How To Tie The Five Most Useful Knots

How To Tie The Five Most Useful Knots
Image: Animated Knots By Grog

Before you decide to channel your inner Indiana Jones and run off to explore nearby caves, deserts or mountain trails, you may want to take a step back and think if you are completely prepared for that kind of adventure. Learning how to tie a few popular knots won’t take an extreme amount of time and you will be surprised how often you can actually use them when you know what you’re doing. Here are five knots that every camper, hiker, mountain climber and survivalist should know.

Because of the safety demands of some outdoor activities, knot tying skills applicable for aspiring adventurers are somewhat advanced. Nevertheless, you can improve your preparedness by learning how to tie a couple of the popular and useful knots discussed below.

#1 Bowline Knot

A bowline is a basic knot with various applications. During camping, you could secure your tarps or ponchos using a bowline. As the wind increases pressure on the knot, it becomes tighter and stronger, keeping your shelter secure. You can also make a large bowline to fasten around your waist when crossing rivers or descending a steep incline. Besides all that, you could also fasten another bowline onto the loop and use it as a point for attaching a load.

To tie a bowline:

  1. Place the rope on your left hand with the long end hanging freely. On the end that is on your hand form a small loop.
  2. Pick up the free end and slip it through the opening on the small loop, from below.
  3. Twist the end around the standing rope and insert it again in the loop, this time, facing downwards.
  4. Hold the standing rope firm while you pull the free end to make the knot tight.

A more visual guide can be found here.

#2 Anchor Hitch

How To Tie The Five Most Useful KnotsImage: Animated Knots By Grog

Historically, this type of knot was used to connect a line to an anchor. Since it is a knot used to connect a rope to an object, its suitable reference should be a hitch. However, it is sometimes called a Fisherman’s bend.

Follow these steps to create an anchor hitch:

  1. Wrap the free side of the rope around the post two times, keeping the second round loose.
  2. Then, pass the tip above the standing line and below the loose round. At this point, tie the first Half hitch.
  3. Wrap another round onto the standing line to tie the second Half hitch.
  4. Finish off by fastening the knot.

A visual guide can be found here.

#3 Alpine Butterfly Knot

How To Tie The Five Most Useful KnotsImage: Animated Knots By Grog

Also referred to as the Butterfly Knot due to the shape it forms during tying, Alpine Butterfly Knot is suitable for accommodating a load in different directions. For instance, when three people are climbing a mountain, it forms a secure loop in the middle where a third climber can be secured. It can also be used when one wants to isolate a worn-out part of a rope.

Three basic steps are involved in creating this knot:

  1. Wind your rope into the shape of an eight
  2. Fold the upper part towards and around the bottom
  3. Pull it up through the opening on the lower part of the eight
  4. Tighten

A visual guide can be found here.

#4 Munter Mule Combination Hitch

How To Tie The Five Most Useful KnotsImage: Animated Knots By Grog

The Munter Mule combination hitch is a valuable climbing knot where rappelling or hauling down of heavy loads is involved. To tie this kind of knot, you’ll require a shackle, commonly known as a carabiner, for holding the two Hitches together. Choose a large carabiner to allow some room for inversion of the hitch once pulled through the carabiner.

To tie the knot:

  1. Pull the rope through the carabiner
  2. Twist it above to form a loop and hook it onto the shackle to obtain the load. Twist again to form the second loop
  3. Make a slip knot around the climbing rope to leave a larger loop. Use this loop to tie a Half Hitch for securing the knot.

A visual guide can be found here.

#5 Trucker’s Hitch

How To Tie The Five Most Useful KnotsImage: Animated Knots By Grog

Also known as the Power Cinch knot, it is a combination of knots used to secure heavy loads in place. It makes your work easy by creating a pulley effect at the center of the line. In this case, the knot can be pulled very tight, just like a guitar string, and secured on two sides of the line using half hitches. It can also be used when tying canoes or any other object onto car tops for ferrying.

Here is how to make a Trucker’s Hitch:

  1. With one end of the rope tied to a fixed position, like a car bumper, make a loose half-hitch at its center. This forms a loop in the middle of the rope.
  2. Lower the free end and pass it through another fixed object, like a cleat or bar. Then, lift up the free end to pass through the loosely tied half hitch.
  3. Use this loop as a pulley to pull down the free end tight. Finish off the knot by securing it with two half hitches around either of the ropes.

A visual guide can be found here.

Learning how to tie knots doesn’t sound like an exciting venture. However, it compensates for its lack of excitement with its importance. Remember, in distress, only skills that are at your fingertips can save you. It does take some practice to make knot tying a natural skill that hands and muscles can perform instinctively so make sure you’re up to the challenge.

Kirk Bowlen works for Hema Maps, a mapping, and digital navigation company focussing on off-road adventures in Australia, New Zealand& North America.


  • dont suppose you would have been able to show videos or gifs rather than step by step instructions?

  • You can tell a lot from your date’s reaction to discovering that you practice to improve your blind knot-tying. 🙂

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