Photo: Top is polypro, bottom is HDPE

The age old question of every advanced hooper – WHICH TUBING SHOULD I BUY? I get this question every day!

So I figured I would bring some information to the world about what are the respective pros and cons of these very popular hoop tubings. This is based on my opinion and experience with both tubings and does not reflect the hoop community as a whole.

I’ve been working with HDPE since Rich Porter of Isopop posted his amazing tutorial on How to make high-performance white plastic hoops.

Unlike PE (polyethylene) tubing, which is black, thick-walled, heavier, and used for slow hooping or beginner hooping, HDPE (High-Density Polyethlyene) and Polypro (polypropyelene) are the go-to tubings for tricks, off-body hooping, and responsive manipulation. Hooping off-body with heavy hoops is definitely doable, but it can be a strain on your joints over time and and cause bruising or injury. For some, this period of hooping goes away. (I used a PE hoop for 3 years  before I began to regularly  use HDPE and Polypro and didn’t find the consequences of a heavy hoop to hold me back. But back then hooping was mainly on-body so a lightweight hoop wasn’t essential. ) For others it only worsens and can make hooping insufferable.

So let’s get to the pros and cons of these two amazing circles. I won’t mention weight differences since they are almost exactly the same.

HDPE Pros:
White (It looks great with certain translucent tubings, especially sunrise/sunset! It provides a white backdrop.)
Bouncy (It is harder than regular PE but softer than Polypro.)
Softer Plastic (You can interweave hoops inside each other easily.)
Bendy (If you are using the hoop in very cold conditions HDPE is ideal because it can withstand colder temperatures.)

HDPE Cons:
Not translucent (Compared to polypro, if you want your hoop to be truly see-through you won’t get that with HDPE.)
Softer Plastic (While also a pro for certain tricks, softer plastic can decrease the recoil on breaks/paddles. This is again a matter of opinion. Some people do not like to have very bouncy hoops for shoulder hooping.)
Tear-shaped hoop with HDPE insert (This is a hoopmaking matter, but sometimes people use HDPE as an insert on smaller diameter hoops, this can lead to a bent connector because the softer plastic is not suitable for higher tension. A way to avoid this is to use a straight polypro connector on smaller HDPE tubing diameters.)Heat Sensitive (If I ever leave an HDPE in a car coiled up, I can expect to have a few hours of suntanning it in my future to get the hoop to get back into shape. During the shipping process HDPE more easily maintains its coiled curvature after unwrapping than polypro. Thankfully the ease of shape-shifting also aids in making the hoop get back into a circle quickly!)

Polypro Pros:
Translucent (The sun can shine through your hoop to bring some backlight to your stellar translucent or sequin tape.)
Harder Plastic (This is almost as bouncy as it gets. Superceded only by polycarbonate, I think polypro is the best bounce for your buck!)
Maintains Shape (This tubing holds it shape better. I love bending this tubing against the ground and having it fly up into the air. I can’t do this with my HDPE tubing nearly as high!)
Heat Resistant (If I’m out in the 100 degree weather hooping for a day I  bring my Polypro hoops because they are not going to get noodley on me. Sometimes I’m afraid to use my HDPE hoops if they’ve been in the sun too long because I can feel that they are softer plastic).

Polypro Cons:Translucent (If you don’t want to see the backside of a grip tape then you might not want translucent tape!)
Harder Plastic (This tubing is so bouncy it might fly off of you. This may not be ideal if you are an ultra-beginner.)
Heat Resistant (If you have happened to have your suitcase on your hoop in a hot car and you now need to reshape your hoop, you will need stronger heat forces like hot water or a blow dryer to get the job done. )