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Durex Condoms

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A packet of three condoms with a pair of lips and a strawberry design

Durex is one of the world's leading condom brands, and their range is extensive. For those who rely on condoms as their main contraceptive this is good news. But on closer inspection the large range is potentially confusing. And in the world of sex, further confusion is pretty much the last thing you need.

Here, then, is a look at the Durex range of condoms. In the compilation of this entry as many of the range were tested in the field1 and the comments from the relevant researchers are inevitably personal (much like the act itself, unless you're into cyber sex). However, the idea is to help you when you're faced by a huge range of condoms, a beautiful assistant behind the counter, and a slow rising panic as you realise you don't know which ones to buy. Don't worry; knowledge is power, and in this particular case, it's a lot of fun finding out.

Although this entry is concerned with the Durex range, there are plenty of other alternatives, and this isn't supposed to be an advert for Durex. If you've got a favourite condom that's not mentioned here, please add your own comments in the entry's forums.

One final caveat; if your religion considers contraception to be sacrilegious, then we hope this entry doesn't cause offence. In this age of AIDS and teenage pregnancies, this entry will, we hope, help prevent mistakes and tragedies. It's not meant to be provocative.

The Durex Range in a Nutshell

In the UK there are ten condoms in the Durex range. For most people one is enough, but given such choice, which should you choose? That's not such an easy question to answer.

At first glance, it seems obvious. You've got your ribbed condom; you've got your coloured and flavoured one; there are the ones with spermicidal lubrication and the ones with non-spermicidal lubrication; you've got the one for people who are allergic to latex; and, of course, there's the one for men who are so well endowed they're in danger of passing out when they're excited. But closer inspection reveals names like Elite, Fetherlite, Gossamer and Select, and wishy-washy descriptions like 'ultra-fine condoms for greater sensitivity' and 'for protection with sensitivity'. It seems that every Durex will make your love-making the most amazing event since you lost your virginity in the first place. This, however, is unlikely: there's no substitute for sexual compatibility, humour, practice and all the other things that don't come in packets.

The biggest clue to the extent of the Durex range lies deep in the heart of the company's literature. Safe Play condoms, which are described as being 'for when you want to have fun but still have safer sex', are (feature-wise) pretty indistinguishable from Extra Safe, but in the literature Safe Play condoms are described as 'highly focused' and apparently they 'have a relevance to a young audience'. 'Highly focused'? A condom? It's pure marketing, and the packs complete the story. Extra Safe packs show a happy couple snuggling in bed, presumably after the deed, with pure peace and tranquility etched on their safe and suburban faces. Safe Play packs, on the other hand, have a trippy computer graphic showing cool-dude 3D sperm wiggling in front of a psychedelic ravers' backdrop2. The message is clear: Extra Safe are for older, more mature couples, and Safe Play are for young, happening people; but they have the same specifications, at least as far as one can fathom from the brochure.

Here, then, is a summary of the key features of the Durex range. Some are obviously unique, but did you know that the only difference between Gossamer and Fetherlite is that the former has a spermicidal lubricant (the sexily-named nonoxynol 9) and the latter a non-spermicidal one? Or that the difference between Elite and Fetherlite is that the former has more lubricant? Well, you do now.

ShapeColourLubricatedPacksBottom Line3
AvantiLargeTransparentNon-spermicidal2, 5'World's first polyurethane male condom'
ComfortAnatomicalTransparentNon-spermicidal3, 6, 12'Shaped for a better fit'
EliteStandardTransparentNonoxynol 93, 12, 18'Extra lubricant for protection with sensitivity'
Extra SafeAnatomicalCoralNonoxynol 93, 12, 18'Anatomically shaped for enhanced comfort'
FetherliteStandardTransparentNonoxynol 93, 12, 18'Ultra-fine condoms for enhanced sensitivity'
GossamerStandardTransparentNon-spermicidal3, 12'Lubricated with a gentle, non-spermicidal lubricant'
RibbedStandardCoralNon-spermicidal3, 6, 12'Prepare for a pleasure overload'
Safe PlayStandardTransparentNonoxynol 93, 6, 12'Highly focused, have a relevance to a young audience'
SelectStandardVariedNon-spermicidal3, 6, 12'Coloured and flavoured'
Ultra StrongStandardTransparentExtra lubricated3, 6, 18'Conforms to EN600: 1996 for extra strength claims'

Now that you've been introduced to the range, let's get to know each of them in turn. Some of these condoms are hard to find in the shops, but as Durex is such a well-known brand you'll have no problem picking up most of them. For most of us, finding an opportunity to use them is harder than buying them...


