the air. This can be inconvenient for the users and can affect the playing experience.
What We Liked
- Deep-pebble design
- Nylon windings
- Cover feels soft
What We Didn’t Like
- Decreased air overtime
Editor’s Pick: Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball, FIBA Approved – BGMX
From among the five outdoor basketballs we’ve examined, this indoor/outdoor basketball is our top pick.
This official sized-outdoor basketball is the official ball used by the FIBA. It is equipped with the signature design exclusive to the series, the Giugiaro signature 12 panels. This feature can help in boosting ball handling as well as control.
The aligned pebbling mechanism further adds gripping and control to the ball. Thus, it can also improve your playing experience.
This outdoor basketball is developed both with aesthetics and functionality. Molten X-Series has a sharpened color to improve ball visibility and give a good design.
A barter you will have for this outdoor basketball is the shallow panel lines.
Following Molten X-Series, as first runner-up is the Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball. It is another outdoor basketball that is used as the official ball in a competition, specifically the NBA.
We’ve chosen this outdoor basketball because of its exceptional features. It has deep channels for gripping, shooting and ball more ball control. As to its bounce, Spalding designed the ball with foam backing for excellent bounce. It was not chosen as the Editor’s Choice because of its overall packaging that we think can affect performance and durability
Our second runner-up is the Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball. Although fairly new in the basketball market than other balls, it has shown good performance. It also has an exclusive gripping feature– the UA Gripskin and deep channels of the ridges. These features contribute to grip and control.
The basketball’s nylon windings keep the ball in shape and feel. The ball also seems a little heavy at initial use and may deflate fast. You might need to maintain it well.