Just as you don’t need to buy hones or learn to do any honing, you do not need a strop. However, if you want to keep your razor sharper longer, you want a strop. Or, you could constantly re-hone and re-sharpen your razor once a month. So, if you want to keep your straight razor sharp without the need for hones or honing lessons, you need a strop. Click here to learn more about stropping, what strop you should buy, and how to strop.
The more proficient you become at straight razor shaving and stropping, the more features you want with your strop. Features such as linen, cotton, chromium oxide, horsehide, cordovan, etc etc. If you get too much SRAD (Straight Razor Addiction Disorder), you will find yourself with at least two strops consisting of a leather and fabric piece. For the beginner, you do not necessarily need or want an expensive strop.
The point of stropping is to remove the oxidation on the edge and realign any burrs that may have formed. Removing the oxidation (rust) keeps the razor’s edge sharper, longer. Oxidation is the enemy of sharpness (honing accomplishes the same objective, but is much more costly and time consuming). Yet, you don’t need an actual strop to start your straight razor journey. An actual strop makes the process easier, looks better, and usually consists of quality components. However, in the end, a strop is just a piece of leather. Regardless of the leather quality, all it is is a piece of leather attached to a mounting point, with or without a handle at the other end.
Instead of plunking down $100 on a strop you may or may not like or damage, you can use a leather belt made from quality leather. You can also purchase a leather strip from someplace like Tandy Leather and making your own mounting hardware. Finally, if your adventurous enough, brave enough, and/or poor enough, you can just strop using the palm of your hand.