Best Pickleball Net 2017 Reviews | Portable Nets vs On Wheels

best pickleball net

If you are visiting this page, I'm guessing you are probably looking to buy a pickleball net.  If you're in a hurry and looking for a quick recommendation -our top pick for the best portable net is the PickleNet By Oncourt Offcourt, below you'll find our full reviews of all the top picks. 

But before you purchase a net, let's quickly review the specifications of a USAPA (official pickleball association) regulation net to make sure you pick the right one. If you are going to invest in owning a net, I highly recommend you get one that is official size.  Although you can save some money on a cheap, "starter" net, I would totally avoid these if you are serious about playing pickleball. 

If you keep reading below, I give a couple reasons why it's worth buying an approved net and the only possible reason why I might consider buying a non-approved net...it involves a barbecue grill and a lot of people with my same last name... 

Back to APPROVED NETS: according to the USAPA and current IFP rulebook: an official, regulation pickleball nets to be used in tournament play must meet the following specifications:

  1. Pickleball net dimentions: should have a total width of at least 20 feet. Standard nets are 22' long to cover the 20' wide court, plus one foot of net on each side as net posts must be 12" from sideline.
  2. Pickleball net height should be 36 inches (0.914 m)  at the sideline and 34 inches (0.86 m) at the center. 
  3. If needed, a center strap may be used to keep the net taut at standard 34" height. 
  4. Mesh size of the netting should be sufficiently small to prevent standard pickleball ball  from passing through the net. 
  5. The top of the net should be edged with a 2 inch (5.1 cm) white binding over a cord or cable running through the binding.
  6. Posts. Net posts should be placed outside the sidelines. Recommended placement is 12 inches (30.48 cm) from the sideline.

We've reviewed the top selling pickleball nets below.  Here are the Top 3 Picks, all these nets on the list meet the official specifications listed above. ​

Best Pickleball Nets 2017
Pickleball Net Weight (lbs)  Poles
ONIX Portable Pickleball Net
 25  Round 
Rally Portable Pickleball Net  32  Oval
PickleNet By Oncourt Offcourt  32  Oval 

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews; you can also click the links above to check prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Pickleball Net Buyers Guide:

What to look for in a pickleball net:

  1. Steel poles:  Avoid cheap aluminum poles.
  2. Powder Coating: Helps protect metal pole structure of the net from the elements.
  3. Center Pole: As per official pickleball regulations, the net should be suspended at 34", without a center pole it's very difficult to keep the middle of the net at the proper height.
  4. Center Base Support: Apart from the pole to hold up the net, a solid quality base at the center adds stability to the net. Base should be steel, flat base and heavy duty. 
  5. Weight: Net set with all poles generally weigh between 20 and 35 pounds. Heavier sets generally indicate more heavy duty construction (steel tubing and solid base) but the lighter weight may appeal to players who have to carry the set a long distance or move it frequently. 

Nice optional features to have in a pickleball net:

  • Wheeled Carry Case:  Having a carrying case with wheels is an added bonus, especially a nice benefit for the heavier sets if you have to carry it a long distance to the court or move often.
  • Ball Holder Attachment: One of the nets on the list comes with an attachable ball holder that connects to one of the net poles.  This pickleball accessory can purchased separately for nets that are no sold with one if it's something you want to add later. 

Why do so many pickleball nets look so similar?

If you are shopping for a pickleball net, you may notice that many of the competitors nets look almost identical. Honestly, I've set some of the nets on this list side-by-side and they are hard to tell apart apart from the logo.​ 

One of the reasons for this is that some pickleball equipment manufacturers sell the same nets to distributors who then private label them as their own. So, if they are so similar (or in some cases identical) what is the most important thing to look for when buying a pickleball net?

  1. The quality of the tubing.  ​The biggest difference in the pipes is the shape.  Recently a newer redesign came on the market using oval tubing instead of round tubes. The oval ones are considered more sturdy and less likely to twist or bend compared to the round tubes.  There is a very noticeable difference when you put the nets together, the heavier design of the oval tube and the shape itself makes less likely to be damaged. since it's harder to bend and  Although the oval tubes will add about 7 pounds to the total weight of the complete pickleball net, the extra weight seems worth it. 

