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Kink Spotlight: Restraints

Private dedicated rooms or spaces are a privilege that most can't afford or simply can't manage with space and household obligations. That's not to say that, if you've the room and the money, you shouldn't make yourself a little slice of heaven. We love the show, "How to Build a Sex Room", and we work with a local shop to build some for discerning clients. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to have fun. Whether due to discretion, space, or financial reasons, you should still be able to feel powerful or helpless in a consenting relationship within your home.

A note on safety: We love the concept of locks and more permanent forms of bondage, but please make sure that you have spare keys. If you're using rope or leather, make sure you've got a nice set of medical sheers to act as an emergency release system. And please never do suspension without consulting a professional. You need both a secure system to lift someone off the ground as well as the knowledge and skill to do so. If you want to contact a contractor or fabricator to correctly install something, we're happy to help you have a productive conversation in a way that's not embarrassing. Also, with all forms of bondage, there is a risk of constricting blood-flow. While it is a myth that this can cause blood clots (except in individuals with preexisting conditions), this can still be very painful, so check on extremities on a regular basis.

As with all of our kink spotlights, the images link to the storefronts where you can purchase these items. While we are not sponsored, these are storefronts we enjoy with unique and interesting products. However, these are just a few of the wonderful options available and we encourage you to find items that fit your tastes and needs. If you need help, we're happy to assist you, but we hope this will be the start of you filling your own toy box.

Terminology: We use some industry specific terms in this article to be specific.

Attachments: Clips and connectors like carabiners that connect bondage restraints and equipment together.

Hardpoint : an attachment point, often a ring or loop to which you can clip or lock another piece of equipment.

Positioning device: a pillow (often a shaped piece of foam), cushion, or piece of furniture that supports the body and allows it to be in a specific position.

Restraint: a piece of equipment that holds a specific part of the body in place.

Home Bondage:

Discreet and affordable home restraint systems are available from a wide variety of retailers. MANY of these are identical systems mass produced in China (not that they're bad, but it's the reason you'll see the same 4 photos over and over again). However, most boil down to 4 types: under the bed, over a door, independent furniture, and clip anywhere. All under-the-bed systems use the same concept of using your mattress as a heavy object to keep an 'X' or 'H' shaped chain, nylon, or leather restraint system under the person being tied down. They're relatively inexpensive and versatile while being able to be tucked under the mattress when not in use. The over-the-door systems similarly use the frame of the door to do the same thing, just vertically and are similarly priced. For a bit more money, you can purchase something like a bondage pillow, positioning device, or inflatable furniture that's easy to hide and stow away. We prefer Liberator brand cushions, but there are a wide variety of options that can fit your needs. Liberator's cushions are also not as discreet as some of the inflatable positioners, and can be a bit more expensive.

For something with a bit more versatility, there are a few companies that make "use anywhere" restraint points. These can be systems that use loops to attach to furniture as well as other systems that use strong suction cups to attach to any smooth surface. These can vary wildly in price depending on quality and the level of complexity, but the well built ones can be incredibly effective. Just be careful of slips and falls.

You can also absolutely make your own versions of a lot of these systems. A metal frame bed and a trip to the hardware store can get you four lengths of chain, some quick links & carabiners. While a lot of these options are well built and attractive, if you're handy and on a budget, then there's no reason not to build something yourself if you've the skills.

The Basics:

The Collar: Probably the most iconic of all BDSM culture in general, this isn't just symbolic but can be an extremely useful piece of bondage gear. While many have a single contact point in the front, there are more versatile ones that have 3 or more rings around them that can be used as a universal control point system. Locking wrists restraints to a collar can be incredibly useful at keeping the hands completely restrained without needing to lock them to a piece of furniture. And speaking of furniture, a collar with more than one ring can be used to keep someone from lifting off of your bed. Also, leading them around on a leash can be fun role-play. If you're on a budget, a medium or large dog collar can be a nice beginner's toy from your local pet or big box store.

Please properly size your collar and make sure that tension isn't being put on the neck or throat. Always make sure you can get 2 fingers between the neck and the collar for safety.

Cuffs: arguably the second most iconic piece of bondage equipment after the collar, cuffs are fairly essential tools for bondage. While there are restraint systems that have cuffs included, you will want to get yourself a nice set of cuffs. Leather or premium microfiber are our preference for comfort and versatility. Since they're adjustable, they fit a variety of body types and sizes, and both you and your partner can go back and forth with them.

While a good basic set generally costs about $40 for wrists and $50 for ankles, the sky is the limit depending on what you want. You can get premium chrome plated steel or beautifully tooled leather cuffs from major fashion designers. We always recommend picking up a beginner set to start with, as the more expensive ones usually require a proper fit as they're much less one-size-fits-all. However, they can be very fulfilling and meaningful when you find the right set.

Bondage Tape: NOT to be confused with any other kind of tape, bondage tape is made from either silicone, PVC, or latex. It sticks to itself and is re-usable if you're willing to take the time to roll it back up. It's also usually cheap enough to spend $4-8 on an evening of fun and throw it away after. While it doesn't have a way to really connect to hardpoints, you can tie it like you would a ribbon to your bed frame. Scissors are a necessary addition as one roll will allow you to tie up your partner. They come in a variety of colors but usually are found in red, black, or transparent. If you're wanting to try out bondage, then this is an affordable way to get into it without any major commitments.

Bondage Belts: a truly underrated piece of bondage equipment, the bondage belt turns the person's torso into a hardpoint connection for a variety of options. Not only does it allow you to more easily hogtie someone with some restraints, but it can keep someone's torso immobilized when connected to furniture. It's also fairly attractive, and can really complete a kinky outfit while providing some real utility.

