So Many Choices!
Selecting rope can be daunting to new-comers of rope play. There are a lot of options, and while there is a lot of information out there about how one type of rope is "better" than another, ultimately it is a question of personal preference. To that end, we've created this rope selection guide to help you choose the rope that is right for you and your partner(s).
Natural Or Synthetic?
While not necessarily the first question one needs to answer, the question of natural versus synthetic fiber rope is an important one as it can quickly narrow down your options. More importantly, it also defines the regimen one can (or must) use to maintain the rope over time.
Synthetic rope (nylon, hempex, MFP, et cetera) has a lot going for it. Synthetic materials are: hypoallergenic, easy to clean, don’t require special conditioning before use, and are typically very easy to maintain over time. Additionally, synthetics are cheaper. So they are a great entry point for beginners, or for "demo" or "public" rope for performers or rope clubs.
Synthetics do have stretch factor (nylon, for example, will stretch some as it warms up to body temperature), but this is easily accounted for with proper technique. They also have a low burn rate, and can easily induce rope burns when pulled across skin. Additionally, dying synthetics to your desired color can be difficult (nylon/polyester blends, for example) to impossible (hempex).
Natural rope (hemp, linen hemp, jute, coconut, et cetera) also has many positive qualities. It can be strong, but with low stretch factors. It can have an aroma all its own, which many identify with their play and with which they develop strong emotional connection. The same type of fiber can be used to create very different types of rope based on how it is manufactured (as evidenced by our loose, moderate, and tight twist jute). Natural fiber ropes have very high burn rates, so it is more difficult to induce rope burns when pulling them across skin. And they typically are easier to dye to your desired color, and do not necessarily require hot-water process dyes.
That said, natural fiber ropes typically require more up-front conditioning before play (which can include such things as: working, singing, oiling, waxing, knotting, whipping, et cetera). Additionally, they can require more care over time, monitoring them for wear and tear, stretching, high-stranding, re-oiling or re-waxing, et cetera (see our refitting service, for example). They also are more difficult to wash, and so careful attention to play that involves bodily fluids, et cetera usually means those ropes become dedicated to only that one partner. And most of all, they wear out; the more you use them, the shorter their lifespan (as a rule of thumb, many well-known riggers will replace their primary kit every 6-12 months when it is used regularly and routinely, particularly for suspensions; your mileage will vary based on your own frequency of use, stress placed on your ropes during play, et cetera). Also of note, some people can have allergic reactions (some quite severe) to the natural fibers.
Synthetic Fiber Rope
POSH is a synthetic fiber rope made to emulate natural fiber rope. It has a color and appearance that looks natural, looking like a darker brown jute or hemp. However, it has all the qualities of synthetic rope (strength, washing, drying, life-span, etc). It is an excellent rope for your collection.
It ages well with use, showing minimal wear with routine usage over time. Additionally, it has a very low burn rate, closer to natural fiber rather than synthetic, making it less likely to burn against the skin when pulled. It is extremely dense, which is really its only drawback. Its dense nature could make it less forgiving on the body, and until it wears in and becomes more supple, you will need to make certain your knots and frictions are locked tight.
Hempex is a synthetic fiber rope made to emulate hemp. It has the look of hemp, but the qualities of a synthetic rope (strength, washing, drying, longer life, et cetera). It is a great "stepping stone" rope for people interested in the aesthetics of natural fiber without the higher cost or maintenance regimen.
The one drawback to hempex and its lifespan is more to do with aesthetics. Over time, particularly with heavy use and multiple washings, it can get very "fuzzy." But unlike the fuzz that may occur on natural fiber, it cannot be easily removed with fire. So well worn hempex can start to look like a really long wooly-worm. It retains its strength, despite the fuzz, and is more resistant to wear and tear, so its lifespan is largely determined by your own taste.
Natural Fiber Rope
Jute is an extremely popular natural fiber for bondage rope. It has a distinct aroma (once the batching fluid odor is mitigated) and many find it more appealing than the grassy (almost barnyard) aroma of hemp. It is lighter and smoother compared to hemp as well. Strength-wise, it isn’t as strong as hemp, but still serviceable for bondage, including suspensions.
At KRS, we offer three different types of jute, varied in their construction by the severity of the twist and the properties it gives each rope. We have a loose-twist, moderate-twist, and tight-twist jute for sale.
Hemp is the primary competitor to jute in term of popularity for use in rope play. It is dense, strong, and has a unique smell reminiscent of grass or hay (many love the “barnyard” smell of the rope, and connect with it in a visceral manner). We offer two varieties of hemp.
One is a linen hemp, comprised of a blend of linen and hemp fibers, with over 100 threads per rope. It is soft, pliable, and comes off the spool almost ready for play. It does have a grassy smell, but it is not nearly as strong as with most hemp ropes you will find. If you like the other qualities of hemp, but aren’t in love with the smell, this hemp is for you.
Our other hemp is a plain hemp rope, of exceptional quality of construction. This is the rope for true hemp lovers out there. It is dense, pliable, and has a strong grassy aroma.
Rough. Scratchy. Evil. Mean. Tortuous. Just a few of the words that people have used to describe coconut rope. It’s scratchy as hell. Needs little maintenance. And can quickly subdue a feisty partner, or provide a masochist with a hell of a ride.
This rope is intense and is for those who like to involve some pain in their rope play. There’s no other way to say it.