5 Knots You Need To Know How To Tie

By now, most of us know how to tie our shoes and, for some, that’s as far as our “tying” knowledge goes. If you’re OK with this limitation, it’s cool with us; but if you’re tired of losing gear or having your slackline abruptly hit the ground, we’ve got you covered.

Because knots aren’t just for Boy Scouts and sailors, we’ve rounded up the top five basic knots every adventurer needs to know.

Perfecting these knots will not only make your travels easier, food safer, and hammock more secure, they can also help you take over the world -- or at least the small piece of wilderness you may find yourself in.

Overhand Knot

Uses: To keep the end of a rope from untwisting; to make a knot at the end of a rope; first step in other knots.

How to tie an Overhand Knot

To Tie: Make a loop near the end of the rope and pass the running end (free end of the rope) through the loop, pulling it tight.

Square Knot

Uses: Tie the ends of two ropes of the same size together. Good for bundling firewood or extending your hammock line.

How to tie a Square Knot

To Tie: Lay the running end of each rope together but pointing in opposite directions. Tie the ends by taking right over left, and then tying again in the reverse direction -- left over right. Pull tight.

Slip Knot

Uses: Temporarily secure items while hoisting or climbing; temporary stopper knot; basic snare; will tighten around an object when pulled from the “short end”; will immediately untie when pulled from the other end.

How to tie a Slip Knot

To Tie: With the running end in your left hand, form a loop with the cord. Reach through the loop with right hand and pull the standing end (fixed end) of the cord through to form a loop. Pull on the loop to tighten the knot.

Bowline Knot

Uses: Easy to tie/untie, especially after having a load on it, making it a perfect knot for hanging your hammock or securing your bear box from a tree branch; makes an effective self-rescue knot you can tie around yourself; works well to pull against while hoisting a heavy load.

How to tie a Bowline Knot

To Tie: Twist your rope to form a small loop leaving enough rope for the desired loop size on the running end. Pass the running end of the rope through the loop. Take the running end behind and around the fixed end of the rope and back through the small loop.

Trucker’s Hitch

Uses: Makes it easier to tighten up lines and tie down long spans of rope; good for tying down tarps, tent guylines or securing canoes, kayaks and Christmas trees to the top of your vehicle. 

How to tie a Truckers Hitch

To Tie: Make a slipknot or bowline in one end of your rope. This is your upper pulley.

Wind the running end of rope around the fixed object -- canoe rack, tree branch, etc. -- you intend to use and bring the line up through the back of the prepared loop. 

How to tie a Truckers Hitch

To complete the trucker’s hitch, simply tie a slip knot around the fixed end of rope. For an easy release, leave a loop. For a fixed knot, pull the tail all the way through.

Now that you’re versed in basic knot-tying, your next trip into the woods will be a cinch. Let us know which knots you found the most useful or the most obnoxious.

About the Author

After spending 5 years testing gear, meeting people and exploring his home state of Colorado with his wife, Andrej realized something about the outdoor industry. Mostly, that it was complicated. Andrej set out to create no-nonsense gear that was just as easy to use as it was reliable. He recruited a team of wilderness professionals and educators and hit the drawing board. The result was simple gear that you could trust, with specs you understood. Now he’s inspiring others to get out there and explore, by giving them the confidence to trust both themselves and the gear they use.