Before I start, I should note that I’ve been tying myself (and a few others) for just over 4 years now. I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a list of essential items, and preferred bits and pieces. If you’re new to rope, I would encourage you to start slowly, and add items as you need them. Do your research though. And if you are in any doubt, reach out to the rope community. Local, or trusted online resources. Safety is imperative!
My absolute, bare minimum kit.
Rope! Yes, I know. This is rather obvious. I have a fairly extensive collection of different fibres but in there are my favourites. Ropes that I use out of preference repeatedly. I will always pack my rainbow or green hemp ropes, because it’s pretty! And my natural jute is never far away. Also, now that I am gaining confidence in self-suspension, I like to pack my endure, for a good, strong upline.
Cutting tool. For me this is the most important part of my toolkit. I have mostly used safety shears, and would always put these in my bag before sorting my ropes. Recently, as I have been learning to fly (safely) I have moved to a cutting tool, for ease of use one handed. Just as important as having them with you is practising their use. Fortunately, I have not had to cut rope in a scene, but I have needed to be released quickly. Had the frictions got stuck cutting would have been necessary. You never know what will happen and bondage rope is strong. Don’t be scared to sacrifice some rope. It is better to be over-prepared. And you can replace rope. A new bunny is not so easy to find!
Carabiners. I like to have 4 climbing rated carabiners on hand. Do your research when you source these, don’t just go for the pretty ones! Make an educated decision by choosing the strong, functional option.
Things I could do without, but would rather not.
Bondage Bag. If you are the kind of person who gets out and about with their rope then choose your bag wisely too. I used to use any old rucksack, which worked just fine with a bit of rummaging. But then I got lucky. EB, my bunny at the time, gave me an amazing climbing bag for my first rigging Christmas. It seems to be able to store a never ending array of ropes, and kit. Fit for any rigging mood. And there is a zipped in sheet which I can fold out onto the ground and keep my ropes all in one place. This is particularly helpful when I am tying out in the wild.
Suspension Ring. This is a new addition for me. When I first started toying with creating a toolkit this was an item I coveted. But I have never really needed one. I’m glad I waited to add it in. In those early days of being a magpie, I’d have chosen the shiny, pretty one, rather than understanding what I needed safety wise. I now have a ring which is safety rated, and I am learning to use for my self suspension, before I string anyone else up. I find this to be useful when my body is getting tired in the suspension, I can reduce the load on my core by holding onto the loop for a spell. Again, research is key.
Soft flooring. Initially I used my yoga mat, but as my practise spread I followed the lead of my peer rope hosts and invested in some gym flooring. It is more comfortable than my yoga mat, and bigger too. Plus, it stores away neatly under my sofa.
Spotter. Now, I’m not suggesting you pop the spotter in your bag! But, if you are self-tying, I think it is responsible of me to suggest you have one. Safety first! Also, they are really useful for taking photos (as I discovered when tying armbinders). However, I know this isn’t always possible. I’m certainly guilty of tying alone!
Tying without a spotter? My suggestion here would be to have a safety call, someone who you can check in and out with. If they haven’t heard from you they know to check in and/or come to your aid. My phone is voice activated for this reason. If I get in a pickle I can call said safety person from afar. And when it comes to the bonus use of having a spotter… A little tripod (which fits in my rope bag) and a remote controlled camera app, such as whistlecam.
The right clothes. I like to tie myself naked, but that isn’t always appropriate! So snug fitting clothes are important. At munches or in platonic rope scenes I have learnt that a vest top or sports bra (NOT underwired) and tights or leggings work best. Nylon rope does not grip on nylon leggings though- you have been warned! Also, you’ll want something to change into afterwards. A cosy jumper, some snuggly socks… whatever you need to help yourself come back to the real world.
Aftercare supplies. Whether you’re tying yourself or someone else, it is always important to have a drink and a snack (as the bare minimum) to help you return to normal afterwards. Aftercare is a very personal thing. Whatever yours looks like, prepare for that in advance!
Rope Oil It isn’t just people that need aftercare, those hanks do too! I use a rope oil regularly on my ropes, maintaining their condition and strength. My current favourite is the Skorpion Rope Yin oil, which is gorgeous when it warms against the skin. A little goes a long way, but used sparingly it really will extend the life of your ropes.
A few miscellaneous treats, to add a little extra:
This is a list of a few additional bits and pieces that don’t take up much room, but give some great options for play.
Wax play candles (and something to light them with). Kebab skewers. Metal bottle tops. Cane. Blindfold. Pinwheel.
Here is a useful link to add a different perspective: Supplies – Self Suspension. After all, the thoughts here are mine alone, and if you are toying with putting together a bondage toolkit… Well, there are many more qualified voices out there to learn from.
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