Basketball is one of the few sports where the only equipment a player needs is a pair of attested shoes. Allowing you to jump higher, run faster, and reach peak performance, the right basketball shoes are vital components to a good game. On top of that, if cushioned correctly, they can help prevent a host of foot and ankle injuries, allowing you to play ball for years and years to come.
For as long as we can remember, manufacturers have capitalized on the tremendous popularity of the sport by devising hundreds, if not thousands, of basketball footwear that differ in terms of design, style, cushioning, price, and so forth. Having that in mind, it’s not that difficult to see why choosing the right pair of basketball shoes can be quite overwhelming for a lot of people.
For us, well-wishers of all that is vegan-friendly, the selection process is much more challenging considering how the majority of basketball shoes feature non-vegan materials such as suede or leather. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’re going to shed light on some of the best vegan basketball shoes on the market today, so you might want to stick around.
At a Glance
- Nike LeBron 17
- Adidas EQT ADV
- Nike Zoom KD 12
- Adidas Harden Vol. 3
- Nike Kyrie 5
- AND 1 Attack
- New Balance FuelCore Nergize
- PEAK Streetball Master
The 8 Best Vegan Basketball Shoes of 2021
Finding a pair of quality, non-vegan basketball shoes is already a daunting feat, let alone finding a pair that’s vegan-friendly. We understand your struggle, which is why we’ve done our research and compiled a list of the best vegan basketball shoes on the market today. Time to jump ball!
1. Nike LeBron 17
The LeBron 17s, as the name implies, is designed specifically for the great LeBron James, so as you can probably tell, these are shoes that are intended for larger, heavier players. The shoe is understandably expensive due to the name association, but they’re well-equipped to ensure peak performance and continuous responsiveness with the aid of maximum volume Zoom Air units.
Beneath the Zoom Air units is a foam pod that counts as an added layer of cushioning in the heel for ideal comfort. Further, there’s a plastic clip that wraps around the heel in order to stabilize it. We love how protective the cushioning system is, but we’re not really happy with the lack of traction in these shoes. Nevertheless, the shoe is excellent for solid bouncing and impact protection.
2. Adidas EQT ADV
Most basketball shoes nowadays embrace modern aesthetics, with very few models rocking the retro design of days gone by. While the EQT ADV isn’t advertised as vegan-friendly, the product description doesn’t indicate any use of leather or suede. Instead, it states that the pair is made from polyurethane, synthetic suede, and knit materials, so it’s safe to assume that it’s vegan.
The shoe features a molded EVA midsole and an extremely durable rubber outsole, which offers excellent traction. And even though the shoe’s design is 90s-inspired, it displays a great deal of aesthetic appeal that enables you to pair it with your casual apparel without any problems.
However, keep in mind that this shoe needs regular clearing, as it’s featured only in the lightest of colors: white.
3. Nike Zoom KD 12
Well-roundedness is the name of the game with the Zoom KD 12 from Nike. Simply put, these shoes are nothing less than awesome in every department. We’d strongly recommend them for versatile players who want to do it all.
Nike’s upgraded Air Zoom cushioning is in full effect with this shoe, granting everything from ideal court feel and responsiveness to exceptional bounce.
The Nike Zoom KD 12, in our opinion, is impressive in every sense of the word, but there are players that aren’t fond of their performance in dusty courts. We’re not sure why, exactly, but our best guess is because they attract dust, since they sport a soft rubber outsole for flexibility.
With that out of the way, there are no other negatives worth noting. A great basketball shoe, overall.
4. Adidas Harden Vol. 3
The Harden Vol. 3s from Adidas are designed as a tribute to James Edward Harden Jr. They’re equipped with the true-and-tested herringbone traction pattern, which offers the player excellent stability and traction in any court and allows for directional changes on a whim.
Additionally, the shoe sports a low-to-the-ground cushioning system, ensuring high responsiveness and great court feel.
What we like the most about the Harden Vol. 3’s cushioning system is that it doesn’t undermine impact protection at all, despite being pretty low to the ground.
Since these shoes are designed to accommodate Harden’s style of playing, they’re equipped with added lockdown for enhanced control and side-to-side movement. Best of all, the shoe is available in a wide range of colors.
5. Nike Kyrie 5
The Kyrie 5 from Nike is another excellent pair of synthetic sneakers that offer great on-court movement for ultra-mobile players.
The Kyrie 5 isn’t as densely cushioned as some of the other options on our list, but then again, they’re intended to offer maximum flexibility and fluid on-court motion, so we’re willing to overlook the middling cushioning. It makes up for it in other aspects.
The shoe makes up for its lack of cushioning with exceptional lockdown that helps keep the foot planted in place. Not only that, but it offers aggressive traction that ensures outstanding stability in all types of basketball courts.