Durex Avanti condoms are the world's first polyurethane male condoms. Transparent, teat-ended condoms made from a revolutionary new material which is double the strength of latex, therefore the condom can be made much thinner to give you the most natural feeling. Larger for a more comfortable fit. Can be used with both oil- and water-based lubricants. Lubricated with a non-spermicidal lubricant. Available in packs of 2 and 5 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

This is the big one for Durex at the moment - we're not talking size, we're talking marketing. While most Durex condoms get a measly few lines on the company's website, Avanti gets a whole site of its own. The reason? Avanti is made of a revolutionary new material, and it's being heralded (by Durex, anyway) as the most important advance in condom technology since the discovery of latex. Avanti condoms are odourless, thin, non-allergenic and can be used with both water and oil-based lubricants (the latter rot latex condoms). This is big news, apparently.

So who's going to want to use Avanti? Obviously anyone who's allergic to latex is going to be able to use them, and as Avanti comes with a non-spermicidal lubricant, it's the best condom for those with sensitive private parts (that's sensitive in the allergic sense - if you don't have sensitive private parts in the touchy-feely sense, you've probably stumbled on this entry by accident, in which case sorry for the inconvenience). However for the majority, who can cope with latex and spermicidal lubricants, Durex has decided to concentrate on emphasising Avanti's extra sensitivity.

Sensitivity is the buzz-word in condom marketing. Anyone using a condom will already be fairly clear why they're bothering to unroll a slippery rubber balloon on their manhood - if not, they're hardly going to bother with the rigmarole, are they? - so manufacturers are incredibly keen to emphasise that condoms don't ruin sex. This has been a real challenge for the marketing department because even the most physically apathetic male will agree that sex with a condom is like bathing with your socks on or clubbing with earplugs, but Avanti, it is claimed, is revolutionary. It's thinner, so you feel more. Ker-ching! The cash registers will surely ring for Durex.

The only way to find out, though, is to try it out. And here are two genuine reports from the bedroom.

What He Thought

At first look the Avanti condom feels like a thin condom that simply hasn't been lubricated. It's almost dry to the touch, and that's weird, especially as it says it's lubricated on the pack. It's also a little wider than your average latex condom, so unless you're hung like a donkey, it tends to bunch up a bit4. The feel of the material is also very different; it might be that I'm used to latex, but it didn't feel more sensitive to me, it felt like I was having sex with a plastic bag. In fact I took it off halfway through and slapped on a latex number, and it was such a relief that things were far more sensitive from then on. Perhaps Avanti would be better if used with a lubricant, but I wasn't convinced.

What She Thought

It looked like a wrinkly plastic bag which is pretty unattractive. Tight rubber defines the shape quite well, so the penis feels and looks nicer. The material makes it feel more like you're helping yourself to courgettes at Sainsbury's. It didn't feel that different to me during sex, but then again it's not supposed to, is it? On the other hand, when he had to rip it off halfway through and fish another one out, it did rather break the rhythm...


Durex Comfort condoms have a unique, larger shape which gives you a better fit and feel during love making. Transparent, teat-ended condoms. Lubricated with a non-spermicidal lubricant. Available in packs of 3, 6 and 12 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

That's right, this is the one for those with large penises. What can you say? If you've tried the other condoms in the range and it feels like something is just bursting to get out, then Comfort is probably the one for you. Perhaps the most disappointing thing is that Durex didn't call it 'Big Boy' or 'Well Hung'. That'd make 'em think behind the counter at the chemist, eh?

You might also like to try Avanti if you're the sort of man who makes other men gasp in jealous horror in the shower room. They're even bigger.

What He Thought

Er, actually, my partner bought this pack accidentally while we were doing the research for this entry - I've never had a problem with the others in the range fitting. Hey, it's not the size of your pencil, it's the way you sign your name, you know... but I'm glad to report that it didn't fly off (though we did check regularly, just in case). It felt fine, not terribly different to Extra Safe, our normal tipple.

What She Thought

No complaints here, like my partner says, size doesn't matter. At least, that's what I tell him. Quite vocally sometimes...


Durex Elite are premium-quality condoms with extra lubricant for protection with sensitivity. Transparent, teat-ended condoms. Spermicidally lubricated with nonoxynol 9. Available in packs of 3 and 12 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

Hey, you can never have too much lubricant, so here's a condom with it sloshing around in buckets, and it's spermicidal too. What else could you want? And the packet has a nice silk-sheet picture on the front, just to rub it in.

On the other hand, you could always pick another condom from the range and use a separate lubricant. Think of the fun to be had applying it, too...

What He Thought

Extra lubricant never hurts. Well for me, anyway - I like it soggy.

What She Thought

Hang on! Extra lubricant? Don't these people understand how women work? If you need to use a condom that's extra sloppy, then perhaps you haven't been warming things up right. Try a bit of foreplay, try paying a bit of attention to your partner: if she's having a good time, you won't need extra lubricant in your condom. It's biology!
I bet this condom was designed by a man...

