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A Buyers Guide to Restraints

A Buyers Guide to Restraints
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Some people are born kinky, some achieve kinkiness, and some have kinkiness thrust upon them. Then, there are those of us who really like to have our kinky tied up and acquiescent…if that’s you, then read on.

  Specifications

When it comes time to purchase restraints of any sort, you’ll want to take a few basic factors into consideration:

Edges:
How are the edges finished – are they rough, sharp, hard, or unyielding? If so, you’re more likely to want to use them for show or for mild stress, as those edges can dig in and pinch nerves or cut off blood supply, as well as leave hard-to-explain marks behind (“No, officer, really, I wasn’t trying to cut off his wrists!”). Many heavy duty restraints have rolled edges, or are made with a more gentle material overlaid with a firmer material to carry the weight. You can usually see the quality of the edges in the enlarged product photos, and you can use reviewer’s statements to back up your own impression of what you see.


Give:
How much give does the material have? Oddly enough, items with more give are usually less satisfactory for heavy stress bondage; the restraint needs to have enough stability to hold together and keep its shape in order to not twist or pinch the wearer. Heavier leathers, like latigo or bridle leather, are usually much firmer than garment leather, suede, or lambskin; additionally, rope has less “give” than silicone ties. For bedroom play, the amount of give isn’t as important as the overall sensation of the toy and the comfort, so you can use a much wider variety of toys to get the job done.


Attachment points:
Are there attachment points, and if so, how are they constructed? A toy that has steel rivets connecting attachment points to the restraint will usually hold up better than one that has the restraint stitched down, but there are high-quality stitched restraints that hold up great (look for toys that have stitching through multiple layers of material, or that are double stitched or have a stitched “pattern” like a square with an “x” in it to strengthen the attachment).


Material:
How easy will it be for you to take care of and clean the material? Some materials, like neoprene and nylon, can be machine washed when necessary; however, leather and rope will take some extra care (leather can be cleaned with saddle soap and leather conditioner; rope should be carefully handwashed and laid out to dry). If you’re likely to use the restraints on or near parts of the body that might be…well, wet…you’ll want to make sure you can thoroughly clean them of any bodily fluids before using them on another person. You’ll also want to look at how much of an investment you’ll want to make – a good pair of cuffs in nylon can be had for under $30, rope for under $10, but leather can run you into the $100 range.

  The Low and the Medium

Low and Medium stress bondage:
Because of leather’s inherent strength, most any leather cuff is good for a few strong tugs on it! We really like the Pretty In Pink wrist cuffs; they are not your average boring bondage cuff, thanks to the gorgeous pink leather, yet they have some surprisingly strong features. The buckle is lockable (take a look at the pic; notice the little ring on the end of the buckle tongue? It’s the perfect size for a small lock to be slipped through!), the riveted attachments are securely fastened, and it’s got a soft, suede lining for comfort. If your taste runs to not-so-femme, we really love the Jaguar Cuffs. Strong hardware adds to the multi-layered leather to give these cuffs a supple strength that ensures they’ll be a bondage favorite in your toy kit for years to come. As far as ankle cuffs, the Crave Ankle Restraints are a great choice; attractively made, with a good range of size adjustment and a very affordable price, they’re perfect for light to moderate bondage, and an excellent option for people new to bondage.


Heavy stress bondage:
Definitely take a look at the Luxe White Cuffs – the additional padding and turned leather edging allows for longer wear and more comfortable pulling against them; they also come in a wide size range for both wrists and ankles, so you’re sure to get a better fit. The Master Suspension Restraints are another great choice. They are fantastic for standing bondage (though I would say that they’re more appropriate to handling less-than-full weight, just because suspension is difficult on the wrists with any cuffs); they also are great for people who want to hold on to something while they’re tied up, as they can securely grip the center part of the cuff.

Metal cuffs are also popular choices; most everyone who does some sort of bondage has (or has used) a pair, and they’re a favorite gift (often as a joke, but occasionally for actual use) for bridal showers, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and lovers holidays. Metal, however, is not as “idiot proof” as leather and fabric restraints are – when wearing them, it’s easy to pinch or damage nerves or blood vessels during vigorous play, so use them wisely.


Light stress / “for show” bondage:
Nothing says fun in bed like furry handcuffs…right? Well, the Captivity Cuffs are actually fun and easy to use, so that you can get down to enjoying yourself. They have a great extra safety feature – a keyless quick-release so you can take them off without having to find the keys, so that you can play even safer.


Medium stress bondage:
You definitely want to look for a double locking set of cuffs; it keeps the cuffs from tightening down any further after you’ve locked them in place, and avoids causing unintentional pain to the wearer. I really love the Nickel Double Locking Handcuffs; they're affordable, relatively well-made, and have a solid, heavy feel that gives the wearer a feeling of certain restraint. You can also find Double Locking Police Style Leg Irons and Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs give you more options for your play.


Fabric restraints can also be a great option; they’re fantastic for people who can’t, or won’t, use leather restraints – people who want vegan options, those with allergies to the chemicals used to tan or dye leather, or those who need to have their bondage gear kinder to their body. They have the upside of being easy to clean – most can be machine or hand-washed to fully clean them between wearings, or if unsightly whipped-cream-and-chocolate-sauce accidents happen (hey, we’ve seen it!).


