The 5 Best Portable Basketball Hoops of 2018

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Updated: February 27, 2018

Basketball is, for many people today, what baseball used to be in generations past. It’s a perfect way to get exercise, enjoy some friendly competition and spend time with your friends. When I was in high school, my friends and I played every day during lunch, and I’d go to the park during the summer and practice my shot or play a pickup game with teens I met in the park.

Basketball is loved by millions of people all over the world, young and old. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of palming a basketball in your hand and stepping out on the court, dazzling your friends with a crafty layup or a brilliant behind-the-back pass to your teammate. And what better place to do it than the safety of your own home?

Whether your daughter is a star player in high school or your kids just like to play for fun, there’s no wrong reason to buy a basketball hoop. And buying a hoop for your home may not be as expensive as you think.

There are several different styles of basketball hoop to choose from. Before you start shopping for hoops, you should first consider which style best suits your home, lifestyle, and budget.

This guide will provide a brief overview of the three main types of the basketball hoop and the benefits of each one. We will then focus specifically on the features of portable basketball hoops. Finally, we will feature our top-five product reviews, including a brief overview of our picks, followed by a more in-depth look at each of the products.

Picking the Right Basketball Hoop

 

It’s easier to make a decision when you know what your options are. A quick examination of the differences between these options can help you the best fit for your home and lifestyle.

1. In-Ground

If you’re looking for a permanent solution, in-ground basketball hoops are the way to go. They are the most stable and generally the best quality. However, they are also the most expensive type of basketball hoop, especially if you hire professional installation. While in-ground hoops may be the best choice for serious athletes or homeowners, they are not a good fit for renters or for anyone with a modest budget.

2. Portable

Portable hoops are generally the most popular model of the basketball hoop. This is partly because they are cheaper and partially because they’re easier to move, which makes them easier to take with you if you ever have to relocate. That said, they tend to use cheaper materials, especially on the backboard and are not as stable as in-ground hoops.

3. Wall-Mounted

Although not as popular as in-ground or portable hoops, wall-mounted hoops still have their own niche. They’re easily the most affordable option, and because they don’t have a pole or a base, you can attach them anywhere. The downside is that they tend to be made of cheaper materials, and you generally can’t dunk on them.

What You Need to Know About Portable Hoops

Most of the critical components of a portable hoop are universal: a good backboard, high-quality rim, adjustable height, et cetera.However, there are also a couple of things unique to portable hoops, most specifically the size of the base. Let’s take a look at the most important features.

The Backboard

Missing shots is as much a part of basketball as sinking them. One of the things a good player masters is how to use the backboard to their advantage. If you know how to play off the backboard, you can get into the paint for a crafty layup or better predict which way your missed shot is going to rebound.

Generally speaking, the backboards on portable hoops are lower quality than on in-ground hoops, but there are exceptions in both cases. Backboards are generally made with one of three materials.

1. Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is the crème de la crème of backboards. Used in every high school, college and NBA arena in the country, no other backboard is as durable or offers as reliable a performance. However, glass backboards are also more expensive, and while they are not likely to shatter during play, they can shatter if a portable hoop is knocked over or loses balance somehow.

2. Acrylic

A middle of the road material commonly found on portable hoops, acrylic backboards don’t provide quite as good of a rebound as tempered glass, but they are less expensive and less likely to shatter if a portable hoop should fall. Unless you’re a serious athlete, you’re not likely to notice an extreme difference in performance between this and a glass backboard.

3. Polycarbonate

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, chances are you’ll end up with a polycarbonate backboards. Typically made of polyethylene or polyurethane plastic, polycarbonate backboards don’t have as good of a bounce even as acrylic backboards, but they’re also considerably cheaper. These are usually found on wall-mounted and low-end portable hoops. They’re perfectly fine for a casual game, but not really suitable for aspiring athletes.


The Rim

There are two basic types of rim: standard and breakaway. Standard rims are not used very often anymore but are still sometimes seen in cheaper models. More common by far are breakaway rims, of which there are two varieties: enclosed-spring and exposed-spring.

1. Standard

Standard rims used to be the norm on all basketball hoops, but now they have lost favor to the breakaway rims. Standard rims don’t have springs to support them, so when dunked on they can sometimes warp. Extremely heavy individuals or particularly forceful dunks can even break the backboard on very rare occasions. Outside of dunking, however, standard rims perform as well as any other.

