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5 Most Useful Knots on the Trail

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Tying knots is one of the most useful skills for backcountry camping and backpacking. However, with hundreds of possible knots to learn, you’d have to be an expert and dedicate a lot of time in memorizing every single one. For now, you can start with our recommended Top 5 Most Useful Knots.

Featured Photo: Cord Lengths (photo by Wittco.Gmbh)

Sheet Bend - Known as the Weaver’s Knot, this is primarily used to tie two ropes of different sizes together. You could further secure this by doubling the coil before tightening the knot. This could be useful if you need a long rope but only have shorter pieces available.

  • First, make a loop on the end of the first rope.
  • Then pass the end of the second rope through the loop and then around the first rope. Pass the end of the second rope under itself and pull to tighten.
  • If you want a double sheet bend; pass the end of the second rope under itself then around the first rope again, and pass it under itself before tightening.

Sheet Bend

Bowline Knot - Used to fasten a rope around an object. Ideal for securing a bag when hanging food and tying up bags or sacks. This knot is very secure but may be difficult to untie.

  • Lay the rope on your left hand and make a loop.
  • Pass the end of the rope under then through the loop.
  • Then pass it around the top of the loop and back through the loop.
  • Pull the end to tighten.

Bowline

Taut-line Hitch - Used for instances where a line or knot needs to be adjusted. This knot is commonly used on tarp or tent guy lines.

  • To tie this knot, wrap the rope around the object you need to tie it to.
  • Wrap the rope around itself twice going towards the post.
  • Pull the end through the loop and bring it up, then around the rope at the top of the knot you created.
  • Bring it through the opening and pull to tighten.

Tautline Hitch

Square Knot - Also known as the Reef Knot because it was used by mariners on ships; this is a quick knot to tie. Used mainly to tie two ropes that need to be loosened quickly. Not advisable to secure climbing ropes.

  • To tie this knot, create a loop on the end of the first rope.
  • Put the second rope through the loop and around it then back through the loop.
  • You should have two loops around each other now, pull to tighten.

Square Knot

Two Half-Hitches - A Two Half-Hitch is an easy way of tying a rope to a post but is relatively loose. This could be secured by doubling the knot.

  • To tie this knot, pass the rope around the object and pull the end of the rope over, then under, and through the loop.
  • Do this twice to have a more secure knot.

Two Half-Hitches

Hopefully, having a good grasp of these basic knots would be enough for most situations. Knowing them will make learning other more complicated knots easier. Check out the rest of our blog for more useful tips and hike ideas.

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