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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!

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Hula Hoop Sizing: Choosing the Right Size or the Next Size

By shelledhoops, Jul 30 2015 12:27AM

Hula hooping for beginners, choosing the right hula hoop size
Choosing the right hoop can set you up for success!

When I was a young girl the plastic hula hoops available were all basically the same size no matter which retail store you found them at. They were lightweight, and very easy to bend or kink…which is why they cost only a dollar or so. Nowadays hula hoops are available in so many different sizes, weights, and believe it or not even a couple unique shapes (I have totally seen someone hoop with square hoops). Those cheap hoops from the past were so light and hard to keep up since you had to move so fast to do so. Sure as a kid you could get it going, but not many adults or even teenagers could pick one of those up and keep it up.
When I started getting into the music festival scene and was inspired by some really awesome hoopers to go back to my childhood obsession, the first thing I did was go and purchase one of these cheap hoops like I was used to using as a little girl. I brought it home thinking that I would still totally have it…like riding a bike right? Well no, not really!! I was so disappointed, not only could my little sister do it but my mother could too! I struggled a lot with it the first day, got frustrated with it, and then finally got it good again. But it was difficult and not graceful at all. It was too light and too small compared to some of the hoops that I had been seeing at the festivals.
I shopped around online and found this website selling water weighted hula hoops for working out. I read that heavier hoops were easier so I decided to give that a try! Oh my gosh was this thing easy to keep up!! It was slightly awkward when you first started it because of the water gushing around the circle, but once you got it around once it was like you barely had to work for it at all! It was so mindless that you could literally sit in front of the television and watch your favorite program just peacefully hooping away. The downside….bruises!! The weight of it would make your belly and hips get some bruises in the beginning, but after a couple of times that wasn’t a problem anymore.

So yeah basically….if you would like to hoop but think you cannot do it, I can almost guarantee that you can! It’s just all about the right size hoop.
Bigger and heavier hoops are easier to keep up because they slow the rotation down, you do not have to move so fast to keep up with them. Beginner hoopers should start out with something nice and large….like a 36-40” hoop! Actually 38” seems to be a really conventional and popular size for beginner hoops. Day hoops of this type and size will generally be made with 3/4″ id PE tubing, the black tubing found in the plumbing section of hardware stores. It’s a great size/weight to learn on, but it’s also not overly heavy so you will still be able to learn basic tricks and dance moves with it. I learned quick with that the water weighted hoop that I bought that basically all you could do with it was waist hoop, it was too heavy to dance or do tricks with….so I moved down to a non weighted hoop like the ones I just mentioned. We sell beginner day hoops of this type in our shop! Or maybe you have your day hoop already and are ready to treat yourself to an LED hoop? Well if you like these larger and heavier hoops than you should get one of our 7/8” HDPE LED hoop. This is the size/weight that compares nicely with the hoops discussed above. I know the inner diameter and outer diameter terminology used to describe different tubing types (3/4″ i.d PE versus 7/8” o.d HDPE) can get confusing. If you would like to read more about i.d and o.d please refer to my other blog post discussing this….otherwise just take my word for it that you should go for our 7/8” LED tubing if you like your hoop on the larger size!
In the hula hooping world you will generally always move down in hoop size as you move up in skill level. The better you get, the faster you will want to hoop, and the lighter of a hoop you will want/need to get tricks down. If you are ready to make this transition the next hoop you will probably want to get in the middle of should be one made from the 1/2″ id PE tubing from the hardware stores…the thinnest stuff they offer for making taped day hoops with. You’re in luck…we sell these too! And if you would like your first/next LED hoop to compare nicely with this hoop than it would be the 3/4″ od HDPE tubing that you will want! (Again, id versus od gets people mixed up…sorry!!). At this level of hooping you could probably call yourself an intermediate….and 3/4″ HDPE tubing is so great for this level of hooping! It’s lighter, yet not too light…and it’s so darn durable!! The 3/4″od hoops are also great for beginners who know that can keep a hoop up just fine and want to learn more dance and trick moves. If you already can hoop, then you might quickly outgrow a 7/8” LED hoop, so might as well just start with one of these ones instead! These 3/4″ od hoops are most commonly ordered between like 30-36” id. The range in sizes again reflects back to skill level for the most part, and body size a bit too! If you are a taller or curvier hooper, you probably would want to stay in the higher end of this range for your hoop…whereas if you are a tiny little thing go smaller. Having a hoop that’s too big or too small for you will interfere with your flow. I’ve heard people say before that you shouldn’t let your hoop stand taller than your own belly button…so that might be a good rule of thumb if you want to pull out a tape measure and check that length! Otherwise just wing it based on a hunch, or based on how big your last hoop was and how much smaller you might want this one to be. Although we see this type of hoop ordered in the whole range of sizes, the 36” id is probably the most popular size ordered for them, which is why we set that as our ‘generic’ size when people do not customize a size on their LED hoop purchase.
Now you’ve been hooping your little heart out for quite some time now and you are ready to step it up a bit, so you should once again step it down in size. Perhaps you are ready to give this polypro tubing you hear everyone talk about a try. Whether you decide on polypro tubing or stick with the more durable HDPE tubing, you will probably find yourself wanting a good couple inches smaller hoop diameter. Maybe you want to stick with 3/4″ tubing and just go to that lower end of the size range (so maybe like 30-32”), or maybe you would like to try the 5/8” tubing now. For 5/8” hoops, we highly discourage making them any larger than 32” id. The tubing is so thin that at larger sizes the hoops seem a little ‘wonky’….like flimsy. These hoops are most popular between like 27-30” id, so if you think you are ready to give them a try I would stick within that range! Once you work your way down to hooping with a tiny hoop like this, you have probably reached a size you won’t grow out of. I love my 28” id 5/8” polypro hoop….and I am quite positive that I will use that size forever now.

