18 best slip-on basketball shoes

Based on reviews from 137 experts and 1,742 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to slip-on basketball shoes. Updated Dec 2018.

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Importance of Wearing Shoes

Humankind has been wearing some sort of protective footwear for thousands of years. According to archeological evidence, simple shoes have been protecting our ancestors’ feet since the Middle Paleolithic period (40,000 B.C.).

The most common types of ancient footwear are sandals and moccasins. Suited for warmer climates, sandals are designed to protect the foot from hot and rocky terrain while keeping it aired and cooled. Moccasins, on the other hand, are widely used in colder environments. It is usually made from a single piece of soft leather that is stitched together at the top. This simple slip-on shoe is designed to protect the foot from sharp objects while also keeping it warm.

Benefits of Wearing Shoes

Although hotly debated, wearing shoes have some perceived benefits. Listed below are just a few reasons why wearing the right kind of shoe may be good for your overall well-being.

  • Shoes protect you from germs and parasites. Aside from being one with nature, walking barefoot, a.k.a. “earthing,” on natural surfaces such as soil, grass, and sand has a number of health advantages. However, doing so also poses the risk of acquiring fungal problems and hookworm infections. People with diabetes are also more susceptible to foot infections. Germs can cause potentially dangerous sores or ulcers that can sometimes lead to amputation.
  • Shoes protect you from injuries. During ancient times, shoes were crafted for a specific purpose–to keep the foot safe from injuries. Early footwear was adequate to prevent injuries from sharp rocks and poisonous insects. Thousands of years have passed, and not much has changed. These days, wearing shoes prevent you from getting cut by sharp objects such as broken glass or stray nails while walking on the streets or hiking your favorite trail.
  • Shoes provide you with a better grip. Depending on your activity, wearing the right kind of footwear can enhance your performance and give you an advantage. For instance, wearing basketball shoes can prevent you from slipping and sliding all over the hardwood because of its specially designed traction pattern.
  • Shoes can correct your gait and posture. Wearing the right kind of footwear can reduce impact and stress by improving the body’s biomechanics. Shoes can help align the wearer’s feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back to improve posture and gait.
  • Shoes provide comfort, cushioning, and support. For people suffering from foot conditions such as bunions, flat foot, and plantar fasciitis, wearing orthotic shoes can help alleviate the pain and possibly reverse and eliminate the problem.

Footwear Rules

Wearing ill-fitting shoes can have adverse effects on your body and health. A wrong choice leads to discomfort and injury. So, it is essential to follow these four footwear rules to keep you and your feet happy and healthy.

  1. Always get the proper fit. Poorly fitting shoes are a recipe for disaster. Make sure that both the length and width fit you comfortably. Also, check if the arch support and toe room are to your liking.
  2. Wear the right shoe. Some men have blurred the line between formal and ultra-casual. They tend to wear their favorite pair of kicks in every situation. This is the most common mistake when it comes to footwear. Dress shoes are for more formal gatherings while basketball shoes are intended for the court. Shoes have a prescribed function, so it is always best to wear the right shoe for the occasion.
  3. Don’t skimp on quality. Do invest in a quality pair. Cheap shoes are a waste of money. High-quality shoes may cost more, but you are guaranteed to get your money’s worth.
  4. Take care of your kicks. Take proper care of your shoes to lengthen its lifespan. Aside from regularly cleaning your shoes, try rotating between pairs to allow them to dry between wears.

Shoe Styles

"Shoes make an outfit. You can throw on a crazy shirt and crazy pants, but you add those shoes - done."

  • Russell Westbrook, Style Icon

Unlike the rest of our clothing, our shoes receive a disproportionate amount of attention. When sizing up a stranger, the shoes they wear make up 30% of our visual judgment despite covering only 5% of their body. Shoes are the visual endpoint and are the foundation of every outfit. As the saying goes, ‘The shoes make the man.’

Lace-Ups Vs. Slip-Ons

Traditionally, lace-up shoes such as Oxfords are used for formal events while slip-ons have a more casual feel. However, much has changed with the arrival of athletic footwear. Considered as lace-ups, sports shoes have taken over the footwear market because of its stylish appearance and overall comfort. Lace-ups are now used for formal, dress, and casual wear.

Slip-ons are versatile shoes that look good with a pair of shorts, jeans, and smart trousers. Because of this, slip-on shoes are an essential part of every man’s wardrobe. Its easy on-and -off design adds to its appeal and makes it the shoe of choice. Common slip-on shoes for men include loafers, moccasins, boat shoes, and driving shoes. Also, when speaking of slip-on shoes, one of the most recognizable designs is Vans’s Style #98. Introduced in 1977, this classic style remains popular and still stands the test of time.

Slip-On Basketball Shoes

best slip-on basketball shoes
Best slip-on basketball shoes - October 2018

Why Should I Wear Basketball Shoes?

