It took a while before I started using ropes on my adventures. At first, I was a bit narrow-minded and considered them as an unnecessary weight that would do more harm than good. One time I was camping with two of my friends and saw that one of them tied his tent to a tree so it would resist some strong winds we knew were coming. That was when I was first introduced to Bowline Knot and realized how useful camping knots could be.
In this article, I will present you with 15 different knots which I found most useful with outdoor activities and camping in particular. I’ve been testing myself most of the knots, while the rest were recommended by experts through Youtube videos which had thousands of subscribers and millions of views. For each knot, I will describe its general characteristics and suggest some camping implementations. Also, I will show you the steps in making each knot and add a short video or image for a better visual understanding.
Let’s Start With Terminology
When facing knots for the first time, some words might be intimidating. In this article, I will use some ‘professional’ words to explain precisely the steps you need to take to make the different knots right.
Hence, I will explain to you what each word means beforehand, so you get a better idea on the topic, and your reading will be more fluent.
The working end is the side of rope which is being used to make the knot. When lacing shoes, for example, that is the end which you hold with your thumbs.
The tail part of a rope is all of it which is not the working end. That is usually the longest part which stays behind the knot and would be connecting to something else – a tent, for example.
A loop in a rope is when you create a sort of a closed circle in a way that its two ends are adjacent to each other. Usually, you form that loop by crossing the rope on itself, although you can also make one buy maneuvering two separate cords.
In opposed to loop, a bight is formed when folding a rope on itself; however, the two edges are NOT adjacent to each other. The purpose for it may seem obscure now, although later on, you will see that in some knots it is essential.
In knots, an elbow is formed by making an extra twist in a loop. This one, in particular, is more for common knowledge and won’t be much of a use in the following knots.
1. Bowline Knot
Bowline is one of the most popular and used knots worldwide. The idea is to create a fixed loop at the end of a line which could hold heavy weight.
The primary usage for this knot is to rescue people who got trapped in holes and aren’t able to climb up. When this happens – the trapped person merely holds the loop tightly while the rescuer pulls him up from the other end.
Besides rescue situations, you may use the knot in camping by tying a rope to a tree trunk. When placed in the right position, you can hang your hammock for a good rest or a tarp for extra shade.
If the sun is bothering you, you’ve got to read my article about darkening your tent. I’ve literally spent hours pouring through the data on that topic to give you the perfect answer.
- Create a loop on one end of a rope
- Pull the long part through the loop
- Move the same edge around the other one
- Pull it through the loop again
2. Reef Knot
The primary purpose for a Reef knot is to secure two edges of a rope so they can wrap tightly around things – such as holding up a pile of different objects. Sailors mainly used it for reefing and furling sails and in the field of textile.
In camping, you can use the Reef knot to hold up your gear tightly together. If you are traveling with your family, for example, you can use the knot to hold your stuff at the back of your truck.
Moreover, when placing your equipment outside the tent during nighttime, you can use the tie to prevent the wind of scattering your stuff.
- Cross two ropes edges
- Pass rope A through the loop of rope B
- Pull the ends to tighten the knot up
3. Sheet Bend
The Sheet Bend is a quickly-forming knot which presents a similar mechanism as Bowline knot by increasing its tightness under load.
This knot is considered much more secured when comparing to Reef knot since it acts a band instead of a binding knot. To increase security, you can add another turn in the smaller end, forming a ‘Double Sheet Bend.’
Since this knot is similar to Bowline, you can use this one to set up a shelter, hanging hammocks or tarps. Also, you can use the knot to secure stuff in your vehicle tightly.
- Create a loop at the end of the roop
- Pass a second rope through that loop
- Wrap the working end beneath the loop
- Tuck the working end beneath itself, so both shorts end are located on the same side
4. Constrictor Knot
The Constrictor Knot is among the binding knots, which means it holds several objects together while passing at least once around them. It is similar to the Clove Hitch, however; the Constrictor is harsher and hardly untightened.
In opposed to Farrimond Friction Hitch, it is best to use the Constrictor Knot when the tie is temporary or semi-permanent. Untying the knot, as I’ve said – is challenging.
If the ends are long enough, you can pull them parallel to the object while using picks in between. If the ends are too short for that, you will probably have to use a knife to cut the ridging turn.
You can use the Constrictor Knot in many different cases. One example would be tying up laundry or trash bags. What I like about this one is that it constricts so tightly that you can even tie it on the ends of other ropes to prevent them from fraying.
Another good use for this knot is tying logs close to each other, creating a fire reflector, for example. If you’ve lost the carrying sack of your tent, you can make a constrictor knot to keep its poles together along with your trekking ones.
