A Beginner’s Guide To Strap-Ons — & The Best Ones To Try

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Strap-ons are the most versatile sex toy in the business, but they can be overlooked due to the perception that they're only for same-sex female couples or for pegging your partner. Turns out, there are countless styles of strap-ons that work for any combination of partners and genders, and they come with such unique benefits that you'll wonder why you hadn't introduced them into your routine earlier.
"Before I joined the adult business, I didn't even know what they really were," says adult film actress Tasha Reign. "Since using them on men and women, and having them used on me, I have discovered how very useful and exciting they can be."
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Especially for beginners, the experience can be very powerful.
"You are learning to use a product attached to you to please someone, male or female, that you aren’t used to having, and once you get in the groove, IT’S ON!" says Chelsea McCain from Adult Empire. "Believe me, you feel empowered! To this day, when I think of a strap on, no matter what style, that’s what I think of: empowerment."
Excited to try a strap-on yet? If it's new for you, before you jump into using this toy, we talked to a couple of experts about what you should consider, and which toys in particular are perfect for newcomers. Read ahead for essential beginner tips and a bunch of great strap-ons to try.
The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more, here.
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Communicate exactly what you want.

As always, when introducing something new to your sexual routine, it's important to talk to your partner(s) and get a clear idea of what each of you is comfortable with and what you're expecting, especially with something as versatile as strap-ons.

"Contrary to perception, strap-ons aren’t just for the ladies who love ladies," says Tino Dietrich, CEO and Co-Founder of Ella Paradis. "They are for everyone, whatever your preference. "

Before diving in, nail down who is comfortable wearing the strap on, who is comfortable receiving it, and what kind works best for your individual desires.

Then, keep up the communication throughout. An appendage that the wearer can't "feel" means they have to check in more than usual. Start slow, and be receptive to feedback. If something isn't working, don't be hurt. The problem could be the harness, the toy, the angle, or beyond, so try other options!
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Find the right size.

"You don’t want to be fumbling around with the toy while wearing it, and you sure don’t want to take on more than you or your partner can chew," says Chelsea McCain of Adult Empire.

When buying your first strap-on, take extra care to ensure the harness is adjustable and the dildo size is comfortable. Dietrich recommends a 5.25-inch silicone dildo with a 1.25-inch diameter to start.
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Research the right positions.

McCain warns that strap-ons aren't something you should dive right into without planning.

"Both you and your partner should look into interesting positions," she says. "Inform each other of what you want to try, and speak openly sexually when in use on how deep, fast, and so on."

You can always begin with performing a blow-job on the strap-on to get familiar with it, before easing into vaginal/anal with more shallow penetration positions, like missionary or gentle doggy-style.
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Know that lube is your best friend.

Introducing a new object to your body could always benefit from a little extra help, and that's exactly what lube is. Since many dildos are made of silicone, both McCain and Dietrich stress using a water-based lube. Some options include this basic water-based lubricant or something like an anal relaxer for more specified use.
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Treat it like it’s a part of you.

You'll have the best experience with a strap-on if you not only get familiar with it but also enjoy it.

"Apply and stroke that strap on as though it was a real penis between your legs," says McCain. "This also helps give you a good feel of the product. The more you act as if it is a part of you, the more comfortable you will feel with it. Just have fun!"

One option is to get used to the strap-on solo before bringing in another person. Especially if you're planning on being the giver, wear the strap-on alone around the house and make sure it works for you, both aesthetically and mechanically, so you know how to best control it with your partner(s).
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Use the strap-on differently depending on where it's going.

A strap-on can be used orally, vaginally, or anally, and the techniques are different for all of them. Don't approach each with the same speed and vigor, especially if this is the first time.

For instance, trying anal sex involves some prep, both mentally and physically, so make sure you apply these tips when it comes to using a strap-on as well.
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Clean up and stay safe!

Since a strap-on can be used in so many different ways and places, hygiene is of the utmost importance. Purchase an anti-bacterial cleaner to apply to the toy after each use, and be careful with fluids. Ensure the strap-on is clean when transferring it from the anus to the vagina.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
This harness/dildo combo has everything you could want in your first strap-on: an adjustable harness, smaller dildo, and flexible material. Although it is targetted towards men, McCain recommends it for either gender.

