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7 Knots and Hitches you should’ve known yesterday

old school knots

Are you that person who uses a whole bale of twine plus six or seven bungy cords to get your Christmas tree home from the grocery store parking lot? After all, if you can’t tie a KNOT, tie a LOT.

This may be perfectly cool if it’s the extent of your knot-tying requirements, but once resources get scarce or your safety starts to depend on your ability to secure a load or erect a shelter quickly and efficiently, it’s likely you’ll wish you learned a few handy knots.

Knot-tying is an important skill for anybody, and I frequently see people get embarassed and befuddled when it comes to securing a simple load or performing rudimentary but useful tasks. Here are 7 knots that I think everybody should know (in no particular order), and if you master these very basic knots, you’ll be able to handle about 95% of all knot tying requirements you’d ever encounter.

This is a fun thing to learn and master during idle time spent in a car, watching a TV, or waiting for a particularly slow-moving horde of zombies to regroup in winter. I’d encourage you to tie each of these at least several hundred times over a span of several days to months. This way, it’s not possible to forget them.

1. Bowline:

This is a massively important knot to learn (often called “the king of knots”), and probably the most difficult of the bunch, but be patient and the rewards will flow. This knot is used to put a temporary loop in the end of a line that can be broken down quickly.


2. Square Knot:

Easy, easy, and important. Left over right… right over left. Or – the opposite. This knot is use to join to pieces of line of equal diameter or close. This is helpful if you need to join rope together to get a longer piece.

3. Clove hitch::

This is one of my favorites because it’s strong and elegant. This is used for a variety of reasons, but often to hang something from a pipe or stanchion. Added bonus: try the slip clove hitch so that you can break the knot just by pulling on it.

4. Trucker’s hitch:

This hitch is very useful in securing loads of all sizes — from a small pile of firewood to a truckload of used furniture. It works by creating back pressure on the knot so that you can pull most of the slack through before half-hitching the bitter end of the line.
truckers hitch

5. Round turn with 2 half hitches:

A half hitch is simple – just make a loop. I guarantee you already know how to do this even if you never called it this. A round turn is also simple — just go all the way around the rail then half hitch twice underneath. Very useful and quick to learn.

6. Double-becket bend:

This is used to join to lines of unequal diameter or strength. Make sure you give at least some “tail” in the smaller portion because it will tend to run under strain until it’s totally secure.

7. Figure 8:

Another simple knot that allows you to put a stopper on a line or create an attachment point.

There are many great books out there to help you learn knots.  Here’s a few that we recommend:
Chapman Piloting and Seamanship
The Complete Book of Knots

 Animated knots by Grog is also an awesome website dedicated to all sorts of knots.  Enjoy.

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