Bondage Rope

Most rope commonly widely available is not designed to be used tying people up. While some of it can be used for bondage, the rope you’ll find at Walmart, or Home Depot was not designed for the safety or comfort of human body tied up in it.

When choosing rope for bondage, we’re primarily concerned with the rope’s strength, skin feel and tying/knotting characteristics. Very smooth rope will glide while being pulled through a knot, but may burn a person’s skin if pulled at speed under pressure.

These concerns, plus aesthetics, have led to most modern rope bondage artists using either twisted 3 strand organic rope (mostly jute and hemp) or braided synthetic rope, like nylon and MFP. I use twisted organic rope with twisted synthetic ropes for suspension lines that look nearly identical to jute.

Organic

Organic ropes are made from natural material, which is too inconsistent to allow for standardized strength ratings, but is considered more comfortable for on-body tying. Organic materials suitable for bondage rope include: Jute, hemp, bamboo, silk, coconut, sisal and cotton. My two favorites organic ropes are jute and cotton. In Japanese, the word asanawa does not differentiate between jute and hemp.

Jute

This is the primary rope type that I use. Along with hemp, it is a traditional rope making material and is the most commonly used rope in Japanese-inspired shibari bondage. I prefer jute for looks and feel. When well conditioned, it is smooth, soft and just heavy enough to fly through the hands. It is an organic material however, so it cannot be given a loading strength rating of any type and it requires breaking in and regular maintenance. 

Jute is in a category of plant based fibers called bast fibers. Mostly grown in Bangledesh and West Bengal, jute grows as a tall grass. The grass is cut, bundled and then held underwater with weights for a week or more, allowing the non-fiber parts of the plant to rot away. What’s left is harvested, dried and eventually turned into rope.

Because jute is a brittle bast fiber, similar to wood, the process of manufacturing it into threads, yarns and ropes requires oil. And given the mostly industrial nature of jute use (remember, most rope isn’t made for tying people up), the oil used as this “Jute Batching OIl” (JBO) is the cheapest, dirtiest possible petroleum product. And it smells bad and you’ve gotta boil the rope to get rid of it. And yes, most of the famous rope masters used JBO rope.

Cotton

This is a type of rope often purchased by beginners. It’s soft, cheap, and comes in a bunch of cool colors. Knots in cotton rope have a tendency to compress under tension and get very tight and hard to un-tie. Other than this, it’s not a horrible choice for bondage rope as it does not require as much upkeep as jute.

Synthetic

Synthetic ropes are made from man made materials like polyester and nylon and can be tested for and labeled with strength ratings. POSH and MFP are my two favorite synthetic rope varieties. 

POSH

POSH is a modern spun polyester rope manufactured in a traditional-looking 3 strand spun construction. It was originally intended for nautical rigging on sail boats, but has become a popular choice with bondage artists because a single strand of 6mm POSH has load rating above 1,200lbs. It’s a bit stiffer, and much heavier, than jute of the same size, but with use becomes soft and a pleasure to work with. I use POSH for uplines, and jute for on-body rope.

MFP

MFP stands for multifilament polypropylene and is a very inexpensive and widely available braided synthetic rope that can be used for bondage. Rather than being twisted like the other ropes mentioned, MFP is generally braided around a core, resulting in a smoother texture that can be more prone to causing rope burn when pulled quickly across bare skin. Most commonly available hardware store MFP rope will be available in 1/4 inch diameter and have a weight rating around 500lbs.