The Best Condoms
After spending 30 hours on research, reading hundreds of reviews of 54 best-selling condoms, interviewing nine experts (including a chemical engineer and two sex workers), and then having 32 volunteers try 30 different types, we found the LifeStyles SKYN to be the best average-size condom. It’s made from a sheer synthetic rubber that our testers found to be softer and more skinlike, and it gives off less odor than all the designs we tested, including natural-latex ones. We also selected the best slim-fit and generous-fit options.
LifeStyles SKYN condoms are made of polyisoprene, a synthetic rubber that people with latex allergies can use. In addition to having the best feel and scent, SKYN condoms transmit heat and sensation wonderfully, come in an elegant and easy-to-open package, and are available at almost any drugstore.
Our testers loved the sensitivity that the ONE Vanish offered. But the round package, while aesthetically pleasing, was difficult to open, and our testers slightly preferred the softer sensation of polyisoprene to the rubbery friction of this natural-latex condom.
The Okamoto Zero Zero Four 004 is the thinnest natural-latex condom on the American market. Our testers who fell in between the slim and average-size categories liked the sensitivity of the sheer latex, the lack of odor, and the quality of the lubricant on this condom in comparison with other models. This condom is wonderful both for slimmer penises that don’t require a super-snug fit and for penises on the narrower end of the average-size range.
The Caution Wear Iron Grip was the most popular of the slim-fit condoms we tried (as opposed to the slim/average in-between size of the Okamoto 004). Slightly narrower than the Okamoto 004, this design offers a snugger fit for slimmer penises with a lot of sensation, but it felt uncomfortably tight even for some testers who identified themselves as slim.
The German Billy Boy XXXXXL (aka XXL) latex condom worked best for our testers with thicker and longer penises, who described it as a “perfect fit” and as providing “sensitivity so good for me it felt like wearing nothing.” This condom is available only through online ordering, so it’s slightly more difficult to acquire, but according to our testers, it’s worth the extra effort.
Our testers loved the polyisoprene LifeStyles SKYN Large for the same reasons as the regular SKYN (our average pick). One tester remarked: “Excellent, stayed on even with a spongy erection, no residual taste or smell, no drag [friction] and felt wonderful to both of us.” While our testers preferred the Billy Boy XXL overall, this LifeStyles model is easy to find in drugstores.
Table of contents
- Why you should trust us
- Who should get this
- How we picked and tested
- Average fit
- Slim fit
- Generous fit
- What are condoms made of?
- Ingredients of concern
- The competition
Why you should trust us
In preparation for this guide, we spoke to nine experts, read hundreds of reviews, examined best-selling and top-ranked models from major condom retailers such as Condom Depot, Lucky Bloke, Condomania, and Amazon, and perused condom guides from sources ranging from Consumer Reports to Men’s Health. We also looked at academic studies and other sources related to consumer attitudes toward condoms and why people do or don’t enjoy using them.
Our experts included:
- Melissa White, CEO, Lucky Bloke
- Erin Valdes, general manager, Condomania
- Joanne, customer services, TheyFit Condoms
- Sex workers Erin Black and Blake Monroe, who rely on condoms to keep themselves protected while engaging in sexual acts with clients
- Mark McGlothlin, president of Apex Medical Technologies and a chemical engineer who developed the first nonlatex condom (and has worked on developing a skinlike collagen condom with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
- Dr. Carol Queen, staff sexologist, Good Vibrations
- Dr. Randolph D. Hubach, director of the Sexual Health Research Lab at Oklahoma State University
- Laura Anderson, a journalist who recently wrote an excellent long-form article on condoms for Slate
I’m a full-time writer and sex educator. I received my Master’s of Public Health degree from Indiana University in 2014, where I assisted research scientist Dr. Debra Herbenick with sexuality research. While at Indiana University, I also worked as a blogger and sex educator at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproductive Health, and I participated in numerous sexual-health initiatives to promote condom use among college students.
Who should get this
If you think you detest condoms, you’re far from alone. But you can find better options out there. Really. Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, said to us: “People are used to condoms being bad and mediocre—they don’t know that it’s possible to pick an enjoyable one. People don’t even know that there are three different sizes of condoms.” Those sizes are average, slim, and large, with some condoms, like one of our picks, falling in between.
