To become skilled at the game of basketball, a commitment of your time and energy is needed. We’ve all heard the saying practice makes perfect – and this is particularly true for competitive team sports. Some of us are blessed with basketball court in the neighborhood or a local gym within running distance that allows you to play as many hoops as you’d like, but others don’t have those opportunities. This is when it might be necessary to invest in a portable basketball hoop. Not only do these provide you with the same benefits as a regular basketball hoop that is cemented into the ground or something you’d install above your garage, but they are advantageous because when they aren’t in use you can easily store them away. Portability is one of the defining features of these hoops, and is a highly desired characteristic for many homeowners or those with kids who enjoy playing basketball. Going mobile with your basketball court eliminates any unnecessary digging of holes that need to be filled with cement.
Portable basketball goals became popular somewhere in the early to mid 1990s for many reasons. Portable basketball hoops are advantageous in many ways over their in-ground hoop counterparts. For one, their ability to save space allows them to be positioned in tight spaces where you otherwise would not be able to install a more permanent solution. Additionally, many of the best basketball hoops have wheels or some other mechanical technology that allows for easy transportation from one place to another. Just a two-person game? – the driveway may be all the space you need. Starting your own neighborhood playoffs? – roll the hoop over to the cul-de-sac for more basketball fun and store it away when the game is over.
The portable goals were once believed to be lacking in stability and durability, yet advancements by manufacturers have helped bring about positive reviews that have squashed these claims. The best portable basketball hoops should be just as stable as an in-ground solution, yet should also allow for easy movement of the hoop when needed. Not only is this nice to be able to do around the house, but if you ever change homes you can take your hoop right along with you as if it were a piece of furniture.
Some cities and homeowner’s associations may make a fuss about the installation of a permanent basketball hoop in the ground or on your house, often requiring permits or written permission. Not only in this process inconvenient, but you can potentially be rejected. A portable hoop is a convenient alternative and will circumvent any of these problems as they can be moved easily and you will not be installing a permanent structure on your driveway or in front of the pavement. Most portable basketball hoops are relatively easy to set up for most users and you should be ready to play within a couple hours at most. Going mobile with your basketball game eliminates any unnecessary digging of holes that need to be filled with cement, which you then must wait to dry. Simply unpack, read the instructions, and you’re well on your way to dribbling and alleyoops.
Finding the best portable basketball hoop for the money can be difficult considering all the products out there. Not every hoop is equal, and they vary in many ways including the materials they are made from, heights adjustments, hoop diameter, and even how portable they really actually are. No need to spend hours researching – you’ve stumbled across the complete guide for the best portable basketball hoops. We explain the ins and outs of whats good and whats not, what to look for in a hoop, and then continue to review some of the best portable adjustable basketball hoops on the market.
Best Portable Basketball Hoop Complete Guide
Portable basketball goals come in many different sizes ranging from 42-inches to 60-inches or greater. For any residential basketball hoop, whether it be meant for the driveway or pulled on to the street, anything around 52-inches is usually sufficient (though if you can find something larger for a decent price, do it). While the size of the backboard is important to consider, you probably won’t notice much of a difference during the game with a 48-inch versus a 54-inch backboard – just don’t go too small.
Backboard performance can be enhanced with the proper use of bracing techniques and supplies. Braces are often made of high-density plastics or more commonly metal pieces, and are used to connect to several portions of the backboard, or may lineup directly parallel to the backboard itself to provide for additional support.
Equally if not more important than backboard size is the material that it is composed of. Not all materials are the same, and differ in strength, durability, and how much bounce they give.
Polycarbonate: While being highly durable, polycarbonate can be found on mostly inexpensive and lower-quality basketball hoops. We recommend portable hoops that utilize a polycarbonate backboard to novices or families with children who plan to play basketball recreationally. While it has the one advantage of being highly resistant to damage and even breakage if the hoop is accidentally tipped over, it does have its disadvantages. Its main issue is the lack of give when a basketball hits it – the rebound of a basketball is significantly different from what you might expect for a hoop found on a normal court. Many people describe it as a “dead” rebound because it just isn’t quite the same feel. This isn’t the worst thing to have if you’re just planning to shoot some hoops, but playing competitively with this material is unlikely to be enjoyable.