​Tubing: Oval vs. Round

Round

Pickleball net assembly

Oval

Oval Pickleball Tube

PickleNet By Oncourt Offcourt

The PicklenNet is official size and approved net dimensions by the USAPA.   Oncourt Offcourt has been manufacturing pickleball nets since 2009 and they have patented the Picklenet. The nets are are commonly rebranded and resold through several other companies as private label nets (same exact product but sold under different logos including the "Rally" net below and also the "USAPA" branded net. All three are made manufactured by OnCourt Offcourt.  This is the reason you see  almost identical pickleball nets on the market. 

Oncourt Offcourt recently redesigned the net tubing structure to use oval shaped poles rather than round.  They have a patented this unique design.  The oval design is sold directly by the manufacturer but is also resold by other companies such as Pickleball Central (review below). The oval design is more durable, the downside is that it weighs a total of 32 pounds. Although for a complete portable net with posts it's still a manageable weight. 

Unique features:

  • The oval tubing, apart from being stronger, helps align the center pole and prevents poles from twisting.
  • The center pole sits on top a molded center support for added stability.
  • Elastic band along the bottom of the net keeps the net stretched tight  and makes it easier to set up. 

The PickleNet comes with a carry bag made from heavy duty 420D nylon and is designed with useful compartments, carry straps and durable zipper.  The original Picklenet with round poles is also still manufactured and sold as the ​Classic PickleNet Pickleball Net System which usually sells for $20-$30 less than the newer design.

Pros

  • Patented Design. 
  • Original Manufacturer. 
  • Widely used in USAPA events and recognized as quality net. 

Cons

  • Storage Bag doesn't have wheels. 
  • Top vinyl band that covers net cord could be more durable. 

PickleballCentral Rally Portable Pickleball Net Review

The Rally "Deluxe" pickleball net is esentially the same net as the PickleNet (manufactured by Oncourt Offcourt in review above) and uses the same patented oval pole design. It has been rebranded with the Pickleball Central name and logo but other than that they are the same.  

Keep in mind that the there are two similar models of this net (round vs. oval tubes) that have been produced in recent years and you may still find the design with round metal tubes available online. The names get really confusing because there is the older Rally version with the round pole design (the same as the PickleNet Classic).  If you like the heavier duty oval design, this is the one to compare to the previous review.  

The main benefit of this net over the previous review is that Pickleball Central bundles it with ​ball holder that attaches to the end post of the net and holds up to 8 pickleballs.  Although it is a cool bonus item and could be handy, I personally wouldn't let this gadget sway your purchase decision.

It maybe useful to hold balls in a tournament situation where you have a referee at the net to pass the balls to the server but otherwise in a normal doubles game I don't see myself walking back to the side of the net to retrieve and store the balls. Also, I  would never need 8 balls at once just for a game of pickleball -so in my opinion this seems more like a gimmick to me that a valuable add-on. 

Having said that, this is the same quality net as the previous review. Pickleball Central is one of the biggest sellers of pickleball equipment, is a well respected company and has great customer service. For these reasons,  I would buy this net from them rather than some lesser known online reseller. ​

*Please note: We are referring to the newer oval design that was introduced a few years ago. It's best to confirm the pole design before buying. You may see the version with rounded tubes sold as “The Classic PickleNet”.  

The "Classic" is still a quality net system but we prefer the newer oval tube design as it seems stronger and more stable.  The classic round system is lighter (22 lbs vs. 32 lbs ) which may be an added benefit to someone who has to transport the net often or carry it long distances. 

Pros

  • Oval Tubing. 
  • Stable Base.
  • Currently being bundled with an included Ball Holder. 

Cons

  • Carry Bag does not have wheels.
  • Heavier than version with round poles.

USAPA Portable Pickleball Net System Review

OK, so as if it wasn't confusing enough...here is another version of basically the same design!  The USAPA Portable Pickleball Net is the same design as the previous two reviews. Because the oval design is patented by Oncourt Offcourt and they are the sole manufacturer, these are the same nets, just rebranded with different logos. 

This one is branded as the USAPA official net​. There really is no other difference. Cosmetically, the powder coat paint on this net is more of a light green but other than that it's just branding. 

So how to decide between these 3 if they are basically the same?​ Good question!  I think the answer comes down to preference between these choices:

#1) Buy PickleNet from the original manufacturer who holds the patent for the oval poles.

#2) Buy the Rally net which is bundled with the attachable ball holder that goes on the net and holds 8 balls (if this is something you think you'd use).