Donning a condom that’s too big or too small is a recipe for displeasure. The tricky thing about finding one that fits like a glove is that condom sizing is not a precise science. Because everyone is a slightly unique shape, and because condom shapes can vary depending on design and materials, someone might technically be of an “average” size but prefer a model that’s classified as “slim,” for instance. Meanwhile, people have different preferences for tightness when it comes to comfort and enjoyment, and assorted types and thicknesses of materials have varying amounts of stretch.
Bottom line: The absolute best way to find a match is to figure out your general size and then try a few types to see what fits and feels the best for you and your partner. The initial investment in trying a new condom is low enough that it’s worthwhile to experiment with styles and size ranges, even if you already have a preferred brand—you may discover a product that’s a game-changer for you in a size range that isn’t technically yours. Our testers, for example, were pleasantly surprised by how much difference in fit and sensation they found among the various brands they tried. And the consequences go beyond how good sex feels: Finding condoms that fit correctly is crucial if you want them to serve their purpose without falling off, rolling up, or breaking. As chemical engineer Mark McGlothlin told us, when it comes to choosing a condom, “get[ting] used consistently is more important than any other attribute.” Condoms are the only method of contraception that also forms a barrier to prevent the spread of most sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) during insertive oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse.1 So finding a model you love is to the benefit of everyone involved.
How we picked and tested
Our experts agreed that size matters. In fact, it may be the most important factor when you’re selecting a condom. Joanne, a representative of the British brand TheyFit, told us that in the company’s research as well as in user feedback, men report detecting a difference in condoms that are just 2 millimeters larger or smaller in size. Erin Valdes of Condomania told us, “[G]ood fit is an important safety factor. A condom that is too small might not completely cover the penis, and there is an increased risk of breaking. If the condom is too big there’s a risk that it may slide off.” Within those parameters, though, you’ll find a huge gray area in which a condom will still stay on with full coverage and yet feel either more snug or more roomy. People’s preferences vary widely, so don’t be afraid to experiment within your range to determine what feels best for you.
With the exception of Trojan Magnums, the majority of condoms sold at drugstores are of average size—generally about 2 inches wide when flattened, and between 7 inches and 8 inches long. Although about 50 percent of American males fall into this category, according to Lucky Bloke, that means about one in two people with penises who buy standard condoms may be wearing the wrong size, which can reduce both pleasure and effectiveness. Another concern is the amount of variation between penis length and girth; these factors don’t always go together. A person with a penis that’s longer than average but narrow may enjoy a slim-fit condom, whereas a person with a penis that’s shorter than average but girthy may find a generous condom more comfortable. (And adjusting condom length is easier than adjusting girth.) This is why we chose to test condoms across three size categories: average, slim, and generous (plus some models that fell in between). This handy guide from Lucky Bloke can help you figure out your condom size.
Other important factors to consider when selecting a condom are the materials, including latex alternatives;2 the taste and odor; the thickness and texture, which can influence sensitivity but may also make a condom less durable; and the texture and quantity of the lubricant.
Most condoms are made from natural latex, but you’ll also encounter a number of latex-alternative condoms made from materials such as polyisoprene (synthetic rubber), nitrile, polyurethane, and polyethylene resin. Latex-alternative condoms are a must for people with latex allergies, but we found that some of them actually performed better overall than natural-latex ones.
Some factors that are less important but still relevant are appealing packaging, vegan latex (if you are vegan), or the manufacturer’s reputation (some companies, for example, contribute funds to global safer-sex initiatives). Lucky Bloke’s Melissa White told us that many people in their 20s and 30s like using ONE-brand condoms because of their stylish round packaging that sometimes features modern-art designs.
A single condom will cost you anywhere from nothing (from a public-health clinic) to 25 cents for a basic model up to almost $3 per piece for premium brands such as Unique Pull and Trojan Naturalamb. You will generally get a better deal buying in bulk, but you may want to purchase a small pack first to test a condom out before investing in several dozen. While the 25-cent condom will probably work fine, you’ll likely have a better experience using a condom in the $1-to-$2 range.
