KNOTS: principles

Anil Mitra, July 2015

Home | See the detailed version knots.html for figures

Cover the main applications

  1. Bear caching (loop knot for food sack, slip knot or loop to tie to a tree trunk or other object).
  2. Setting up tents and tarps (loop knot to secure to a grommet etc, slip knot to adjust tension, a hitch to secure a line to a post or pole)
  3. Tying two ropes or laces together (square or reef knot, double fisherman’s knot for equal size rope or sheet bend for ropes unequal in size, shoelace knots)
  4. Simple climbing knots.

The main knots

  1. Basic knots (a) the half hitch almost always used with other knots and (b) stoppers or ends such as overhand and figure of eight knots
  2. Loopsbowline, Yosemite bowline (more secure than the bowline); slip knots provide adjustable loops
  3. Bends to tie two rope ends together—reef or square knot for tying bundles, double fisherman’s knot to join two ropes of equal size, sheet bend and the more secure double sheet bend to join ropes of unequal size, bowline bend, shoelace knots
  4. Hitchessheepshank for bypassing a damaged portion of a rope, clove hitch to attach to a pole.
  5. Climbing—the Prusik, and Bachman friction knots attach a small diameter rope to a larger diameter climbing rope; the mountaineer’s coil is used to coil and carry a rope

Ways to improve and improvise knots and rope use

  1. Practice, reflection, and memory (i.e. keeping records).
  2. Combining knots as in bowline bend.
  3. Use of friction—single and multiple half hitches used alone and with other knots.
  4. Reduce friction load and reduce rope wear—e.g. by use of a carabiner, especially in climbing. Another example is to use a key chain or micro carabiner to hold the sliding rope for bear caching: this is useful if the cache is heavy.
  5. Load multiplication—using a ‘block and tackle’ or ‘pulley’ system rigged from anchors (climbing), branches (caching) and carabiners functioning as pulleys.