Extra Safe

Durex Extra Safe condoms are uniquely shaped to enhance comfort and provide the reassurance you need. Coral-coloured, teat-ended condoms. Spermicidally lubricated with nonoxynol 9. Available in packs of 3, 12 and 18 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

The picture of the couple on the box says it all. Snug in their post-coital embrace, dreaming of low mortgage interest rates and the new water feature at the bottom of the garden. It's a picture of secure comfort, and presumably that's what you get with Extra Safe condoms. They're spermicidally lubricated, they're 'uniquely shaped to enhance comfort', whatever that means, and you can get them in whopping packs of 18. All right! A whole afternoon's worth!

What He Thought

My favourite, but that's probably because I'm so paranoid about having children that anything with 'Extra Safe' on the packet is a going to be a winner for me. They fit, they don't break (having once had a Fetherlite split on me, that's a genuine comfort) and they come in big packets, which is almost a cue for a smutty joke.

What She Thought

If he's going to put up with wearing a condom, then the choice has to be up to him. They all feel pretty much the same to me. I prefer the look of transparent condoms, but then you don't see them for long enough for it to matter that much, do you?


Durex Fetherlite are ultra-fine condoms for greater sensitivity when you are making love. Transparent, teat-ended condoms. Spermicidally lubricated with nonoxynol 9. Available in packs of 3, 12 and 18 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

'Ultra-fine for greater sensitivity?' That's right, we're into the realm of the buzz-word, and this is where things get confusing unless you look at the fine print. Fetherlite are the standard sensitive condoms, and if you can handle spermicidal lubricant, this is probably the one for you. Unless you're paranoid about getting pregnant, that is, in which case you might want to go with one of the safer condoms, Extra Safe or Safe Play.

What He Thought

Is it more sensitive than Extra Safe? Erm... to be honest, I couldn't tell. It certainly didn't make me think 'Wow! That's what it really feels like', but then again it was still a very pleasant experience. This is probably a good condom to try, unless having a baby would ruin your life, in which case Extra Safe might be more your cup of tea.

What She Thought

Ever get the feeling that you're not important here? I don't really care if it's thick, thin or lubricated. As long as it's not made of inner-tube rubber, I'm happy. And as long as it doesn't break...


Durex Gossamer condoms are lubricated with a gentle, non-spermicidal lubricant. Transparent, teat-ended condoms. Available in packs of 3 and 12 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

Gossamer is the gentle, thin condom. Before Avanti came along this was the one you went for if you wanted, er, sensitivity without a spermicidal lubricant. The brochure doesn't say much about it. The website doesn't say much about it. But it's a lovely name for a condom, isn't it? It's almost like a character out of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bless.

What He Thought

Er... can I refer you to the report on Fetherlite? I couldn't tell the difference, but I suppose if you have a reason to avoid nonoxynol 9, then this would be a good choice.

What She Thought

Yeah, me too. Hey, it's just another sensitive condom. Where are the fun ones? Come on, I want the fun ones!


Use new Durex Ribbed when you want to make sex more exciting Ribbed, coral-coloured, teat-ended condoms. Lubricated with a non-spermicidal lubricant. Available in packs of 3, 6 and 12 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

When referring to Ribbed on the Durex website, it says 'Prepare for a pleasure overload'. Oh pur-lease! 'When you want to make sex more exciting'? Come again? If you're in this sort of situation you might want to consider why you need a condom to help things get better, but on the other hand, if Durex Ribbed makes the difference between an orgasm and thinking of England5, or even the difference between single and multiple, then it's probably worth its weight in gold.

What He Thought

These condoms used to have a picture of a red sports car on them, didn't they? And weren't they called something corny like Arouser? At least calling them Ribbed is honest, though that trippy design on the box - an embossed box, too, like The Beatle's 'White Album' - is pretty odd. Perhaps the fact that my review is more about cars and music indicates that this condom might be handy for the lazy, beered-up slacker who can't be bothered to put the effort in, but if it helps, hey, that's fine by me. As for whether it works, you'd better ask her. I'm off to watch TV.

What She Thought

The ribbing is really subtle, more so than expected, which is probably a good thing as it could be pretty uncomfortable after a while otherwise. I didn't think it did an awful lot for me, but since my partner makes me have multiple orgasms fairly easily anyway, it's a bit difficult to tell. Ribbed condoms, could be worth a try if the female has difficulty having orgasms during sex, but personally I think it's a mechanical solution to something that is probably more 'in the mind'. Fruit-flavoured condoms may actually be more likely to make you orgasmic, because they are silly and fun and therefore make you relax and giggle, which is always a pretty good way to approach sex.