2. Breakaway

There are two varieties of breakaway rim: enclosed spring and exposed spring. Introduced in the 1970s to reduce wear and tear both on the hoop and on players’ wrists, the breakaway rim bends with the help of springs, giving it greater flexibility and support.

Enclosed-spring breakaways are superior to exposed-spring, as they are less susceptible to weather. Exposed-spring rims are somewhat cheaper and more commonly found on portable hoops.


The Nine Yards

The backboard and the rim are the two most important features of your hoop, but they’re not the only thing that matters.

1. Backboard Support

Every backboard needs supports that connect it to the pole and keep it secure. There are three different levels of support. Low end backboards generally have a three-piece support; this includes most portable hoops. More expensive portables generally feature two-piece supports, which offer better flexibility. Single-piece supports are generally only found in in-ground hoops.

2. Backboard Adjustment

Most basketball hoops – even the inexpensive ones – have a mechanism that allows you to adjust their height. This allows the hoop to accommodate players of all sizes. On in-ground hoops, this is frequently accomplished by means of a crank. Adjusting the height on a portable hoop tends to be slightly more involved.

3. Base Size

Unique to portable hoops is the matter of their base. Most portable hoops come with hollow plastic bases, which can then be filled with either sand or water. Bases are measured in gallons; the larger the base, the more stable the hoop. Be sure to fill the base before you play. Depending on the size of the base dunking may or may not be a good idea.

Although portable basketball hoops are typically filled with water, you may want to consider using sand instead. If the plastic bank springs a leak, your hoop can tip over. Sand is less likely to spill out than water is, making the hoop more secure. Alternately, you can place bags of sand on top of the hoop to further secure it.

Our Recommendations

 

Lifetime 1221

 

Lifetime 1558 Silverback NXT

 

Spalding NBA 54” Spalding NBA “The Beast”
What We Like 1. Low price fits any budget

2. Comes with a five-year warranty

3. Made with weather-resistant materials

2. Reasonably priced

2. Comes with a six-year warranty

3. Height is easy to adjust

1. Easy to move around

2. Quick assembly time

3. Height is easy to adjust

1. High quality glass backboard

2. Excellent support

3. Reasonably priced

1. High quality glass backboards

2. Improved two-piece support

3. Better stability

What We Don’t Like 1. Height adjustment is inconvenient

2. Some bases may leak water

1. Assembly is frustrating

2. Some bases may leak water

1. Support poles sometimes cause trouble with rebounds

2. Not as weather-resistant as Lifetime hoops

1. Warranty is just one year

2. Some bases may leak water

1. Expensive for a portable hoop

2. Some poort quality parts

Who Should Buy This? This is a good wit for families with young children, especially those with a limited budget. With a larger backboard and a breakaway rim, this is a good choice for families who want a larger hoop without breaking the bank. A better backboard and an easy-to-move frame make this a good middle ground for those who want a little more from their hoop. The glass backboard makes this one of the best values for a portable hoop on the market. If you want a high-end hoop but can’t get an in-ground system, this a good alternative.

Best Portable Hoops Under $100

 

1. Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Portable Basketball System

 

Height Adjustable from 7 ½ to 10 feet; 6 inch increments
Weight 55 pounds
Backboard Polycarbonate (polyethylene); 44 inches
Rim Standard
Base 27 gallons
Support Three-piece
Warranty Five-year limited

 

Height Adjustable from 7 ½ to 10 feet; 6-inch increments
Weight 55 pounds
Backboard Polycarbonate (polyethylene); 44 inches
Rim Standard
Base 27 gallons
Support Three-piece
Warranty Five-year limited

 

“It was Colonel Mustard in the library with a lead pipe!” As your friends look at each other nervously, you smile in spite of yourself. You are playing Colonel Mustard, after all. But that doesn’t really matter because the victory is yours.

Whether you’re playing a board game or a ball game, there’s nothing quite as exciting as winning. The feeling you get when your layup swirls around the rim before it swooshes in can’t be put into words. At that moment, you’re not thinking about the size of the backboard or what it’s made out of. Victory is yours, and the feeling is glorious.

The Lifetime 1221 Pro Court basketball hoop is never going to be anyone’s first choice. At 44 inches, the backboard is over two feet smaller than a professional hoop, and while the performance of the polyethylene backboard works well enough in close range, jump shots from mid-range and beyond often rebound awkwardly.

