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Bondage Rope 101 - 12 Useful Tips and Extensive Rope Rundown

 

If you’re interested in trying rope bondage, there are plenty of things you’ll need to learn beforehand – things like anatomy, knots, and safety etc.

 

Another very important one being…

 

The actual rope.

 

So you can make stuff like this. - By Garth Knight

 

Now, before we jump into the types of rope, let me throw out a few other VERY useful tips.

 

  • Price is a factor – Sex shops tend to overprice their products. Go shopping at a hardware store or other places to find what you need.

 

  • Watch the Tooth – Tooth is the rope’s “drag” or friction and therefore how well your knots, twists, and loops will hold together.

 

  • Watch the Diameter – It’s best to work with something 5mm or thicker. Thin rope should be avoided for safety reasons (excess pressure can lead to discomfort, circulation problems, bruising, or worse). ALSO, some robe fibers (like cotton) might stretch and lose their diameter, which could cause problems.

 

  • Mind the Braiding – Braids are how the rope is woven together. Various densities will affect how tight your knots get and how easy or difficult it will be to take them apart. The same goes for twisting.

 

  • Not Created Equal – Take one kind of rope from different makers and they will be different, so keep that in mind while you’re shopping.

 

  • Know Your Purpose – There’s a big difference between tying someone up for light bedroom fun and going into a full-blown, load-bearing suspension rig. Also, wanting visually pleasing result versus a functional one will change what rope you’ll need.

 

  • Cut It Up – If you buy a long string, you’ll have to cut it into manageable lengths – how long depends on your preferences.

 

  • Break it In – Stiff ropes are like shoes, you have to break them in before they become easier to work with. This also goes for natural fibers that might need boiling, waxing or oiling, or just plain washing because it’s raw and smells.

 

  • Keep the Upkeep – Certain ropes have a longer lifespan, but it doesn’t last forever. Trim stray fibers, keep it stored in a bag, wash it when necessary (read washing instructions at the end of the article).

 

  • Whip It Good – Whip your ends. This means fixing the ends so they don’t fray or unfurl.

 

  • Allergy Alert – Natural fibers come with the risk of an allergic reaction to some people Synthetic obviously doesn’t have this problem.

 

  • No Right No Wrong – All riggers (and even rope bunnies) have their own preferences. As long as it’s safe, don’t let anyone convince you there’s only “one correct choice”.

 

 

WHAT TYPES OF ROPE ARE THERE?


      

They break down into two categories – Natural and Synthetic.

 

And each one comes with their own pros and cons.

 

 

 

NATURAL ROPE

 

HEMP

 

  • Commonly used for Shibari
  • very traditional
  • fantastic tooth
  • natural look
  • varied diameter range
  • not as stretchy
  • Lots of colors
  • Sheds fibers
  • Expensive, raw or treated
  • Washing affects durability
  • Scratchier against the skin 
  • Possible allergy
  • Needs a lot of work to break in

 

 

JUTE

 

  • Traditional for Shibari  
  • Can be dyed
  • Easy to unknot
  • excellent tooth
  • Use improves the quality
  • Natural smell

 

  • More expensive
  • Washing or boiling degrades fibers
  • Slower to tie with because of tooth
  • Need more time to break in
  • Needs care and inspection

 

 

 

COTTON

 

  • Can be dyed different colors
  • Strong but soft on skin
  • Acceptable tooth
  • Lightweight
  • No allergies
  • Slight elasticity
  • Lower change of rope burns

 

  • Not good for beginners
  • Needs working in after washing
  • Knots get very tight/compact
  • Easy to get dirty
  • Can stretch over time

 

 

 

LINEN/FLAX

 

  • Good tooth
  • Easier to tie
  • Soft but will still leave marks
  • Flexible, moderate durability
  • Good strength
  • Don’t need to work it in
  • Less to no allergies
  • Expensive
  • Harder to clean

 

 

 

SILK

 

  • Flexible and soft
  • moderate friction
  • low stretch
  • okay durability
  • good tooth despite
  • more similar to cotton
  • Quite expensive (luxury choice of rope)

 

 

 

BAMBOO

 

  • Flexible and soft
  • Moderate friction
  • Low stretch
  • Okay durability
  • Less grip than silk
  • Shine of nylon
  • Anti-bacterial properties
  • In the luxury range so it will be expensive

 

 

MANILA, SISAL, COIR

(abaca plant, agave fibers, coconut husks)

 

  • Cheaper
  • Harsh tooth (pro OR con)
  • Leaves better “rope marks”

 

  • Uncomfortable
  • Less stable (especially coir)
  • Not strong enough for suspension
  • Expensive
  • Not as easy to clean
  • Limited diameters

 

 

 

SYNTHETIC ROPE

 

 

NYLON, POLYESTER, or PARACORD

 

  • Heavy duty 
  • Durable
  • Cheaper
  • Easy to find
  • Smooth and soft
  • Easy to clean
  • No allergies
  • Bad tooth
  • Compact knots
  • Slippery
  • More rope burns
  • Stiff compared to other ropes
  • Not “traditional”

 

 

 

SYNTHETIC HEMP aka HEMPEX ™

 

  • Cheaper
  • Less prep or working in
  • No allergies
  • Easier to keep clean
  • Good tooth
  • Knots don’t get very compact
  • Acceptable for suspension
  • Not as many diameters
  • No color options
  • Sheds quite a bit

 

 

 

MFP Multifilament Polypropylene

 

  • Low friction
  • Lots of colors
  • Decently strong
  • Soft and smooth
  • Found in all hardware stores
  • No allergies
  • Poor tooth
  • Not good for suspension
  • More rope burns

 

 

 

KEEPING YOUR ROPE CLEAN


 

For natural fibers, washing can degrade the quality and durability of the rope.

 

BUT, it’s going to get covered in all sorts of bodily fluids (sweat at minimum) or things like dust, dirt, or wax (if you’re into was play), so you'll have to wash it.

 

  • Here's a great guide to caring for your rope Twisted Monk.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

 

 

This is not a be-all-end-all guide to rope bondage. I high recommend scouring the web for as many articles as possible. And, if you want to get serious, find a qualified teacher to show you how to enjoy this art form while staying safe.

 

Here are some sites that have more useful information. Totally check them out!

 

Crash Restraint - Rope detail chart 

Traveling Within the World - Rope guide  

Instructables - Rope dying guide, also good for whipping instructions.

Knot Right Supply - Rope guide, small but good  

 

What are your favorite kinds of rope? 

 

Have a fun day!

Robyn

 

Mots clésBondage Rope

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