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essential knots for campers


  • general naming:
    • working end = free end of the rope
    • standing end = the end of the rope attached to an object
    • bight / bite = simple loop created at the working end
    • loop = cord is crossed over itself to make a loop
    • overhand knot = simplest knot in a rope - the 1st part of tying your shoelaces
    • half-hitch = a basic overhand knot tied around an object which is usually used with other knots, adding a 2nd one makes a slip knot that is useful to tie around an object
    • hitch = knot that secures a rope to an object
    • bend = knot that binds two ropes
    • lashing = binds two objects together

Creating a very tight ridge line or hammock between two trees

  • attach a tree trunk protector to each tree
    • eg. Hammock Bliss Deluxe Cinching Tree Straps
  • attach one end of the ridge line (or hammock) to one of the tree trunk protectors using a bowline knot, tautline knot or, perhaps the best option, a Farrimond friction hitch
  • if using a hammock you may need to attach a rope to the end of it to create a tensioning knot as below for the ridge line (unless your tree trunk protectors have a tensioning/cinching device)
  • attach the other end of the ridge line to the other tree trunk protector (or better still a strong caribiner attached to the trunk protector so you can get less friction for your pulley effect) and create a trucker's hitch in it to tension it perhaps with the help of a Marlin spike hitch to pull it tighter
  • the ridge line rope could be a 6mm x 10m 400kg breaking strain rope for maximum versatility (although if just using it for a tarp when hiking, a shorter, thinner 4-5m rope should suffice)
    • you can then just throw the tarp over the top of the ridge line and guy it out,
    • alternatively, if your tarp has grommets, prior to tensioning, you can pass a loop of ridge line through the grommet and insert a rod into the loop to hold it in place,
    • alternatively, you could attach a few loops to the ridge line using a Prusik knot so you can adjust the position of it along the ridge line and it will hold under tension, then just connect this loop to your tarp loops via a carabiner or similar
    • alternatively, you could create a series of Marlin spikes on the ridge line and then attach the tarp loops to the rods on those however, in this case you will not be able to ajust the position/tension along the ridge line as you could with a Plusik knot

Top 5 knots for camping / tarps / hammocks

slippery half hitch loop in a line

  • this creates a slip knot loop in the middle of a line
  • hold the line with your right hand in an “uncomfortable” “wrong'un” position to grap the line with 4 fingers and twist your hand into a thumbs up position
  • open hand up and insert thumb under the line crossing your palm, grab the line on the working side and pull towards the working side, this will create a loop in the line
  • this is an essential component of the trucker's hitch (see below)

Farrimond friction hitch

  • devised in 2008 as it can take a lot more tension than the tautline, is easier to untie, and it can be done on a bight, whereas the midshipman's/taut-line can only be done when the rope end is available.
  • as with the tautline, it can only adjust length by pushing on the knot when not under load
  • to someone without muscle memory the knot may appear to be controlled chaos in mid-tying but with practice, it's a very easy knot to tie without any visual feedback once you gain a feel for it with your hands.
  • pass the end around the tree or branch.
  • wrap a loop twice or thrice around the standing end.
  • tuck a bight of the end through the loop and tighten.
  • dressing the Farrimond Friction hitch is simple to do, a firm tug on the standing end plus sliding the knot is all you need
  • after initial dressing the knot, pull on standing part of bight to tighten sufficiently to stop it slipping under a load
    • it holds fairly well in paracord but if slipping does occur, wrapping the loop a 3rd time instead of twice should provide greater security.
  • pull on the end of the bight to untie very easily

