Rubber Up!

Chapter 3

Choosing The Right Brands

Which brands are stronger?

In general terms, thicker condoms are stronger than thinner ones. Although there can be exceptions, this is a good rule of thumb.

The thickness of a condom is not printed on the packet. Usually the only way to tell thicker brands from thinner ones is from the brand name. Thicker condoms will often have names that indicate that they are extra strong, such as Durex Ultra Strong or Mates Super Strong.

Unfortunately, many standard strength condoms also have brand names that may give the impression that they are stronger than average. Some condoms come coated with a spermicidal lubricant to increase their effectiveness as contraceptives (see below). Manufacturers often give these condoms brand names that suggest additional safety, such as Extra Safe. In fact, these brands are usually just as thin as other standard strength brands.

Even some condom brands explicitly aimed at the gay market are actually not significantly thicker or stronger than standard strength condoms. For example, testing commissioned by Rubberstuffers found that Gay Safe condoms are only of standard thickness, and performed less well than thicker condoms brands.

We'll be referring to the Rubberstuffers testing a lot in our comments on the individual brands. This research was designed to take a snapshot look at whether condoms that claim to be extra strong met the requirements laid down in the British Standard. Over 200 condoms from each brand were purchased and tested at the British Standards Institution's laboratories. While these tests give us a good idea about the qualities of the condom brands available in the high street, this research wasn't designed to be a systematic batch-by-batch evaluation of the brands, which would have required the testing of many more condoms from each brand.