Safe Play

Durex Safe Play condoms are for when you want to have fun but still have safer sex. Transparent, teat-ended condoms. Spermicidally lubricated with nonoxynol 9. Available in packs of 3, 6 and 12 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

This is a bit of a strange one. Safe Play condoms come under the 'security' section in Durex's literature, and they're for 'when you want to have fun but still have safer sex' (an odd comment when the message should be that any condom helps you have safer sex and that sex should always be fun). However the real market for Safe Play is the younger condom user who's worried about pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, but who would be put off by the almost parental image of Extra Safe.

Durex's website says that they are 'highly focused' and 'have a relevance to a young audience'. What it doesn't explain is how a condom can be 'highly focused'...

Unfortunately we weren't able to track down a packet of Safe Play in time for this entry. If anyone can help, please post more information in the forum.


Durex Select are coloured and flavoured condoms to add a little extra spice to your love making. Teat-ended, lubricated condoms. Available in packs of 3, 6 and 12 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

You might think that coloured and flavoured condoms are one for the ladies, and you might be right. After all, if you know what your own penis tastes like, then you obviously have a collapsible spine, which is handy for killing time at the bus stop, but sure isn't normal. After all, if men could give themselves blow-jobs, there wouldn't be a population explosion or a need for late night TV.

On the other hand, if consensual oral sex is up your street6 then you're laughing, because the multi-packs contain strawberry, banana, tangerine and spearmint flavours, each with its own distinctive colour. It's all surprisingly entertaining, and these two reviews say it all, really.

What He Thought

I can't help you with the flavours (though I thought they smelled horrible - as fake as you can possibly imagine), but the colours are a hoot, for no reason that I can put my finger on. I guess the real bonus is catching yourself thinking, halfway through sex, that your penis is bright pink and smells like a strawberry. And the potential for jokes is huge, especially with the banana one, for some reason. It all helps make sex even more fun, which never hurt anyone.

What She Thought

The flavour doesn't linger in your mouth, which is probably a good thing: you can only really taste the condom when you have it in your mouth. Strawberries and tangerines are the fruits most likely to be considered aphrodisiacs, and therefore probably the ones that taste best on a penis. The fruit flavour tastes better than plain rubber, and they're good fun as a novelty.
The Strawberry actually tastes quite nice, even though it's a very artificial flavour. It tastes rather like those translucent red 'bootlace' sweets that children eat, and the condom is a red colour, which looks reasonably natural on a penis. The Banana is again a very artificial flavour and tastes like a banana milkshake or those candy bananas that sweetshops sell. While banana has obvious phallic connotations, it's not really a very sexy tasting fruit, and the yellow colour is not particularly attractive.
I thought that the Spearmint flavour would taste like toothpaste, and be a bonus for those who didn't want to clean their teeth beforehand. Instead it tasted incredibly like the mint sauce that English people eat with lamb, which was really quite weird. You don't really want a condom to remind you of mother's Sunday roast do you? If you haven't ever tried English mint sauce then you'd probably liken the flavour to Spearmint chewing gum. Either way, the flavour seems a little out of place amongst the fruit flavours. The colour of the condom is emerald green, which looks really bizarre, but it's great fun. A green penis looks incredibly out of this world. Have you seen the movie Earth Girls are Easy, with Geoff Goldbloom playing an alien? It reminded me of that, which can't be a bad thing...
I haven't tried the Tangerine flavour yet.
Overall the colours and the flavours are great fun, quite bizarre, but a real giggle. I really liked them, and I'd buy them again.

Ultra Strong

Durex Ultra Strong are thicker condoms for maximum security and have extra lubricant. Transparent, teat-ended condoms. Available in packs of 3, 6 and 18 condoms.
- The Durex Brochure

Quite simply, Ultra Strong are recommended for anal sex. They're thick, and that's the point. What a relief to find a condom with a well-defined purpose that also has a nice, unpretentious name. Now that's marketing

Unfortunately we weren't able to track down a packet of Ultra Strong in time for this entry. If anyone can help, please post more information in the forum.

1OK, they were actually tested in bed, but it sounds kind of adventurous to talk about sex under the stars, don't you think?2One presumes that this is because showing a couple going at it in the back of a Mini would have a negative effect on sales.3Though this is the bottom line according to Durex's marketing team, so don't expect it to actually differentiate all the products clearly...4On the Avanti packet it says 'Nominal width: 64mm' Durex Comfort condoms, which are specially designed for larger penises, have 'Nominal width: 54mm' on the packet, so it's no real surprise things bunch up, though seeing as we're dealing with a completely different material here, it might not be fair to compare statistics directly. 'Slightly larger for a more comfortable fit' says the brochure. Pah.5As Billy Bragg once sang, 'How can you lie there and think of England when you don't even know who's in the team?'. Bloody good point, that.6This isn't a reference to Hugh Grant. But it would make a good one, eh!

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