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Just tell me what rope to buy! Simple?

So what rope should I buy?

  • Answer 1: Many things can be used to tie your partner: scarves, ribbons, you can have fun with any kind of rope!

Yeah, but what do you use?

  • Answer 2: I use 10 jute ropes, 8m long, 6mm diameter, with a loose twist, thistle knot ends and treated to be soft/flexible and I rub them with jojoba oil. This is what I used for most of the tutorials on this site.

Yeah, well that’s pretty specific!

  • Answer 3: Rope is something very personal, each person has their preferences, and again, what a person prefers can fluctuate over time depending on their intents.

Well, I’m just starting, I don’t really know what my style is yet, what do I do?

  • Answer 4: Go to the hardware store, take cotton or nylon rope 6mm (1/4 inch), then cut into several pieces around 8m (between 7-10m). The reality is that even if it is not “your perfect rope”, nylon and cotton ropes are really cheap, easy to wash and good enough to have a fun time.

Yeah! I’m out to the hardware store, see ya, thank you!

  • Great, but don’t hesitate to come back here to get deeper on the topic as there are tons of other interesting options.

Finding the perfect rope for you

Different ropes have different pros and cons, and depending on your preferences, some aspects might have more importance to you than others. As you start, most of the common rope types will do. Cotton, nylon, hemp, jute are all great choices. 8m long, 6mm with a simple knot at the end is probably the  most common specification. As you gain more experience, the style and techniques you are leaning to is likely to have the biggest impact. 

Japanese-inspired Rope

If you are into rope for the process of tying, the intimacy of rope tension and a more organic aesthetic, you might want to dive deeper into Japanese-inspired rope. Japanese style relies a lot on friction and it will not work as well with slippery ropes. Jute and hemps are the usual weapons of choice.

Hemp is a bit more squishy and softer than jute, it is also a bit easier to clean. Jute is very light and doesn’t stretch which makes it the perfect rope for speed and precise tying. Jute needs to be stretched under tension when washed, and it’s also much more fragile than hemp.

  • As a beginner, I started with hemp and loved its smell.
  • Then I switched to medium twist jute, I was amazed by how much speed I gained.
  • I now use loose twist jute. I do not recommend this for beginners as it is a high-maintenance rope that gives more speed, but is harder to handle as it has a tendency to high strand.

An important aspect of Japanese style rope is the process. Ropes are chosen to maximize a state of flow and fluid movement. This often means that all ropes are the same, and the length is measured to be pulled within 3 movements. In japan it is frequent to see rope as short as 7m, at 1.73m (5’8″) I’m using 8m and I know a few tall people who use up to 10m. 

The smaller the diameter, the more the knots will be small, firm, and stable, but also smaller rope bite more into the skin. 6mm is the most common diameter as it is a good balance, but it varies by +/- 2 mm depending on preference.

Rope ends will generally be a small knot to have a fast way of extending rope and tucking the end neatly when finishing a tie.

In this style, one might want to have a few shorts or some rope of smaller diameter for micro-bondage (toes, fingers, genitals, tongue, etc.) but they are usually kept separate from the main kit to  preserve the flow of picking any rope without thinking.

Western-inspired Rope

If you find you like the aesthetic of the damsel in distress, functional ties and/or techniques using a lot of knots, you might prefer to use cotton, nylon or MFP. Nylon/MFP are very slippery which allows tying complex knots faster than a high friction rope. Cotton has a medium grip which is a good compromise. They also come in a wide variety of colours and easy to dye.

These ropes are awesome to make first discoveries as they are less expensive and easy to wash (which makes it awesome for sex rope). If you wish to invest a bit more, higher qualilty ropes in these materials will usually be more durable, less stretchy and have a better construction that makes tying feel smoother.

The aesthetic being very important in this style, people tend to have rope of a variety of size to have the perfect length for every tie. A typical kit will contain lots of medium sized (8-10m) with a few shorter (2-4m) and one or two very long ones (15+). Diameter will usually lean to 6mm but it’s frequent to see different sizes in a western kit. Ending rope with whipping (sewed) or melting (synthetic only) is pretty common as this is faster to pull through when making complex knots.

Diving deeper into your preferences

For a deeper understanding of rope qualities, the best is to try!  Asking to try other people’s rope and asking them about their experience with it is a great way to discover the differences hands-on. Many shops also offer samplers to try before you buy.  In Week 7 we’ll do a deeper of the different characteristics with exercices to discover your preferences. Feel free to jump ahead if you want to geek out on these topics right away.

Conditioning and cleaning

Conditioning is to process the rope to improve it’s characteristics. Depending on where and what you buy, you might not need to condition at all.

Cotton and synthetic ropes only need a quick wash and are ready to go. It is just as easy as washing clothes in the washing machine. Tie them in a daisy chain or put them in a pillowcase to avoid tangling.

Jute and hemp will need to be broken down and polished before use, which is a pretty long and complex process and why you’ll pay more for treated rope. If you buy raw rope, you’ll need to break the fiber, singe the rope in a flame and oil it before it’s ready to use on the body. Washing them is also more complex as they will progressively damage when wet. You can still wash hemp in the washing machine and hang out straight to dry. Jute is the most fragile. I wash my jute in the top rack of my dishwasher, then stretch it between two poles to dry under tension to maintain the twist.

You can read more about these topics in Week 7 as well:

Where to Buy Ropes?

Depending on the type of rope you want, the best place for rope shopping might be your local hardware store or the internet. Sex shops usually carry low-quality rope for a high price unless they are specialized in BDSM. Get in touch with your local community. If you are lucky, there might be a local rope maker or some group order you can benefit from.

Rope I Have Tried and recommend!

The number of people selling rope outmatches my capacity to maintain a complete list. I can at least list the ones I have tried. I’m always happy to describe the little details to help people find the rope that will fit their needs. Don’t hesitate to put your questions or recommendations in the comments.

Lists and Other Rope Shopping Guides



Or return to Getting Started for more options.
Credit: R/P: Ebi McKnotty