Basketball shoes are engineered to withstand the intensity of the game. On average, basketball players change direction every two seconds and sprint up and down the court more than 100 times in each game.

Because of the all the quick movements–running, jumping, starting, and stopping–the sport requires, basketball shoes need to be able to absorb shock and keep the foot stable. The shoe’s upper construction and lacing system play a significant role in keeping the foot comfortable and contained. Any internal movement is potentially dangerous and a cause of concern. For this reason, purely slip-on basketball shoes are a rarity. A lace or strap system is incorporated to keep the foot locked-in-place to prevent injuries.

Slip-On Sneaker Trend

Over the past decade, shoe manufacturers have adopted a revolutionary way of creating performance and casual shoes. Major brands took something as simple as knitting and re-engineered the process. The result is high-performance footwear that provides a unique sense of flexibility, support, fit, and comfort.

In the past, sports shoes were usually made from several different materials that were glued and stitched together. With the use of the innovative knit method, brands are able to create an ultra-lightweight and form-fitting one-piece upper that can be fine-tuned for enhanced flexibility and support. This manufacturing method is also more sustainable since the entire upper is digitally knitted in just one piece.

The one-piece/slip-on sneaker trend took off when Adidas and Nike launched their innovative upper technologies called the Adidas Primeknit and Nike Flyknit.

Technologies of Slip-On Basketball Shoes

Adidas Geofit

Adidas Geofit is a foam construction that is often implemented at the shoe’s ankle and heel collar to enhance comfort and support. Geofit is designed to conform to the foot for a glove-like fit. Its soft texture and contouring properties provide high levels of support and comfort where it is needed most. Some Adidas models that use the Geofit technology are the AdiZero Rose 4, AdiZero 4.5, and Crazy Explosive.

Adidas Primeknit

The woven revolution started in 2010 when a group of Adidas employees visited the Techtextil fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Two people from the group spotted a knitted glove made of thermoplastic fuse yarns. They noted that the knit construction allowed the glove to be extremely light, flexible, and durable. This discovery sparked an idea that would eventually revolutionize how Adidas performance footwear is made.

Primeknit is Adidas’s own branded method of constructing the entire upper in just one piece. Made with fused yarns, the upper is digitally knitted and fine-tuned to provide the exact amount of support and flexibility precisely where it is needed.

Adidas Primeknit is engineered to seamlessly wrap the foot like a sock. This innovative technology delivers lightweight comfort so that athletes can perform at their peak.

Nike Huarache

Inspired by the fit of his water skiing shoes, Tinker Hatfield designed a neoprene inner bootie that literally ‘hugged’ the foot. The sock-like Huarache sleeve is engineered to provide a snug and locked-in fit without restricting flexibility and range of motion.

Named after a Native American sandal, the Nike Huarache technology is contained within a sandal-like exoskeleton that is engineered for pure performance. Stripped to the bare essentials, the Huarache design is minimal yet functional.

The Huarache technology was launched in 1991 with the release of the Nike Air Huarache running shoe. A year later, the technology was used in the Nike Air Flight Huarache basketball shoe. Since then, it has been utilized in almost all of Nike's performance footwear.

Nike Flyknit

Influenced by the feedback of ordinary runners, Nike started rethinking how shoes were made in 2008. In an interview with The Guardian, Nike VP of Footwear Innovation Tony Bignell explained the inspiration behind this innovation.

“Runners want performance without any distractions,” Bignell said. “So we started thinking: how could you make a running shoe feel like a sock? And how do you build structure and support into the sock without adding layers? Our goal was to innovate based on our ‘nature amplified’ design principles, which focus on the body’s movement in sport performance and aim to help realize the athlete’s natural ability,” he continued.

The Nike Flyknit technology is engineered for performance. Yarns and fabric variations are digitally knitted to create a light, form-fitting, and seamless upper. “The result is precision engineering in its purest form, performance on display,” Nike said.

The traditional way of constructing Nike Flyknit is by knitting a flat upper and then attaching it the midsole to form the shape of the shoe. In 2018, Nike again re-engineered this method with the introduction of their next generation Flyknit technology.

With the use of this new technology, Nike can create the shoe’s upper in complete 360-degree form. In a press release, Nike states, “To make the upper, engineers use complex knitting structures to create a closed anatomical form that mimics the shape of the foot. Following, the upper goes through a thermoforming process to provide shape and support underfoot. The result is a lighter, breathable shoe that offers a more precise, second-skin feel.”

One of the first basketball shoes that debuted this new technology is the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360.

Nike Flyweave

The Nike Flyweave technology is an upper system that delivers targeted support for sport-specific movements. By utilizing an intricate weaving process, Nike can create a textile upper that acts as a bionic second skin. According to Nike designer Thomas Bell, “Weaving enables us to go to space. Flyweave is one of the most exciting innovations I’ve seen at Nike – inspired from traditional weaving methods, but with the strength and reliability of aerospace materials.”