"The jelly texture of the dong makes it slightly flexible, and with the curve in the toy, it makes for good G-spot/prostate hitting," she says. "If you want to graduate out of the jelly dong it comes with, you can always remove it and add a larger or textured toy for a different sensation."

PipedreamFetish Fantasy Beginner's Strap-On for Him, $22.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Sportsheets.
This is another good beginner product for the same reasons as the previous one, says McCain, but the dildo is less curved. It really depends on your preference!

Sportsheets New Comers Strap-On & Dildo, $25.95, available at Adult Empire.
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When we asked Dietrich about beginner strap ons, he said that Sportsheets was a good reliable brand to start with. This is another basic harness and strap-on setup, but a little bit longer for someone who wants a more adventurous start.

Sportsheets Strap-On and Harness, $49.99, available at Ella Paradis.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
This is a great product for someone who wants the best of both worlds.

"Although the shaft of this strap-on is not removable, it is a wonderful way to please yourself while pleasing your partner, says McCain. "With each thrust, you literally thrust yourself as well!"

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Double Penetrix Strap-on, $22.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of WetForHer.
People uncomfortable with the concept of a harness can still enjoy strap-ons, thanks to companies, like WetForHer, that make them underwear-style.

"When you go this route, you have a little more control over the attached dildo without having to worry about adjusting the harness," says McCain. "Yet, you still have the option to, later on, change out the toy for a bigger or different textured toy."

WetForHer Tomboi Partner Pack - Medium with Medium 5" Dildo, $124.99, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
Another harness alternative is the crotchless harness, which comes with a lot of benefits.

"That means easy access for your partner to please you without having to remove the toy from your body," says McCain. "It’s a win-win no matter how you look at it!"

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy: Crotchless Harness, $20.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
Or, ditch the harness altogether and go with a strap-on that's, well, strapless.

"No straps to mess with, fits everyone, direct skin-to-skin contact when it comes to insertion (so it’s great when it comes to clit rubbing/tribbing), and it can be used vaginally or anally," says McCain. "It’s like the perfect little package of a toy!"

To use, insert the more bulbous end into your vagina or anus, with the longer end positioned out as you would a traditional strap-on.

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Elite 8" Strapless Strap On - Pink, $41.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Cal Exotics.
One way to spice up a more traditional strap-on is to spring for one with a vibrating function, like this dual-action model that gives both you and your partner pleasure with the added benefits of a vibrator.

Cal Exotics Love Rider - Black - Dual Action Strap On, $66.99, available at Ella Paradis.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
Hollow strap-ons mean people with penises can still get in on the fun.

"Used exactly like a regular strap on, hollow strap-ons are great for men who want to add extra length, girth, or sensation during sex," says McCain. "Hell, you can even share the product and make it a fun couple’s toy!"

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Series for Him or Her Vibrating Hollow Strap On, $22.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
This hollow strap-on works on both people with and without penises, packing the punch of two dildos.

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Double Penetrator Hollow Strap-On, $20.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Pipedream.
Officially the cutest strap on of the bunch, this hollow strap-on works for either gender, is waterproof, and can stimulate both the g-spot and the clitoris at the same time. Plus, dolphins.

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Waterproof Diving Dolphin Hollow Strap-On, $27.95, available at Adult Empire.
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Photo courtesy of Aslan.
This sturdy leather harness sits lower on the hips, allowing for an attached dildo to rub against the clit for those using this on partners with vaginas. It also works with a variety of dildo shapes and sizes, and the leather corset back is hot AF.

Aslan Leather Minx Double Thigh Strap Harness, $170, available at Spectrum Boutique.
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Maybe you and your partner are unsure of what size dildo you want for your harness, or you're first-timers looking to start small and work your way up. Why pick one dildo when you can buy an affordable three-pack? This set is extra special because it's great for both G-spot and P-spot (prostate) stimulation.
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Photo courtesy of Lovehoney.
Especially if you're new to strap-ons, selecting the right harness and accompanying dildo can be daunting — which is why kits like this can be so handy. The sleek red set is created for both anal and vaginal play, so it's an excellent option for first-timers of any gender. Not to mention, the Red Rider illustrates one of the coolest things about strap-ons: You can select them in any color of the rainbow, including fire hydrant red.
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