Cordage is one of the most useful tools an adventurer can have in their toolbox. Given any situation that may arise, the ability to use cordage effectively and knowing how to tie appropriate knots efficiently is one of the most fundamental skills every outdoors-men needs to have mastered. In my opinion, there are seven knots that every adventurer should be proficient with. In this article, I will share what these knots are, some traits of each knot, and some real world applications for their use.
What is a knot?
A knot is a method of fastening cordage by wrapping and interweaving. When a knot is applied around an object such as a rope, tree branch, or pole, it is called a hitch. The simplest hitch that comes to mind is the girth hitch.
The Girth Hitch
Even if you are not familiar with it’s name, you have probably tied a girth hitch before. A girth hitch (or cow hitch) is a method of joining cordage around another object. It can be used for lanyards, attaching luggage tags, and anything that requires a temporary attachment point. You can learn how to tie a girth hitch from these instructions.
- Simple to tie and untie.
- When only one cord is loaded, it can be insecure.
The Clove Hitch
The clove hitch is one of the most useful knots to know despite it being a little tricky to master. This knot can be used to tie your horse to a gate, secure the mouth of open bags, secure lashings for shelters or tools, rigging belays, and many other uses. You can learn how to tie a clove hitch from these instructions.
- Can be adjusted and loosened easily.
- Relatively strong (depends on diameter of anchor point–larger diameter, stronger).
- Self tightens under increased tension.
- If the anchor point is small, it can slip under high loads.
- Stiff or slippery ropes can slip at lower loads.
- Very weak on rectangular anchor points.
The skipknot is a knot that slips and becomes undone when one of the cords is pulled. This knot is great for creating a temporary hitch that can be quickly undone. It can be used for traps, snares, tying off lines temporarily, and other uses. You can learn how to tie a slipknot from these instructions.
- Easy to untie.
- Difficult to anticipate which end will slip.
- Knot can come undone on rectangular hitches.
The Fishermens Knot
The fishermens knot is a knot for joining two pieces of cordage together. The knot is strong and produces a secure connection point. It can be made stronger by adding additional round turns. This knot is frequently used in fishing, and is strong enough for rappelling. You can learn how to tie a fishermen knot from these instructions.
- Easy to learn, and frequently used.
- Hard to untie.
- Hard to pass when rappelling.
The Figure Eight Loop
- Easy to tie.
- Strong (due to the knot’s symmetry).
- Suited when the tension is aligned with the direction of the cordage.
The bowline knot is one of the most useful knots anyone can have in their toolbox. It can be used for just about anything–from tying temporary loops to tying in to a climbing harness. It’s reliable and easy to tie with a little practice. You can learn how to tie a bowline from these instructions.
- Strong and secure.
- Easy to untie.
- This knot can come undone if the tension is released.
- Tricky to tie with one hand.
- The knot can capsize if the loop is pulled from two extreme angles.
The Figure Eight Knot
The figure eight knot is a strong symmetrical knot that is easily mastered. It can be used to tie into a climbing harness and joining to two ropes together. You can learn how to tie it from these instructions.
- Easy to tie and untie (even under high loads).
- Strong and secure due to symmetry.
- Difficult to pass when rappelling.