Learn these must-know knots and add to your wilderness skill set.
Knot tying is a useful skill for outdoor enthusiasts. They can assist with many jobs, like first aid, outdoor work activities, recreational sports and many survival situations. However, knot techniques will vary by activity as some forms will provide more assistance than others. Here are some of the most important knots every camper must know:
The square knot, also called the reef knot, is commonly used for tying bandages, packages or joining two pieces of rope together. For the camper, this knot is useful when you have heavy objects, like a bundle of firewood, that you need to carry. For the construction of the square knot: lay the ends of the rope parallel to each other; pick up each rope in each hand and lace the right end under the end of the left rope forming a half knot; tie an overhand knot with the left under and over the right rope; pull tight for completion.
Clove Hitch (or Constrictor)
The clove hitch secures a rope onto an object and can be tied at any point in the rope. This knot will hold fast and is best for lashing your survival shelter. It can hold a lot of weight, especially heavy items that hang vertically. Bring the rope over and under the post, then wrap it around a second time, creating an x-shape on the post. On the third wrap, tuck the rope end under the center of the “x.” Pull the end rope tight, opposite from and aligned with the main line.
The bowline is a steadfast knot that doesn’t slip. It is known as a boating knot, but also helps with securing tarps, lifesaving operations, angling and mountain climbing. First, create a loop near the end of the rope, then take the rope through the loop and around the main line. Next, bring it back down through the loop and tighten. The mnemonic device you can use to remember the details of this technique is, “the rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree and then back down into the hole.”
The sheet bend, also called a weaver’s knot, is used for tying together two ropes of unequal thickness or tying rope to an eye. This knot will draw tight, though can be loosened through slacking the lines. Bend the thicker, or more slick, rope into a “j” shape, resembling a fish hook. The other rope should be pushed through the fish hook “j” from behind. Finally, wrap the other rope around the entirety of the “j” shape and tuck the smaller line underneath itself.
The figure eight knot, also known as the Flemish knot, is used for both sailing and rock climbing. It is a stopper knot that will jam under strain and can be used as a replacement for the common overhand knot. Pass the free end of line over itself, which will create a loop. Take the rope under and around the line’s end, then complete the figure eight with the passing of the free end down and through the loop.
Two Half Hitches
The two half hitches knot will secure a line onto a tree or pole, and will reliably hold whether or not under a load. It is ideal for shelters and hammocks. Wrap the standing end around the post, then wrap the end around the main line for the first half hitch. Wrap the rope end a second time around the main and pull tight. If you are concerned about any slipping, you can tie an overhand knot on the free end of the line.
Try your hand at each of these, and devote them to memory with some practice. They’re all worth knowing for anyone who spends time outdoors, whether they’re camping, fishing, or enhancing their wilderness knowledge.
Images via AnimatedKnots.com