Acrylic: This material is a step up from the polycarbonate backboard and a decent alternative to the more expensive tempered glass counterparts. While acrylic happens to be less durable than polycarbonate, it makes up for it in performance – particularly how the ball bounces off of it. Acrylic should be cared for as if it were glass; tipping the hoop over and slamming it into the ground may damage or completely break it. If your kids are into rough and tumble play, or live in an area that is susceptible to high winds or severe weather, then polycarbonate is probably a better idea. Even so, these are portable basketball hoops, and so you should have no issues storing them away if circumstances require.
Tempered Glass: This is found with the premium backboards that come with top-rated portable basketball hoops and what you’ll find in the NBA and NCAA. This is the material used on pretty much any goal that is used competitively, and for good reason. The rebound performance of tempered glass is superior to that of acrylic or polycarbonate. Tempered glass is the real deal and can only be found on the highest-rated portable hoops (also some of the most expensive). Tempered glass is less able to withstand mistreatment or abuse – if you tip your hoop over with a tempered glass backboard, you’ll likely find it breaks or completely shatters. If you’re willing to spend as much money as it costs to buy a hoop with a tempered glass backboard, you should be more than willing to protect your investment and ensure tipping or foul play does not occur.
Pretty much any decent portable basketball system should include adjustable height increments, allowing for easy changes to the hoop’s height depending on who might be playing at the time. Small children probably don’t want to be playing with a hoop that is so high they can’t even touch the net, just as adults don’t want every player doing slam dunks like Michael Jordan during a game (in most cases, sometimes it can be fun!). Try to find a hoop with an adjustable range of somewhere around 7-10 feet (if you have especially small children, something that can be made to go lower may be ideal). Not only is the ability to adjust height important, but you also need to consider the mechanism that is employed to make the adjustments. Frequent adjustments demand equipment that is easily adjustable and doesn’t take too much effort to accomplish. For the most part, 5 different height adjustment mechanisms can be found across the board. If a telescoping pole is utilized, the adjustment can be made with manual movement of two poles (these are frequently found on some of the cheapest basketball hoops). Similarly, the broomstick adjustment is also found on the inexpensive goals, and requires the user to raise a stick to push the hoop to a desired height, which is then followed by locking in place with a ratchet found on the backboard itself. This is a tiresome and sometimes difficult task – might feel like a workout in and of itself (possibly even impossible for small children). The trigger handle is a more advanced alternative, and functions just as it sounds – unlock the trigger, adjust the room to desired height, and release. Quick and easily done. Pneumatic adjustment is a higher-end version of the trigger handle system, using pressure to adjust the height. Crank handles are considered by many to be the gold standard when it comes to height adjustment methods. While there may be a slight learning curve when trying to assemble, they are known for their ease of use, longevity and ability to withstand wear-and-tear like no other.
The rim is attached to the backboard and what holds the net in place. Not all rims are the same. You can find 3 main types of rims for modern basketball hoops, each with advantages and disadvantages.
The standard rim is one of the lowest quality and cheapest types or rims you can find. The standard type of rim has no compression springs, potentially making it more likely to be broken or warped from dunking, hanging on it, or simply after extensive use (each time the basketball bounces on it). While longevity can be an issue with the standard rim, performance is generally better compared to a rim with a single cheap compression spring. If you are not likely to dunk or to hang on the rim, a standard rim (no springs) may be sufficient.
Compression Breakaway (without cover)
A step up from the standard rim in durability (and usually price) is the compression breakaway rim, which features an exposed compression spring that is better able to withstand dunking without causing damage. “Slam” dunks and those with excessive force or body weight may still cause damage. Rim hanging is also not recommended, thought it can probably take it better than a standard rim could. Some complain that this type of compression system results in a bouncier feel when the ball makes contact. Rust is also a concern as the compression springs are exposed to the environment and without proper care, the rim’s performance (and the protection that the spring provides) may be diminished over time.