Marlin spike hitch

  • a stick, rod. tent peg or spike is used to make a knot in the rope such as your ridge line
  • the hitch should be loaded only from the standing side, if the working end is loaded rather than the standing part, the knot will capsize into an overhand noose which can jam badly against the rod unless the rod is tapered
  • once the knot is tight you can exert tremendous tension on the rope by using the rod/marlinespike as a handle and pulling down with it
  • a common use is to loop a tarp tie out around the rod such as when attaching to a tree or a guy rope
  • additionally, the rod could be your ground peg which is then inserted into the ground at a 45deg angle
  • to release the knot just remove the rod and the knot will be untied

trucker's hitch

  • used to create maximal tension in a line such as your ridge line or securing cargo
  • tie one end to the 1st anchor or tree using a bowline knot or similar
  • loop the other end around the 2nd anchor / 2nd tree
  • create a slippery half hitch loop in the rope ~ 1-1.5m from the 2nd anchor/ 2nd tree (as above)
  • pass all the residual line through the loop and pull back towards the 2nd tree to create the desired tension then use 2 fingers to hold that tension and pinch it
  • throw the residual line over BOTH lines which are going to the 2nd tree to make a number 4 when viewed from above, then reach through the number 4 loop to grab the residual line and pull a loop of it back through that number 4 loop

automatic trucker's hitch

  • reduces loss of tension when tying by holding the tension without need to pinch it
  • as with trucker's hitch but just add an extra pulley section so that now there are two ropes passing through the loop which will constrict each other and maintain tension
  • optionally add a Marlin spike and rod to pull the tension even tighter as per the trucker's hitch
  • release tension by passing the rope back through the loop and pull hard

Prusik knot

  • great for attaching tarp to your ridgeline and then can adjust position and it will stay there
  • best when the line is less than half the diameter of the ridgeline
  • you may need to use a double fishermen's bend to join the two ends of a rope to make a closed loop in the Plusik loop first if it is not already a closed loop
  • designed for rock climbing up a rope by using two of these and alternating releasing weight and pushing knot up the rope
  • an alternative is the Klemheist knot which is said to be easier to slide than prussik and works with webbing as well as rope.

Other great knots

hitch knots

Bowline knot

  • used to create a fixed loop at the end of a rope
  • easy to tie and untie, and most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load, BUT it does have a tendency to work loose when not under load and to slip when pulled sideways
  • untie by pulling back on the base of the knot
  • one of the most essential knots but you generally could use a tautline knot instead and this is more versatile
  • make a loop the correct way then “the rabbit comes out of its hole then around the tree and back down the hole”

Clove hitch

  • OK for quickly tying onto a tree
  • can slip or come undone if the object it is tied to rotates or if constant pressure is not maintained on the line
  • not very strong, can unravel under strong loads unless add extra knot such as adding a half hitch

Slipped spar hitch slip form

Cow hitch (tag end method) on its own rope

double half hitch with a bite

tautline hitch

  • used to tie to an object and then easily adjust the tension in a line such as your ridge line
  • once tied, you can slide the knot along the line to create tension
  • best used with hemp rope as it can slip with newer ropes although adding more coils will help prevent slippage by increasing friction
  • knot can loosen when it's not under tension and need re-dressing
  • the newer Farrimond friction hitch unties better


Alpine butterfly loop

  • great for creating a fixed loop in the middle of a line
    • can be used for:
      • grab handle
      • hanging tools
      • isolating a frayed part of the rope from the tension
      • creating a secured knot on a high branch:
        • throw the rope over the branch and pass the line through the loop
        • then pull the loop up to the branch
        • to release it from the branch just remove tension on the line and the pull on the line with the loop to bring it down
  • easy knot - create a figure-of-eight loop, fold down the top and bring under the line and pass back through the top of the remaining loop

tying two ropes together (bend)

Double Fisherman's knot / bend

Double Sheet Bend

  • great for tying two ropes together
  • create a bight in the thicker rope
  • pass the other rope up through the bight then wrap around the short end of the bight encircling the two ropes of the bight then pass UNDER itself as where it initially came through the bight
  • to get to a double formation, just wrap it around twice

Water knot

  • great for tying two nylon straps together
  • can be hard to untie
  • eg. for creating a tree trunk protector
  • make a loose overhand knot in one strap then thread the other strap to follow the first strap's knot

binding two objects (lashings)

Arbor knot / Canadian Jam

  • simple type of lashing for binding to pieces of wood, etc

straight lashing

  • this is a simple lashing to bind objects mainly for repair purposes such as:
    • broken tent pole
    • end of a rope that is untwisting

square lashing

Pulley hauling systems

australia/knots.txt · Last modified: 2022/12/29 22:57 by gary1

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