Badminton gear: what to get on a $150, $300 or $500 budget


Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Aske

I can’t count the times I’ve been excited about starting a new sports routine, going on a shopping spree for new badminton gear…

… only to use it twice, and months later, finding it collecting dust in the closet.

It feels great to spend hours geeking out on gear online, looking at what the pros use, and comparing notes with friends. It feels almost as if the sheer act of buying new equipment makes us better players without even having to put in any effort. 

You and I both know that buying the latest Yonex racket magically transforms us into Kento Momota overnight… Right?

On a more serious note, over the long haul, it adds up to lots of money down the drain with regret as a reminder of the skills we didn’t master.

In an attempt to spend my money more productively while still getting new cool gear, I’ve come up with an effective technique that stopped this expensive habit and at the same time made me happier about the items I buy.

In this article, we’ll look at buying badminton gear specifically for those of us who are in our late twenties and above, as we need to be considerate of injuries.

Essential badminton gear and what to get on your budget

There are plenty of cool videos showing equipment on the internet. It’ll be tempting to replicate their entire collection but it can be tricky to know what to prioritize with a limited budget. In this chapter, I’ll break down how to best spend your money if your budget is limited to $150, $300, or $500.

But first, let’s map out the bare essentials with the non-essentials, so you’ll get a sense of what is critical. 

The essential gear can be boiled down to the following:

  1. Two identical rackets (with identical grip and strings)
  2. Non-marking indoor sports shoes
  3. Socks, t-shirts, and shorts
  4. A bag to carry it in

I didn’t include shuttles here since they tend to be included in the price if we pay an organizer or a club for the sessions but if you rent a court and play privately with friends, you’ll need to add that to your budget too.

Next, is a list of the non-critical items so you can get a better sense of whether to buy them or not if you’re on a limited budget.

These are the items that are nice to have as you expand your gear but not necessary at first:

  • Branded badminton shirts and shorts
  • Branded badminton bag
  • Massage gun
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Scissors (to cut the racket strings when they break)
  • Training rackets (heavier than normal and used for training)
  • Branded towels and headbands
  • Therabands for warming up
  • Stopwatch for training
  • Shoe deodorant
  • Tennis balls for warming up reactions

There is no hard rule for when you’ll need these items but I’ve found that adding a new process into your game routine, that gives an item a meaningful purpose, is the best way to justify buying it. 

That could be getting a massage gun and making it a part of your cool down routine after playing.

If you prioritize improving on-court elements like footwork or particular shots, a feeding machine and stopwatch can be useful tools if you struggle to get help from a coach or another player.

The feeding machine is obvious as it helps practice shots on the court even if there’s no one else to feed you. The challenge is that it can be unhandy to carry back and forth, especially if you don’t have a car.

The stopwatch can be handy for training drills to get a sense of how long you have to do each exercise without having to look at a watch or count all the time. The cheaper alternative is using your phone’s built-in stopwatch but that can also be distracting as you’ll be forced to put it into flight mode if you want to avoid people contacting you.

With this simple overview out of the way, let’s dive into how you can best spend your budget on badminton gear. If you are new to the sport and don’t know what budget to set aside, I’d start with $300 and get the essentials covered while sampling the sport.

If you have a $150 budget

With a budget of $150, I’d go for a low-range shoe in the $30 range, knowing that it would be the first item worth the upgrade if you’ll keep playing. This was roughly my starting budget. 

There isn’t much wiggle room and you’ll have to take whatever cheap rackets you can get in the $30-$50 range as you’ll need two. Even with rackets at this price range, I still noticed a meaningful benefit from restringing them and getting a better grip than spending everything on the rackets themselves.

We’ll also have to assume that we already have a bag and general sports shorts, socks, and t-shirts that we can use to play in for now.

If you have a $300 budget

With $300, I’ve found that you’re better off prioritizing preventing injuries than getting best in class rackets. 

Our feet are in constant contact with the floor and take a beating when we play. They are a key ingredient in our everyday life outside the court and since we only have one pair of feet, we need to take good care of them.

Good shoes are the best item to help but there’s a significant difference between the quality, how well they protect your feet, and the price range.

As an upgrade (or so I thought), I purchased a pair of mid-range (~$50) Yonex shoes that seemed good at first but after just two sessions playing in them, had the signature tear on the inside of the foot that comes from keeping the back foot sideways when lunging

badminton gear - shoe tear example
Tear example – I threw out my shoes before taking a picture 🙁

That is expected but this time around the tear had almost become a whole through the first layer of the outer shoe. In comparison, it took six months to create a similar deep tear on my previous shoes.