Pro-Style Compression Breakaway (covered)
The best quality portable hoops utilize a pro-style compression breakaway system, which includes a rim with springs protected from the environment by a special box that is directly connected to the backboard. Covered compression springs usually come at a higher cost, not only because of improved durability and performance, but because they are generally paired with other higher-quality parts. Dunk training is a non-issue with this type of rim, and is less susceptible to damage from rim hanging (though we always recommend avoiding hanging from the rim no matter what kind it is). Bounce is often significantly less troublesome with a pro-style compression breakaway system.
The base is part that is often overlooked in the hoop comparison process. The size of the base compartment, as well as the its holding capacity (typically measured in gallons) is where differences reside. The base is one of the most important components, as it is responsible for anchoring your basketball hoop, and should prevent wobbling and tipping. Budget-friendly portable basketball goals are usually around 27-30 gallons. Under ideal circumstances, this is sufficient. High winds, heavy dunking or rim hanging may result in tipping of the hoop so these should both probably be avoided. Mid-range portable basketball goals have bases that generally fall somewhere in between 33 and 40 gallons of holding capacity (water or sand). A base of this size is usually on more expensive products, and is better able to provide stability and prevent tipping. Some of the highest rated portable basketball goals have bases that can be filled with 47 or more gallons. This sized base is superior with performance in almost every way (keep in mind, the heavier the base, the more effort it usually takes to move the hoop around).
If maximum portability is a concern, be sure to buy a hoop with wheels attached to the base. Transporting a hoop without wheels is possible, though as you probably could understand, it is much easier to lean and roll than it is to drag. Another less commonly though of feature to look for is a protective plate attached to the front of the base. Many injuries can be prevented with this simple addition to your hoop (if it doesn’t come with it out of the box, buy one – you can find them pretty cheap). Cold weather should be considered when setting up your hoop. If you live in an area prone to snowy weather, add some anti-freeze to the water in the base to prevent freezing (remember water expands and this can irreparable damage to the base).
Support Pole System
Having a top-quality support pole system on the basketball hoop, in addition to an adequate base compartment holding capacity, is essential to keeping the whole product stable in a variety of game play and environmental situations. What you’ll generally find is one of three different support pole designs (1-piece, 2-piece, 3-piece). The one-piece support pole system is unlikely to be found on a portable basketball system and is usually seen on the best in-ground basketball hoop solutions. The two-piece support pole framework can be found on mid to high-end portable basketball hoops (they are substantially better when it comes to overall support and stability than a three-piece design). Three-piece support poles are usually seen on the low to mid-range portable hoops. The three-piece framework leaves more room for movement and shaking, and therefore stability and sturdiness may be affected negatively depending on the situation. This is just a general rule, as we’ve seen three-piece support pole systems that did just as well as their two-piece counterparts. We’ve also seen some three-piece support pole systems that resulted in enough shaking to warrant second-guessing as to whether or not it was set up properly.
Best Portable Basketball Hoops Reviews
1. Spalding NBA “The Beast” Review
Spalding’s NBA “The Beast” is the Mazerati when it comes to portable basketball hoops. Designed with a 5-inch square-shaped angled support pole system, and a 60-inch tempered glass backboard, its no wonder that we love this basketball system. The Beast has all the qualities you need if you’re looking for the top of the line hoop. The backboard can be easily adjusted with a crank handle (screw jack) in increments ranging from 7½ to 10 feet.
The base compartment has a capacity of around 50 gallons (for sand or water), and is responsible for the extreme degree of stability and sturdiness that this basketball hoop is famous for. If the pro-image is what you seek in a hoop, then this is the one for you. Two front wheels are attached to the base for easy movement.
The rim is eighteen inches in diameter and consists of welded steel net hooks along with a durable net with longevity for keeps. There is no excessive bounce on the rim – in fact it is comparable to what you’d find on any commercial grade basketball hoop designed for competition. The premium glass material that the backboard is made of allows for excellent rebound and is what you’d expect to find in something at this price range. Assembly may be a bit of a challenge for those who have difficulty with building things, as these are all well-made, high-quality products. The crank handle has a bit of a learning curve to set up, but once it is installed allows for seamless transitions from one height to the next.
