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Hula Hoop Tubing Comparison: PE, HDPE, and Polypro

By shelledhoops, Aug 15 2015 02:19AM


hula hoop tubing comparison, types of hula hoop tubing, polypro versus hdpe tubing
Tubing types: PE vs HDPE vs Polypro

Whether you are already a hooper or are on your path to become one, knowing and understanding the different types of tubing used to make hoops is a good idea. Maybe this hoop purchase will be your very first or maybe you own several already….but either way you want to make sure that you get a hoop with the appropriate size/weight/durability for your particular body type or skill level. There are 3 main types of tubing used for making hoops these days, and each type comes in different sizes. Further adding to the confusion is the way these tubing types are classified by inner or outer diameters. For someone who isn’t familiar with all this ‘hoop talk’ it can sort of make your head spin a bit! But no worries, hopefully we can help you better understand these tubing types so you know which type you should invest into as your first, or next hoop.


PE Tubing (Polyethylene)

Polyethylene (PE) tubing is the black tubing that you can purchase from the plumbing section of the hardware store. Although its intended to be used for like well pumps, irrigation lines, sprinkle lines….i am pretty sure that just as much of it gets purchased for making hula hoops. When I first started making day hoops out of this tubing several years ago the people working at the store were always very curious about me purchasing multiple rolls of this plumbing tube. Hula hooping, and making hoops, has gotten so much more popular in the last few years though and now the workers all seem used to it and know exactly why I am rolling out of Lowes with a trunk full of PE tubing.
This tubing is usually available in 3 different sizes, (1/2”id, 3/4”id, and 1”id). The way this tubing is classified is according to its inner diameter. You can read more about inner and outer diameters in my other blog, but basically if you are looking into a piece of the 3/4″ tubing it would measure 3/4” of an inch from one inside edge to the other inside edge. The tubing is also classified by its psi (pounds per square inch). If the tubing were actually being used for plumbing purposes this would relate to how much water pressure it would handle. A higher psi means the tubing walls are thicker and it can handle more water pressure. In the hula hoop sense, higher psi tubing is heavier.
In our shop we make our beginner hoops out of 3/4″ 100 psi PE tubing. This is a really great tubing for learning hooping. The tubing is heavy enough that it makes the hoop easy to keep up, but not overly heavy that you cannot learn basic tricks/dance moves with it. You can purchase your beginner hoop from us here….we have some signature designs or you can design your own!
We use the 3/4″ 160 psi tubing for our weighted/workout hoops. Although we call these slightly heavier hoops the ‘work out’ hoops, you should know that any hoop would be a great workout! The beginner hoops will be just as much of a workout as these are, just a little bit lighter. Hooping in general is just a great core workout so even using a very small light hoop would do your body great….its just a easier with the bigger hoops because they move slower around your body so you can keep them up with less effort. You can purchase your workout hoop from us here in our shop!
We use the 1/2″ tubing for what I call the trick hoops/intermediate hoops, as well as for the kids hoops. These hoops are a really great weight for when you already have the basics of hooping down and you want to progress more into hoop dance and learning tricks. They are also great for kids as they are a great weight, and also because one of these hoops will far outlast the lifetime of one of the department store hula hoops which can bend and break so easily. This PE tubing is pretty tough stuff!!

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

In our shop we use a lot of natural color HDPE tubing for our LED hula hoops, which you can purchase in our shop! HDPE is lightweight, so it is great for advanced hoopers….but it is also extremely durable, which makes it also great for beginners and children. The LEDs and wires in the hoops add some weight, so don’t be intimidated that it will be too light for you. The tubing is very flexible/bouncy, contributing to its durability, but this is also a great quality for dancing and doing tricks with.
We carry HDPE in three different sizes, and here’s where it can get confusing…these sizes are classified by outer diameters! So we use 5/8” od, 3/4” od, and 7/8” od tubing for our LED hoops. Some people get confused and think that because they like their 3/4″ id PE tubing day hoop that they should order their LED hoop with 3/4″ od tubing. Because of this id versus od confusion, the 3/4″ id HDPE tubing used for LED hoops is actually thinner and lighter than the 3/4″ id PE tubing. It’s really the 7/8” od HDPE tubing that compares nicely with the 3/4″ id PE tubing. Have I confused you yet? If so please feel free to comment or write me…I can’t tell you how many times I have explained this so I certainly won’t mind trying to help you choose the right tubing diameter before purchasing your LED hoop!!


Polypro Tubing (Polypropylene)

Last but not least, the infamous polypro tubing! This seems to be the relatively new fad in hooping, and I too have fallen custom to the polypro hoops. It wasn’t really used for hoops when I first started playing with them and making them…but they are quite popular now. The weight of polypro is very similar to HDPE tubing, but they feel and look is different. Polypro is a very hard/stiff/rigid tubing. It’s just as responsive as HDPE for dancing and tricks, but it moves faster which is probably why it is preferred by some hoopers style of flow. Being such a stiff, rigid tubing makes it more delicate though and polypro hoops are not uncommon to crack/break, especially in cooler temperatures. However do not let that deter you from giving them a try…in all the hooping I have done with polypro hoops both daytime ones and LED hoops, I have never broke one….and I let a lot of strangers and less than sober people play with my hoops too! I should also mention that for use in LED hoops, natural polypro is also clear, where natural HDPE is white….but don’t worry the LED lights shine through the HDPE just as much! And aside from its use in LED hoops, the clear tubing makes some really cool day hoops too which you can purchase in our shop!