Besides, we like that the cushioning is aligned with the shoe’s curvature, as it adds to its aesthetics quite notably. We also love how lightweight this pair is.
6. AND 1 Attack
If you play basketball on a casual basis and you’re looking for a reliable pair of shoes that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, the AND 1 Attack is your best bet.
These basketball shoes are made entirely out of textile and synthetic materials, so they’re surely vegan-friendly. The Attack flaunts a low-top design, which means that you offer great mobility and flexibility with zero bulk.
Considering this is a low-top shoe, it doesn’t really provide much foot protection like its high-top counterparts, so it’s not suitable for larger players.
Luckily, the shoe sports a micromesh upper that has substrate chop-outs for ideal breathability. The nylon ghillie eyelets do a superb job of providing secure lockdown so that you’re able to maneuver with confidence. Great value for the price, to say the least!
7. New Balance FuelCore Nergize
The New Balance FuelCore Nergize is one of the best basketball shoes for women. It features a REVlite midsole that grants the player excellent responsiveness and lightweight cushioning.
You also get to experience the NB Memory Sole Comfort Insert, which is a plush insert that ensures great comfort with every step. In other words, this isn’t just a pair for basketball; it’s for all sorts of activities.
The FuelCore Nergize flaunts a bootie upper that adapts to your foot, providing a supportive and comfortably snug fit.
Moreover, the use of synthetic materials on this shoe provides it with a very light construction for swift and effortless footwork. Last but not least, these shoes are available in a broad range of color patterns to suit your personal preference so that you stay both comfortable and stylish.
8. PEAK Streetball Master
PEAK may not be as prominent of a brand as the above-mentioned competitors, but their shoes offer a great deal of value for the price, and they just look fabulous, aesthetically speaking.
The Streetball Master features seamlessly integrated weaving that ensures durability and comfort. It sports a thick and solid synthetic sole with a deep traction pattern for optimal stability.
Further, the shoe features a stabilization module that rolls on the lateral side of the forefoot, improving support and reducing the risk of spraining significantly. Besides, The rubber used to create the outsole is highly durable and water-resistant.
Even though the shoe is comparatively cheap, it provides an excellent deal of protection, stability, and traction, making them ideal for recreational players.
Selecting the Right Vegan Basketball Shoes
While the above-reviewed basketball shoes are of the highest quality, it doesn’t mean that every single one of them is well-suited for you. There are factors that you must take into consideration before making a buying decision, from shoe style and cushioning to traction and support. These factors will be explained in detail in the following sections to ensure a sound buying decision.
Before deciding on a pair of basketball shoes, you need to understand that there are three main styles of basketball shoes, namely high-top, low-top, and mid-top. High-tops were always the most popular because they offered incredible ankle protection, but they were the heaviest of the three. Nowadays, low-tops are the go-to shoes, as they’re lighter and much more flexible.
As you might have guessed, mid-top basketball shoes are right in the middle. They offer enough ankle protection while maintaining manageable weight and flexibility. Does that mean they’re the best of the three styles of shoes? Not necessarily. It all boils down to the player and their style. The following paragraphs shed light on what each of these shoe styles has to offer.
If you like to stay under the rim and you’re always on the lookout for rebounds, high-tops are an excellent choice for you, as they provide a great deal of stability and protection, enabling you to charge with complete confidence. They’re also well-cushioned to ensure maximum comfort. We wouldn’t recommend this style of basketball shoes for players who are light and ultra-mobile.
Contrary to high-top basketball shoes, low-tops are the ideal choice for players who are fast on their feet, as they feature remarkable mobility and flexibility. They’re usually made from stretchy, lightweight materials with no unnecessary bulk. If you’re on the heavier side, this style of shoes will compromise your playing, as it doesn’t provide as much protection as high-top.
As mentioned earlier, mid-top shoes are somewhere between high-tops and low-tops. You can say that they’re pretty well-rounded, but they don’t have a characterizing feature. They provide ample ankle protection, and they’re fairly flexible as well. If you’re a player that doesn’t need an enormous deal of flexibility or bulk, like a wing or forward, mid-top shoes are your best bet.
If this post was dedicated to pinpointing the best non-vegan basketball shoes, we wouldn’t have talked much about construction, but since we’re talking about vegan options, we’re required to speak about the materials used in the construction of basketball shoes. It’s important that you steer clear of shoes that utilize suede or leather in their build, as they’re not vegan.
You should stick to shoes that feature synthetic materials like synthetic suede and rubber. We’re actually very pleased to see big-name manufacturers like Adidas and Nike constantly innovating and bettering their use of synthetic materials and coming up with new high-tech textile materials that appeal to the vegan lifestyle and don’t compromise the player’s performance at all.
