Bubble Soccer Brand Comparison
Bubble Soccer Suits Come in two Types of Plastic
1.TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) Based Bubble Soccer Suits:
TPU suits are generally marketed as being the Bubble Soccer suit material of choice for commercial businesses. They are slightly lighter and are thought to be more durable for some forms of wear and tear. The downside, as you might expect, is that they are also 20% or so more expensive than their PVC counterparts. Addtionally, they have the reputation of being more difficult to repair than PVC, although I have not noticed a difference on that front. In my opinion I have not found TPU based Bubble Soccer suits to be worth the extra money as often other parts of the balls/suits fail first and the weight difference is negligible for the amount of plastic used.
2.PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) Based Bubble Soccer Suits:
PVC suits are typically marketed as being for the everyday consumer who wants just a single suit or a few suits for personal use. They are slightly heavier than TPU suits. One additional downside that I have noticed is that PVC tends to absorb the smell more readily and is harder to get out if not cleaned quickly after an event. PVC also becomes brittle at temperatures below 40-45 degrees where as TPU does not until well below freezing. I have not found this to extend my season however because few people want to play outdoors at those temperatures anyways. Lastly, PVC Bubble Soccer suits have a reputation of being less durable, but in my experience (admittedly a relatively small sample size 30 PVC and 10 TPU to date) other parts of the suits fail first (attachment points,stitching,handles etc...).
Bubble Soccer Suits come in 0.8mm and 1.0mm thickness. If it isn't specified it is most likely a 0.8mm suit. I have not found any appreciable durability advantage in the thicker plastic and often it is more expensive. The failure points on the suits aren't affected by plastic thickness except maybe from preventing a puncture (which I have yet to have). Seperation of the plastic at various meeting of different parts of the suit is where I see the failures most often occur (base of strap patches, tears where eyelets meet the plastic).
Bubble Soccer Suit Straps, Handles and Attachement Points
I have seen two types of handles in the various Bubble Soccer suit brands on the market, a hard version and a soft version. The hard plastic handles seem to provide a little more stability in controlling the suit but do so at too steep of a safety cost in my opinion. One of my most common injuries before moving away from this style suit were bloody gum a lips from faceplanting into the suits with hard handles. Soft handled suits have a thick "backpack" strap material base with varying types of rubber (think garden hose) material around it to add rigidity. The hard handles also attach to the suit with a hard plastic base witch is hard on your knuckles when grasping. I prefer the soft handles as a business owner to ruduce risk without much sacrifice in control.
Straps and Attachment points
All suits have some degree of padding along the strap where it is suppose to sit on the users shoulders, but almost all manufactures seem to have their own variation on this. In my experience those with the widest base are best as it helps keep a wider range of player sizes in the suit comfortably without having to adjust the straps. The amount of padding a strap provides in relatively negligible if it is sitting on your traps properly. In my opinion it is almost better if there is less padding for a properly fitted suit as it absorbs less moisture, which seems to give some of the brands a funk that is not able to be cleaned like the rest of the plastic can be.
Attachment points vary by number and material. One manufacturer has a fancy strap configuration that creates 4 attachment points per strap instead of the standard two, but it makes it difficult to adjust the strap on the fly and hasn't proved to be any more durable. I did buy one set of 20 suits that turned out to have a fatal flaw along the edge of the patch the straps attach to (since the straps don't directly attach to the plastic) so stick with a manufacturer once you find a good one. Make sure you get no-slip buckles as well. Having to tie off the ends after you thread them through the buckles to keep the strap from coming undone prevents you from being able to adjust it quickly for events that have people rotating in and out.