Quick: When I say “handcuffs,” what do you think of?
Probably the metal ones used by police, right? They’re the most ubiquitous type, by far. The thing is, they’re far from safe to use. They can cut off your circulation, damage your nerves and tendons and may even cause bruising or cuts. It makes sense — police handcuffs are designed to immobilize people and prevent them from escaping, so comfort isn’t exactly a priority.
For the same reason, metal cuffs are also some of the trickiest to remove in a hurry, especially if you lose the keys, which is extraordinarily easy given how small they are. Not to mention, for those who’ve had bad experiences with cops, metal cuffs might be more triggering than arousing.
But just because metal cuffs are a hazard doesn’t mean you have to give up on your bondage fantasy. Cuffs made for kinky usage are typically softer and more flexible, to allow for longer-term wear without damage or discomfort, and are easier to remove. Well-designed kink cuffs can help you access those sexy feelings of surrender, helplessness and submissiveness that make bondage so thrilling — without risking injury or an embarrassing phone call to the local locksmith.
Three Things to Look for in Bondage Cuffs
1) Suitable Sizing. Measure your wrists (or ankles) and compare the result against the measurements of the cuffs you’re eying. Keep in mind that you should always leave at least two fingers’ worth of space between the cuff and your skin, to avoid cutting off circulation or causing bruising and other ill effects.
2) Ease of Removal. You never know when something might go wrong during a bondage session. Your building’s fire alarm could go off suddenly, your mother-in-law could show up for a visit, one of you could have an unexpected panic attack — it’s best to be prepared for all eventualities, and the easiest way to do that is to get cuffs you can remove in a hurry. It’s a good idea to keep a pair of safety shears near the bed, too, just in case.
3) Sturdiness. If you mostly just like the idea of restraining someone or being restrained, then you’ll probably be fine with flimsy cuffs that are all bark and no bite. But if struggling against your bonds is part of what’s hot to you, look for cuffs that can stand up to some pushing and pulling. These tend to be made of thick, non-stretchy materials.
It’s also crucial to establish a safeword and/or safe-signal (i.e., a non-verbal safeword) before playing, so that either of you can end the session at any time if you want or need to. “Red” and “yellow” make for great safewords. For example, you can use “red” to call a complete end to the action, or “yellow” to communicate that you’re having an issue and need your partner to back off or check in.
If you feel any tingling, numbness or pain — but you want to keep going — use your “yellow” safeword and change positions if you can. Even the hottest bondage scene isn’t worth risking nerve damage for.
Now that we’re totally locked in, here are the best cuff options out there…
Best Leather Cuffs: Aslan Leather Jaguar Cuffs
If you love that classic BDSM aesthetic, leather is your best bet. These cuffs are elegantly designed, and can easily be attached to one another or to other bondage equipment via a connector. The soft garment leather used on the inside makes them comfortable even for extended bondage sessions, and they’re adjustable, so they should fit most people’s wrists just fine. They’re also designed by and for kinksters, so they can be struggled against, pulled on, etc. without risk of breaking — and it’s just as easy to unbuckle them as it is to put them on.
Leather is harder to clean and maintain than some other materials, requiring dedicated leather-care products rather than just soap and water. But that’s not too much of an issue for bondage cuffs because you won’t generally be getting bodily fluids on them, other than maybe sweat.
Best Velcro Cuffs: Sportsheets Sex & Mischief Beginner Handcuffs
Cuffs don’t get much simpler than these. Slip them on, Velcro them closed, link them together and you’re good to go. If you have a slatted headboard, you can even cuff a partner to it by looping the metal connector through the bars before you fasten it.
Velcro cuffs are especially great for nervous newbies, or for people with hand-strength issues, because they’re easy to undo quickly. These cuffs won’t be as sturdy or secure as cuffs made of tougher materials, though; so if you want to really struggle against your restraints, leather (or vegan leather) would be a better way to go. That said, the Sportsheets Beginner Handcuffs are particularly affordable, which means you can experiment and fool around before committing to something more serious.
Best ‘Easy On, Easy Off’ Cuffs: Creative Conceptions Quickie Cuffs
Don’t want to mess around with locks, keys, connectors or any other complications beyond the cuffs themselves? Great — go with these. They’re made of flexible silicone, so you just slide them on and presto, you’re cuffed. They’re easier for the cuffed person to squirm out of, sure, but for some quick and spontaneous bondage action, they can’t be beat.
The silicone material is also super simple to clean (soap and water will work just fine), quieter than cuffs with metal hardware and less likely to get you pulled aside in the TSA line.
Best Fancy Cuffs: Lelo Boa Pleasure Ties
Made of pure silk, these luxurious ties are fastened by looping one end through the nickel-free metal D-rings and tightening as needed. You can use them to attach your wrists or ankles to each other, or to a bedpost, headboard or chair leg. They’re luxe as hell and wouldn’t look out of place in Christian Grey’s playroom.
However, like Fifty Shades of Grey itself, these ties are more about the idea of BDSM than the actual, practical reality of it. They’re like those shoes that look great, but you can’t walk in them, and struggling against them with any degree of force is apt to loosen them. So, if your fantasy is about uncompromising restraint, something stronger would be more up your alley.
Best Restraints Kit: Sportsheets Under the Bed Restraint System
It can be easy to forget bondage is an option when your cuffs are stowed away in a nightstand drawer. But if convenience and fast access are high priorities, installing an under-the-bed restraints system on your bed might be just what you need. Slide the long straps underneath your mattress, attach one of the included cuffs to each of the four protruding straps (two for wrists, two for ankles), and you’ve turned your bed into a bondage toy. You can leave the cuffs attached to your bed so they’ll be there when you need ‘em.
The cuffs that come with the kit are cheap Velcro ones. They get the job done, but if you decide you want to swap them out for higher-quality ones, you can do that with the help of some metal carabiners from a hardware store. Having bondage cuffs sticking out from under your mattress at all times is admittedly not the most discreet thing, but you can quickly tuck them underneath when nosy roommates or relatives come a-knockin’.