If you’re looking for the biggest and baddest of the portable bunch, the Spalding NBA “The Beast” is the best for your money. Not only is this one of the most stable we’ve seen, due to the 50 gallon base and the premium support pole system, but is also one of the easiest to transport thanks to the easy movement that the wheels allow. The 60-inch tempered glass backboard introduces realistic rebound to a whole new level. While this basketball system may be more than some of you can handle, if you’re serious about the sport and have the money to invest, The Beast is the best you’ll find in this buyer’s guide.
2. Lifetime 90061 Review
Lifetime takes portability, quality design, and a shatterproof steel-framed polycarbonate backboard, and combines them into 90061, one of the best budget-friendly, portable hoops for home use under $400. The backboard is protected from UV rays and it is therefore resistant to fading and other damage from the sun. The finish is rust resistant and the net is made of a durable nylon fabric. The height of the 52-inch backboard can be adjusted in increments of 6-inches, within a 7½ to 10 foot range. The 35-gallon base capacity can be filled with water or sand, and is sufficient for dunks and just about any normal game play use. Without cutting into quality, Lifetime was able to pack many must-have features into this basketball system at a reasonable price. The pole support has a 3.5 inch diameter and the “Slam-it Rim” is – you could have guessed – built for slam dunks. Portability is expected with this type of hoop, and the attached base rollers ensure easy transportation.
3. Lifetime 71286 XL Review
The Lifetime 71286 XL utilizes a shatterproof 52-inch Makrolon Polycarbonate backboard to give you the durability of polycarbonate, with the rebound performance of acrylic or tempered glass materials. Not only is the 71286 one of the nicest looking portable hoops we’ve seen, but is also some of the best value for the money. The backboard and the frame itself is UV and weather-resistant to ensure longevity and prevent rusting. The double compression spring of the Slam-it type rim provides a decent amount of bounce when the basketball makes contact with the rim, and also allows heavy dunking without fear of damage.
The pole is used to adjust the height, anywhere from 7½ to a maximum of 10 feet. The base has a capacity of 35 gallons to provide just the right balance between stability, rigidity, and portability. Like pretty much all bases, it can be filled with water or sand. Wheels on the base allow for easy movement from the street, to the driveway, or even to the backyard for storage when the need arises.
4. Spalding NBA 68454 Review
The Spalding 68454 utilizes a quarter inch of tempered glass to construct the 54-inch backboard. At this size, the Spalding 68454 is one of the best portable basketball hoops for driveways. Tempered glass is highly desired for those looking for the most realistic type of rebound and is not worried about susceptibility to damage. The Arena Slam breakaway rim has some give and is properly anchored with a 4-strut mount to the backboard and the compression springs ensure heavy dunking is not going to cause damage. The base has a 40 gallon capacity that is compatible with both sand or water, and doesn’t lie directly underneath the hoop so rebound scatter is not an issue. In fact, there is a 2 foot overhang, so you should be more than comfortable playing under the hoop without slamming into the pole. The screw jack height adjustment system allows for easy movement from 7½ to 10 foot elevation (with pretty much an infinite number of levels – some hoops are limited to 6-inch increments, but not the Spalding 68454). The three-piece 4-inch pole support system is one of the most rigid, and well-designed we have encountered. The pole itself is square instead of round, which is advantageous because it helps reduce vibration and is able to accommodate a heavier backboard.
5. Spalding NBA Hercules Review
The 54-inch NBA Hercules by Spalding is next up on our list, and happens to be a bargain for all you get. The base consists of a 37-gallon ballast to fill up with water (those extra 2 gallons from the typical 35-gallon capacity surprisingly make a noticeable difference in sturdiness). The backboard is made from an acrylic material that may lose a few points as far as durability goes, but makes up for it in performance and how the ball bounces off. Rebound quality is essential if you plan to do anything but shoot hoops solo, as it can severely negatively affect game play for anyone used to normal rebound bounce. The three-piece steel pole support system is 3½ inches thick and when set up properly comes in at an angle of 20°. Built into the base is a rebound contraption (a highly desirable feature), so when the ball falls below the hoop it is less likely to shoot off in a random direction. Two wheels are also included and allow for easy movement of the basketball system.