In addition, this is not a hoop you’re going to want to dunk on very often. The rim is a standard rim, so it won’t flex under your weight like a breakaway rim. The polyethylene backboard isn’t likely to break under the pressure, but the rim itself could warp. It would probably be fine for younger kids to dunk on it, so long as they don’t hang, but older players will want to avoid it entirely.

Still, it’s hard not to like this basketball hoop. It’s fairly light, so it’s easy to move it around, and since it adjusts from 7 ½ to 10 feet, it can be enjoyed by children and adults together. But what I really love about this hoop is its price. This is a fully functional basketball hoop for less than $100. In many stores, the price is around $75-$80. This is one heck of a great value.

Verdict: Perfect for casual games or for any family on a budget, the low price of this hoop fits almost any budget.

Check Price on Amazon


Best Portable Hoops Under $300

2. Lifetime 1558 Pro Court Portable Basketball System

 

Height Adjustable from 7 ½ to 10 feet; 6 inch increments
Weight 105 pounds
Backboard Polycarbonate (Makrolon); 52 inches
Rim Exposed spring breakaway
Base 35 gallons
Support Three-piece
Warranty Five-year limited

When you go out to eat, you’re doing more than buying food; you’re buying an experience. That’s why your plate is garnished with orange slices and parsley. It’s why you tell your server that the food looks delicious. The reverse is also true. If the food you order doesn’t look appetizing, you’re not going to enjoy it as much.

People are aesthetes by nature: we like things to look good. It’s not just important that a car gets good fuel economy or a guitar has a great sound. We want these things to look good as well. When it comes to sports, nowhere is this truer than basketball. Basketball is all about looking good, from your hat down to your shoes. It’s only natural to want a good looking hoop as well.

The Lifetime 1558 delivers. Not only does it look great, but it offers great performance, and improves upon the wallet-friendly 1221 in almost every single way. The 52” Makrolon backboard provides greatly improved rebounding, and with a solid steel breakaway rim, you can dunk on it to your heart’s content.

The height adjustment mechanism has also been greatly improved. Where with the 1221 you had to manually adjust the height, the 1558 hoop has a pneumatic Power Lift system that lets you effortlessly adjust the height of your hoop in six-inch increments. The frame has been treated with a rust-resistant coating, and the hoop is backed by a five-year limited warranty. It also has a 35 gallon base for added support.

This is definitely not a high-end model. The three-piece support system is not the best, the breakaway rims feature exposed springs rather than enclosed springs, and a polycarbonate backboard will never provide the same performance as a glass backboard. But if you’re looking for an affordable hoop with good performance, this is a strong candidate.

Verdict: Reliable performance at a reasonable price. Good choice for casual games. Not recommended for high school / collegiate athletes.

Check Price on Amazon


Best Portable Hoops Under $500

3. Silverback NXT Portable Basketball Hoop

 

Height Adjustable from 7 ½ to 10 feet; 6 inch increments
Weight 155 pounds
Backboard Polycarbonate; 50 inches
Rim Exposed spring breakaway
Base 25 gallons
Support Two-piece
Warranty Five-year limited

 

Balance is a critical aspect of almost any athletic endeavor. Balance was critical for the Philadelphia Eagles’ first Superbowl championship, as several players were able to keep their balance and shrug off tackling attempts in order to drive home important touchdowns. Balance is essential for a figure skater to pull off her dazzling spins and axle jumps. And of course, balance is key to hitting clutch free throws.

Balance is also important to a portable basketball hoop, which sometimes struggle with balancing issues. To get around this problem, the Silverback NXT redesigned the base of the goal, adding two large wheels at the back of the base that not only make it easier to move the goal, but provide much needed stability during play.

The backboard design is a little odd. Most backboards come with a metal frame around it, but those are only present on the corners of this backboard, which gives it a bit of an odd appearance. This doesn’t affect it’s rebounding or its stability, but it does mean it doesn’t have quite the classic look of a traditional hoop. At 50 inches, the backboard is slightly smaller than the 54-inch Lifetime 1558, but it’s not a huge difference. Both goals have similar exposed-spring breakaway rims, although this hoop is a little heavier and feels a little sturdier when dunked on.

One of the biggest selling points for the NXT is its quick assembly time – 90 minutes. It took a little longer than that for me to put it together, and there’s a pretty firm consensus on that matter. But the assembly process isn’t too difficult.

