While researchers all over the world were scrambling to come up with grant-worthy ideas for the Gates Foundations’ Next Generation Condom, a class at the University of Oregon took a different direction. Under the guidance of Kiersten Muenchinger, director of the Product Design Program, and John Park, instructor of digital arts, students closely studied products that are already out there. The students tested 70 different condoms on 20 attributes they thought were important including speed, lubrication, taste, and, of course, material strength.
The results weren’t all that surprising. “No one condom out there was hitting all marks on every test that we did,” says Muenchinger. In fact, the condoms that performed the best ranked in the top 10 on only nine of the twenty attributes. Although no one condom could do it all, merely getting familiar with the products had an impact on the students. “The more everyone worked on this, the more they developed a sense of what they liked in a condom and what they didn’t like in a condom,” says Muenchinger. Until the there’s a revolution in condom technology, you’ll have to put in your own efforts to figure out what you prefer. If you don’t know where to start, here are the condoms that did best in University of Oregon’s tests.
Best For Finding the Right-Side Out
Winner: Trustex Lubricated
Unlike many of its competitors, the Trustex Lubricated condom has a very simple design. Perhaps that’s what gave it the winning edge in this category, which tested how easy it was to tell which side of the condom was the outside. According to research published in Sexual Health, four to 30 percent of men have admitted to putting a condom on inside-out, then flipping it over and using it again, which can expose both partners to bodily fluids that they were trying to protect against.
Two-Way Tie: Night Light and Durex High Sensation condom
This test didn’t specify what made for a good or bad sounding condom but the general consensus was that a loud or plastic-sounding condom was less desirable. The best performers on this test were the Durex High Sensation condom and the Night Light condom, which glows in the dark thanks to a non-toxic pigment sealed between two layers of latex.
The Winner: Trojan Supra BareSkin Lubricated
In general, the students found that a good smelling condom was also a good tasting condom. So it makes sense that one of the odor winners also won the taste test. Overall, the condoms that scored best in taste were unflavored, like the Trojan Supra BareSkin Lubricated condom. The only flavored condoms to break the top ten were Fantasy Flavored and Trustex Mint Flavored Lubricated condoms.
The Best For Heat Transfer
The Winner: Night Light
The Night Light got top marks in the heat transfer category, a condom attribute that many people say makes for a more pleasurable, protected sex experience. Maybe it’s something about that non-toxic pigment.
The Winner: ONE Pleasure Dome
In order to judge how much they liked the lubrication of each condom, the students rubbed the lube on their hands and recorded their perceptions. For many students, the smell and taste of the lube made a big difference, with chemical odors being a crucial negative. ONE Pleasure Dome won out over several other condoms that specifically touted their lubrication.
Most Even Distribution of Lubricant
The Winner: ONE Pleasure Dome
For this test, the condom was put on a phallus form and rolled across blue paper to reveal where the lubricant actually was (and wasn’t). ONE Pleasure Dome is the only condom that performed at the top of all three lubricant tests.
Best For Using With Visual Impairment
The Winner: Trustex Non-Lubricated Latex
Like the other donning speed test, this one measured how fast the condom could be put on but it added vision impairment through the use of goggles that simulated vision issues like cataracts and darkness. Trustex’s Non-Lubricated Latex condom, which placed 10th in the non-impaired donning test, outperformed the rest.
Best For Material Durability
Three-Way Tie: LifeStyles Ultra Lubricated, GLYDE Ultra, Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations with Spermicidal Lubricant
The durability test involved pulling and rubbing on the condoms (which were placed on a phallus forms) to the point of abrasion. The purpose of this was to try and figure out which condoms would last the longest without risk of breaking.
Best For Material Strength
A Five-Way Tie: LifeStyles Ultra Lubricated, GLYDE Ultra, Trojan ENZ Lubricated, ONE Tantric Pleasures, Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations with Spermicidal Lubricant
The strength of these 70 condoms was evaluated by blowing them up and taking measurements of their diameter as they expanded. This was the test with the most top performers.
Best For Feel
The Winner: Kimono MicroThin
How well a person can feel through a condom is an area of obvious importance for most condom users. While some people do go for heavy-duty products to help with sensitivity issues, thinness is usually a highly valued characteristic. Kimono MicroThin took the top spot in this test but Muenchinger noticed that thin condoms in general didn’t outperform their competitors as much as people might expect.
Best for Long-Lasting Lube
Three-Way Tie: ONE Pleasure Dome, LifeStyles THYN, Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations with Spermicidal Lubricant
The condoms that boldly advertise their lubrication didn’t perform particularly well on this lubrication test. One exception was the Trojan Her Pleasure Sensations with Spermicidal Lubricant condom. It did well in the duration of lubricant testing but it should be known that this condom style should only be used vaginally once a day because it contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9, which can cause irritation if used more often.
The Winner: Kimono Thin
The Kimono Thin condom is made from premium natural latex using what Kimono calls “state-of-the-art Japanese technology.” Whatever that means, it seems to be working, as this is vegan-friendly, paraben and glycerin free condom beat out its 69 competitors (including 3 other Kimono-brand condoms) in this texture test.
Best Applied Texture
The Winner: Durex High Sensation
The applied texture test measured which condoms have the best added textures, such as ribbing and dots. The overall winner here was the Durex High Sensation condom which features large ribbing throughout the condom.
Best for Speed
The Winner: Durex Extra Sensitive
This test measured how quickly the condom could be put on. Durex Extra Sensitive – an ultra-thin, lubed condom – won out over runners-up LifeStyles Rough Rider Studded and ONE Tantric Pleasures condoms.
Winner: Trojan Supra BareSkin Lubricated and Fantasy Flavored
Trojan’s Supra BareSkin Lubricated condoms are made of medical-grade polyurethane and advertised as odor-free, so it makes sense that they performed well in the odor testing. However, having an odor doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad one, as by shown Fantasy Flavored condoms – in banana, strawberry, mint, chocolate, grape, and vanilla flavors – which tied Trojan’s for best smell.