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Knots for Wilderness Survival, Agriculture, Industry, Sailing and Climbing


“Rope without a good repertoire of knots is like a lever without a fulcrum.” – Brian King

My 2 Cents

Rope would be of little value if one did not know the best knot to use for the given situation.

The intent of this page is to give those that work in the wilderness, agriculture, industry, or climbing a good choice of knots to work with. This page does not have every knot (or tool) but is a great intermediate set of knots (or tools) to have in your repertoire of skills (your tool box).

The intent of this page is to give those that work in the wilderness, agriculture, industry, or climbing a good choice of knots to work with. This page does not have every knot (or tool) but is a great intermediate set of knots (of tools) to have in your repertoire of skills (your tool box).

This page was born from or staff are often asked “What are the Knots I should know?” Well, that depends on what your needs are. A farmer, rancher, recreational climber, industrial climber, sailor, or angler would all give you some of the same answers, some different. Example, a figure 8 is a great knot for stopping a man’s fall and can be untied after a fall; but to pull a truck out of the mire with a tractor the figure 8 could be impossible to untie, but a double dragon loop would do just fine. In short you should first learn knots that will hold fast when under load, will come untied when no longer needed, and easy to tie. All of that depends on the given condition the knot is to be used.

Something You Should Know

Here is something to be aware, knots used in one trade may be used in a different trade but have a different name. Example, the alpine butterfly is used in recreational climbing, but in industry is given a different name, the lineman’s knot. We have attempted to give some synonyms for each knot.

Just to add confusion, traditionally a particular knot tied in one area of study, like the alpine butterfly of recreational climbing, is not only given a different name but using different steps but building exactly the same knot . To some it is almost like a religion. Have you ever had someone tell you are driving somewhere the wrong way? Then they give you “the best driving directions” only for you to discover that it was no better, just different, from how you have been doing it. Knots and knot tiers are the same way, what we have given is the methods we found work best teaching our students.

Learning How to Tie Knots

If you are new to working with rope, or if you have tried but have the fixed mid-set that you do not have a talent for knot tying, just try the following. Take one knot from a type, just one knot at a time. Watch the video, try to tie it with the video, if you are still befuddled get a mentor to walk you through it. Keep about 2 feet of cord in your pocket and practice many times a day for a short time. Work at it for no more than about 8 minutes, than do something else, then comeback to it. To truly solidify it in your being teach someone else. It is good to know that your objective is to wrap myelin around those connections in your brain and the connections to your fingers. The more sessions you do it, the more myelin, the more myelin the faster and more confident you will be at tying knots. When you can tie it with your eyes closed you own the knot, it is as real as a tool in your tool box. Then learn a knot from another type, but never stop practicing the earlier learned knots. You should learn one knot from each type. Then add an additional knot to each category. Each knot has its own qualities, positive and negative. As you learn more knots you will learn their personalities and what knots work best for each given task. We will add more videos so keep checking back.

Please Note: Disclaimer

If life or property depends on the rigging you set up do not rely on the instructions below but have a qualified mentor observe you tying a knot that is new to you. A slight change in how the knot is tied can be the difference between having the line hold dependably and having it spill unexpectedly. Use at your own risk.

Categories of Knots

Stopper Knots – to stop the rope from sliding through the hands, another knot, and stopping the rope from fraying.

Loops at the End of a Rope – one of the most common applications

Loops in the bite – this is “knot speak” for a loop in the middle of the rope

Multiple Loop – when you need the load or friction devided between multiple loops

Hitch– for Attaching a rope to an object

Hitches Friction – for Gripping a Rope

HitchesMechanical – as a Machine for mechanical advantage

Bends –- attaching two Ropes together to make a longer rope

Binder – to Seize a Bundle Together or Close a Sack

Knots to Shorten a Rope

Your First Knots to Learn

Five Knots Based on the Figure of 8

"If you believe you only need to know one knot you have the same value as a mechanic whose only too is a pair of ViceGrips."
—Brian King
" I took a short vacation from an engineering job to go to Solar Fest when I got there I thought it would be a much better experience if I was camping on site with the presenters, I found someone that looked in charge of the grounds people, I asked him if he needed help he told me he was fully staffed. I replied I would sweep up cigarette butts. He said you’re on. He drove off in a short time he came back I was finishing off the parking lot. He said the person that was putting up the circus tents was shorthanded. Now I had a heavy line in my hand and was told to keep it tight and she would come back to tie it off, from a distance I could see she was using a trucker’s hitch using a bell ringers loop so I tied it off the same way. She came back saw I had tied it off. She said “Cool someone that has skills.” Because of a knot by the end of the day I was driving John Schaeffe’s electric Porsche Spider working on the diesel generators."
—Brian King