#3): Buy the USAPA branded net, to me this is just a question of personal preference, although I can see if you are organizing local tournaments for example it might look good to have the "USAPA" nets for competitions -although again it's just branding since the construction is identical. 


3.0 Portable Pickleball Net System

The 3.0 Portable Pickleball Net System includes includes metal frame and net in a carry bag.   As we mentioned above, the PickleNet Classic version (round poles) and the Rally Portable Pickleball Net by Pickleball Central with the same round pole design are basically the same product just rebranded.  The 3.0 Portable net is sold by Pickle-ball Inc.  All three of these have similar round pole designs, have basically the same weight and come with a carry bag. However, there are some noticeable difference between this net system and the previous two.  Because the first two have the same specification, we've grouped them together to compare them both to the 3.0

Feature

​End Base Size: 

Cross bar height:

Center base size:

​Net Size: 

​Carry Case: 

​Weight:

3.0 Portable Pickleball System

 36" x 1"

 8" from ground

 8" x "1

 22' x "30

 Pockets for balls and paddles

22 pounds

PickleNet Classic / Rally Portable Net

20" x 2"​

12" from ground

15" x 2" 

22' x 32" 

Main Compartment dividers 

23 pounds

End Base:  As you can see in the table above, the 3.0 System has larger base plates at either end of the net, about 16 inches longer than the other two systems.  In theory, the extra length should add stability to the ends but the 3.0 base plates are curved and arch up off the ground so while they are longer, the flat bottom of the PickleNet/Rally system actually feels more sturdy.  Some users also complain that the arched bases on the 3.0 are more of a tripping hazard -players running after a ball towards the sideline at the net could trip over the raised bases. Overall I prefer the flat, but shorter, bases of the PickleNet. 

Center Base:  The PickleNet/Rally design is a full seven inches wider than the 3.0, almost double the length. The base at the center serves two functions: it provides overall stability to the net and is the base for the center vertical rod that holds up the middle section of the net and keeps it from sagging.  This is really a minor difference and doesn't seem to have any negative affect on the quality of the net. ​

Cross bar height:  all portable pickleball net systems have a cross bar that runs parallel to the courts surface. It not only gives the overall structure to the expanse of the net but supports the bottom of the net.  The ​classic design of the PickleNet and Rally nets is a full 4 inches higher off the ground.  This causes the crossbar to sit higher on the net. 

Although the 3.0 design is aesthetically pleasing (the crossbar rides right along the lower lip of the net)  I personally like that the PickleNet rides higher and adds stability to the net - especially when balls are hit hard into the bottom portion of the net, it seems less likely to lift up the bottom of the net. 

​Net Size: Because the 3.0 net is shorter, you'll have an extra 2" of empty space between the bottom of the net and the ground.  I personally think the less space the better, I prefer the 32" net that comes with the PickleNet since when taut at 34" at the center of the court, you only have two inches of space between the bottom tab of the net and the ground which is just about perfect, it's what you'd find on most tennis courts. Any more space and a pickleball could escape thru the gap. 

Carrying Case: All of these models come with a convenient carry case. They are all made out of heavy duty material and are designed to carry the entire portable net system.  The 3.0 does excel here with the addition of mesh pockets for paddles and pickleballs.  The zippered mesh pockets are designed to store ​4 pickleballs and and an interior pocket to store 4 pickleball paddles. Personally I prefer to carry my paddles in a dedicated pickleball backpack to protect them, but this carry case does give you the option if you wanted to store everything in one place. 

Weight:  Overall weight really isn't a concern here since all three net systems weigh within a pound of each other (~22-23 lbs). They are all lightweight. Weight of course is an important factor, especially when looking for a portable system but when comparing these three nets it's really not an issue, although it you compare to the oval design of the newer PickleNet​ which weights in at 32 pounds, weight could be a deciding factor. 

ONIX Portable Pickleball Net

​This portable net from Onix Sports is made with sturdy interlocking round steel poles and wide steel base. The net includes a center post to keep the net at the standard 34".  One of the nice features to the net are the durable straps (similar to the type you would find on a heavy duty backpack). 

The whole kit weights a total of 25 pounds and comes with a carrying Case measuring 40”L x 7”W x 5”H​.  The wheeled carry case is a big plus, there are several nets on the market that weight 25 to 35 lbs. that do not have wheels. You may regret buying a carry case without wheels, carrying a 25 pounds back and forth from the pickleball courts can get tiresome (and some sets weight up to 35 lbs). 