We narrowed our picks to 30 models across four categories: average fit, slim fit, generous fit, and latex alternatives, the last of which also contained some nontraditional nonlatex models such as the female condom. We tested a few brands that are available for purchase at a drugstore, but most of our picks are brands that you must buy online or through a specialty retailer, simply because these are the brands with the best reviews. We recruited 32 testers (20 people with penises, 12 people with vaginas) and asked them to use each of five different condoms at least twice for insertive anal or vaginal sex, or for solo masturbation if they had a penis (Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Randolph Hubach recommended this step as a way for testers to assess the fit and feel of a condom prior to using it for intercourse).
We asked the testers to rate the condoms on various criteria including overall satisfaction, to submit comments, and to report any allergic reactions, slippage, or breakage. The testers also submitted an exit survey to tell us their favorite and least favorite models. We required a minimum of at least three reviews from at least two testers per condom model.
We also conducted our own independent technical tests for factors such as odor, the ease of opening the package, the length and flat-width measurements of the condoms, the quality of the lubricant and material, and the ease of application.
Our average-fit pick
The LifeStyles SKYN condom won out because in our tests it fit and felt far better than rivals. Next to the competition, it’s also more attractive, less expensive, and available in more styles (ribbed, ultra thin, larger-size version, and so on).
Made of polyisoprene, a synthetic rubber, the SKYN received the highest sensitivity rating of all the average-size condoms we tested, including regular latex models and another polyisoprene model, the Durex Avanti. One tester called it “the best I’ve ever tried.” In fact, a comment that came up over and over again in both our tests and the consumer reviews we saw is that the SKYN is “the best they’ve ever tried” or “the only brand they’ll buy.” Next to such consumer loyalty, some of the other models our testers tried and described as “good but your average/typical condom” didn’t leave a strong impression.
Testers reported that the SKYN’s material transmitted heat and sensation so well that the result felt like sex without a condom. The polyisoprene synthetic rubber felt more natural and skinlike to our testers than natural latex. Like most latex condoms, SKYN condoms are elastic and easy to apply and remove, and they stay in place well for the duration of the sexual act.
Although polyisoprene has the advantage of being safe for people with latex allergies to use, we recommend this material as a superior alternative to natural latex for all condom users. The two polyisoprene models we tested received higher scores than the majority of our natural-latex options. Polyisoprene is a form of rubber, so it’s more elastic than other latex alternatives and therefore less likely to slip or to feel too tight. Though it is slightly less elastic than latex, polyisoprene’s primary advantage over natural latex is its texture: It feels softer, more skinlike, and less rubbery (ironically). Although one tester said that the SKYN felt thicker than some natural-latex models, this doesn’t seem to affect its ability to transmit heat and sensation.
If visual appeal motivates you to buy, carry, and use condoms, the LifeStyles SKYN is both attractive and widely available at drugstores and online. It has easy-to-open, aesthetically pleasing packaging and comes at a reasonable price—most retailers sell it for around $1 apiece.
As of this writing, the SKYN has a rating of 4.6 out of five on LuckyBloke and a comparable score on Condomania, with reviewers raving that it “feel[s] just as good as wearing nothing,” that “the heat transfer was the best I’ve ever had,” and that it’s “the only one we now buy.”
Average fit: Flaws but not dealbreakers
The SKYN’s material is thicker at its base, which may cause the condom to feel a bit more voluminous toward the head: “Awkward shape made pinching the reservoir tip slightly odd,” noted one of our testers, “but once I adjusted for the shape, all was well.” The SKYN is also very light on lubricant compared with other models, so you will want to supplement it with lubricant of your own.
Polyisoprene smells different from latex, giving off a faint nutty or sour-milk odor as opposed to an acrid rubber smell. Many reviewers and one of our testers described the SKYN as being “odorless,” while others were repulsed. While the smell was initially off-putting to some people, it seemed to fade and subside fairly quickly (and it seemed closer to natural body odor than that of natural latex). The odor didn’t seem to be a huge dealbreaker for most testers, however: They gave the odor an average score of 3.8 (with a score of five being the best).
