A Pre-Review of Esinem’s Linen Hemp

Full disclosure: I was provided with a full set of linen hemp ropes from Esinem for the purposes of review. No other expectations were…um…expected, and Bruce expressly asked me to be very honest about my experience with it. This is a pre-review, because I was asked to give the “real” review on the Ropecast.

A little stiff out of the box, but Esinem's linen hemp loosened pretty quickly.

A little stiff out of the box, but Esinem’s linen hemp loosened pretty quickly.

It’s funny how the older I get the smaller millimeters become. When I first pulled out the rope that Esinem shipped to me I thought “Damn…6mm isn’t what it used to be.” I’ve had that thought about lots of rope, and I had to go to the site to check: this was not 6mm, this was 5mm! If you’re used to the slightly thicker stuff (6-8mm) then it might take some getting used to, or even an extra wrap or two to give the same support and comfort to the bottom.

The second thing I did was the same thing that most natural rope aficionados do when they get new rope: I picked up a bunch, pressed it to my face, and inhaled. Yes! See, the reason I’d been inordinately excited about getting the linen was because my first set of linen rope -acquired many years ago from Maui Kink – had been a favorite because it smelled not like kerosene, not like grass, not like hay, but like books. And this rope did, too. Naiia was pretty thrilled by it as well.

The set I got seemed whiter than this picture.

The set I got seemed whiter than this picture.

I am not sure what the treatment process was for the hemp, but the color was an off-white (leaning towards gray, not cream) in color, and it was stiff. Really stiff, and I was pretty sure I’d need to work it out a lot to loosen it up. The ends were knotted, not whipped, which proved to be one of the only two complaints I have about the rope – at one point during a tie I found that a knot had come undone and the strands had separated 2-3 inches down. Yes, I was able to re-tie it – and yes, I could have re-tied it before I started using it. If you get your own, I suggest you do that – or maybe even put in a Wall Knot or something fancy.

Annoying, but not a fault of the rope itself. The only other complaint I had is also something that’s easily fixed: Esinem cuts the rope to the “traditional” 8m lengths, but I found that for the people I tied the ropes  seemed shorter. I’ll be honest – I tend to follow Ojipan dictum that the correct length of rope to use is the length of rope in your hand, but ties that usually took me two lengths took three, and ties that took three took four – with lots of excess to “decorate”. I suspect that with a little communication you could get ropes cut to a more custom length, and that problem would be fixed.

On the site Esinem says that this requires very little treatment and “holds knots well” – both of which I can corroborate. After 2-3 ties the rope softened up and was just as much a pleasure to use as I’d hoped. It is heavier than jute, but for me that was a good thing – it meant that the rope would also last longer, and also just made it feel that much more secure during suspensions.

If I had it to do over again, I would have gotten 9m lengths with wall knots at the ends, and I confess that I do prefer the thicker linen rope to the 5mm. But this rope is a solid alternative to jute or woven hemp, and gives some nice clean lines and solid grip to ties. It’s not gonna be cheap – before shipping it’s about $17 US for a length – but it’s also going to last you a long time.

How about you? Any other linen rope users out there? What is your opinion?

Coming soon: a review of a totally different kind of rope, hand-woven to my custom specs by M0co!

4 thoughts on “A Pre-Review of Esinem’s Linen Hemp

  • I bought a set a few years ago when I think he first started offering it. It has a very unique look and feel which I like for photos because it doesn’t fuzz up like jute or hemp usually does. This is what I ended up modeling my own hemp ropes off of because I love linen hemp over regular hemp.

  • Many thanks for the review. I shall address the points made:

    End knots: Yes, when rope is new, the end knots need keeping an eye on as they don’t hold too well when the rope is new. They should be done tighter but Nina does most of them and she’s only little 🙂 We don’t do whipping or fancy ends to keep prices low, also that’s how most people do it in Japan.

    Lengths: You make a good point. We should offer more choices in length on-line since not everyone uses Japanese lengths of 7-8m. That said, we do offer some in 10m lengths. Of course, we can supply any length up to 200m by request.

    I find it much more elegant, efficient and faster to use shorter ropes. The right length is what you can pull through in a single arm movement. A longer rope means more to pull through for every knot/friction. Try a box tie than needs around 15m using 1 x 15m rope, then with 2 x 7.5m ropes and you’ll understand 😉

    Price: All my prices include FREE worldwide shipping by Airmail! So what you see is what you pay. Alternatively, pay $17 shipping and get one length of rope free 😀

  • I’ve been using Esinem’s linen almost exclusively for over 5 years and I love it. I love that it’s soft on the skin but holds frictions well, that the smell is mild and neutral, and that it’s a natural fibre I can use. I like the feel of natural fibres and the way they change in use, but I’m mildly allergic to “normal” hemp ropes and hate the smell of jute batching oil, so I’m a little limited in options. That said, I have been trying out options and my usual rope partners are still keen that I continue to use the linen rope!

    Criticisms: I too lost a couple of inches of the premium rope to an end knot flying undone in the first 10 minutes of use. I prefer whipping usually but am waiting for a new supply of thread, and I think Esinem might do well to tape as well as knot the ends do that customers can try the rope out straight away without this risk.

    I find it a bit too tightly wound, and that part of the wearing in process is to relax the rope out a bit. On the other hand, this rope takes dye beautifully and the tight twist means it comes out of the dying process with a slightly looser but still well-structured lay. Unfortunately I need a light coloured set for working in bad light, so I may see if just washing helps to relax things a bit.

    It does fuzz out a bit in old age: I have used beeswax to good effect to help stick things down and keep the surfaces running well, but I think my 2.5 year old set could do with singeing now!

    My main concern with the premium is it’s so light coloured I don’t want shibari purists to look down on me thinking I’m tying with sash cord!

  • Oddly, it has come in two colours, one very white and the other silver grey. It looks like it might be a limited edition as my suppliers can’t get hold of more of this yarn 🙁

    As for taping, I strongly recommend heat-shrink insulation as a better option. You will find it on eBay or your local Radio Shack (if it still exists?)

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