Rope Length & Thickness

What thickness and length of rope should I have?

(Not sure what type of rope you should use?  Check out Choosing Rope!)

What diameter (thickness) of rope should I use?

There is no one true way or true type.  That said:

  • The most commonly used diameter is 1/4″ (roughly 6 mm). This is the most flexible for the widest variety of bondage situations.
  • Some really love 5mm though as it is more intense and the look is different.
  • Many experienced riggers recommend 5/16″ (8mm) for suspension support lines (“up lines”), although you do see many use 6mm as well.
  • Another consideration:  If your partner has a larger body type, you might consider using 5/16″ (8mm) or 3/8″ (10mm) diameter even for floor work (non-suspension bondage).  It distributes the force across a wider area and can be more comfortable.  That said, one issue with thicker ropers is that knots tend to get bulky pretty fast…
Rope Widths

What lengths should I have?

It is important to understand that every body will require a different amount of rope even for the same tie.   A 6′ (183cm) body builder will need more rope for a given tie than a person that is 5′ (150cm) tall and slight of build.  So it is pointless to try to have lengths of rope to make ties come out “just right”.  There are techniques for extending rope when you need more, and there are many techniques found throughout this site for “using up” leftover rope.

So, unless there is some special need, most riggers work with a kit comprised of 2 or 3 standard lengths:

  1. ~10′ (3m) … or, better, pieces that are two of your wingspans* long.
    Great for wrists or ankles or tying limbs to bedposts, stuff like that.
    This is sometimes referred to as a “short rope”
  2. ~15′ (4.5m) … or three wingspans*.
    Good around thighs or knees, as a waist belt, or when you need to extend a rope.
    This is sometimes referred to as a “half rope”
  3. ~30′ (9m) … or five wingspans*.
    Good for harnesses and long runs
    This is sometimes simply called a “rope”

My standard kit is 4 pieces of each of the 3 lengths above, but that is just me.  Many riggers only use two lengths (2 & 3 above).  I even know some that only carry one length (3 above).  As you practice and experiment, you will figure out how much you normally need.

* Wingspan — from palm to palm with your arms outstretched to both sides.  We talk about measuring lengths in in this way so that doing tail pulls is more predictable for you.  Working with rope tailored to your arm length tends to make using it a little more smooth.

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Twisted Monk makes amazing rope explicitly designed for bondage. 

They also have an amazing guarantee: if you have to cut it for safety during a scene, they will replace it!

 

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5 Comments

  1. Potentially dumb question, but when you talk about rope length you talk about the stretched rope right? Not the rope with a bight already?
    Just to make sure that when you say 5m (sorry, European here) it is a 5m stretched rope and not a 10m folded in half to make a bight.

    Thanks for the tutorials btw. We are thoroughly enjoying them.

    1. Correct! It is the total length of rope as a single stand, before folding it over or doing anything else with it.

  2. Does it make sense, for the aesthetic and sensual purposes, to have a longer hank just for harnesses? I’ve noticed they pretty consistently require a 30′ and an 18′ (5 and 3 wingspans, respectively) and I’ve wondered if it’d make sense to cut a 50′ (8 wingspan) bit. If I did, my kit composition would look like this:

    – 1x 12’6″ (two wingspans)
    – 2x 18’9″ (three wingspans)
    – 4x 31’3″ (five wingspans)
    – 1x 50′ (eight wingspans)

    1. There are definitely people so do this. I
      have a number of longer lengths that I keep around to do harnesses where I specifically don’t want to have a join (unusually for photography). The taste-off is that the longer the rope, the longer the tail pull. So if you have several tail pulls to do at the beginning of your tie, they can take forever! 🙂

  3. I just bought my first ropes, 5 different colors of 8m long 6mm Jute. I understand that this my be longer that I need for now, and for some of the early projects, I figured I would rather have it long rather than short. I also understand that I will be pulling longer tails,and that care will need to be taken. Thank you for all your time and information.

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