It's not just for submissives, as a dominant can clip a leash, their submissive's wrists, or the handle of a toy to a belt. We do recommend ones with double rivets as the strain on these larger loops can break belts with less reinforcements. Please be aware of sizing and measure accordingly for the outfits (or lack thereof) you plan to wear.

Spreader Bars: Probably the most versatile piece of BDSM hardware you can buy other than a carabiner, these come in a variety of materials and prices. The most basic are in metal that have 2-4 hardpoints. These allow you to keep limbs apart, but you can also use small ones as extenders. We can't tell you how useful they've been when we get someone who's extremely tall or short and need a 6-inch spacer to make up the difference. They also make excellent handles and can give someone something to grab on to. There are leather bondage extenders, but if you can buy a useful (and cheap) set of spreader bars that do the same job, why waste the money elsewhere?

As with all of these BDSM toys, there are some very high end versions of these, including some that are rated for suspension. If you are lifting someone off the ground, only ever use bars that are specifically designed for that purpose. The average spreader bar is not designed for that, so please be safe.

Blindfolds and gags: There are a variety of ways to blindfold and gag someone, and we cartainly not detail them all here. However, there are some quite novel advances in kink technology with color changing blindfolds, using VR headsets with BDSM image programs, and black-out contacts that temporarily blind the person.

Gags have also advanced, and it's important to pick ones that fit your desires. The classic ball gag is effective, while a bit-gag gives them something to chew on. The ring gag and dental gags will keep the mouth open, while muzzle gags keep someone very quiet. And fornaphilic gags have attachment points for everything from a serving tray to a feather duster so that they can be more useful.

A note on gag comfort and safety: TMJ and other jaw problems can be bothered by keeping the mouth open for long periods of time. Also, a stuffy nose and a gag are a bad combination, so be aware of things like asthma and sinusitis when blocking an airway.

Kits (or a note on kits): there are a lot of BDSM beginner kits out there, and unless you're buying them from a reputable name brand (KinkLab, Sportsheets, Stockroom, Master Series & the very high end LVX are our preferred ones), then they're just not worth buying. We're sorry to say that the average kit is made from pretty substandard materials, often with nickle plated attachments that break easily. We've tried a lot of them, and they usually suck. They can be attractive for a casual night of romance, but we find most people try them and quickly replace most of the pieces in a short period of time. What they lack in quality, they try to make up for in versatility, but nothing ruins the moment more than when your fuzzy cuffs snap in a moment of passion. There are some nicer kits, but look for nylon rather than faux leather when looking for a good set. Nylon is cheap but durable, and while it might not be as attractive, it certainly won't be a waste of money (and it usually goes in the washing machine).

Some more advanced stuff:

Rope: many people might think rope is a basic form of bondage, and in some respects they might be correct. It's excellent for creating hardpoints for other restraints. However, there are wonderful forms of bondage that can be created with rope for restraint and artistic purposes.

Ropes are advanced for several reasons, but it mostly comes down to skill and safety. Because ropes can slip, even when knotted, there is a certain amount of skill required to safely tie people up in ways that won't affect circulation or cause pain. Ropes are also more narrow than other forms of restraints, and this can cause bruising or discomfort if they're used incorrectly. Ropes absolutely can be used safely, but there is a certain amount of knowledge required. That being said, you can get it in a variety of materials including silk, and some can be dyed or even re-woven to match aesthetic tastes. We've seen custom rope dyed to match outfits, and some of the most stunningly beautiful bondage out there is done with rope.

Harnesses: The upgrade from the humble bondage belt is the bondage harness. Still a fashion statement and incredibly attractive, these turn the torso into a series of hardpoints. They're most frequently made from leather or premium vegan alternatives, but you can find good ones made from high end nylon and even gold plated chain. They can be quite affordable, but like all garment pieces, the sky is the limit for pricing and  quality.

Sizing and body type also become important factors with harnesses as you will want something that fits the wearer. So the more complex the harness, the more conscious you need to be about measurements. Also, be wary of one-size-fits-most harnesses. They most often either do not fit, or they are so adjustable that they have ends of straps that need to be cut to stay attractive. Selecting a harness that fits you is just as important as finding one that you enjoy.

Suspension: the most complicated way for your lover to sweep you off your feet, this is more of a catch-all for any form of bondage that lifts someone into the air. These are often the most complicated forms of bondage, but often incredibly rewarding. You can position someone in a variety of ways, and even if you don't lift them off the ground, you can use these forms of bondage to hold someone upright. These can also be great when you want to have access to both sides of someone's body while also rendering them helpless.

Portable systems are usually designed to break down and be stored in a medium duffel-bag or case, and they look more like elaborate tent poles than bondage supplies.

SAFETY NOTE: unless you are working with a professional rigger, never attempt to do suspension unless you're working with a pre-built system. These systems are expensive for a reason, as they're rigorously tested and certified for specific weight limits. Also, installed systems need to be professionally installed by either a rigger or contractor. Hardware ratings are only good for 'static loads', meaning weight that doesn't shift or move, and only specific kinds of hardware are good for suspension. Screws, nails, and glue are for building houses, not for lifting people.

As always! have consensual fun and be as risk away as you can. If you have any questions or need some specific suggestions, we're happy to assist you in finding the right bondage set up to meet your needs. And if you need to have some custom modifications or installations, we're happy to give you a referral to a kink-aware business. We'd love to help you build your own sex room.


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