The drawback on this net from Onix is made with round steel tubes are not as heavy duty as the oval design by ​Oncourt/Offcourt. The flip side is that while they are less durable, they are lighter.  The #1 question to ask yourself is: how important is the portable feature?  For some people, especially those that are toting the nets around a lot, from court to court frequently during the week....weight it most likely going to be a top priority.  The difference of 7-8 pounds adds up when you are dragging it around.   On the other hand, if you are just using this net in the driveway and carrying it back and forth to the garage or backyard,  the extra weight probably is not a big deal and as mentioned, the Onix net does have wheels which is a big advantage on a portable net system.

Pros

  • Sturdy Straps and Center Post. 
  • Carrying case has wheels. 
  • Weights 25 lbs which is lighter than some other nets on the market.  

Cons

  • Round tubing compared to newer oval designs on the market. More likely to bend or twist over time. 

Other Portable Nets We Considered

With the exponential growth of the sport, there are many new sporting goods makers coming out with pickleball accessories.  Wilson, the well known tennis racket manufacturer, entered the market a few years ago with their own line of paddles.  They also sell the Wilson Portable Pickleball Net System.   We did review the net here along with other Wilson pickleball equipment but we decided not to include it here in this list of best pickleball nets for reasons we explain in that review. If you are a particular fan or just curious about their net please click the link above. 

Franklin is another big name in sporting goods that recently entered the market with their Pickleball-X line of paddles, balls and other accessories (pickleball gloves, wrist bands, etc). ​ Franklin also came out with a portable net.   It is marketed as a "Premier Tournament Net Set".  Without going into a long review here, I'll simply say at this point will all the quality nets available I decided not to include this one and I think it will need some development before it would rank above the nets we've already reviewed. 

I would be cautions with marketing like "Premium", there are other companies such as Pickleball Gear selling a "Premium Portable Pickleball Net" or the Wolfe Sports Portable Pickleball Net (Tournament) but I don't see anything above and beyond in these nets that warrant them to be classified as "premium" or "tournament" nets. As we've discussed already, a lot of the nets on the market are resold as private label so they look identical to others that we have reviewed already.  I would stick to the short list we've curated here as they are all sold by established pickleball companies with a long history of producing quality products and providing professional customer service. 

Best Pickleball Net on Wheels

So far, all of the pickleball nets we have reviewed have been portable systems that are designed to be stored after each use.  If you are looking for a more permanent net (but still portable) that can be easily moved without having to break the net down check out the PickleNet Deluxe

The deluxe net is the same overall design as the PickleNet portable but with a heavier-duty construction and the addition of a pair of locking 4" wheels on each of the side bases.  This makes it easy to push the net across a gym floor which is especially useful in indoor pickleball courts that are sharing the same space with other sports such as volleyball, badminton, etc.  The net can be quickly wheeled aside and then wheeled back into position the next time you play pickleball. The locking wheels allow it to be fixed in one spot directly at the center of the court and prevent it from moving accidentally during play. 

This net would be ideal for community centers, schools, gyms or rec centers where pickleball does not have a permanent court and you need a quick and easy way to convert the space from one sport to another. The wheels also solve the problem of kids or older adults risking injury by lifting and moving a heavy net as this model easily glides across the floor.  It could also be very useful for outdoor pickleball, for example if you play in your driveway or cul-de-sac, this net could be wheeled into a garage to be stored without having to break it down.  Here is a quick video to give you a better idea. ​

Caring for Pickleball Net

Although the pickleball nets on this list are made with steel and are covered powder-coated in rust resistant paint, the are not totally rustproof. Wind, rain, extreme heat or cold and UV light will all cause wear and tear and extended outdoor exposure will shorten the lifespan of the nets. Unlike heavy duty permanent nets and posts (like the kind you find installed at outdoor tennis and pickleball courts, these portable net systems are designed to be stored after each use and kept in a dry place.  To extend the life of your net purchase it would be best to store it in the included carry bag, if it does get left out in the rain it's best to dry with a soft cloth and ensure that no water has leaked inside the poles before long term storage as this increases the chance for rust. 

Setting Up the Pickleball Net Quickly

After some practice, you should be able to assemble the net without looking at any written instructions. Users that have put together several times are able to put it together or break it down in as little as three minutes. 

