Top 5 Most Useful Knots on the Trail

Top 5 Most Useful Knots on the Trail

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 dedicate a lot of time to memorize each one.

No fear, we've got you covered! If you can master the following five basic knots, you'll be prepared to handle most backcountry situations.

Featured Photo: Edgar Torres

Sheet Bend

The Sheet Bend, also known as the Weaver’s Knot, is primarily used to secure two ropes of different sizes together. You could further secure this by doubling the coil before tightening the knot. A good use case for this knot is 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

The Bowline Knot is used to fasten a rope around an object. It's 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.


Taut-Line Hitch

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

  • To tie a Taut-Line Hitch, wrap the rope around the object you need to tie it to.
  • Wrap the rope twice going towards the post.
  • Pull the end of the rope 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

The Square Knot is also known as the Reef Knot because it was used by mariners on ships. It's a quick knot to tie. The main use case for a Square Knot is to tie two ropes together that need to be loosened quickly. However, it's not advisable to use the Square Knot to secure climbing ropes.

  • To tie a Square 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-Hitch Knot

The Two Half-Hitch Knot is an easy way of tying a rope to a post but is relatively loose. It can be made more secure by doubling the knot.

  • To tie the Two Half-Hitch Knot, pass the rope around the item 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

We hope that having a good grasp of these five essential knots will improve your backcountry experiences. Now, you can secure guy tent lines, hang your bear bag, and impress your friends with ease!

If you're looking for a versatile, ultralight, super-strong guy line for your next backcountry adventure, check out our Dyneema® core guy line. It's also highly-reflective, and weighs less than ounce per 50 feet. 

Paria Outdoor Products Dyneema Guy Line

Read Next

If you're looking to pick up more backpacking skills, check out our comprehensive list of expert backpacking articles that cover just about everything there is to know. Some popular articles include:

Top 18 Wilderness Survival Skills for Backpackers
Keeping Insects and Pests Away on the Trail
Hanging Your Food in the Backcountry
Packing for Emergencies: Backcountry First Aid Kit

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