Finding the best condom for you or your partner is not an easy thing to do. There are so many boxes to tick. You need a condom that feels the best, first and foremost, one that isn't going to ruin lovemaking by squeezing, cutting in, or being so thick the wearer can't feel a thing.
Equally, though, you need the strongest condom, one that's not going to put anyone at risk of unwanted pregnancy or STIs - and you need a reliable condom, too. One bad rubber in the batch could be all it takes.
And then you need to think of precisely how you're going to play. If you're slathering on one of our selection of the best lubes you can get, is that condom going to be compatible? If you're indulging in some anal, is it going to be strong enough? Do you want to heighten feelings for the wearer or the recipient? It's a tricky game to play.
But play you will. So here's our guide to the absolute best condoms you can buy today, with everything from sturdy, reliable rubbers to fanciful versions that are sure to raise the tension - or a laugh - in the bedroom.
Disclaimer: no condom is 100% effective, and rates vary between brands, so always do your research before buying.
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Finding the best condom for both of you
While there's nothing stopping you from using any one condom in all number of situations, selecting the best condom for the job in hand (so to speak) is important. In other words, consider your needs and desires, your partner's, and what you're likely to be getting up to together behind closed doors.
If the condom is there as a simple contraceptive, a thin and ultra-sensitive condom might benefit the individual with a penis more. To make sex and erotic play more of a turn-on for the both of you, experiment with a textured condom or one lubricated to produce a warm or minty-cold tingly feeling.
Anal sex demands a slightly thicker condom and increased lubricant – and do be careful to select something flavour-free to avoid irritating those slightly more sensitive areas.
Sexual health practitioners advise using a condom for oral sex too, especially if you're hooking up with a new partner, and flavoured condoms will serve you best here. They also recommend using condoms if you're planning on sharing sex toys, such as dildos or vibrators.
Some people suffer from a latex allergy, and luckily there are latex-free condoms to opt for instead. And if you've been put off certain brands in the past for ethical reasons, there are a growing number of vegan condoms that don't use casein. These types of more eco-friendly johnnies generally have a lower chemical load too.
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The best condoms to buy now
Latex condoms are not universal. Some people have a severe allergy to the stretchy stuff, so Skyn's super-thin polyisoprene construction – which retains the same level of protection against STIs and pregnancy without the latex – is a top choice for those who can't use anything else.
Allergy or not, though, that material feels significantly softer and, yes, more skin-like than standard latex, which means these might appeal to those who just don't like the feel of regular condoms. There's a stack of varieties on offer for our best condom top pick, including a Large variant and an Extra Lubricated version. We'd suggest trying the Intense Feel (pictured) to take advantage of that advanced material.
Newsflash: not all penises are the same size. As stretchy as latex and other condom materials may be, finding a comfortable, secure fit isn't always easy. That's where My.Size comes in, and the brand really seems to be taking up the banner for those who're looking for a perfect fit. 0.07mm latex means they're pretty tough and not exactly the best for sensitivity, but at least they won't be slipping off.
There are seven individual sizes available, so even if you're looking for a condom for an average sized penis you'll find what you need, and they vary not only in length but in diameter too. Having fun in bed is all about things feeling right - and a condom which doesn't distract is a fantastic addition.
Like Skyn's condoms, the Durex Latex Free are made from polyisoprene rather than latex, which means they're fully suitable for anyone with an allergy to tree rubber – if you've ever found condoms burning or rubbing, it may not just be caused by friction. These are a great option whether you're sensitive to latex or not, since many find the synthetic material to feel closer to skin and transfer heat better.
Durex lists a nominal width of 56mm here; as polyisoprene is a touch less stretchy than natural rubber, they may sit a little more snugly on the penis than others of the same girth. Do note, though, that there's a silicon lube applied to these condoms, so if silicon is an irritant you may wish to look elsewhere. If it's not, why not add a little extra lube? Durex offers an Aloe Vera variety that is both compatible with these condoms and great for those who find themselves a little sore after getting down to it.
Don't know what you want? Fancy taking a lucky dip in bed? ONE's Mixed Pleasures pack has what you need, with eight unique types of condom in one pack. This gives you a chance to try out ONE's 45 micron Hyperthin or extra-lubricated Super Sensitive varieties for a little intimacy, give studded and tattoo-ribbed versions a go, taste FlavorWaves flavoured condoms, enjoy the extra headroom of the Pleasure Dome variety, pop on a glow-in-the-dark condom (yes) or even try the Pleasure Plus, a condom designed to be enjoyed solo.
Everything uses a silicone lube, and it's all vegan-friendly, if not officially certified - there's no casein, and no animal proteins, so it's up to you if you're happy to use them. One bonus, too, is that the easy-open pack comes with a little carrying case with room to safely take four individual condoms out with you.
Most latex condoms include casein, a cow's milk derivative that helps soften the latex to make it more comfortable against the skin. Hanx switches this out for thistle extract, making this contoured condom certified as vegan.
