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Knots to Know?
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Brendan Redler
(bredler) - F
Knots to Know? on 02/26/2008 03:30:13 MST Print View

What are some of the most useful knots that you know of for hiking/camping...hammock in particular, but I'm looking for all types of knots.

Sean OLeary

Locale: Mid West
"Knots to Know?" on 02/26/2008 03:43:51 MST Print View

I'm a big fan of the Clove Hitch on tent stakes and that sort of thing but I haven't tied up a hammock with one.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Knots to Know? on 02/26/2008 05:28:54 MST Print View

A trucker hitch is great for really tightening a tarp down in a stiff breeze when tying of to a tree.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
forgetful on 02/26/2008 08:48:36 MST Print View

I forget all the time. I carry a Pro-Knot card in my safety kit.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Knots to Know? on 02/26/2008 09:50:45 MST Print View

I'll second both the clove hitch and the trucker hitch. I'm also a fan of bowlines. I use them on my guylines to attach them to my tarp in a larkshead fashion (feed the loose end of the guyline through the tie out then through the bowline and pull).
Knot tying was my one of my favorite Scout skills but I've only used a handful of them in practice, especially with slippery, small diameter guylines.


Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Knots to Know? on 02/26/2008 10:08:15 MST Print View

Elaborate hardware is not an acceptable substitute for the properly selected knot correctly tied. Good technique is:

Light weight (0 oz.)
Low cost ( $ 0)
Unbreakable, and
Misplaced only at low temperatures.

If I were teaching a one hour knot tying class this is the order I would teach them:

Clove hitch:

around stakes when stake placement is used for tension,
around trekking poles or other uprights,
around stones in tarp in lieu of grommet/tie outs.

Taut-line: Adjustable knot used to keep tension on tarp/tent tie outs.

Figure 8 knot:

Make a loop on the end of a line when it does not need to be untied,
make a loop when there will be tension on both sides of the knot,
double figure 8 is a climbing knot.

Lanyard Hitch: Used with a figure 8 knot to attach lines to tarp/tent.

Mooring Hitch: Used to anchor tarp guy lines or hang bear bags.

Sheet bend:

Around the corner of a tarp/sheet of plastic and a tie out,
join a thick cord to a thin cord.


Tarp ridge line to tension the tarp along the ridge line,
tent line to make the vestibule taut,
also a climbing ascending knot.

Water Knot: Used to join cords/webbing of equal size that will not come untied.

Bowline: Make a loop when you want to untie easily.

Square knot:

Used often for first-aid,
join ropes of equal size that is easy to untie.

Truckers’s hitch: Tensioning tie down with mechanical advantage.

Alpine Butterfly: Makes a loop in rope that can be untied easy.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
re knots to know on 02/26/2008 12:59:51 MST Print View

In general, I like Richards list a lot. I'd prioritizd learning them a bit diffently but that's based on my own habit and not the relative usefulness in any objective way.

The ones that I "use all the time":
*Clove hitch - also use to tie off to carabiners when hanging food; I often use it to tie off one end of my hammock
*Square knot
*Truckers’s hitch

Since you asked about hammocks, I think that the timber hitch ( is also a great way to tie off one end of the hammock (first the timber hitch, then the clove hitch at the other end because you can easily adjust the tension of the "hang".

Use semi-regularly:
*Figure 8 / Figure 8 on a bight (is this the same as the lanyard hitch?

Use once in a blue moon:
*Sheet bend
*Water Knot
*Alpine Butterfly - also nice because you tie it in the middle of the line without need to pass the end thru a loop

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Knots to Know? on 03/04/2008 21:24:39 MST Print View

When I rode motorcycles I was taught to use a Trucker's (or Hay) Hitch to tie the bike down in my pick-up. When I raced sailboats I used a bowline a lot and a figure eight for stopper knots on sheets and halyards. Now I use the Trucker's Hitch for tensioning tent guy lines and a bowline to attach guy lines to the tent tie-outs.