The technology also allows Nike designers to customize different Flyweave uppers to meet the demands of different sports. Nike Basketball Design Director Leo Chang is very optimistic about this new technology. "Flyweave offers us an amazing technical advantage in basketball to create incredible strength with a precise, comfortable fit," Chang said. "We have some exciting news on the way and the response from athletes has even exceeded our expectations."

Under Armour Anafoam

Anafoam is an anatomically molded foam that is fused with flexible mesh. It is engineered to provide lightweight support, structure, and a body-mapped fit.

Under Armour ClutchFit

The ClutchFit technology was Under Armour’s initial answer to Flyknit and Primeknit. The material wraps around the foot like a second skin to deliver a supportive fit.

The material features a strategic hourglass-shaped pattern that is designed to expand and contract when placed under pressure. Whether at rest or in motion, the ClutchFit technology fits how you move.

Under Armour Proprietary Knit Technology

Not to be outdone by Nike and Adidas, Under Armour introduced another innovation to their upper technology. The UA Curry 3 saw the introduction of Threadborne technology. Inspired by the weave construction of paracord, UA braided threads around a cord panel to create a lightweight, strong, and supportive upper.

For the Curry 4, Under Armour ditched the Threadborne technology and used a new knit material in creating the shoe's upper. “We worked with our innovation team and what they did is they were able to figure out a mechanical stretch in the knit to get it to expand like crazy,” Curry 4 lead designer Kort Neumann explains. “That’s the really cool part, with Steph wearing the braces, you really got to have a high stretch in that area to get your foot into the shoe. That right there is the big deal on the knitted component, the high stretch there.”

The Under Armour Curry 5 saw another update. In an interview, Curry 5 lead designer Dave Dombrow was asked what Stephen wanted in his signature sneaker. “Lightweight is one; locked in is another and that led us to combine a knit called Anafoam, which is this technology we’ve used in the past [on the Curry 1], but we kind of remixed in a different way on this shoe, so that would be able to provide the lock-in,” Dombrow explained.

UA is yet to disclose the name of their knit method. Expect to see more from the brand as they continue to innovate their proprietary knit technology.

Popular Slip-On Basketball Shoes

Nike LeBron 15

The fifteenth Nike LeBron shoes are The King’s favorite. These slip-on basketball shoes feature a new kind of Flkyknit called BattleKnit. Created specifically for LeBron, BattleKnit is engineered to deliver ultra-lightweight flexibility, stretchy support, and a locked-in feel.

Nike KD 11

Designed for Kevin Durant’s versatile playing style, these slip-on basketball shoes are crafted with a special kind of Flyknit. The upper of Kevin Durant’s 11th signature pair is made of light, plush, yet strong Flyknit yarns that provide padding, support, stretch, and breathability precisely where Durant needs it.

Jordan Super.Fly 2017 Low

The Super.Fly 2017 Low from Jordan are innovative slip-on basketball shoes that boast a Flyweave upper that delivers 360-degree comfort. The seamless upper wraps the foot for targeted support and breathable comfort.

Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017 Primeknit Low

Sporting a one-piece design, the low version of the Three Stripes’ Crazy Explosive 2017 PK are slip-on basketball shoes that are equipped with a forged Primeknit upper that provides optimal stability and structured support.

Adidas Harden Vol.2

These slip-on basketball shoes feature a breathable sock-like upper that offers lightweight support and stability. The Harden Vol.2’s adaptive Primeknit is constructed with heat-pressed TPU-coated fibers for enhanced durability.

Under Armour Heatseeker

The UA Heatseeker is equipped with a one-piece engineered knit upper. These slip-on basketball shoes deliver form-fitting support and breathable comfort.

The Knit Wars

Launched in February 2012, Nike claimed to have pioneered the digital knitting method and was able to patent their Flyknit technology. According to The Swoosh, “NIKE embarked on a four-year mission of micro-engineering static properties into pliable materials. It required teams of programmers, engineers, and designers to create the proprietary technology needed to create the knit upper.”

During a conference call in March 2012, Mark Parker, Nike CEO, touted to analysts, “There’s the leverage we get from a production standpoint, the sustainability story and then, of course, performance,” Parker said. “We do see this as a way not only to create a higher performance, more sustainable product but one that actually will give us significantly better margins as we scale this. Flyknit has the potential to change everything. We’re at the very front end of the potential here,” he continued.

Before the London Olympics kicked off in July 2012, Adidas unveiled their own knit technology. Adidas Primeknit utilizes a similar knit method that can create the shoe’s entire upper from a single piece of yarn. In an interview with Highsnobiety, Adidas Creative Director for Sport Performance James Carnes described the process of bringing Primeknit to the global stage.

