kni’s Equipment Primer
- 1 Rope Removal Equipment
- 2 Rigging Equipment
- 2.1 Straps, Spansets, and Slings
- 2.2 Swivels
- 2.3 “Ring” Diameter
- 2.4 Rings
- 2.5 Carabiners
- 2.6 Carabiners – A word on rope failure
- 2.7 Small Rings/rappel rings
- 2.8 Rigging Plates
- 2.9 Cushions and Crashpads
- 3 Various kit things
- 4 Ways to ID your property
First, a word on safety:
Doing any activity usually involves a lot more risk than we like to think about in our day-to-day lives. Safety is not something you can buy. Safety is a state of mind, and an awareness of your risks. Preparing for these risks, planning and thinking through possible outcomes, and doing your best to mitigate and control as much of the situation as you can is all a part of being “safe”. A ladder is THE most dangerous tool on a job-site – not that high-powered nail-gun, or that impressive saw, and that is almost entirely due to the lack of respect people have for their own safety on the “safe” ladder.
- Educate yourself on safe practices.
- Have safety equipment on-site, and train with it (for gosh sake).
- Tops! Inspect your equipment before use. Make sure your equipment is up to the standards set in your risk profile.
- Bottoms! Inspect your tops’ equipment! Make sure they are playing within your risk profile! You are putting your safety in their hands.
Your safety is up to you. You will be able to find cheaper versions of products I’m about to talk about. Asses them critically. Many suppliers sell equipment that is “cheaper”. The fine print is that the manufacturer did not pay to have their units independently tested or certified. Let your risk profile and your goals inform your purchases.
While I mainly link to Amazon web listings for the products in this guide, I am not endorsing Amazon as a place to purchase your equipment. There is no true chain of ownership or responsibility within Amazon fulfillment. Buyer beware. If possible, I strongly suggest buying equipment from reputable distributors directly, not through a third party storefront.
Rope Removal Equipment
Safety shears are a natural option for a lot of people. I think using a pair of scissors comes naturally – and they do a fantastic job. Along with being familiar in the hand, they can be comfortably used one-handed, and they are the BEST option for cutting rope that is not under tension. The notable downside for a set of shears would be that, most people get very tired hands after a few cuts. Especially if you’re fighting with dull shears – your hands will get very tired pinching open and closed very quickly. Ensure your shears sharp and well maintained – and for gosh sake, keep yourself in practice! Take a pair of scissors and cut some cardboard!
I personally use safety shears as my backup safety option. I have a quickdraw lanyard ($20) that can be attached to my toprig or my spotter’s person. I do this so if I ever have an emergency and someone needs to dedicate an arm to support my body – they’ll always have a pair of shears within reach. This is also especially helpful in case someone panics and drops the shears – the lanyard retracts, and you know exactly where the tool is. No hunting on the floor!
EMT shears ($1-12)
The most popular option for shears are usually “disposable” EMT shears. These generally cost anywhere from $1 on the low end to $12 coated sets. They are marketed as single-emergency tools in the medical industry, but via my own experiences I have found they are perfectly good for about 40 cuts of rope before they lose cutting ability, or become too hard to use. I still encourage you to replace them after every emergency.
Paratrooper shears ($30)
Made by Xshear and retailing for about $30. These come in a variety of colors, and are marketed as paratrooper shears. They are a favorite for people that want a solid and dependable set that will last. The company offers a lifetime sharpness program, so if you ever want your edge touched up you can mail it in for service, and these units are autoclavable. I’ve commonly seen these used for rope tops that want a set of shears they can “perform” with, being used to cut the clothing off of a tied up model mid-performance while still having a reliable safety tool.
Leatherman Raptor ($55)
The most high-tech Safety Shear is the Leatherman Raptor ($55) which can be found with your choice of holster. I would buy one that includes the utility belt holster. The Raptor combines blades that rival the Xshear paratrooper shears, with an additional rescue hook and a variety of other emergency tools. The Raptor looks cool, it folds up, and it comes in a variety of colors. It is bulky and expensive in my opinion, but it has a proven track record of quality and dependability. They are not autoclavable.
Compact size, lightweight nature, quick handling, and ambidextrous, hooks come in a variety of configurations, from compact two-finger grip, to full handed ones. They also come in either solid or replaceable blade variations. Hooks are absolutely reliant on line tension to make a cut, so if you are trying to cut rope that is loose, or not under tension, you will have some difficulty completing the cut. That said, for fast, emergency, grip-it-and-rip-it scenarios, they are hard to beat.
Within self-suspension, my personal preference is something as small and effortless as possible. A hook on a Velcro strap around my arm or ankle keeps things within emergency reach even if I’m in an awkward position. I also find hooks much easier to use when underwater.