The ONE Vanish received the highest overall satisfaction score (4.1 out of five) among all of the average-size natural-latex condoms we tested. It is a great condom, but testers didn’t love it as consistently as they did our pick.
Three of the six testers who tried it reported it as their favorite. It “had the better fit and was easier to put on and remove, felt more comfortable in comparison to others,” said one tester. The other testers remarked that it “left no smell or taste on my partner” and “work[ed] the most consistently.” ONE Condoms claims that the Vanish is made from “softer” latex, and our testers reported excellent sensations as a result: “At several points I thought it had fallen off because the sensitivity was so good on this one!”
On the other hand, one unimpressed tester complained that it was “very hard to open, left a really bad taste, much too thick, [and] my partner could not feel through it,” a testament to how truly subjective the experience of using condoms can be. Another tester griped that “there was a lot of latex drag, even with additional lube used.” People who dislike the rubbery friction and odor of latex may find polyisoprene condoms such as the LifeStyles SKYN to be a better option. The primary complaint from our testers was that the ONE Vanish’s round package, while stylish, is difficult to open. It offers no way to tear from the edge as a square condom package does, so some testers worried that they might accidentally rip the condom while tearing from the center edge of the package (though this never seemed to happen in practice).
Our runner-up is competitively priced next to our pick, but not as widely available. Most drugstores do not carry the ONE brand, so you may need to order the Vanish online.
Our slim-fit pick
We tested five condoms in the slim/average category (bigger than slim, but not quite as big as average), including three highly rated models from Japanese manufacturer Okamoto. The Okamoto Zero Zero Four 004 rose to the top with the distinction of being the thinnest latex condom currently available in the US market; it’s also a favorite of people with average-size penises who don’t mind a snugger condom and men with slimmer penises who prefer a condom that is not overly snug. Our testers reported that this model was easy to put on and take off and that the extrathin latex produced excellent sensitivity. One tester said that “this condom is wonderfully thin and feels like there’s nothing there.”
The Okamoto condoms had hands-down the smoothest and most lightweight lubricant and the least amount of odor of any latex condom we tested. While one tester described the odor as “awful,” other testers reported that it “left no smell or taste on either of us,” and in our technical tests it had the least amount of odor.
Slim fit: Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Okamoto 004’s “in-between” sizing means it may be too big for some slim penises and too slim for some average-size penises. Trying it is pretty much the only way to determine whether the size will work well for you or your partner.
The primary drawback of ultrathin latex is that it is more fragile and prone to breakage. Although these condoms are rigorously tested and FDA-approved, one of our testers encountered breakage with this model. We do not believe that this experience is indicative of a major flaw in the Okamoto 004, but rather that it is a problem related to the condom’s being too small for this particular tester: He self-reported his penis size as average but said that this condom felt uncomfortably tight. By contrast, several of our other slim and average-size testers found that these condoms either fit well or ended up being a little too big. This mixed result underscores the importance of sizing yourself correctly and finding a condom to match.
Erin Valdes of Condomania told us that, relative to other brands, there are fewer reports of Okamoto condoms breaking because of the quality of the lubricant and manufacturing. The 004 has an average score of five stars on Amazon and ranks as a best-seller on Condomania, with one reviewer saying that it’s “the best condom I’ve ever used,” and it “feels like you are not using a condom.” If you’re unsure whether the 004 may be too slim of a fit, trying it first in a low-risk scenario such as masturbation may help. Using additional lubricant or a thicker condom, such as the 004’s comparably rated sibling the Okamoto Crown, can also help to cut the risk of breakage.
This condom is it is a bit more expensive than others, running at close to $2 apiece at some retailers.
The Caution Wear Iron Grip emerged as the best of the three slim-fit models we tested (technically, the Okamoto 004 belongs in the slim/average bridge category). If the Okamoto 004 feels a bit too loose, the Iron Grip may fit just right. Testers reported that this model felt thinner and had relatively little odor compared with the other slim-fit condoms we tested. One of our testers who selected it as his favorite said, “It felt good putting it on, the lubrication was good, and it felt pleasurable the moment I started jacking off.”
