Update 15/09/23: sadly Self & More has now closed down. Links have been removed or amended to reflect this.
(I hope it goes without saying that what follows is a personal stance only, and I cast absolutely no judgement on people who make different choices – ethics are complex, personal, and multi-faceted, and we should all trust one another to make the best decisions for ourselves and our circumstances.)
I’ve mentioned before that I have complicated feelings about leather as a material. I love the look, the feel, the smell… but it also poses an ethical dilemma. I don’t eat meat and have recently been changing aspects of my diet to move closer to veganism, and for a long time I’ve only purchased vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. So if I don’t eat animals, is it ethical to wear or use products made from them?
Even though leather is a meat industry byproduct (kind of, it’s actually more complex than that), I still worry that buying it supports that industry – even indirectly. The process of leather tanning is also environmentally problematic… though so are many leather alternatives made from polyurethane and similar plastic-based materials.
There are no easy answers to any of this, and I don’t have a hard and fast personal stance on leather for myself yet. I’m leaning towards continuing to love and use what I already own, but not buying any more new items. But that could change.
I share all this to provide a little context to my interest in faux-leather, leather-alternative, and vegan-friendly kink gear. Like this Saffron Layer Paddle from Sportsheets that I’m reviewing today, courtesy of my new friends at Self&More – a woman-owned, gender-inclusive and body-positive sex shop.
Sportsheets Saffron Layer Paddle
The Saffron Layer Paddle comes from Sportsheets’ Saffron range of vegan faux-leather kink products in black and red. It features three layered straps which are coated in fuzzy suede-like material (also vegan) on one side. The stitching is strong and holds up under use.
The paddle is black and red, which are pretty much the quintessential “kink colours”. The outward facing surfaces are red, and the front side of the handle features a polka dot design.
The Saffron Layer Paddle features a loop handle which you can wrap around your wrist while you’re wielding the paddle, or use to hang it for convenient storage. A small tag bears the Sportsheets insignia.
This paddle is 12.2″ long from tip to tip, and 2″ across. It’s super light, which makes it comfortable to hold and easy to wield. I don’t really top very often but on the rare occasions I do, I like toys that I can use until my bottom has had enough (as opposed to when my weak arms give out!)
Its Bark is Worse than Its Bite…
This probably isn’t a paddle for serious pain players, as the impact it delivers is on the gentler side. Pro tip: if you hit with the longest layer impacting the body first, you get a more impressive sting. The impact is pretty surface-level. Since the paddle is so light, you’re unlikely to get any significant thud out of it.
This is one of those paddles that sounds worse than it is. Thanks to the three layers smacking together, it provides a loud and satisfying THWACK even without putting much force behind it. If you’re looking for something that sounds impressive without needing to actually hit very hard, layered paddles are the way to go!
Paddles are one of the safest impact toys you can play with (floggers are slightly more dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, and whips are yikes-just-don’t-go-there-without-expert-tuition!) You’re really unlikely to do any damage with a light paddle like this one, so you can play without worrying – even if you’re a complete beginner.
Just remember the golden rules: never hit the joints, spine, lower back and kidney area, head, or face. Aim for fleshy and padded areas like the butt, thighs, and shoulder blades.
This is a well-made and reliable basic piece that will serve you well and last a long time if you take care of it. If you’re new to kink or prefer playing on the lighter side and are looking for a vegan-friendly paddle, this is a solid buy.
The Sportsheets Saffron Layer Paddle retails for £24.
Thanks to Self&More for sending me this product to review. All views, as always, are my own. Shopping using my affiliate links makes me a small commission at no extra cost to you.