“We started this project in 2008 after the Beijing Olympics, and we saw two things happening,” explained Carnes. “One was we were creating product with adiZero which was about reducing weight and simplifying the process of the creation of the shoe, and we wanted different views on how to create the product differently. We brought in a couple of different industrial designers to give us different points of view and to start the project with us. And in 2008, we worked with Alex (Taylor) on this, and he started working with us on the idea of knitting. We thought if we do this, we want to be able to uphold all the standards we have for performance and do something that is going to change the way we make shoes – not just bringing in or importing a process into the way we make shoes now. So it’s been a 4-year journey.”

That same year, Nike filed a patent infringement case against Adidas in a district court located in Nuremberg, Germany. At the time, Primeknit was only manufactured and sold at that location. “To our knowledge, this is not yet a product that has been launched globally by Adidas,” Mary Remuzzi, Nike spokeswoman, said. “We intend to protect our rights globally in the future against further infringing acts, if appropriate.”

Nike pushed for a permanent injunction, ordering Adidas to cease the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of their knitted sneaker.  In a prepared statement, the company said, “Nike has a strong heritage of innovation and leadership in footwear design and development. Our patents are the foundation of that leadership, and we protect them vigorously. In this case, the injunction helps protect the innovative Nike Flyknit footwear technology Nike introduced in February 2012. We look forward to presenting our case for a permanent injunction to the court.”

Adidas vigorously denied the allegations. The Three Stripes asserted that the knit method in question has been used since the 1940s and was not proprietary to Nike. The court agreed with Adidas’s assertion, and Nike’s patent was considered invalid.

After the ruling, a Nike spokesperson said, “We will continue to aggressively protect our intellectual property rights, including through the conclusion of this interim injunction proceeding as well as in a formal infringement case.”

The “knit wars” was far from over. Adidas was encouraged by the favorable decision of the European court and started selling their Primeknit sneakers in the U.S. by the end of 2012. Expecting another lawsuit from Nike, Adidas also decided to take legal action.

Adidas challenged several Flyknit-related patents and asked the U.S. PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board) to invalidate at least four of Nike’s U.S. patents. Again, the courts ruled in favor of Adidas.

Nike filed an appeal in 2014 asserting that “Nike’s new shoe upper, which Nike markets under its FLYKNIT trade name, was recognized as a ‘quantum leap” in the field.” They argued that they ‘invented’ the ‘novel’ knitting technology. A federal court sent the matter back to the PTAB who eventually sided with Nike and upheld their patents in 2017. The back-and-forth legal battle continues as Adidas has filed an appeal to the Federal Courts of Appeal.

While battling it out with Adidas, Nike is also stuck in a legal row against other sneaker companies regarding their patented Flyknit technology. In 2016, The Swoosh filed eight patent infringement cases against Skechers. Nike asserts that the Skechers “Burst, Women’s Flex Appeal, Men’s Flex Advantage, Girl’s Skech Appeal, and Boy’s Flex Advantage” infringe their design patents. In 2018, Nike filed patent infringement complaints against Puma. They allege that Puma is using their knit technology without permission, citing the Puma Ignite Proknit, Puma Ignite Netfit, Puma Mostro Bubble Knit, and Puma Jamming as examples.

FAQ

What is proprietary technology?

Proprietary technology relates to any combination of processes, systems, and tools owned by a company or individual, providing them competitive advantage. Some types of proprietary technologies include trade secrets, lock-in technologies, patented technologies, and digital rights management.

What is a penny loafer?

A loafer is a leather slip-on shoe with a slotted strip over the upper. Loafers became known as ‘penny loafers’ in the 1960s. Back then, students placed pennies on the lip-like slots as a fashion statement.

How do I take care of my leather loafers?

Listed below are a few tips on how to keep your leather loafers pristine.

  • Regularly remove dirt or marks and then polish using a polishing cloth.
  • Apply a shoe cream every two weeks to nourish the leather.
  • Every two weeks, apply black or white polish for shine and weatherproofing.
  • When not in use, keep the shoes in a shoe bag to prevent damage.
  • Use shoe trees to maintain the shoe’s shape.

How do I take care of my suede loafers?

Suede is a bit trickier to keep clean. Below are a few tips to keep your suede loafers good as new.

  • Use a wire suede brush to remove dry mud stains.
  • Scotch Brite is quite effective in removing other kinds of stain.
  • Use the correct type of soft shoe brush when cleaning suede to prevent damage.

What are the different types of slip-on shoes for women?

Most of the shoe styles women wear can be considered as slip-ons. Below are a few slip-on styles popular among most women.

  • Ballerinas/Ballet Pumps
  • Mules
  • Loafers
  • Court Shoes
  • Brogues
  • Chelsea Boots
  • Canvas Shoes
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