Some popular solid-blade small hooks:
Some popular solid-blade large hooks:
Some popular replaceable-blade large hooks:
I really recommend having a spike. Spikes are handy tools for untying knots or for fixing jams.Combined with a hitch they can make a great handhold or point of leverage. They are a brilliant resource to work into your kit, but please remember they do not work if you need to cut rope. they’re supplemental to a proper set of emergency rope cutting equipment.
Some people prefer to use a traditional Marlinespike ($25), or something custom smithed/forged ($15-30). I encourage you to branch out and find something that speaks to you, you don’t need much – just a solid piece of robust material with a blunted point that’s between 6-9 inches long. Remember that this is to be a safety tool though, so please avoid bendable, plastic, or aluminum options.
Standard knives, tin snips, garden shears, or utility knives/box-cutters are generally awful at cutting rope, usually require two hands to complete the task, can terrify your bottom, and are likely to cause an injury. You’re risking a lot by not using proper safety equipment, in my view. Please spend the $1 and get a pair of disposable EMT shears, please.
Straps, Spansets, and Slings
These are routinely used to attach to a pole or to a hardpoint. They have flex and can rotate a bit, but they will not be able to continually twist. It is very easy to shorten a loop that is too large, but it is impossible to make a small loop larger. For that reason, I reccomend a 240cm runner if you want a good length for outdoor play, or a 120cm one for mostly indoor play. Dyneema Runners average ($10-20) and are good for most purposes where point-loading is not a concern, such as metal on metal connections in clubs or on metal hardpoints. For those that want a good-at-everything solution, to rig outdoors, or on natural materials like bamboo or wood, I highly recommend selecting a Nylon Runner ($8-15) instead of a Dyneema one. Dyneema is a static material that can easily shock-load a tree or other mounting point with enough force to damage it Nylon as a material has stretch and is overall a bit “gentler” on your hardpoint. You can also buy Nylon webbing to length and tie a loop using a water knot to customize the length you’re working with. A heavy-duty alternative for outdoor rigging is a Spanset ($7-15) which is helpful if you’re going to repeatedly rig against something that is rough like rusted metals. There are also tree protectors ($10), which can be used to protect from abrasion and are quick accessory I find handier than a dedicated spanset. A Tree protector and a Nylon runner are generally my go-to combo for rigging on trees in the wild.
I do not recommend the use of sewn-loop systems for what we do.
If you are going to have a scene with a lot of rotation, a swivel is your friend. Swivels are sold in a variety of configurations, some are “locked” so they only rotate in one direction. All the swivels I’m going to point out go both ways for freedom of movement.
40kn two-eye swivel ($27)
22kn A micro-swivel that can only fit one carabiner per eye ($28)
23kn A micro-swivel that can only fit one carabiner per eye ($60)
26kn A two-eye swivel ($50)
36kn A single-shackle swivel ($85)
23kn A dual-shackle swivel ($85)
By having a larger diameter – you are being gentler on your rope. This can make your rope last longer, but it also allows for more surface area friction when you are attempting to use the point as a pulley. It is up to you to decide what type of material and diameter works for your style of tying. If you’re using jute that has a lower weight limit – causing excess strain by hoisting a bottom via a small diameter ring or carabiner might cause your rope more wear than other methods. As a reference – most carabiners I’ve seen average about 3/8 to 7/16″ diameter.
If you’re doing minimal line-work sometimes you only really need minimal equipment. You should understand the safety issues with rigging multiple points to a single carabiner, but many people rig using a “”chain”” of carabiners because triaxial loading is within their risk profile.
Almost every wood ring I’ve seen is simply a gym ring – which are generally good up to about 600lbs in my experience. Please keep in mind they don’t do well under single-point loads, so if you’re going to use a carabiner do not attach it directly to the wood. Gym Rings are generally sold in pairs and can be found for as little as ($12 per ring). Some rope sellers buy and condition rings with wax or wood stains for color variations. I am not convinced that adds anything to the strength of the rings.
Steel is somewhat easy to weld, allowing for complex patterns and designs. Steel tends to fail under load while maintaining a high amount of strength (a very nice feature), but steel is decently heavy. Many rings are sourced in a variety of sizes for $15-30 at boating supply stores. This is not meant to be an extensive list. There’s a ton of great kinksters making custom rings for people, here are a few examples:
7.25″” – .56″” ($55)
9 3/8″” – .63” ($55.00)
7.25″” – .5″” Tri ($150)
7.25″” – .5″” Burner ($150)
7.25″” Heart ($110)
Steel “”Alibaba”” Rings
These are the rings you will see dropshippers and people on ebay or etsy selling. You can usually tell because they have no picture variety other than some scribbled text over the same image. There are a lot of examples of people using them, but I personally would not trust my life to them or to the swivels I sometimes see attached to them. As always, you do you.
