When you are new to the hooping world going though all the options while purchasing a hoop is a daunting process. There are so many different categories and styles that it can feel overwhelming. Most shops carry a handful of premade ready to ship hoops, but the majority of the time every purchase you make from a hoopsmith is custom made for you. So we here at ShelLED Hoops have put together a comprehensive list all of the options you have, what they all mean, and how they effect the product you are being sent. Once you have a good understanding of your choices, deciding how to custom order your own hoop is a much easier process!
Basic Hoop Construction Options
When it comes to basic hoop construction you have three main options to consider: the connector, which keeps the hoop in a circle by combining the ends of the tubing, the material of the hoop tubing itself, and hoop taping options.
Outer Connection: This means that the part that holds one end of tubing with the other end of tubing is on the outside of the ends. This typically creates a “cuff” around the area.
Inner Connection: These are more typical than outer connections, and just means the part that is keeping the two ends together is on the inside of the tubing. There are two typical types of inner connections, friction fit and push button. A friction fit connector is a piece of tubing that is placed inside each end of the hoop to connect it; the piece on the inside of the hoop is so tight that the two ends of the hoop stay clamped onto the interior piece. When ordering a friction fit hoop you will often be sent with the connector only attached to one side. To connect the two ends together, you will take some sort of heat source such as a blow dryer or warm water to soften the ends and push the hoop together. A push button connection is when the interior tubing that holds both ends of the hoop together has a small piece of metal hardware attached to it consisting of a riveted end and a button end. The hoopsmith attaches the riveted end to one side of the inner connector piece, then drills a hole into the other end of the hoop tubing where the button end of the hardware fits. This allows for a seamless connection and makes it easier to take the hoop apart and put the hoop back together. When you receive a push button connector on your hoop you will simply take the end that has the small button and put it into the other side of the tubing, you will need to hold the button down until it is almost all the way into the tube, keep pushing until you see the button pop out of the hole on the other side of the connection.
Common Hula Hoop Material Choices
Polypropylene: Commonly refered to as “polypro”, this is a very common hoop material as it is very light and springy. It is commonly said to be a very “responsive material”.
HDPE: HDPE stands for High Density Polyethylene, and is also very common like Polypro. The weight of the material is similar to polypro but it is a harder plastic and is commonly referred to as a “reactive material”.
PolyCarb: Polycarbonate is the lightest of all materials, however it is a much more rare tubing choice. PolyCarb hoops tend to be translucent in color, and while they are extremely light they tend to be more brittle, thus making them more prone to cracks.
PE: Simply standing for Polyethylene, this is what most “beginner” hoops are made out of. While it is a very common material for beginners it by no means is an inferior hoop, many advanced hoopers still prefer this material. It is the heaviest option which slows the hoops rotation and better allows you to learn with the hoop. This material is also very flexible so it allows for a little more give when hooping.
Size of Tubing
1⁄2 inch: This is the smallest size tubing you can purchase and is typically found in Polycarb hoops or sometimes Polypro.
5/8 inch: The thickness of these hoops are about the size of your pinky, they are still extremely light. You will find most 5/8 hoops are made from Polypro or HDPE
3⁄4 inch: This is the thickest of the typical hoop tubing and is about the size of your thumb. Most 3⁄4 hoops are made from PE, HDPE, or Polypro.
Hoop Tape and Grip Options
Color Morph: Color Morph tape creates an illusion effect of changing colors while the hoop moves.
Reflective: This tape is similar to what you see on road signs at night. It is bright and shinny, but only has that effect when there is a direct light source. The effects are best seen in a video taken with flash.
Specialty: This is a type of tape placed around the hoop that may be in limited quantity, or a color/pattern that is unique that a specific hoop shop.
Gaffer/Grip: This is typically seen as a line inside the hoop, spiraled around the hoop, or in a criss-cross pattern around the hoop. This tape helps the hoop stick to you and makes it easier to learn and progress with on body hooping.
Sanding: This creates extra grip on the hoop without the look and use of grip tape. It is common to have “inside line” which would be only the inside section of the hoop, or having the entire hoop sanded. While some shops list this as an option, this may also come standard on a hoop, or the shop may include a small piece of sandpaper with the hoop so you may sand the hoop to your own specifications.
Categories and Sub-Categories of Hoops
The basic construction options are not the only thing you need to consider when purchasing a new hoop. You also need to know what style of hoop would best fit your needs!
Beginner Hoops: These hoops are made from PE material, with a friction fit connection, they have decorative and gaffer tape.
Day Hoop/ Practice Hoops/ Performance Hoop: They are made from any type of tubing, and are typically seen with a push button connector. If they are listed as “naked” or “bare” they have no tape and will often come with an option of sanding the hoop, otherwise you will be given an option to choose from the shops selection of decorative and graffer tapes.
Single Circuit LED: This is a type of hoop that has a string of lights inside the hoop. Sometimes it may be one color, or it could be multiple colors. Some have strobing lights while some may be static, just be sure to fully read the listing.
Two Circuit LED: These hoops are a little more rare and have a switch that you can switch between two different single circuit LEDs in one hoop.
Smart Hoop: Most commonly found in 3⁄4 HDPE, but there are some companies coming out with selections for 5/8 and Polypro. These are the most expensive hoops you can find and have 300+ patterns (more than one setting of colors in the hoop) and designs. These can range anywhere between $250-$500 depending on brand and customization.
How to Find a Hoop Shop That Will Fit Your Needs
The best way to find a shop to accommodate your needs is through referrals, if you have friends or family members who are involved in the hoop community ask what companies they trust and you will be pointed in the right direction.
Reputation: You will also want to be familiar with the shops general community reputation, for instance ShelLED Hoops is known for their amazing quality, fast shipping, and dedication to customer service.
Facebook: One of the best ways to find a shop to fit your needs is to search though the “Hula Hoop Shop Directory” group on facebook. You can search through posts from companies highlighting their shops specialty, or you could post what you are looking for and shops can comment with how they would be able to accommodate you. If you are unsure about a shop you may also want to check out the Infinite Circles group on facebook, in the files section of their page they have a list of companies who have had complaints in the past this list is posted under “Buyer Beware”
Websites: When looking for a hoop many hoopsmiths have their own websites which will detail exactly what you are purchasing, be sure to not only read the product description but also the shops general policies and procedures. If the shop you are considering is listed on Etsy, reading through the reviews is a good idea to get a feel of previous customers satisfaction.
Shipping: When considering shipping while purchasing a hoop you will want to read further into the method of shipping, not just asking the question “is it being shipped through UPS, FEDEX, or USPS?”. Because hoops are handcrafted be sure you are also aware of the build time for a shop. Build times typically range anywhere between one week up to two months depending on the style of hoop and type of shop.
Keep in mind when ordering from any hoopsmith, they want you to be pleased with your purchase, they are handcrafting an item for you and hope you love your hoop just as much as they enjoyed making it for you. If you ever have any questions about an order reach out to the shop owner or a sponsored hooper and they would be MORE than happy to help you in any way possible! The hoop industry is constantly changing and evolving so don’t be surprised if you see more options for customization or construction in the future!