It's hard to argue that sex isn't immeasurably improved when you've found the best condom. Whether that's the best condom for you, your partner, or that magical bit of latex that works for both of you, finding the right condom means no unwanted distractions and the best possible feeling. But actually divining which condom is best? That's quite the task.
You might need a super-thin condom for maximum feeling, or a thicker one if you're up to rougher stuff. A strong condom is a no-brainer for preventing pregnancy or STI transmission, but you'll need to find a balance which heightens sensations for both parties. And buying a reliable condom from a known manufacturer with high quality standards is a must, because all it takes is one rip, one bad condom, and things could go south in a hurry.
Of course, a condom can also be an opportunity for play, but that's another minefield; if either party has any allergies, you'll want to be cognisant of materials, and if you're using it with a lubricant, then doubly so – certain lubes can make certain condoms degrade.
But that's enough worrying. If you need some more guidance on what to look for, head to our condoms FAQ or jump to the bottom of the article for some buying advice. Alternatively, here's our guide to the very best condoms you can buy, covering everything from female-friendly condoms to sturdy anal-proof examples and everything in between.
Disclaimer: no condom is 100% effective, and rates vary between brands, so always do your research before buying.
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The best condoms to buy now
No best condom guide would be complete without at least a couple of Durex options. The Thin Feel version is our top pick, as these deliver enhanced sensations without compromising on safety. These condoms are made from transparent natural latex, are designed to fit securely and snugly, and come with a silicone lube coating. Because it's Durex, you know you're getting a quality product – it's the world's leading condom brand, and has been around for over 90 years, so there's plenty of experience and expertise to draw on there. All Durex condoms are vigorously (electronically) tested for holes and imperfections. They're available in big multipacks too, if you want to stock up.
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 too, including a Large variant and an Extra Lubricated version. We'd suggest trying the Intense Feel (pictured) to take advantage of that advanced material.
Trojan is the biggest condom brand in the US, and its condoms are reasonably easy to get hold of elsewhere, too. The Double Ecstasy is probably the pick of the bunch, a relatively thin condom which sports a bulbous fit, gripping at the base of the penis without crushing the glans, and features various ribbed areas which help to stimulate the recipient. The 'Double' in the name refers to the two kinds of lubricant in use, with Trojan's ultra smooth lube taking charge on the inside, and its slightly warming lube working on the outside.
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.
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.
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.
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, particularly given there are two sizes on offer. If you want a more eco-friendly option, this could well be the best condom for you... and it looks pretty stylish in the wrapper too.
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.
If capacity is an issue, Durex' extra large variety may be the best choice; there may be larger condoms out there, but they're often sold as a novelty: these are the real deal, and they're specifically made for more massive members.
That means extra length, with a full 10mm extra over even the longest competitors on this list, and a little extra girth too, with a straight fit which should help the Comfort XL adequately cover even the most awkward penis. Given that this is stretchy latex
A narrower base ring, measured at around anywhere from 38mm to 52mm depending on the size you get, 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.
Finding the best condom for both of you
If you're part of a couple, it's worth selecting something which fits each of your desires, and the sort of stuff you're going to be getting up to. You might just be looking for a contraceptive, in which case you're going to have a whole lot of choice: just about any condom will do the trick, as long as it's not going to trigger any allergies in either participant. You may wish to go thinner, to make things feel more pleasant, as long as you're OK with the slightly heightened risk.
If you want to really make things feel good, a textured condom may be a solid option. They can be a real turn-on, especially for the recipient. Some lubricated condoms also include additives which can offer a warm or cool sensation, which sounds awful to us but might be just the thing you're after – though be careful about using this kind of thing for anal sex, as there's an increased chance of irritation there.
Some condom lubes can also dull sensations, prolonging the act for those who don't quite have staying power enough for a long session.
If you're hooking up for casual sex, experts advise you still use a condom for oral – try a flavoured one, why don't you – and it may serve you to pack a few different kinds in case a potential partner has an allergy to something like latex. We'll leave the details of that awkward moment-ruining conversation to you.
And if you have ethical concerns over ingredients like casein, don't worry; we've also covered a number of vegan-friendly condoms which don't use a single animal product, and which generally have a lower ecological impact too.