If that wasn’t enough, I began feeling knee pain and got pre-blisters on the side of the toe almost immediately even though I spent plenty of time breaking them in before playing. This had never happened before and as I upgraded my shoes again, it went away almost immediately. 

The difference was striking.

It sucked to have to spend even more money on shoes. It was tempting to be stingy and stick to the brand new shoes I had just gotten but I knew that I’d get an injury soon if I didn’t make a change. I realized that a better pair of shoes would be cheaper than the health problems the shitty ones would create and cost to fix.

What I’m trying to say is that spending about half of the budget on a top-of-the-line shoe has been worth it. 

At the time of writing this, that’ll get us the shoe Viktor Axelsen has been playing with, the Yonex SHB 65z, and it appears to cost between $120-$150 depending on the country and website.

Next, let’s look at rackets.

When I needed new badminton gear, I made the mistake of upgrading my racket to one that just ended up in the closet collecting dust. I didn’t realize it was a head heavy racket helping with a powerful smash but also creating other limitations for playing style.

The worst part is that if you’re serious about improving your game you’ll need two rackets, so that makes buying the wrong one twice as expensive.

If you only have one racket and the strings break in the middle of an intense game without a backup ready, you’re stuck. Even if you’re able to lend another one from a helpful player it’ll likely be a different type with different string tension and grip, which is distracting to adapt to mid-game.

On this budget, I’d get two rackets in the $50 range, restring them, and get a couple of different badminton grips to see which one you prefer the most. During experimentation, I was surprised to discover just how much difference those two items made in my game.

When it comes to bags, I’m going to assume that you have some sort of backpack or bag that you can use for your gear… even if it isn’t a badminton-specific bag and can’t fit an entire racket without the handle sticking out. It’s a good enough starting point and in the worst case, a plastic bag will probably do the trick the first few times. The same goes for t-shirts, socks, and shorts.

That should take us somewhere near the $250-$280 mark and leave a little bit of the budget left, which you might need to restring the rackets if they break early on. If you have more than that left, I’d get badminton-specific socks as they are thicker and help protect your feet even more and play in non-branded shirts and shorts.

If you have a $500 budget

On a larger budget such as $500, I’d go with a top of the line shoe like the Yonex SHB 65z ($120-$150) and two mid-range $100 rackets. That puts us at $350 with another $50 or so on restringing both rackets (with better strings than on the previous budgets) and getting a small selection of grips to experiment with. I’ve found that with my routine, I need to replace my grip roughly once every three or four weeks.

You might be able to get a badminton bag for the remaining $100, but I’d suggest spending a portion of it on thicker socks (e.g. Yonex badminton stocks) to protect your feet even more and save the rest for restringing and to experiment with more grips.

The biggest difference with this budget is the quality of the rackets but at an early stage, it doesn’t make sense to upgrade to rackets in the $200 range just yet compared to the benefit of better shoes. The rackets are often less flexible and require technique to use properly. If you use them and your skills aren’t suitable it might cause you to play worse. Counterintuitive, I know. 

I’ve also prepared reviews of the best rackets for intermediate players or rackets for beginner players if you’re curious, but be careful with the temptation for now.

For new players: strike the best perfect balance between getting the best badminton gear and not wasting your money with the sampling technique

Think about the common trap with buying sports gear: we get excited about training, go all in on new gear, use it twice and forget all about it. It seems we might have been more motivated by the shopping high than the training itself.

In order to spend my money better and spread the cost out over a longer time without losing the effect of good badminton gear, I developed a technique I named the sampling technique.

It works like taking intro courses in school. Buy a cheap version of each item first as a sample to see how serious you really are about badminton before investing further. If you continue to be excited about playing after a while, you’ll know the excitement is real and you can allow yourself to spend the rest of your budget upgrading without feeling guilty.

You’ll also have a much better understanding of what kind of gear is best suited for you as you’ll have more experience on the court. A common example is picking a racket that is good for smash compared to control.

Since we tend to get pleasure out of buying new gear, you can be smart about how you buy it. Instead of buying it all at once, consider buying one item per month as a treat to yourself when you’ve conquered a new aspect of the game.

If you find yourself responding well to setting a goal with a reward when you reach it, this approach can be effective to help you build the right training habits. It’s a crucial part of systematically improving your badminton skills.


  • The biggest trap with badminton gear is going all-in before starting to play, only to use it a few times and realize your money was wasted
  • Going overboard with the best rackets too early tends to be a waste of money as you won’t know which items suit you best. There’s a good chance it’ll just collect dust in the closet
  • New players can use the sampling technique to create a game where they reward themselves when they improve their badminton skills
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