Rope Buyer's Guide
Rope and shibari is a HUGE part of BDSM for some people, and for some they are not in BDSM relationships or in the BDSM lifestyle and it isn't sexual. They just love being tied up and suspended and being taken to their 'floaty' space!
So what kind of rope is best? It depends on who you are tying, what they like, and what you like to tie with. But for some things to consider to be able to make that decision, read on!
PRICE (and where to buy it)
You want to find something great to tie with and not break the bank. You don't want to skimp on quality but spending too little but not spend a fortune only to have to cut it to get someone out quickly and then have to buy some more!
We suggest going to hardware stores like Bunnings as well as researching online.
Rope can come in a range of diameters, usually between 4mm and 8mm. Three factors influence what diameter you choose: handling, safety/comfort and manoeuvrability.
Rope that is thicker such as 7mm and 8mm has super strength over a smaller diameter, and the extra thickness distributes the pressure more evenly over a wider area. HOWEVER, the thicker a rope gets, the stiffer it will be and heavier it will be, making it more difficult to do complicated knots and more difficult to handle. But for the strength factor, 8mm might be a great option for suspension where you want it to have the strength.
Thin rope such as 4mm has great flexibility but it is much weaker and the surface can bite into the skin when put under tension, so this rope might be more best suited to aesthetic rope tying and not bondage experiences.
We recommend 5mm or 6mm rope which offers a great compromise between strength, surface coverage, weight and flexibility.
Ropes come in varying lengths, usually a minimum of 5 metres. What you choose depends on who you are, what you are doing and to whom you are doing it. Japanese riggers measure the optimum length of rope by taking the length of one's full arm span with the arms outstretched, then multiply that by four. With the rope doubled over, that length makes it easy to draw the rope through any knot in two smooth hand motions. Usually that measures to lengths between 7 and 8 metres. However, that calculation is not always great to use when body shapes can vary so much and you may need more or less rope depending on the size of your rope bottom.
We recommend getting at least a 10 metre rope or longer for more complex ties. You can go as long as you want! Just be mindful that it might be harder or take longer to pull your rope through if you have a 50 metre rope as opposed to something smaller.
Cotton (eg. braided cotton)
- Cheaper than a lot of bondage ropes
- Good friction to hold knots together
- Possible to dye it
- Reasonably light if you need to transport it
- Good for shibari
- The knots compact so it can be pretty hard to unpick your knots. That is fine so long as you have some safety scissors nearby to cut someone out (and Pro: it's not too expensive to replace it)
- They can come in different densities so compare before you buy if you are looking in a hardware shop or a cheap shop - denser braids equal less difficult knots
Cotton is a great choice for most forms of bondage except suspension. Just keep safety equipment close.
Polypropylene webbing (eg. paracord)
- Synthetic bondage rope so much less friction than cotton rope or a natural fibre
- Light, smooth and fast with no risk of friction burn
- Quite easy to unpick your knots
- Comes in a range of colours including luminous and you might even find UV reactive
- Very light
- Readily available online, in hardware stores or camping stores
- Not too expensive
- Quite a stiff material when it has the core inside it - if you remove the core it sits flatter on the skin (Pro: spreads pressure from the tie over a wider surface and won't catch on things)
- Not suitable for using if you are playing with heat or hot wax
- Not super strong with the core removed so not good for hardcore bondage or suspension
- You will need knots rather than hitches
- It will slide a little bit
- Not dyeable
We wouldn't recommend using this for complex ties or to make someone or something look especially pretty. It will get the job done though.
Solid polypropylene braid (all-purpose rope)
- Synthetic bondage rope which has a recommended load and breaking strain on the label at Bunnings
- Feels very soft and smooth but with enough weight to keep someone feeling very beautifully restrained
- Great price
- Comes in different colours
- Similar cons to the paracord
- Bulkier knots because of increased thickness of it
Not great for bondage like shibari but for a quick column tie or quick restraint for sexual purposes where the aesthetic doesn't really matter ... perfect!
Nylon bondage rope
- Readily available at hardware shops like Bunnings
- Twisted synthetic rope so it can give different rope marks
- Stronger rope as often used as boat rope
- Feels soft and smooth with good flex
- Not as cheap as natural fibre ropes
- Quite slippery with not as much friction as a natural fibre rope, so you will need to use knots
- Rope bottoms can fee disconnected from synthetic ropes as opposed to natural fibre
Again not great for bondage like shibari but for a good restraint bondage rope and for those who enjoy using knots, this is a good choice.
- Natural fibre that is very commonly used in shibari
- Excellent tooth that means hitches will keep things in place so fewer knots are required
- Quite strong (although be careful of fraying)
- Natural organic look
- Can be scratchy or soft
- Sometimes hemp rope will shed fibres and will leave you covered in them or make you sneeze!
A great go to rope for tying and aesthetics - but play around with different types to find one that you like.
- Very popular with shibari enthusiasts and to use as bondage rope
- 'Tossa jute' is a tight lay so starts stiffer, so needs extra conditioning
- Similar to hemp - excellent tooth and no issue with using hitches
- Beautiful in photos with clean lines
- Great give and flex
- Very durable
- Easy to unpick knots
- Can be more expensive than other rope
- If you do try to wash it, you need to dry it under tension or it will shrink and thicken unevenly
- Greater likelihood of surface abrasion and friction burn
One of the better ropes to choose for shibari and an all round winner!