cw: bondage, mentions of impact play, me being a dumbass in the woods
I’ve been seeing Sportsheets’ Saffron Gauntlet cuffs around for a while, on various sex and kink shops’ sites, and the concept intrigued me. Rather than simple wrist-circling cuffs connected by a chain, these cover the whole forearm like a little sleeve, attaching each arm to the other with nothing but a thin seam of fabric between them. They looked to me like a cross between cuffs and much stricter armbinders. When Naughty Betty’s, a BDSM-centric spinoff of Betty’s Toy Box, offered to let me review them, I jumped at the chance.
They arrived extremely quickly, and I tried them on. The Sportsheets box features the requisite Attractive Thin Ladies posing in vaguely kinky ways, but the pictures are actually pretty tasteful compared to a lot of sex toy product packaging out there, more playful than in-your-face sexual, so I’m not mad at it. The cuffs themselves are “vegan leather.” They look a little more fabric-y than leathery to me, but that’s fine. Black with a red accent, they lace up the side, so you can tighten or loosen according to the arms placed within. Mine are a little chunky, but I had no problem fitting comfortably, with a lot of string leftover. They also feature a little D-ring near the hand-end of the cuffs, which is great if you want to tie them to something, or clip on a leash and lead a sub around by the wrists.
The first thing I noticed when trying them on was that almost all the promo pictures featured the model’s arms behind their back. I liked the idea of this, but in practice…I’m not flexible enough, or maybe a bit too chubby, and I couldn’t do that comfortably without the cuff looking kind of silly and stretching oddly.
But that’s okay! I could fit them just fine in front of my body. Since impact is one of my favorite kinky activities, I was perfectly fine leaving my butt exposed for whatever tools my beloved sadist wants to use on it.
(Sportsheets’ official product description promises to “arrange the body of your beloved into the silhouette of a statuesque Grecian form” but my body’s a little more “bountiful New Age harvest goddess” than Venus de Milo. Also I don’t remember any Greek statues that are bound like that, but I majored in English, not art history, so what do I know? Anyway, my point is, don’t be put off by the skinny models and the “statuesque Grecian form” description: they are not just for thin people.)
The next thing I noticed—or, really, that we noticed, with the disturbing hive brain you sometimes develop after almost eight years in a relationship—was that it looked like a costume piece from the Renaissance Faire, or LARPing. Look, uh, I dunno if you’ve ever hung out with people who are into either of those, but the Venn diagram of LARPers and kinksters has a lot of overlap. I mean, what is LARPing but hitting one another for fun? (The high kink ratio of Ren Faire nerds seems to apply, too, but they don’t have a convenient word like “LARPer.” What do you call Ren Faire nerds? Ren Fairers? Rensters? Is there an accepted term?)
Naturally, my creative dominant and I started constructing medieval fantasy-type scenarios for these gauntlets. Was I a captured princess? Perhaps a humbled warrior? The cuffs themselves, while very elegant and definitely reminiscent of a medieval setting, are pretty gender neutral and free of frills, which left a lot of options. We settled, perhaps due to my fondness for service submission, on a humble tavern wench who happened to wind up in bondage. We literally hadn’t finished the first try-on before we arrived at this conclusion.
The lengthy discussion wasn’t a problem, by the way. The cuffs are extremely comfortable. They have a soft, smooth lining, and the stitching doesn’t rub or catch on my skin anywhere. As I said before, the cords can be tied loosely or tightly, and we found a happy medium that was comfortable for fairly long periods of time while still keeping my movement quite restricted.
That, by the way, is the third most notable thing about the Saffron Gauntlet cuffs. While other cuffs I have give me a bit of freedom, able to position my arms as I like and even free myself without much difficulty, these are much more restrictive. I can’t get into them without assistance whatsoever. I could probably get out of them with some effort—the long cord means I could grasp the ends and untie it—but it isn’t remotely easy. And while I’m bound I’m pretty helpless.
I can move my arms up, down, or angled forward, but I can’t move them to the side at all, which puts me off balance. I can’t move them at all to bear my weight in a different way if I’m prone or kneeling. I even discovered, while we were taking photos, that I can’t pull myself to my feet from the ground if I’m wearing the Gauntlet Cuffs, even holding onto Damien’s hands. They prevent me from pulling with my full strength somehow, or perhaps it’s the balance issue again—I don’t know, but I felt completely helpless. (I briefly got my foot stuck between some logs during this exercise. It was an adventure. I should also note that those were pine logs and I’m allergic to pine, because I make excellent decisions when I’m taking product photos. Anyway, maybe don’t do bondage in the woods.)
Despite the restriction, they never stop being comfortable. The material is extremely flexible and while it doesn’t let me move my arms apart, it does let me bend my wrists, and never cuts in anywhere no matter how much I wiggle. I’m a wiggly beast, so this is extremely important to me—and to anyone, for that matter, given the fact that cutting off circulation is kind of bad.
These aren’t cuffs I’ll use every single time. I like the “traditional” cuffs with a chain across for a lot of reasons, not only because they’re easily removable if necessary, but because the slightly greater range of motion is useful for longer kink sessions.
But sometimes I want to be helpless. Sometimes I want to feel completely in Damien’s control. I want to rely on them to tie me up, and I want to rely on them to get me out, and I want to rely on them if I need to get off the bed. I don’t feel the need to defend myself when we’re in a kink session, but even so, I want the option removed entirely. On those days, these fit the bill, and they do so while being very pretty and comfortable.
At $49.99 (on sale currently for $45.99), these are on the high end of budget-friendly, which is a pretty arbitrary category anyway. But given the high quality and comfort, and how pretty they are, they’re definitely worth the price. If that’s a little outside your budget, Sportsheets also makes a lace cuff set that looks very similar, for a mere $26.99. Maybe I’ll get those for when I’m feeling less Ren Faire and more Victorian Goth.
The Bottom Line
I really like these. They’re beautiful and they’re well made, and they serve a spectacular purpose. Whether I’m an earth goddess or a lusty tavern wench—or just a weird little nerd with a blog—they make me feel beautiful and helpless in the best possible way. I enjoy every second I’m in them, even when I’m getting my foot stuck in logs.