If you’re on the lighter end of the scale as far as weight, you may not be completely aware of the significance of proper cushioning because not a whole lot of pressure is put on your joints. If you weigh a great deal, however, the pressure that’s falling on your joints increases, especially when jumping, which entails wearing shoes that provide enough cushioning to protect your joints.
Cushioning technologies are pretty extensive nowadays, from Adidas Bounce to Nike Zoom Air to UnderArmour MicroG. The way these means of protection work is they distribute the force that’s created upon impact evenly across your foot so that the base is protected.
Cushioning units tend to be located in the mid-section of a shoe. It’s worth mentioning that most cushioning technologies are foam-based.
If you’re an ultra-mobile basketball player that champions responsiveness, you must steer clear of shoes that feature soft cushioning technologies like the Nike Zoom Air, as they tend to limit a player’s mobility quite notably. Since you move and jump a lot, your feet are subjected to more impact, which entails wearing shoes that flaunt a firm cushioning setup.
Basketball is a sport that involves swift footwork and speedy crossovers, which is why traction is an essential factor to take into consideration when in search of basketball shoes. Without proper traction, you’ll find yourself slipping all across the court. One peracute slip can result in a lifelong injury, preventing you from playing basketball ever again, so you must take this factor seriously.
There are two main constituents of traction that vary from one pair of shoes to the other, namely the pattern of traction and the outsole’s rubber compound. The herringbone pattern is by far the most popular traction pattern amongst basketball shoes. What’s a herringbone pattern? Well, it’s zig-zag lines of rubber that offer players traction in all directions and prevent the sticking of dust.
Now, the herringbone pattern isn’t the only traction pattern available for basketball shoes, but it’s the only one that’s tried and true. The problem with other traction patterns is that they’re devised merely for brands to stand out from the rest and be labeled as innovative. But why try to fix what isn’t broken? The herringbone pattern is guaranteed to work, so don’t bother with other ones.
When it comes to evaluating the rubber compound utilized for basketball shoes, things can get a little bit tricky, as it’s not that easy to distinguish good rubber from poor rubber. You want to keep in mind that hard rubber is ideal if you seek maximum durability, but it doesn’t really provide a lot of traction, whereas soft rubber is excellent in terms of traction, but it attracts a whole lot of dust.
So, which type of rubber should you pick? Well, basketball shoes aren’t the most budget-friendly type of footwear out there, and so you want to ensure maximum longevity by opting for the most durable type of rubber. If you champion aesthetics and you don’t mind spending hundred-dollar bills on basketball shoes every so often, you can opt for soft rubber, as it looks sleeker.
Back in the day, proper support was associated with high-top basketball shoes. This is no longer the case nowadays, thanks to the technological breakthroughs the industry is always making. In fact, most basketball players today are wearing low-tops to make use of their ideal flexibility and responsiveness. Nowadays, low-tops are equipped with features that ensure good support.
One of the most prominent support features is the outrigger. It’s a component that’s often found on the lateral side of a basketball shoe, serving as an outsole extension. It increases the base of the shoe, which, in turn, increases support without making the shoe look bulky. Another popular support feature is midfoot shanks, which help provide the player with great torsional support.
Heel counters are another supportive component that’s found in most modern basketball shoes. These elements help lock the player’s foot into the shoe so that it doesn’t move abnormally and result in an injury. We’re confident that more supportive features are on the way, but you should keep in mind that supportive features are secondary compared to selecting the proper fit.
Getting the proper fit is arguably the most important factor when it comes to choosing shoes for all sorts of activities, not only basketball. You want your shoes to offer a fit that will lock your feet in place, preventing them from moving all over the place. Preferably, you want to try your shoes in store so that you buy them with utter confidence that they’re suitable for your feet.
But since we live in a digital world where everything is done online, we recommend ordering your ideal shoe in two sizes since most shoes tend to run a bit smaller or bigger than their advertised size. Upon figuring out which of the two sizes fits you the most, you can simply return the other. Just make sure the brand’s return policy guarantees a full refund upon returning products.
You also want to keep in mind that most shoes require a break-in period. So, even if you buy a pair of shoes that is exactly your size, they might feel a little tight in the beginning. Don’t rush to return them right away. Give them some time to loosen up and adapt to your feet, and then they’ll become as comfortable as you’d like them to be. If not, simply return the shoes and size up.
We’re quite confident that one of the above-reviewed products will meet your needs and budget, and we’d love for you to share with us which one of these basketball shoes has appealed to you the most and why. If we were to pick a winner, we wouldn’t hesitate to go for the Nike Zoom KD 12 because we feel it’s the most well-rounded of the bunch, and it just looks fantastic.