8.89″” – .51″” ($30)
8.89″” – .51″” Tri ($35)
8.89″” – .51″” Burner ($40)
8.89″” – .51″” Peace ($38)
8.89″” – .51″” Torii ($60)
8.89″” – .51″” Pentagram ($63)
Aluminum is similar in performance to the steel rings at 1/3 the weight. Aluminum is quite difficult to weld, so usually rings that have patterns are machined and are thus rather expensive. Unlike steel, which stretches and deforms upon failure while maintaining strength, Aluminum tends to yield suddenly and fail outright. Aluminum is far more resistant to rust than steel is. For the vast majority of use in rope bondage, the material choice comes down to your personal preference, and how often you are shock-loading the material.
7.25″” – .56″” ($65)
8″” – .5″” ($100)
10″” – 1″” ($110)
10″” – 1.4″” ($150)
6″” – .5″” Trapeze Ring ($25) A go-to travel ring many riggers enjoy.
7.25″” – .5″” Tri ($150)
7.25″” – .5″” Burner ($150)
6.5″” Honeycomb Ring ($90)
10″” – .5″” Honeycomb Ring ($135)
10″” – .75″” Honeycomb Ring ($150)
Rope has a devilish nature and can rub against gates to work them open. I personally am of the opinion that it is better to purchase carabiners with locks that you don’t use, than it is to buy carabiners that are not locking. The added versatility and safety is well worth the additional $1-2.
Carabiners – A word on rope failure
Basically you want to avoid anything that has an I-Beam or skeletonized design. While ultra-lightweight designs are usually ideal for climbing, the diameters we typically use for bondage rope play (<8mm) can be put at serious risk if the wrong style of carabiner is selected. You want to avoid sharp angles like those seen in D-Shape carabiners, and ideally you want a round profile. Anecdotally, the carabiner that has caused the most bondage ropes to fail is the Black Diamond Neutrino, and it is no coincidence – it has both a D-shape design, and I-Beam profile.
Small Rings/rappel rings
Small rings are useful as an alternative to carabiners. They are lighter, generally less expensive, they can operate without issue for underwater rigging, and work very well as decorative attachment points for body harnesses.
Small Aluminum Rings
Small Steel Rings
Generally the benefit of rigging plates is that they are more “”dynamic”” than rings, they’re incredibly lightweight/packable, and they allow for a lot of headroom and easy line organization, and they can be used to lessen the friction on ropes by distributing load over multiple carabiners. They have downsides like:
- Require purchasing carabiners to use.
- When carabiners move and hit each other they make a bit of noise.
- Not being an easy piece of gear to grab hold of mid-scene.
- They can rock back and forth with load making it hard to balance a suspension.
- Generally because of the ‘rocking”” that can happen when loads are distributed, smaller flat plates are recommended. This is less of an issue with 3D plates.
3D Plates and specialty plates
Cushions and Crashpads
Some ropespaces have foam puzzle mats on their floors, and this is a great way to have some mildly-stable footing while helping to soften the floor. I have also seen people improvise with couch cushions, old mattresses, or yoga mats. The idea here is that if something were to happen, we’d lessen the damage to the bottom when they hit the ground. All of these options won’t help avoid a concussion, for that you need an actual crash pad. A popular crash pad is the Mad Rock Mad Pad ($115) It is hefty, machine washable and it travels well. It has velcro on the sides to allow multiple units to connect and it deploys/packs quickly.
Various kit things
I am not going to aim to be comprehensive. This is just a few things I find handy or cool to keep around.
- Cheap condoms and individual lube packets.
- A good First Aid Kit that isn’t filled with stuff you won’t use.
- A tube of 1% silver sulfadiazine cream for burns
- Ibuprophen – for soreness and aches after a scene
- A bottle of water or sports drink. Rope is hard work for all parties involved!
- A bendy-straw so the bottom can drink when unable to move.
- A blanket – useful to cover a dirty floor, or to warm up post-rope.
- Pen and Paper. For notes, and trading information.
- Long Compression socks. They make life more comfy if you’re on your feet for a long period, and they encourage healthy blood flow if you’re suspended.
Ways to ID your property
If you’re tying in a space with others – there’s a chance you’ll misplace or have gear borrowed. Take a moment to do inventory of what you have, and make it recognizable. Colored whippings or rubber bands on rope, colored nail polish on metal equipment, name tags on bags – these are all handy ways of keeping your stuff! You will be shocked at how many people in a room will have your exact same carabiner, or incredibly similar rope.
If your wallet is found – how is someone going to get in touch with you? What if the address on your driver’s license is out of date? Credit card companies are not allowed to disclose personal information so how can I get in touch with you? Keep your business card/kinky contact info on hand! It could save you weeks of headaches!