This is very much version 0.1, but I felt it’s passable enough to post. It will get updated as and when I get time and inspiration.
Rope – What Material and Where to Buy
Every so often I get asked about where is best to buy rope from. This isn’t as easy a thing to answer as you’d initially think! So I’ve pulled this together with my basic thoughts and will then expand slowly over time.
Other people have written on this in far more detail, so the below is my summary. I would always recommend that people do their own research and make their own decisions. What works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. I have many friends who are into rope and we all have gone different ways with what we’ve found works.
I heartily recommend the website compiled by @topologist – www.crash-restraint.com as a great source of information on all things rope bondage, with a good emphasis on safety. There is a good scientific and anatomical backing to the information provided, as well as instructions in a style that I have found work well for me.
This is vague and needs to be expanded to include more detail on each material, but will do for now.
The first thing to decide is what material you want your rope to be made out of. There are two main categories to start with – natural fibre or synthetic. Both have pros and cons, and you should consider these before making your decision.
- Polypropylene (bad)
- Nylon (good)
- Spun Polyester aka POSH (good)
- Hempex (good)
Pros and Cons
Usually the benefits of synthetic are that it is more easily washable, is resistant to water and is more hardwearing than natural fibre. You can also get synthetic rope that is rated to a certain load, which can provide more reassurance if doing suspension work.
The downsides are that there is an increased chance of rope burn; hempex has a tendency to go ‘fuzzy’; and nylon doesn’t work as well with shibari style ties (nylon has its own style which is designed for how nylon rope handles)
- Cotton (bad)
- Hemp (good)
- Jute (good)
- Coconut/Coir (good for specific uses – sensation, never for suspension)
Pros and Cons
- Softer (usually)
- Less likely to cause rope burn
- Is the material that ‘shibari-style’ ties were designed to work with
- There can be a smell from the material the rope is made of. (This can be a pro or con depending on your preferences)
- Not all is load rated – if it is, will be a lower rating than synthetic
- Not water resistant – if they get wet they need to be dried under tension and may need re-treating.
- Not ‘cleanable’ – Although you can try and wash natural fibre, there are some things that can’t be assured to be removed, and so if certain fluids come into contact with the rope, consider them to only be useable with that individual.
- Potential for allergic reactions – If this is the case, then synthetic rope may be the safest option.
- Knots in cotton rope can become so compressed that they can’t be undone and the rope needs to be cut.
Where to Buy
This all depends on how much work you want to put in, and what you’re buying. I personally buy untreated rope, and treat it myself; this is cheaper in money terms but takes a significant amount of time. If you plan to do this, then do your research on rope treatment, there are lots of different methods.
Note: Synthetic rope does not need to be treated in the same way as natural fibre rope.
@RopeWithBite – Run by local Reading scene member @Growly – Rope With Bite is one of the few UK importers of Spun Polyester (aka POSH) rope. They also supply Hempex rope.
@KnotHeadNylon – One of the world leaders in the world of nylon rope.
You can also buy some synthetic ropes at hardware stores – your mileage may vary. Also, take a look at the bulk rope suppliers below as they also sell synthetic rope as well as natural fibre.
Raw / Untreated Rope Suppliers
www.ropelocker.co.uk – This is the shop that I have used to purchase my 4mm and 6mm hemp from. It is one of the few places in the UK that I’ve found sells 4mm hemp. They also sell hempex, which they list as Hardy Hemp.
Rope Locker also sell untreated jute.
www.ropesdirect.co.uk – This is the shop that I purchased my first set of 6mm hemp from. Although I retired this rope, that was through personal choice and it still sees service as the house rope for @PeerReading.
Ropes Direct also sell jute with a polypropylene core.
There are many other places that sell raw rope, it is always best to either obtain a sample of rope, or check with people you trust as to where supplies rope of a reasonable quality to use as bondage rope.
Coconut rope – The cheapest I have found is on Amazon. Coconut rope does not need to be treated, in fact doing so would remove the reason for using it.
@Ro-nin – It would be remiss to not top any list with @Ro-nin – They are a producer of custom rope sets and one of the most respected within the UK. There is often a waiting list, however the ropes are well worth the wait.
Ro-nin also sells raw stock, there is no waiting list for this. Message directly for more information.
@StudioKokoro – have stocks of Natural Jute and a limited supply of pink, purple and red just rope in stock at the studio (https://fetlife.com/users/9153939/statuses/24563828)
Esinem – www.ebaystores.co.uk/ESINEM-Rope – Esinem is a recognised name in rope circles, and also sells rope.
www.etsy.com – There are many rope vendors who use Etsy as a platform for selling rope, it is a place well worth looking at, but always make sure you check the reviews or get information about a particular vendor before making a purchase.
Disclaimer: The above list is not a recommendation, they are suppliers that I am aware of. Any purchase is your own decision, as with any important purchase – Do Your Research. Your rope set is something that should see much use, and so needs to work For You!
All ropes need continual looking after to make sure that they remain safe for use. This will depend on the type of rope, but at the minimum this involves keeping an eye on wear and tear; and re-treating if needed.
Find your local rope group and talk to people, trust me, they’ll be happy to talk your ear off if given half a chance! You may also be able to handle different types of rope if you ask nicely, which may help you make your decision as to what to buy.