Why go for portability?
The reasons for buying a portable basketball ball are as varied as the people who buy them: to be able to move the hoop into the shade at different times of the day, to have a hoop to take on vacation, to make t easier to take basketball to communities in need.
When considering which one is the best for your needs, the cost can often be an over-riding factor, but knowing what affects the price could help you to see that when it comes to portable basketball hoops, cost and quality are not as intertwined as practice and performance on the court.
Durability is the most important factor to consider when choosing your hoop. Whether buying top-of-the-price-range or at the sale price, having to replace a hoop frequently due to weathering will only lead to mounting frustration and cost. Your first must-have is a UV coating which prevents plastic and painted metals from denaturing in the sun.
A steel frame makes for a heavier, less-mobile unit but will last far longer and allow for dunking without fear of bending. Polycarbonate backboards are the most modern, are usually shatterproof, and should have a longer life than acrylic or polyethylene, both of which tend to become brittle and discolored if left outside in all weathers.
Tempered glass also does well outdoors but carries a higher risk of shattering during heavy play.
While researching this piece it was very difficult to find a connection between the price and the material used, until right at the top-end. It may be better to meet your requirements of what your outdoor basketball hoop needs to do for you than to assume that spending more will automatically give you all of the above.
All about the base
Something major to consider is what you will be using to weigh down the base of your portable basketball hoop. Water and sand are standard materials used to fill the hollow bases to make to stabilize the stand, hoop, and backboard.
The challenge with both water and sand is the time, and possibly extra money, needed to fill or drain the base, which can impede the portability of the unit. When selecting your unit, consider the challenge of needing to shift between 30- and 40kgs of water or sand every time you move the hoop.
There is also a gel which can be used for this purpose but it needs to be topped up every few weeks, as you would need to do with water. Depending on your local climate, water heating can be cooling to extremes can distort your base, which could affect the stability and lifespan of your unit.
Interestingly, when reviewing portable basketball hoops online, there is little relationship between the price of a unit and the materials used to make it. Branding plays a far larger role.
The Big Names
As with all sporting goods, certain brands, such as Spalding, Silverback and Lifetime, have such a presence in the realm of basketball that their branding on a product immediately leads to them being placed in a strong price bracket.
With most hoops priced at anywhere between $300 and $800, it is surprising that Lifetime makes a hoop, the Lifetime Pro Court, which is priced online from just over $100 to just under $200, depending on the site. At 27 gallons in base capacity and a polyethylene backboard, this is one of the most easily portable units, though perhaps limited to more skilled players with the backboard measuring only 44 inches.
That Lifetime puts their name on this lightweight unit, indicates that there are portable basketball hoops priced at less than $200 which are worth buying.
Spalding also makes a portable unit priced on Amazon at $119.15, but it is branded as a “junior-sized” youth hoop. Again, depending on your needs, this may be one to consider.
Time for action
Having thought through the above, you probably have a strong idea of you want from your portable basketball hoop. When considering units, look at how the backboard might weather and consider the potential headache of moving a bulky base unit when it is filled to capacity. The price and the quality of portable hoops do not appear to go hand-in-hand and so it makes sense to look at the most cost-effective options. The hoops which trusted brands like Spalding and Lifetime are happy to put their names on begin from just over $100, so why not start there too?