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Hula Hoop Sizing: Inner Diameter vs Outer Diameter

By shelledhoops, Jul 30 2015 12:07AM


Inner diameter vs outer diameter, hula hoop sizing, getting started hula hooping
ID vs OD Diagram

Whether you are a first time buyer or have several hoops already, the language of hoop sizes can get confusing. More specifically the concept of inner versus outer diameters can rattle your brain a bit when trying to choose the right size, or making sure you ordered the size you intended to. These terms are used in describing the tubing itself, so how thick it is, and of course the diameter of the actual hoop.

When it comes to the tubing itself, the HDPE and polypro tubing used for LED hoops (or the colored tubing used for day hoops) is categorize by the tubes outer diameter. So the 3/4” tubing measures three quarters of an inch across from each outside rim…. the measurement takes into account the wall thickness of the tube. The inner diameter of that same tubing measures 5/8” which is why the 5/8” od tubing is used as the insert tubing for connecting 3/4” hoops.

So that may be pretty straightforward, but what can be confusing is when you are used to the day hoops made from the black PE tubing at hardware stores. This tubing is categorized by inner diameter, so the 3/4” id tubing at the hardware store is actually quite different in size and weight from the 3/4” od tubing that say your first LED hoop might come in. If you are used to that 3/4” black PE tubing and would like to order an LED hoop that compares nicely to that tubing than it is actually the 7/8” HDPE tubing that you should order. Some people also get confused by this because they know that they like the thinnest day hoop tubing from the hardware store, which is the 1/2” id tubing, so they think that they should order the thinnest LED hoop tubing we offer, which is the 5/8” tubing. Again, these two do not compare well…the 1/2″ id black PE tubing actually compares nicely to the 3/4″ od HDPE tubing. The 5/8” tubing is thinner and lighter. So if you are going to order your LED hoop with intentions of it being similar to your favorite daytime taped PE hoop than this should help you know which tubing is most appropriate for you to choose.

More commonly the inner and outer diameter terminology is used to describe the size of the hoop itself. Inner diameter (id) is measured from one inside edge of the hoop straight across to the other inside edge. Therefore, the inner diameter measurement does not take into account the thickness of the tubing. Outer diameter (od) is measured from one outside edge of the hoop across to the other outside edge, therefore taking account of tubing thickness in the measurement. The thicker the tubing, the more different the inner diameter is from the outer diameter. So with 3/4″ tubing, for example a 35” id hoop would have a 36.5” od measurement. And for a 32” id hoop, the od would be 33.5”. So the difference between inner and outer diameter for the 3/4″ tubing is 1.5” (since ¾” + ¾” = 6/4 = 1.5). Basically whatever the tubing thickness is, if you double it then that is what the difference between the id and od of the hoop would be. Going off of this then, for the 5/8” tubing the difference between the inner diameter and outer diameter of a hoop is 1.25”. Therefore a 28” id hoop has an od of 29.25”. Or a 28” od hoop has an id of 26.75”. We are always happy to do conversions in either direction for customers, but it is nice knowing how these measurements and conversions work.

So what’s more commonly used, the inner diameter or outer diameter? In our experience inner diameter has always been more popular but we really have been seeing a lot of each lately when given size preferences for hoops. I think the reasoning behind inner diameter being more common is that the inner diameter of the hoop is the part that actually comes in contact with the body while hooping. More often than not we are still given inner diameters on orders, but the outer diameter specs have been getting more popular…especially on the small 5/8” hoop orders it seems. Perhaps the rise of so much off body style hooping has shifted the way people measure their hoops! Or maybe not, but it’s logical thought!

I hope you found this explanation of inner and outer diameters useful for better understanding how hula hoops and the tubing used to make them is measured! If you are still confused please feel free to contact me. Otherwise go ahead and start shopping for some new hoops!