  1.  Put together the horizontal poles first. Use the photo of assembled net as a reference.
  2. Place 2 end bases roughly 22' apart.
  3. Snap together the 2-piece center support and place halfway between the two end bases.
  4. Insert each bent pole, then connect 3 straight poles (that have no end caps) on each side towards center base.
  5. Insert two vertical net posts (with end caps) into each end base.  The frame assembly is now complete.
  6. Slide net sleeve over each of the vertical net posts.
  7. Insert center strap rod through rectangular opening in center support base. 
  8. Secure small round vertical pole using Velcro.
  9. Adjust net straps until net is tight across.
  10. When correct, the center strap should end up at the regulation height of 34" off the ground. Then measure one foot in from either end of the net, this should measure 36" high.  To adjust side height, slide net sleeves on either post up or down as needed. 

Why to Avoid Starter Pickleball Nets:

Although you'll initially save some money on inexpensive nets, in the long run I think it's a bad investment since they tend to be lower quality and many of them are not the official size for pickleball.  Some of these nets look and feel more like a kid's toy.  Apart from the quality issues that these nets have they also may have a long-term negative impact on your pickleball game.

If you get in a habit of playing on these starter sets (especially a net that is a few inches shorter than USAPA regulation height) you'll most likely be frustrated later when trying to play on a standard pickleball net (when many of your shots don't even clear the net). 

I've also seen nets as small as 12' wide being sold (10 feet less than official width of 22 feet!). While it might be fun to set up for kids to play around with, it's really a waste of your money if you want to actually play pickleball. 

Lesson I Learned Buying a Cheap Starter Set...

It was for a different sport but I think the lesson is worth sharing.  My son played basketball for years. When he was a young teenager, I made the mistake of buying a starter net for our driveway. It was that was shy of the official height but it really didn't seem like a big deal. At least he could practice every day. While I did save some money on the cheaper net, it did a number on his shot- when he tried out for the team after a summer of shooting hoops in the yard almost all his shots were coming up short...his shooting form had improved a ton but his muscle memory had developed to shoot at a hoop that was 6 inches shorter that the official height....can you say airball?  With practice he eventually reworked his shot so it wasn't a tragedy...but putting it in perspective, the small amount of money you save over the life of the set really doesn't make it worth it. 

The One Time I DO Buy Starter Nets:

So I admit, here I do kind of contradict myself but I have bought starter sets before. There is one time I do think it makes sense. I already hinted at it at the beginning, but the only time I have bought a cheaper starter set was for a summer family reunion.  We have a very large extended family and get together once a year in July. With all the cousins and different generations there are over 150 people at the party at a rec center!

We take turns organizing it, so a different family member organizes the event each year.  With so many kids (and adults) looking for activities we set up multiple nets (volleyball, badminton) toss games (horseshoes, corn hole) and organize other games like softball and kickball for the kids.  Each family brings food and also some sports equipment to share- but we also have a shared pool of stuff that gets stored in big rubbermaid tubs and is passed on to the member who's turn it is to organize the event the following year.  

Realistically we are not going to buy top of the line sports gear for a one day event that only occurs once a year.  ​Over the years we have replaced worn stuff and also try to add at least one new game each year to keep it interesting (this year we added Spikeball which was a ton of fun!)  We organized a little tournament with small prizes. 

And to let the kids play play different racket sports without setting up too many different nets we decided to try this adjustable net, it's only 10 feet wide so it is not a real pickleball net...but the cool thing is the height can easily be adjusted from 34" to 60"  so you can play pickleball, badminton and volleyball all using the same net. It's quick to set up (under 5 mins) and easy to adjust the height (kids can do it on their own). 

So as I said before,  if you are serious about pickleball this net is NOT for you but for a one day event it does add a lot of options and you get a lot of bang for you buck.  I could see using this at the beach, picnics, campgrounds, block parties or other neighborhood or family get-together.   If you've read the blog before you may have seen my similar post on pickleball sets (net, paddles & balls all sold as a set), although I generally do not recommend them for serious players, they can be an affordable way to organize large parties or reunions and provide lots of fun for large groups. 

Our Top Pick for Best Pickleball Net is:

In our opinion the best net on the market is the newer version of the PickleNet by Oncourt Offcourt with it's patented design and oval tubing. Although you can buy rebranded versions of this same design, we recommend buying this one made by the original manufacturer. 


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