This condom is so slim, it felt too tight for some of our testers, even those with slimmer penises: “The condom’s fit was so tight it actually constricted penile blood flow. It was difficult to take off. Had I used this with a partner, I would have been worried about tearing the material or spilling the contents while taking it off,” said one tester. It’s more than an inch shorter than our pick, so people with longer, slimmer penises may find our main pick more comfortable.
Another tester complained: “[L]ube seemed not as effective. Lost lubrication very quickly.” You can mitigate this issue by adding your own lubricant.
Our generous-fit pick
Our testers found Billy Boy XXXXXL (aka XXL) condoms easy to open and put on; they also noted this model’s comfortable shape and size and said that it offered excellent sensitivity compared with some of the other generous-size condoms we tested. It worked well for a variety of testers: “Overall great feel … perfect fit,” reported one. “Snug but felt ok. Went on easily. Sensitivity so good for me it felt like wearing nothing at some points,” said another. One tester who used this model with several different partners commented that this model worked well for all of them—everyone reported excellent fit and sensitivity.
Generous fit: Flaws but not dealbreakers
This condom’s lubrication has a bit of a powdery, greasy feel to it. Testers reported that the “lube didn’t last long when masturbating—need more and more,” and that it had “very little lube on it.” You can remedy this problem by adding water-based or silicone lubricant of your own. Some testers also said that the Billy Boy condoms had a rubbery odor.
Another potential drawback of the Billy Boy condom line is that it’s a boutique brand based in Germany, with limited availability in the US market. But the condoms are reasonably priced, and the quality makes them worth tracking down.
Generous fit runner-up
The LifeStyles SKYN Large is another fabulous generously sized condom with few drawbacks. Read the discussion of our average-size pick to see why we love the entire SKYN line of polyisoprene condoms. This model in particular may not work as well as our main pick for someone whose penis is much larger than average, though, as polyisoprene offers less stretch than latex does. We recommend the SKYN Large to individuals with latex allergies (or who prefer the feel of polyisoprene to latex), people who love the regular SKYN condoms but find them to be too snug, or anyone who needs a large condom immediately, as our top generous-size pick is available exclusively online.
What are condoms made of?
The majority of condoms are made from natural latex and coated with a silicone-based lubricant. Some lubricants (though not any of the ones that we tested) also contain flavoring, heating, or cooling agents. Some condoms are unlubricated, in which case they are generally covered in a light coat of corn starch and preservatives.
You can also find a number of latex-alternative condoms made of the following materials:
Polyurethane is a thin, flexible plastic that’s thinner and stronger than latex. It transmits heat better but also has less elasticity.
Polyisoprene is a synthetic form of latex that doesn’t contain the irritant that triggers people with latex allergies. It is more elastic than other latex alternatives but less elastic than natural latex. (Our testers also reported liking the texture of polyisoprene because it feels softer and less “rubbery.”)
Polyethylene resin, a material similar to certain types of plastic wrap, is three times stronger than latex and a third of the thickness. It is not elastic, but it molds itself well to penises.
Nitrile is a synthetic latex alternative that medical-supplies companies also use to make items such as gloves. While it is very thin and capable of transmitting heat well, it is not as elastic as latex.
“Lambskin” refers to a membrane created from sheep intestine, not the hide of the animal itself. This material may not be as effective against STIs as latex, but users often report that lambskin condoms feel much more natural and skinlike than either latex or other latex-alternative condoms. These tend to be considerably more expensive than latex condoms.
Ingredients of concern
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to latex condoms, in which case they should try a latex-alternative version.
Others experience allergic reactions to a condom’s lubricant or to an additive in the lubricant. If you have this type of reaction, we suggest using an unlubricated condom and adding your own lubricant. We recommend that all condom users avoid condoms with Nonoxynol-9–based spermicidal lubricant, as they have not proven to be more effective than regular condoms at preventing pregnancy or STIs and can actually increase the risk of STI transmission and irritate genital tissues.
The FC2 is the only internal condom available for sale in the US, so we tested it. If your situation requires a condom, and the partner with a penis hates the sensation of all condoms, period, the FC2 is an option. Inserted in advance of intercourse, it works with any size of penis as well as when the penis is only semierect, so you have no risk of its falling out or leaking if the insertive partner loses their erection, or if the partner stays in after finishing.