Light Stress Bondage:
First of all, because of the way they’re made, most all fabric bondage cuffs and tie-ups are great for use for both light and medium stress bondage. The Plushy Gear wrist cuffs are a great example of this – with a nice, solid connection and a wrap-around strap for stability, they’re great choices for lots of different types of bondage. We also like the Thigh and Wrist Cuff set; they're comfy and fantastic for attaching wrists to thighs to keep your partner from trying to grab your ears while you’re attending to some oral business.

You can even try some things for added fun – the Tub Cuffs attach to the side of your shower or onto the tub itself with large suction cuffs, allowing you to put your partner in the shower for some steamier, wetter sex. The Camo Cuffs and Flame Cuffs are two more ways to add some visual zing to your play at an affordable price, too!


Medium Stress Bondage:
Sportsheets has been making neoprene and nylon bondage gear for years, and we highly recommend their merchandise, especially the Supercuffs for both levels of bondage play. With welded d-ring attachments, these cuffs are made to take a serious beating. Please note that other cuffs from Sportsheets, such as the aforementioned Thigh and Wrist Cuff set, have lighter split rings and small swivels attached that aren’t really solid for medium to heavy bondage, so you’ll want to look at the connections to decide for yourself.

Surprisingly, a beautifully unique choice in this range is the Silk Sashay Cuffs from Leatherbeaten. These cuffs are beautifully turned out with silk brocade and sashes that tie, but the real secret is that they’re quality, well made cuffs that actually stand up to use beyond a little slap and tickle. You could easily wear these out for an evening to dinner and a movie, thinking about how these lovely adornments will be holding you down once you get home for your “dessert”

  Roping 'em In

Ropes are the traditional choice (beyond neck ties and scarves) for restraining our lovers as well as for role play. Whether your fantasy is of the “ravaged wench” variety or the “cowboys and Indians” type, rope can figure into making that fantasy a sensual reality. Additionally, bondage artists who yearn for creativity can use rope to make decorative harnesses on their partners, which not only give that lovely feeling of encasement but can make the most desired parts of the body more accessible, too!

Rope basically comes in two different types – natural fiber (cotton, silk, hemp, jute) and manmade fiber. Natural fiber ropes tend to be warmer against the skin, less likely to create rope burn, and will hold knots better. Poly ropes (like MFP) are cooler, softer, and can be thrown in the washing machine (as long as they don’t have a “core”).

As far as whether a rope is made for light, medium, or heavy bondage? The best thing is that any rope is capable of doing all of these. It’s dependent upon the diameter of the rope (we personally like a 6mm rope for mulitiple uses). If you like the softeness of cotton against your skin … like a perfectly broken in pair of blue jeans – you can check out the Japanese Bondage Rope – a 32-foot length that comes along with it’s own guide to various knots you can use to tie your partner up beautifully. If you want to go with something more softly sensual, then you’ll definitely like the Beginner's Silk Rope Kit, which includes two 6-foot lengths for you to work with. Both of these items will give you an affordable way to explore the basics of rope play without spending a fortune, and you’ll be able to use them for years with proper care!

  Tape, Bars, and Other Accoutrements

There are a few other bondage devices that can be used in lieu of rope for a fun change of pace. Fantasy Bondage Tape and Pleasure Tape are wide rolls of shiny plastic tape that are amazing for bondage – they stick only to themselves (which means they won’t pull out hair or remove the finish from your wooden bedposts), they hug every contour, and they’re easy and safe to use. The Super Strap Love Ties are another fun concept – tubular ties in 60” lengths, made from TPR plastic, so they’ll hold up to lots of use and they’re especially easy to knot!

There are also accessories to go with your bondage toys, and some that work with your toys but also stand tall and proud as toys in their own right! One of our absolute favorites is the Leather Tethercuffs. The leather is supple and slightly stretch – and very thick and sensual – and it’s metal buckle attachments can let you use these as wrist or ankle cuffs, to attach two pieces together, to connect a cuff to a bedpost, or even to create quick bondage poses like a hogtie or spread eagle without having to own dozens of different cuffs and straps. And while we’re talking about hogties, the Leather Hogtie is another fantastic accessory – just use this as a central connection point for four different attachments – you can attach your partner’s wrists to their ankles or thighs, leaving them open and vulnerable for more fun.

Spreader Bars are a constant source of bondage inspiration – you get two or more connection points, and your use is only limited by your creativity and your partner’s flexibility. We like the Adjustable Spreader Bar with it’s two end points that you can move closer together or further apart, depending on your desired results. If you want more than just two options, the Spreader With Triangles gives you lots of places to attach your lover for maximum impact.

There are even whole systems out there to cater to your every bondage whim! Sportsheets has a magnificent concept with their Bondage Bed Sheet Set – it has a comfortable-to-the-touch sheet that slips over your bedsheets, and a set of matching cuffs and “pads” to attach them to. The pads press onto the sheet wherever you desire, and hold up to quite a bit of pull (yet they’re easy to take off by pulling up at the corners). Our only complaint with this set is that the snap clips and rings are a bit flimsy, but given the usual use of them is for bedroom bondage where many people don’t need the strongest hold possible, we think they’re just great! A more affordable option for creating a bondage bed in your own home is Rachel’s Bed Spread with Cuffs – this comes with straps that go around your mattress, along with matching cuffs to attach to it. Both Sportsheets and Rachel’s have various additional attachments, so adding to your collection is a breeze.

We hope we’ve opened your mind up just a little bit to the options in bondage toys; just remember that if you think about what you need and what turns you on before you click “buy now!” you’re more likely to get the bondage experience that you really want, instead of one that leaves you…well, soft.

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