The Product Review: LELO HEX Condoms
The Verdict: (out of five)
Let me start this review by putting it out there: I'm 35 years old, in a long-term, monogamous relationship and I still use condoms. It makes me a bit of an oddity, both among my friends, and statistically speaking. In fact, research shows that only 9.4% of women 15-44 use condoms as their primary method of contraception, and that most of those users are in their teens and 20s.
So, yeah, I don't exactly fit the condom demographic, but I like condoms. They're simple, they're easy to use, they've always worked for me and they are totally non-invasive and free of the side effects I’ve experienced with hormonal contraceptives. And, unlike a lot of people who dislike condoms, my partner and I don't find putting one on to be much of an interruption; it's just part of the routine.
So, when I heard that the luxury sex toy brand LELO had released a new condom, I was intrigued. Condoms are a purchase I treat a lot like buying hand-soap or toothpaste; I’m not loyal. I just grab a thin, lubricated style by a major brand and get the heck out of the contraceptives aisle. And, while I certainly didn’t have anything particularly good to say about the condoms I was buying, I didn’t have anything really bad to say either. They just, kind of, did the trick. Would HEX actually prove to be noticeably better?
In a word, yes. And, to tell you the truth, I was a bit surprised. LELO sent me a sample of their HEX condoms so that my partner and I could test them out. Here’s how it went.
A Little About LELO HEX
The first thing I noticed about HEX was its packaging. HEX is marketed as a higher end condom, and it comes packaged as such. Unlike most condom packaging, which, let's face it, tends feature swirls of oranges and purples and is gaudy as f***, Hex comes in a clean, white box. The wrapper is white as well, and it feels thicker and heavier than other condom wrappers. That probably makes no difference whatsoever when it comes to product quality, but I'm not gonna lie – this simple marketing worked a bit of magic on me. Most condoms have pretty sleazy packaging; these don’t. In fact, the box is simple and discrete enough that I’d feel comfortable storing it plain sight in my bedroom.
The big difference between LELO's HEX condom and other condoms on the market comes down to material. Like the vast majority of other condoms on the market, HEX is made of latex. But, according to LELO, what makes this latex different is its "revolutionary hexagonal structure," which is "inspired by graphene."
OK, so what the heck is graphene?
According to Wikipedia, it's "an allotrope of carbon in the form of a two-dimensional, atomic-scale, hexagonal lattice in which one atom forms each vertex."
At any rate, LELO HEX is not made of graphene, its honeycomb structure just imitates this super-strong, high-tech material.
When I did some reading about HEX, I learned that some people felt that this whole honeycomb thing was a bit of a gimmick. So, I pulled one out of its packaging, unrolled it and played around with it alongside of two other "ultra-thin" condoms from two different major manufacturers. I can tell you one thing for sure: honeycomb or not these condoms are different. It was immediately clear that the HEX is both much stronger and much more elastic than any condom I have ever seen.
A Little Impromptu Product Testing
Because LELO's Indiegogo campaign for HEX showed the product stretched over a glass, I decided to give this a try. I chose a big water glass with a diameter just shy of 3.5 inches. HEX stretched and snapped easily over it. The other two condoms? Not so much. They both snapped at the base when I tried to stretch them this far.
Now, clearly, this is not how a condom is meant to be used, but I was intrigued by how strong the HEX condom was, and how stretchy the base ring was compared to those on a typical condom. The other condoms I tested performed perfectly fine when used as intended, but it was clear that while they were designed to be strong in some ways, they broke quite easily when pushed or pulled outside the normal range, particularly around the base ring.
Leading Brand Thin Condoms
I've never had an issue with these condoms in practice, but unlike LELO HEX, the base ring on these is pretty inflexible.
A lot of user reviews of the HEX have also called out how stretchy these condoms are, saying this allows them to fit more snugly over a greater range of penis sizes. While I was, um, working, with a penis in the average range, I can totally see that. Other condoms have a very inflexible base ring. The HEX's base ring stretches just like the rest of the condom, and HEX’s above-average ability to stretch and bounce back and grip the penis might make it a better fit for people who don’t fit into standard condom sizes.
LELO HEX Condoms
The HEX condoms seem to stretch a lot further; they feel stronger too.
I also tried to damage all three condoms with my hands, nails and by stretching them, and I found the HEX condoms to be much more resilient than typical condoms. Whether this is because of its hexagonal structure, I don’t know, but HEX appears to resist all types of damage better than the two other condoms I tested.
So, How Did the LELO Hex Feel?
OK, so a condom review wouldn't be much of a review without actually using the product on something other than my hand and a water glass, so I recruited my partner to take LELO HEX for a test drive.
This is an above-average condom. Despite being stronger and stretchier than any condom I’ve ever seen, this is no penis raincoat. My partner and I both agreed that HEX also feels thinner. Technically speaking, LELO says HEX is 0.045 mm thick. That’s only slightly thinner than a standard ultra-thin condom (0.048 mm), but … what I can say … it's noticeably less noticeable. My partner and I thought that also boiled down to fit. Because HEX condoms are designed to grip the penis, they stay put. They also don't roll down like some other condoms have an annoying tendency to do.
I also felt like this condom had less drag than a typical condom. I don’t know if that boils down to it having better lube than other condoms I tried or the material itself, but it definitely provided a smoother experience.
One more thing that I liked: Despite being made of latex, HEX doesn’t seem to carry any of the rubber smell that’s typical of other condoms.
What We Liked About HEX
- Lack of rubber smell
What We Didn’t Like About HEX
- The package is a little thick and can be difficult to open in the heat of the moment. Seriously, this thing needs a perforated tear corner or something.
When it comes to condoms, I’ve never been loyal. In fact, I’ve never really given that much thought to condom brands; they all seem to get the job done OK. However, I was impressed with LELO HEX. It is stronger, stretchier and more flexible than any condom I’ve ever seen. It feels thinner in use too. Granted, these condoms do cost about 25% more than a typical thin, lubricated condom from other leading brands (judging by the big box available on LELO’s website, although you can get smaller quantities in stores like Target). However, if you’re unhappy with other condoms or are picky about what goes on your penis, the quality of these babies makes them feel worth the extra bit of cash. Plus, at just under a buck apiece, they’re still pretty reasonable as far as contraceptives go.
Overall, these are a cut above other condoms, and I’d consider buying them again.