Must Know Knots
If you are serious about the time you spent outdoors, you need to know your knots – the old adage, ‘if you can’t tie a knot, just tie lots’ simply no longer cuts it. Spending a little time now to perfect your knot-tying skills will make your experience out in the wild much easier and who knows, could well save your life…or at least your kit!
Practice makes perfect so without further ado, grab your rope and get knotted with our how-to guide to the 10 essential knots every outdoorsman needs to know.
1. Reef Knot (AKA Square Knot)
Used for: Tying bandages; tying two shorter ropes together; bundling firewood.
How to tie: If you learn just one knot, make it this one! Take two pieces of rope and, in the right order, tie as follows: pass the right rope over the left then underneath the other. Now reverse – left over right, then underneath. You know you have it right if both ends of the same piece of rope are next to each other.
2. Sheet Bend
Used for: Joining two ropes of different thicknesses or lengths together.
How to tie: Take the thicker or longer rope and bend into a ‘j’ shape (it will look like the shape of a fish hook). Now, take the second rope and pass it through the hook shape from behind, wrap it around the ‘hook’ once before tucking the smaller rope back under itself. Pull taut for a secure knot.
3. The Clove Hitch
Used for: To quickly secure a line to a tree or post; fastening shelter together.
How to tie: This knot will quickly secure a line to a fixed point like a tree and is an easy knot to tie when you need to secure something quickly. Simply make a loop of rope around the tree or post; now make another loop and pass the end of the rope under the second loop before tightening the hitch.
4. Two Half Hitches
Used for: Securing a line to poles, tree or rock.
How to tie: This knot is based on the clove hitch and is used to add security to a knot which would otherwise slip. After you have secured the rope by a first hitch with a single wrap around the tree or post, repeat the move by wrapping the line in the same way to create the second half hitch. Now pull tight and you should have the two half hitch knots sitting neatly next to each other!
5. The Taut Line Hitch
Used for: Anchoring a tent; securing two objects closely together.
How to tie: Take your rope and create a loop around the object you want to secure. With the shorter end of the rope, wrap it around the rope twice, then back over the main loop, around the back of the line before pulling back through the loop. Pull the coil to tighten around the object. If necessary, repeat with the other end of the rope around the second object you want to secure to the first.
6. The Figure 8
Used for: To create a ‘stopper’ knot at the end of a rope.
How to tie: Pass the free end of the rope over itself to form a loop. Now bring the end under and around the line before threading the free end through the loop before pulling both sides of the rope tight. The Figure 8 is also a good knot to get to grips with as it is the basis for some more complicated knots – but that’s for another day and another blog!
7. Fisherman’s Knot (AKA Anchor Knot)
Used for: secure line to post or anchor
How to tie: Take your rope and wrap twice around the post or anchor shackle. Now pass the shorter end behind the main taut line and back through the first turn of loop. Pull tight. To secure the knot in place, tie a half hitch around the standing rope and tighten. Secure the free end. This knot can also be used smaller scale to attach fishing line to a hook for example, and you could look at doing a few more wraps around the line for extra security before tightening and trimming off any excess line before getting ready to cast off.
8. The Prusik Knot
Used for: creating a loop to attach to another rope
How to tie: To be used as an ascender or a descender, the Prusik is a good knot to get under your (climbing) belt. You’ll need a short rope and a separate longer one Make a loop in the short rope and secure with a square knot. Now take the long rope and wrap the loop around it three times, keeping each wrap nice and flat against the second rope. Then pass the loop of the shorter rope under itself and pull tight. If there is weight on the loop it will stay secure against the main rope but will take off the tension and it will slide up and down the line.
9. The Timber Hitch
Used for: to attach to timber or wood for safe moving
How to tie: For some impromptu campsite hauling, the timber hitch should be your go-to knot to get the job done. With your length of rope, run it around the log or timber you need moving, then take the short end around the back of the rope and then wrap around the inside of the loop you created four or five times. Pull the loose short end tight to keep the hitch in place – now you are ready to log haul!
10. The Bowline
Used for: creating a loop that won’t shrink, slip or expand; mountain climbing
How to tie: This is a super-secure but easy to do knot, that will become a rope tying staple when out in the great outdoors. To crack the bowline, create a loop near to the top of a long line of rope and pass the shorter end up through the loop and behind the back of the line. The short end is often called the ‘rabbit’ in this knot. Now pass the rabbit back down through the main loop (back into its hole) while holding the rope to maintain the second loop you have now created. Once the rabbit/short line is back down through the original loop pull it up to tighten your bowline.
- 12 Lifesaving Survival Knots You Need to Know Now – Real World Survivor