Our testers reported that using this condom involves a bit of a learning curve: “Insertion takes some time to get used to, but once you figure out how to insert the condom, they’re amazing. I use a dildo to aid in insertion,” said one tester. The testers either found it very pleasurable (“The condom felt great, so much so my partner had to keep checking to make sure it was still there”) or couldn’t get used to the feeling (“The experience of having plastic inside me as opposed to covering the body part entering me really made me uncomfortable”; “My partner felt that the condom felt “fake” and ‘not like human flesh’… it decreased his arousal”).
Atlas True Fit
This condom is on the smaller size of average. Our testers liked it a lot, saying it “transferred sensation well and fit well, [with] just enough pressure around the base to know it was there but almost ‘invisible’ on the shaft,” but they preferred the thinner Okamoto 004 overall.
LifeStyles Snugger Fit
Testers said this one had too much lubrication, leaving a greasy feeling, as well as a strong latex taste and smell. It was also somewhat thicker than the other models we tested.
This model was the least popular of the slim-fit condoms we tested. One tester complained: “Way too small, and the tip was way too big. We didn’t finish using it because I was afraid it would slip off.” According to another, it “slid off during masturbation.” While this condom is a vegan option, it was one of the worst-smelling models we tested.
Slim to average-size condoms
Our testers loved the Crown’s sheer pink latex and high-quality lube, but its thinner brandmate, the Okamoto 004, won out by a smidgen. One tester reported: “[A]pplication is easy, packaging is easy to open, and it fits well. The material is thin enough to be very pleasurable.” Another, after trying it out, simply remarked, “God is Good.”
In our technical tests, we experienced some issues with this condom rolling and bunching up during application.
This condom worked great for some average-size testers but felt too tight for others. People disliked this condom’s texture, saying that it “definitely had a non-natural ‘latex-y’ feeling to it” and “felt rubbery during sex.”
Sustain Ultra Thin
This brand’s primary selling point is that the latex is “fair trade” and “sustainably produced.” Nothing about it really made it stand out to our testers, who said that it was “definitely thin but pretty average otherwise.” Testers also had some minor issues with opening the package and with application.
Billy Boy Extra Thin
This condom was very popular with our testers. This one was the best so far,” said one. Other comments: “Worked well for all of my partners” and “Comfortable … and felt very natural.” The primary complaint was about this condom’s smell, which people described as “strong” and “kind of plastic-ey.”
ONE Pleasure Plus
This condom features a ribbed pouch toward the head that is supposed to enhance sensation. It received rave reviews from testers: “We both really liked the shape with the pouch. It felt really good for both of us,” said one. “The sensations were great,” noted another. “Super pleased with this condom and the wearer loved that it stayed in place,” said a third. The main drawbacks: The latex is a bit thicker than in other models, and the circular package can be difficult to open.
Sir Richard’s Ultra Thin
This condom didn’t stand out in any regard—one tester “loved it” while another complained that it “rolled a smidge.”
L Condoms Ultra Thin
L offers some neat perks, including a free trial package and one-hour delivery in select markets (making it a viable alternative to drugstore brands). One tester reported that this condom “fit perfectly,” but others were underwhelmed, describing it as a “run of the mill, general latex condom experience” and having a “very strong unpleasant smell.”
Testers had mixed opinions regarding this one, with comments ranging from “Perfect, it felt really nice” to “Felt really thick, not pleasurable.”
This vegan European brand was one of the least popular of our average-size options. Testers reported that it was “too tight and broke on two occasions,” caused an “itchy, burning sensation,” and “just smelled bad.”
Durex Extra Sensitive
Testers weren’t crazy about this condom even though it had better consumer reviews than many other drugstore options. They reported that it “dulled sensation,” was difficult to put on (it stuck to itself and didn’t roll down well), and had lubricant that “felt tacky.”
Average to generous-size condoms
Kimono MicroThin Large
Although these condoms are marketed as generous-size, our testers found them to be too snug (“I would use these condoms for normal-sized penises that are on the larger side, but not for a truly bigger-sized penis,” said one) and complained that they had a tendency to wrinkle and roll up during application.
