We asked Sue Wilkinson at Fancy Tapes in the UK to give us a run down on different tape options for all of you New Year, New You hoopers out there that are making your first hoops and don’t really know which tape to buy. So here is the break down on hula hoop tapes and how they work on a hoop from a woman who really knows her tape.
• Vinyl: Upside – It’s hard wearing and will stand wet conditions, is wipeable for cleaning, cheap, and comes in lots of widths and colours – as well as clear for protection. Vinyl tape is conformable to cope with taping a curved, round object . Downside – Because it’s conformable it can be harder to hold the pattern steady as you tape and little gaps can increase and decrease. It can be quite slippery.
• Electrical tape: Upside – It’s highly conformable because that’s what it’s made to do, and it’s colourful, cheap, and has a nice feel to it. It’s easy to use with a bit of practice, lightweight, and can be used to great effect as a “base coat” on the hoop with other tapes forming the pattern over the top of it leaving some exposed. Very good for forming a banded pattern, rather than a candy cane twist. Downside – It’s hard to hold the spacing because it is so conformable. It’s also not very thick so it can be easily damaged.
• Colour coding/harness tapes: Upside – Again, this type of tape is highly conformable and brightly coloured. Easy to use. Perfect for banded patterns. Some of these tapes are sold for their food grade safety properties, meaning you can be sure if a child puts the hoop in their mouth the tape won’t harm them (although the thing the hoop was last in contact might though!) Downside – It’s quite thin as well, so it really needs to be overlaid for depth of colour. It can also be hard to hold the pattern because of its conformability.
• Cloth based tapes (Gaffer, Camouflage, Hockey…): Upside – These tapes are hard wearing, more expensive, come in big rolls with lots of widths and colours available, are wipeable to some extent, conformable – which means it can be stretched and pulled to maintain the twist on the tape around a piece of tube. They’re also grippy providing greater traction for your hoop. Downside – Because they’re conformable, it can be harder to hold the pattern steady as you tape and gaps can increase and decrease. They can get dirty easily and will peel at the ends if it gets too wet, although it will often stick back down when dry if you don’t contaminate the glue with dirt when it is wet.
• Glow in the dark tape: Upside – It’s good quality tape made for industrial purposes so it is quite thick. Will charge fully in about 10 minutes of strong light and glow for hours. The high intensity tape is yellow to look at and glows green, a great first “glow” hoop in my opinion. The outdoor glow tape is stiffer, not as bright, but will last longer. It’s white to look at and glows green. Downside – These tapes are stiff to wrap, 1/2″ wide is easier than 1″ wide, and the indoor variety can crack and split. It will damage if used harshly. The outdoor variety is very stiff and thick.
• Duct tape: Upside – Top quality duct tape such as Pro Gaff will give you grip on the hoop for a reduced price compared to that of the gaffer tape and will peel off cleanly when necessary and not leave glue behind. Quality duct tape will not twist and stick to itself as you work with it either. It is shiny and has a sticky feel to the surface which provides grip as well. Quality duct tape is highly conformable, comes in bright colours and it is cheap. It’s a grippy alternative to vinyl. Downside – Tt looks cheaper! the surface is softer than gaffer tape too so it can damage more readily on harsh surfaces than gaffer tape. Cheaper duct tapes are horrible and will shred when you try to remove them leaving very sticky glue all over the pipe that takes a long time to remove. Avoid cheap duct tape! It’s just not worth it.
• Sparkle tapes (Holographic, Prismatic, Mirror – and to some extent Glitter): Upside – These tapes are in a category of their own in some ways because they have instant bling! The peel off backing is easy to remove and work with once you have practiced a bit. It should be the first tape laid down on the hoop and care should be taken to overlap the edges of the sparkle tape with another tape (cloth or vinyl) to protect it from snagging, splitting or tearing. Downside – These tapes are fragile. They are not tough and are not really suitable for beginners who are dropping the hoop all the time, and are certainly not suitable for use on harsh surfaces like concrete, gravel, tarmac. They used to be considered the pinnacle for performance hoops, only now that they are more readily available everyone wants the bling straight away. These tapes are not very conformable and it will be harder to maintain your pattern. You have to pull them just enough to stretch a little, but not too much so that do not snap. Use your thumb on the back of the tape to keep them flat as you work to prevent creases and air bubbles.
• Glitter tape: Upside – Glitter is different in that it is a vinyl tape with glitter stuck to the back of it. It will stretch more easily than the other sparkle tapes, but if you need to peel it back to reposition it you will leave the glitter behind on the pipe – and you will have to cut the spoiled piece of tape out and join on with a fresh piece. They stand knocks and scrapes better than the other sparkle tapes. Downside – They are not as flashy. Probably the best tape to use for bling on regularly used class hoops though, if you want class hoops with sparkle that will last.
• Slick gloss vinyl tapes: Upside – It’s stiff vinyl tape with a very shiny surface. They should be used in the same way you would use a sparkle tape – laid on first with the edges bound. They are very colourful and cheap. Downside – They can split, they are fragile in the same way a sparkle tape is fragile, and they are slippy.
• Clear vinyl tape: Upside – This can be used to cover the prismatic, holographic and mirror tapes for added protection which will extend the life of the tape considerably. Downside – It will make the hoop heavier and it dulls the sparkle to some extent too.
The perfect beginner hoop is a simple mix of cloth tapes, or perhaps a mix with some vinyl. Or a mix of quality duct tape and vinyl. The perfect class hoop is probably completely cloth or a mix of some vinyl and lots of cloth. They will last long and help the student to learn how to grip the hoop. The Intermediate hoopers hoop can be more vinyl and less gaffer with perhaps a little sparkle.