The sailor who taught me to race said that "If you don't know the right knot to use, just tie lots of them."

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Knots to Know? on 03/28/2008 16:18:42 MDT Print View

-- The sailor who taught me to race said that "If you don't know the right knot to use, just tie lots of them."

I once went bridge jumping and the man who was tying me up said THE EXACT SAME THING. I was petrified...

Anyway, I love the bowline, clove hitch, half hitch, and square knot. The double figure-8 knot is also a favorite, since I am a climber and I can tie that knot with my eyes closed. this Web site has some info on knot tying.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Knots to Know? on 03/28/2008 16:53:22 MDT Print View

As an ex-assistant Scoutmaster and longtime backpacker, if you only know one knot, the knot to know is the bowline knot. So much can be done with that one knot.

The second knot I like next is often called a "double clove hitch" but when I googled it, it was called a "clove hitch tied in a bight" at this site:

ps - I wonder if the second knot I'm thinking of is the Boy Scout's Sailor's knot -- looks very similar to the above knot - it has the alternate name of a double half-hitches. I think I'm getting the double clove hitch and the double halfhitch knots confused, but both are very similar functioning knots -- good for tightening a rope around the end of a tree or stump (such as when you make a clothesline out on the trail.

pps - a third knot that is useful is the surgeon's knot. Together the three knots accomplish so, so much.

A good animated page for the bowline knot is:

Edited by marti124 on 03/28/2008 17:03:54 MDT.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Knots to Know? on 03/28/2008 21:19:09 MDT Print View

I remember an article in a sailing magazine, the title of which, I remember, was: "How many ways can the rabbit go around the da** tree anyway?"

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Knots to Know? on 03/29/2008 10:29:10 MDT Print View

1) Knots I use the most:
*tautline hitch/prussic knot - to tension tarp lines
*two half hitches - on stakes (I put the tautline hitches next to the tarp so I can adjust them without going to the stake.
*sheet bend - to join two lines
*figure-8 - to join lines, as a stopper knot, as a trucker's tie-down, to form semi-permanent loops.
*square knot
*clove hitch

For hammocking, I use the Hennessee hitch or lineman's knot because it holds with slick lines and puts less stress on the line.

2) Philosophy:
It is easy to be intimidated by knots. Sort of like mathematics. However, there are really only a couple of knots. Everything else is elaboration. It is all in how you shape them.

3)Understanding knots:
A knot (or a hitch, bend, etc. - the terminology is less important than the skill) is a way to make cordage hold on to something and let go when you want it to. In other words, good knots are simple and easy to tie, do their job, then come undone so the line can be used again. (Some would add that a knot should not weaken a line unnecessarily, but that is a more technical matter.)

Tying a knot is more than tangling line. It is also shaping the tangle into what you want. For example, a bow knot (for shoes) is just a square knot - which is just two simple overhand knots made in the right order and shaped. The bow assists in untying, but does not change the essential nature of the knot. The bowline is the exactly same knot as the sheet bend except it makes a loop on a line instead of joining two lines. You can tie a sheetbend using the same method you like for tying a bowline. The tautline hitch is a variation on two half-hitches with an added turn to increase friction on the standing line. And a half hitch is just an overhand knot seen from a different perspective. Two half hitches is where you do it twice. Big deal.

One important trick to turning a tangle into a useful knot is to give the line a little twist between your fingers as you tie it. People who get good with knots learn to do this instinctively. Try this with your shoe laces: Make the first overhand knot while rolling the lace one way, then untie it and tie it again while rolling the lace the other way. Rolled the right way, the knot will lie flat and firm. Rolled the wrong way, the lace will buckle and refuse to lie right. Simple.

Knots work through friction. Slick materials such as Spectra, nylon and some other synthetics require special attention and often require more complex knots. When learning, it is better to practice with high friction lines. TripTease is really good for this.

Edited by vickrhines on 03/29/2008 10:34:00 MDT.

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Knots to Know? on 03/30/2008 14:08:09 MDT Print View

Excellent analysis, Vick.