In terms of playability, the NXT isn’t markedly different than the Lifetime 1558. It’s a little more stable, and the base has a better design, but the backboard is a little smaller and the hoop is a little more expensive. They’re both good hoops on the lower end of the price scale. Take your pick.

Verdict: Reliable performance at a reasonable price. Good choice for casual games. Not recommended for high school / collegiate athletes.

Check Price on Amazon


Best Portable Hoops Under $700

4. Spalding 54″ NBA Portable Basketball System

 

Height Adjustable from 7 ½ to 10 feet; 6 inch increments
Weight 190 pounds
Backboard Tempered glass; 54 inches
Rim Enclosed spring breakaway
Base 40 gallons
Support Three-piece
Warranty Five-year limited

 

There’s nothing that quite matches the performance of glass. There’s something strikingly beautiful about the way a ball cascades through the air as it rebounds off the backboard. The thrill you experience as you soar in defiance of gravity, catch the ball in mid-air and slam it back down to earth is one of a kind.

Glass backboards are typically relegated to gyms and expensive in-ground basketball hoops, but it is possible to get the real deal in a portable goal without the cost of an in-ground hoop and the hassle and expense of its installation.

As portable hoops go, the Spalding 54” NBA Portable Basketball System is fairly expensive. Priced around $700, it’s actually more expensive than some mid-range in-ground hoops, if you don’t take into account the installation. But a portable hoop offers more freedom and flexibility than an in-ground hoop can provide.

This hoop offers several key improvements over other portable models. The backboard itself isn’t any larger, but no polycarbonate can equal the rebounding accuracy of glass. It also has a more durable rim, with enclosed springs that offer more flexibility and won’t rust with the weather. A large support pole offers plenty of stability, and its 200 pound frame means you can dunk on it without fear. It also has a large 40 gallon base to provide more counterweight for the heavier frame and backboard.

If all you’re interested in is casual play, this hoop is probably more money than its worth. But if you have kids in middle school or high school who are serious about basketball, this is a great choice. It offers the performance of an in-ground hoop with greater flexibility and less expense, and it provides true-to-life rebounding that just can’t be replicated by plastic.

Verdict: Too expensive for casual use, but a good choice for serious high school / collegiate athletes.

Check Price on Amazon


Best Portable Hoops Under $1200

5. Spalding NBA 60” Portable Basketball System

 

Height Adjustable from 7 ½ to 10 feet; 6 inch increments
Weight 348 pounds
Backboard Tempered glass; 60 inches
Rim Enclosed spring breakaway
Base 50 gallons
Support Thwo-piece
Warranty Five-year limited

Sometimes second place just won’t do. The Olympics hands out medals for silver and bronze competitors. Writing competitions often offer “honorable mention” for worthy stories. But there is no prize for second place in basketball. There are winners, and there are losers, and there is no in between.

If you’re looking for the best portable hoop there is, you want “The Beast.” This gorgeous Spalding NBA basketball hoop offers unparalleled design, performance and stability for the best game of basketball you’ll ever play on a portable hoop.

With a large, 60 inch tempered glass backboard, you’ll have plenty of space to knock down shots, and plenty of board to grab the rebounds if you’re off-target. An ingenious base design offers improved stability, with a locking mechanism that helps keep your goal upright at all times and 50 gallons of room to hold more sand and water.

An expertly-designed rim can handle everything you can give it, from crafty layups to thunderous dunks, and the two-piece support gives you added stability if you need to balance yourself on the rim before coming down. A simple crank allows for easy height adjustment, making it easy to play with your whole family.

At nearly 350 pounds, this is a huge hoop, and it requires several people to assemble it or even move it. And with a price tag well over $1000, this is certainly not a portable hoop for everyone. But for those willing to make the investment, there is no finer portable hoop.

Verdict: The hoop is very expensivebut offers superior support and performance. Best suited for serious high school / collegiate athletes. Too expensive for casual use.

Check Price on Amazon

Final Thoughts

Kobe Bryant spent his entire basketball career in Los Angeles, but he was Philadelphia born and raised. Michael Jordan made a name for himself in Chicago, but he grew up in a small city in North Carolina. In basketball, it doesn’t matter where you get started. What matters is what you do with it.

Most people who touch a basketball will never step foot on the court of an NBA arena. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the game. When you pick up that ball, give it all you’ve got. Put your heart and soul into every layup, every mad dunk, every mid-range jumper. Because at the end of the day, all that matters is how you play.

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