Survival Skills: Tying Knots That Work

You may have heard the phrase, “If you don’t know knots, tie lots.” I wish it was that easy, but … Continued

You may have heard the phrase, “If you don’t know knots, tie lots.” I wish it was that easy, but when it comes to reliable, dependable knot tying, more twists and turns won’t always guarantee a better knot.

While most woodsmen, lumberjacks, Boy Scouts and sailors probably know dozens of knots that they could tie blindfolded, I prefer quality over quantity. But which knots are the most useful?

THE MOST USEFUL KNOTS

The list of knots that I use on camping trips and when performing outdoor skills is pretty short. I just stick to my tried and true favorites, and leave the rest as a fun hobby.

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Square Knot
Whether you are tying two ropes together to make a longer rope, or you are tying up a bundle of firewood to carry, the square knot is a winner. It’s much more secure and stable than its cousin the granny knot. The granny tends to drift and roll, untying itself a little bit at a time as you use it.

You can tie a solid square knot by lapping right over left, and then tying again in the reverse direction—left over right.

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_Sheet Bend _

This one is a little weird, but nothing works better for tying different types of material and different thicknesses of rope together.

With the sheet bend, you bend the thicker or more slippery rope into a “j” shape (like a fish hook). You then pass the other rope through the fish hook from behind, wrap around the entire fishhook once and then tuck the smaller line under itself.

If all this sounds too confusing, don’t worry, there’s help available. You can receive excellent tutorials with step by step animation at www.animatedknots.com.

THE WORST KNOTS

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Granny Knot
This is a very common knot, but it doesn’t like to stay tied, especially with a slippery rope like 550 cord.

It’s like a square knot, but you tie the same right-over-left twice. The resulting knot is far from heavy duty.

Hope Knot

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Although this one is mostly a joke, I’ve seen it employed far too many times for my comfort. Throwing a bunch of wraps around something and “hoping” that it holds won’t get you very far, especially with something like a tent or, worse, a hammock. Interestingly, I had a hard time coming up with a fake knot that wouldn’t work for this picture!

Got a favorite go-to knot, bend or hitch? Let us know in the comments.