6. Lifetime 1558 Review
At the time of writing, the Lifetime 1558 is probably the best portable basketball hoop under $300. The1558 is built with durability, convenience, and portability in mind. The Makrolon polycarbonate shatter proof backboard gives you the durability of polycarbonate, with a similar rebound performance to tempered glass or normal acrylic. At 52-inches, you can move this hoop to pretty much any convenient location. With one hand with the telescoping pole (Action Grip Height Adjustment), you can change the height from 7½ to 10 feet (6 inch increments). The steel frame is 3.5 inches thick and paired with the double compression springs is durable enough for just about any type of dunk; powder coating is also included to prevent rust and weather damage. The base has a capacity of 35 gallons, and it can be filled with sand or water (if you have difficulty transporting it, we recommend emptying out half the water and then filling it back up when at the desired location).
7. Spalding 68395W Review
The Spalding 68395W is equipped with a 54-inch polycarbonate backboard, a 4-inch square-shaped pole frame, and allows for infinite adjustment (not limited in increments) from 7½ to 10 foot height. The crank handle mechanism (Screw Jack Lift System) is easy to use and built to last (seems to last much longer and is more precise than the gas assisted mechanisms). The 40-gallon base can be filled with water or sand (we always like to use water because it can be easily emptied and refilled later for faster transportation). The square shaped pole beats out its round counterparts when it comes to vibration reduction and enhanced rigidity. At 54-inches, this basketball goal is suitable for one or two-car driveways (large enough though to shoot bank shots). While 60 inches is probably better for this, 54-inches is the next best. Most hoops within this price range forgo the inclusion of pole protection – not the Spalding 68395W. Pole padding is included and prevents accidental injury if accidentally making contact with the pole.
8. Lifetime 71566 XL Review
Considered entry-level, this portable basketball hoop is equipped with a 50-inch polycarbonate backboard (highly durable and resistant to shatter). With the use of the handle, height adjustments can be made in ranges from 7½ to 10 feet. The pole support system is 3.5 inches in diameter and is composed of 3 separate sections. The base has a capacity to hold 35 gallons of sand or water, and is suitable for dunking and to prevent from toppling over in high wind conditions. Even though a spring rim is meant to allow some dunking, hanging on it can still cause issues and so that should be avoided. The Lifetime 71566 is comparable to many entry-level portable hoop systems, and is suitable for children and adults. If you want a portable hoop for the family that is reasonably priced, the 71566 XL is a decent choice.
9. Lifetime 51544 Review
The Lifetime 51544 is equipped with a 50-inch steel-framed shatter proof Makrolon polycarbonate backboard. The Slam-it Rim has a diameter of 18 inches and is suitable for dunking and rough play. The HDPE base is heavy duty with a 34-gallon capacity and does a decent job preventing movement or wobbling. No tools are needed for adjustment (with the Speed Shift Easy One-Hand technology) in heights of 8-10 feet (6-inch increments). At 50-inches, this basketball hoop is suitable for driveways. Competitive play may require a larger backboard. The three-piece powder coated pole system is covered with a pole pad, and is resistant to rust and other weather damage.
10. Lifetime 1221 Review
The Lifetime 1221 has one of the smallest backboards on this list (coming in at 44-inches), though its high-quality build, impressive functionality, and very low price force us to include it as it is hard to resist. Mostly anyone can think of a time when they would prefer something as highly portable as the Lifetime 1221. At first glance of the price, its easy to have doubt about its quality and overall construction. While it may not be professional-grade, this basketball system brings with it plenty of highly-sought features and happens to be one of the best portable basketball hoops under $200. The 44-inch backboard is made from a high-density polyethylene material that is highly resistant to shattering (though may be low quality as far as rebound realism goes). The telescoping post can be used to make height adjustments in 6-inch increment levels (from 7½ to 10 feet). Practice your jump shot or conduct your own backyard dunking drill with you friends and family. The Lifetime 1221 easily moves on its wheels and can fit just about anywhere. The Lifetime 1221 is designed for children, but novice adults can join in on the fun too. Assembly is relatively easy with two people, and very little maintenance is needed over extended use. The lifetime 1221 is directly aimed at the casual or recreational player, and while not ideal for competitive play, it can be accomplished with a little persistence and getting used to the 44-inch backboard.