There's no spermicide or parabens in use here, so the chemical load is much lower, and a clean scent covers up the off-putting smell of latex. As for the feel, they're thin and comfortable, and feel good for the both of you. A good all-rounder if you want a more eco-friendly condom... and one that looks pretty stylish in the wrapper too.
It's high time flavoured condoms left the traditional domain of a rickety machine in a nightclub toilet and reached their true potential in the bedroom. You'll be pleased to know that EXS' four flavours - hot chocolate, strawberry sundae, bubblegum and cola - are surprisingly delicious, and they're perfect for those who'd like to give a little head without potentially getting a mouthful. They're vegan-friendly, too, like the rest of EXS's line: they're made of natural rubber latex without any casein.
The flavoured lube on the outside is silicone based, so you'll need to steer clear if you have an allergy or you're planning to put one of these on a toy - otherwise, you'll find it gives you a good and long lasting glide. At least, if there's any lube left by the time you're done chowing down.
Highly rated for penis-in-vagina sex, with a ribbed and dotted texture which vastly heightens pleasure, the Pleasure Me condoms aren't just great for those with a whole lot of experience – they're the perfect option for first-timers, too.
Why? They're easy to apply, for a start, with a teat-ended design that's straightforward for you or your partner to roll on in seconds. They're great fun – something that might be a real winning factor if you're looking to break the nervous tension a little.
And most importantly, they feel amazing for both parties. The design features strategically placed ribs and dots to increase physical stimulation for the woman. However old you are, whatever your feelings about sex, if it's your first encounter or the latest in a long line, they'll spice up your experience to make sure everyone on either side of the latex has a great time.
No points for presentation here – the raunchy packaging certainly screams 'gag gift' more than 'classy night between the sheets' – but the Rough Riders are more than a laugh: they're tried-and-tested condoms that score plenty of points for pleasure. Cartoon biker girl or not, these should help those with a vagina have a great time.
They're explicitly designed to increase vaginal sensation, with a heavyweight studded pattern that adds a whole lot of texture and a durable construction that should mean no unhappy accidents if you're, well, riding rough.
One point many purchasers have made, though, is that they tend towards the slimmer size, so they're most suitable for a penis that finds the traditional 56mm condom base width a little baggy. A more exciting (and slightly tougher) alternative to Okamoto's Zero Zero Three? Perhaps – and you could always slap one on a sex toy, too.
A narrower base ring, measured at around 52mm, means these Japanese imports might feel a little tight on some, but for the penis with slightly less girth they’ll be a good fit. That ‘Zero Zero Three’ refers to the super-thin 0.03mm latex, engineered both for softness and for enhanced heat transfer between partners. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a little sensitivity, although while that latex is plenty strong we’d advise not getting too rough with it.
Unusually, these uncontoured condoms use a powder lubricant, which is something you’ll rarely find elsewhere. It’s great for a smooth feel without the sticky and often pungent lubes many other condoms favour. A worthy addition to our best condoms guide.
It is a fact that we can't always stay in sync with our partners, and there's no magic bullet for that. Working together to find that balance is a fun but sometimes frustrating experience. If you're looking to line things up a little better, these easy-on condoms pack a double dose of help: they're ribbed and dotted to help stimulate the vagina, and they pack Durex's Performa, a benzocaine-infused lubricant which can help slightly numb the penis to delay climax. The rest is down to you.
Compare to the rest of the rubbers in our best condoms guide, Pasante’s Unique condoms are just that: not only are they packaged differently, folded and slid in their threes into a sturdy flat credit-card sized container perfect for keeping stashed in a wallet or purse, but they’re quite unlike any other condom.
Made from a non-latex resin-based synthetic material, which means they can be used with oil-based lubricants, the Unique condoms use body heat to cling to the penis and ensure a comfortable fit. That’s handy, because they have a flared base, and at 60mm wide they’re a little more generous than some.
Crucially, these are amongst the thinnest condoms around, so if you’re looking for ultra-sensitivity they’re a strong choice. Don't get them too hot while they’re still in the wrapper, though, as we’ve heard reports of them, er, shrinking themselves a tad early.
Inspired by the super-strong structure of graphene, Swedish brand LELO has produced the water-lubricated Hex as a unique combination of strength and thinness – and if there is a break anywhere in the condom, the hexagonal web will contain it to a single panel.
Slimmer than most in more than one respect (some report that the standard Hex runs a little tighter than most brands), there's a second option for those with slightly more girth: the Hex Respect XL is 10% larger but still just as thin.
When you need a little additional protection and strength, a thicker condom is the best condom for you. Pasante's Extras are average-sized, so you shouldn't have any problem getting them to fit, but they're also a full 1mm thick, meaning they're suitable for extra-vigorous activity and great for worry-free anal sex.
Don't think you'll lose too much sensation; there's extra non-spermicidal silicone lubricant on board for maximum feel – if you need to add more, just make sure it's water-based to avoid degrading the latex.