- Wrap your rope around the object you want to tie twice to form an ‘X.’
- Pass the working end of the rope through the bottom of the ‘X’ and upwards
- Pull the working end and the tail to tighten
5. Prusik Knot
Prusik Knot is used to attach one loop of rope to another, more thick one. Climbers use this knot mainly for an emergency since they are fast to place and with practice, the user might be able to make it with one hand.
Comparing to other mechanics that attach to main cords, Prusik usually doesn’t damage the rope it is connected to. Another advantage for this knot is that it moves to both sides, while mechanical-rope grabbers typically move to one direction only.
In camping, you can use a Prusik Knot to hang up your tarp. What I like about this method is that the tarp is hung away from your tent roof – this way it maintains air circulation while providing a sufficient shade.
- Hang a thick cord between two objects (tree trunks, for example)
- Use another rope and create a circle from it
- Wrap the second one around the main string three times
6. Clove Hitch
Like Bowline and Sheet Bend, the Clove hitch is among the most used knots worldwide. This one is useful when the length of the running end needs to be adjustable.
The knots tighten when under load pressure, turning it into the perfect choice when hanging heavyweight objects. Although, when loading too much – it will be difficult to untie.
The best usage for this knot in camping is, in my opinion, hanging hammocks. The object that supports here would be a steel ring – tie an elastic cord to it and connect it to your hammock loops.
- Hang the rope on a spar
- Loop around the support with the end
- Pass it from behind the rope
- Pull the end to tighten
7. Farrimond Friction Hitch
The Farrimond Friction Hitch knot features a loop which binds to a line under tension. What I like about this knot is that is can adjust properly when the length of the line frequently changes to maintain tension.
The perfect example for that is the military use of this knot in establishing Bashas, which is a temporary canvas used for camping. Another advantage is that the knot features a free end which can untie the whole knot by merely pulling it.
Frankly, the Farrimond Friction Hitch would be my knot to go with regarding building the entire campsite. Whether it’s to pitch up a tent, to hang up a tarp – the Farrimond is an excellent choice since you can adjust the size of the loop as much as you want.
I use that knot frequently since it allows me to take down my campsite quickly and easily by just pulling its free end.
- Wrap your rope around the tree
- Cross the working end of the rope on itself to create a loop
- Pinch the bottom of the loop so it won’t break and wrap it over the tail three times
- Form a bight with the working end and pass it through the little loop you’ve just made
- Tighten everything up (you may adjust the loop while tension is not applied)
8. Taut-line Hitch
The Taut-line Hitch is an adjustable knot which changes its length to maintain another object in tension. You can use this knot in a variety of activities; from camping to tree climbing to securing gear in your vehicle.
Once set, the hitch can be readjusted if needed. To elevate the tension, you can slide the loop away from the object, creating a snug package. On the other hand, you can loosen the knot by slipping the circle towards the object.
The main implementation of the Taut hitch is increasing tents tension. You may connect the two ropes to your tent lines, so it remains secure.
- Loop your rope around the support object and wrap the end around the standing part
- Wrap it again and bring it through the loop
- Wrap it one more time
- Hold the working end and pull to tighten
- Slide to adjust the tension
9. Trucker’s Hitch
The Trucker’s Hitch is a complicated knot which is made of loops and turns in the rope itself. The primary purpose of this one is to secure lines together, such as a load on trucks or trailers (hence the name).
Theoretically, the knots translate force to tension in 3:1 ratio. That means that if you pull its edge in one force unit, the pressure applied on the lines is three times bigger.
That is, of crouse, when there is no friction in the system – in reality; there is. However, even with resistance, it is not that far from this ratio.
The most common usage of this knot in camping is securing the load on your trailer. If you are mobile and carrying your gear at the back of your vehicle, you can use this knot to make sure things stay in place.
Another wise implementation for this is pulling heavy objects such as heavy firewood. Since the ratio is 3:1, you can carry heavy stuff with less effort. A thick log, for instance, may be useful in creating a campfire which would burn for hours.
On that topic, you may find my article on how to make a campfire that would burn all night long useful. It is beneficial for both experts and beginners and shows some interesting ways you may not have thought about yet.
You may also take advantage of the physics by hanging a hammock – that knot is well secured and very strong.
- Tie the fixed end to the side of your truck
- Create a loop by crossing the rope on itself
- With the working end side; create a bight and pass it through the loop
- Pull the bight to tighten up and turn it into a loop
- Wrap the working end through the second fixed point (perhaps a hook) and pass it through the loop
- Pull the working end to tighten
- Secure the whole thing with a figure 4 knot
10. Water Knot
The Water Knot is similar to the Fisherman’s Knot since it binds to pieces together, however, the material used for this knot is mainly nylon and webbing.