ONE The Legend
This model ranked neck-and-neck with our top pick, the Billy Boy XXXXXL. While testers liked the shape and found it pleasurable to use, they also struggled to open the round package, disliked the smell, and felt that the lubricant was inadequate.
Trojan Magnum XL
This condom—with a 2.2-inch shaft width, a 2.56-inch head width, and an 8.07-inch length—is perhaps the largest kind you’ll find at a drugstore. It performed well: Testers found it easy to put on and liked the fit and shape, which means it’s a good option for larger-than-average penises. It did, however, have an unpleasant smell.
Trojan Magnum BareSkin
The classic drugstore “larger condom,” this model also works well for men on the larger size of average who prefer a roomier fit. The BareSkin features thinner latex than the XL, and our testers liked it apart from the unpleasant plastic smell.
Testers reported an unpleasant smell, “too much lubricant,” and some challenges with the condom rolling during application. One tester said that he “did not like the shape of the condom at the head of the penis, it was tight and uncomfortable.”
Sir Richard’s Extra Large
Testers reported that this condom had an unpleasant smell but was easy to put on.
Durex Avanti Bare
Made of polyisoprene, this condom is quite similar to the LifeStyles SKYN, our top pick in the average category. Our testers reported that it offered great sensitivity, despite an unpleasant smell. Note that this version is quite different from the original Avanti condom, which Durex made from polyurethane, not polyisoprene.
This unusual model is best for people with thicker penises, as it is not very elastic and it stays put by clinging to the penis like plastic wrap; it also has a texture that is much more thin and plasticky than latex. Unlike with traditional latex condoms, its application involves pull tabs, and it comes in a pack of three in a nifty credit-card-shaped case. “I was dubious about the material (it felt like saran wrap) but it was very easy to put on compared to a regular condom once it was out of the package,” wrote one tester. “The material felt good during sex but slippage was a concern.” Said another tester: “My partner complained that when he rolled it on, it stretched strangely … He also thought the band was too tight. We tried another one due to the bagging issue … [it] went on easier with practice though it broke part of the way through sex.”
This model is currently the only polyurethane condom available in the US. While the material is very thin and capable of transmitting heat and sensation well, it is not very elastic, and our testers sometimes found this condom to be a bit snug and difficult to take on and off.
Hundreds of condoms are available, but we chose to limit ourselves to the top-rated options. Here are some of the others we considered, and why we didn’t include them for testing:
Impulse Bare Pleasure
Although this model is a Condom Depot “best condom” winner, some people find the ribbed and studded texture irritating.
Trustex Extra Large
While this condom made Condom Depot’s best-of list and is reported to be wider as well as longer, some reviewers complain that it feels thick and breaks easily.
LifeStyles Ultra Sensitive
One of our experts recommended this budget condom to us, but we decided to go with the LifeStyles THYN instead.
Durex Performax and Performax Intense
These condoms are textured and coated with a numbing lube that is supposed to help prevent premature ejaculation. Some reviewers report that the numbing effect is too intense, or that the ribs irritate the receptive partner.
Trojan Ultra Thin
This model was a Consumer Reports pick in 2010, but reviewers say that it’s overrated and sometimes prone to breaking, and that it doesn’t actually feel thinner.
An expensive and nonvegetarian choice. Another concern is the controversy over the effectiveness of lambskin condoms in preventing STIs. Couples who use condoms only for contraception swear by it, despite its reportedly weird smell.
Our experts recommend this kind for covering sex toys and for oral sex, but you have better options for vaginal and anal intercourse.
LifeStyles Extra Strength
Because this model is extremely durable, our experts recommend it for anal sex, but it’s thicker than other models and may offer less sensation.
Some people prefer this budget-priced generous-size condom over the Trojan Magnum. We did not test it, as other models had better reviews overall.
- General manager at Condomania, Interview ,
- Customer services at TheyFit Condoms, Interview ,
- Sex worker, Interview , ,
- Sex worker, Interview , ,
- President at Apex Medical Technologies, Interview ,
- Staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, Interview ,
- Director at the Sexual Health Research Lab at Oklahoma State University, Interview ,
- Journalist, Interview , ,
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Originally published: March 22, 2016