There are a handful of knots that every outdoor enthusiast should know. Having a strong background in ropework can improve the quality of a trip 10 fold. Rope is surprisingly useful in a pinch and having a little background really helps. Knot tying is like math, the more you practice the better you are.
The bowline is possibly one of the most versatile knots out there. It’s a “must have” in your repertoire of rope work. There are two key components that make it such a powerful knot, its self-tightening and it’s “breakable.” The combination of these qualities means that under force it will only continue to get stronger, but is quickly released.
The Square Knot is every Boy Scout’s go-to knot. Just like the Bowline, the square knot is also self-tightening and also breakable, however, it has the added benefit of being incredibly easy to learn and the ability to tie two ropes together. The square knot is one of the strongest and most reliable knots as long as it’s tied properly, which makes it complicated.
Taught Line Hitch
The Taught Line Hitch is most notably used for securing Guy Lines and tent steaks. It’s a friction based slip knot designed to both shift and hold under weight. It’s pretty straight forward and once you learn to tie it you’ll be using it for everything.
The Butterfly Knot is a little more specific than our previous knots. It’s designed to create an easily breakable, non-weight bearing loop in the middle of a section of rope. This allows for 2 uses, first, it allows multiple people to connect to the same line without addition pull on each other, and second, it allows sections of ropes to be removed from bearing weight if they’re damaged or frayed.
The girth hitch is a highly versatile hitch that you can use over and over and over and over again. It’s perfect for securing loads to hang, pull or secure. Most often, the girth hitch will be used for securing guy lines on a tent to the tent itself. It can also be used for zipper lines and jacket pulls in a pinch.
Clove Hitch / Ghost Knot
The clove hitch is designed to create a fixed point to secure items. The clove hitch self-tightens around whatever it’s attached to and prevents the lines for sliding. Historically, cowboys used the clove hitch to secure their horses to posts in town to prevent them from running away. It’s a wonderful knot because once you’ve removed it from its attachment it falls apart.
Figure 8 On a Bite
The figure 8 on a Bite is incredibly strong. When tied appropriately, it should never fail. It breaks, fairly easily but is primarily used when hoisting, pulling, or climbing. Most often I see the figure 8 used when securing bear bags or tree wraps.
Rope management is a key aspect of being in the outdoors. The daisy chain is the standard method for organizing and containing extra rope length. This is key for water/wall rescue, work on a boat, or for containing / protecting extra-long bear ropes or ridge lines.