When creating this knot, there are two ends which are free and should be secured. To do so, one has to tie a double overhand stopper knot around the standing end.
There were cases which reported incidents due to a failure of this knot in the fields of climbing and caving. I believe that in camping, this knot can be used for mild purposes safely.
You can use this knot to tie up every piece of nylon you have in your gear. It is essential to know this one since approximately each one of your camping gear features nylon straps; your hammock, backpack, tent, sleeping bag carrying sack, tarp and so on.
You may don’t know that yet, but the straps on the sleeping bag carrying sack actually answer quite a lot of needs. Check out my article to get a better idea about it on your next journey.
- Cross strap A on itself to create a loop and pass its working end through it
- Semi tighten the loop
- Pass the working end of strap B through the gap
- Wrap the working end of strap B around the tail of strap A and under the knot to create a second loop
- Pass the working end of strap B through the second loop
- Tighten both ends
11. Timber Hitch
The primary purpose of the Timber Hitch knot is attaching a cylinder object, such as a log or pipeline. As the name may indicate, the knot is widely used by lumberman to connect tree trunks.
As I’ve already mentioned, you may create a second Half Hitch knot to prevent the Timer Hitch from rolling, creating a Killick Hitch. You may also use the Timber Hitch in chains; building a stronger form which may endure heavier loads.
What is great about it is that the harder you pull it, the harder the knot would be tightened on the log. With a good grip and a thick rope, you can drag heavy firewood where ever you want.
My preferred implementation for this knot is for dragging massive fallen trees. Countless times I’ve seen those around my campsite until I decided to take advantage of them.
Since they are already dead, those trees are usually dry inside, turning them into the perfect choice for a long-lasting campfire. In general, the Timber Hitch got numerous uses – frankly, you can use it for anything that ties to a tree trunk.
- Wrap the rope around the tree
- Pass the working end around the tail to form a loop
- Pull the working end to the left from below the loop
- Turn it around two more times
- Pull both ends tightly to secure
12. Half Hitch
That particular knot is unique since it usually doesn’t stand on its own – instead, it is added to other knots to make them better. Two successive Half Hitch knots turn into a Clove Hits, for example, which is described above.
This knot may also be useful when added to a Timber Hitch (which I will show later on), to secure a cylinder load tightly. When combined, the two are called a Killick Hitch.
The best usage of this knot in the field of camping is probably in creating a ridgeline. For those of you who are new in this, in campsites, a ridgeline is formed when tying a rope between two tree trunks.
You can use a ridgeline to hang a tarp to provide shade and shelter for your hammock or tent. I’ve found it also useful in hanging damp clothes to dry during nighttime.
- Wrap the working end around the tree
- Pull it and place it under the standing end
- Pass the working end through the loop
- Create a second loop by passing the working end under the standing end
- Pass the working end through the second loop
- Tighten it up
13. Chain Sinnet
The Chain Sinnet is a bit different than the knots I’ve discussed earlier since the primary purpose for it is with storage. What makes this knot so special is that it can shorten long ropes and reduce tangling – even when washed in a washing machine.
We are all familiar with the tangle issue which is not only annoying but also time-consuming. Please take a few moments to learn about this knot and save yourself a lot of frustration down the road.
All the knots I’ve mentioned above require ropes, and there is no doubt that they are essential in building a durable, successful campsite.
The Chain Sinnet will make it much easier to change campsites without wasting time in untying ropes. You may also use the knot to get on the road more quickly on your next adventure.
- Cross the rope around itself to create a loop
- Make a bight in the working end and pass it through the loop
- Pass another bight in the previous stitch
- Pull both sides to tighten to the desired degree
- Repeat the last two steps until the rope is sufficiently shortened
- To lock, pass the working end through the final loop
14. Cow Hitch
The Cow Hitch is made of two Half-Hitches knots which are tied in opposing direction (in Clove Hitch, on the other hand, the two are tied in the same direction).
The Cow Hitch is one of the best knots to connect a rope to an object and can be used in a variety of cases. Besides outdoor activities, that knot is widely used in friendship bracelets, tatting crafts and in moving large electric power cables in surface mines.
One advantage of this knot is that no matter how tight it is, you can easily take it off by enlarging the loop and push its parts downward.
This one would be my knot to go with when hanging hammocks. The main reason for that is that knots which tie them up are usually complicated to untie since your bodyweight tighten them firmly. A Cow Hitch knot is very easy to untie even under heavy load, as described above.
- Wrap the rope around a tree trunk and cross it on itself to create a loop
- Pass the working end through the loop from beneath
- Wrap the working end around the tail to form a second loop
- