As a hooper you’ve likely heard of PE, HDPE, Polypro tubing. Each type of tubing has different qualities to suit individual flow. They are commonly available across most hoop shops and are frequently sought after. In this article, I want to review a more elusive type of tubing: polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is reportedly a stronger material than any other tubing used to make hoops. I suspect many hoopers out there are curious about polycarbonate hoops, so this article includes a review as well as a video! Most of my other hoops are Polypro, so I have noted down some similarities to Polypro hoops as well. Below you will find the details of my experience with the tubing.
Tubing- Orange Polycarbonate
Diameter- 29” inch
Thickness- ½” inch
Connector- Aluminium with Screw closure
Sleek and glass-like. The hoop is transparent, giving it a clear, glossy look. The aluminium connector is visible through the hoop. The colour I chose for my tubing is orange, which takes on a slightly neon appearance. I like the hue, though I would love to play with a clear version of the tubing to see what complete transparency would look like in the sun! As for size, the tubing is noticeably thin- the slender 1/2” inch polycarbonate makes my 5/8” polypro hoops look thick by comparison.
Weight: Very light. It does have a bit of weight to it, but the lightness takes a bit of getting used to- as far as I can tell, it is lighter than my polypro hoop of a similar size (30” inch diameter with ¾” tubing, the closest comparison I own).
Feel: Surprisingly, it feels very sturdy, rather than bendy and pliable. It seems less flexible than I assumed it would be- when I press down on the hoop and put pressure on it, it offers some resistance and springs back easily, retaining its shape. The tubing feels durable and solid despite its delicate appearance. The advantage of this is that the hoop won’t kink easily.
I love doing breaks with the polycarbonate hoop- the material reacts very well to breaks, as it has a snappy effect where it bounces back with as much force as you put on it. A downside of this is that it hurts a bit more to do breaks than a regular polypro. I haven’t gotten any bruises from this hoop or anything, but the reactivity of the hoop impacting your skin can feel quite strong. I’m careful not to let it hit my chest too hard; otherwise, it’s not much of an issue for me.
All in all, the springiness with which the hoop responds when the breaks make contact is very satisfying, and in my view also makes the breaks look very speedy and clean. However, it is a little more difficult to control in the beginning, compared to a polypro, in the sense that polycarbonate feels more slippery and requires a bit of precision; you may have to adjust your technique to handle a more “wild” hoop. I found that it’s more prone to fly out of my hands simply because it’s thinner and because it ricochets more than other types of tubing.
Tosses and backspins (and any other tricks that are controlled by prior force and momentum) look very interesting with this hoop. The hoop “vibrates” when I throw it, making it look like a quivering bubble floating about mid-air. I also noticed that when I do a backspin (like the Walk-the-dog trick) it “trembles” across the ground as the hoop is making its way back to me.
First Impressions: I am quite pleased. It feels lighter and sturdier than I thought it would be, and I also love the bounce it has. I like to hoop quite fast, so this hoop is really suitable for whippy movements; it feels like a hoop that really interacts with my flow.
How does it compare to Polypro overall?: Though both hoops are lightweight, each has its unique qualities. Compared to my polypro hoops, the noise that the polycarbonate hoop makes seems to reverberate a bit; it echoes more when I use it.
I think the biggest adjustment required when moving from polypro to polycarbonate is learning to control a more unruly material. I find that polypro isn’t as reactive to my movements, so I can use a decent amount of force without it going all over the place; with the polycarbonate, I have to whittle down the amount of force I use on the hoop because too much can make it go flying. For the most part, though I don’t find it any easier or more difficult to do all the tricks that I do using my usual polypro.
Recommend?: Yes. I think my tubing of choice in general will still be polypro, especially since most of my hoops are polypro and I’m used to them. But polycarbonate is a fun diversion and a very interesting tubing to work with. I would love to experiment more with dramatic throws and movements to see how the polycarbonate hoop handles it.
Photo courtesy of Hiptronic Arts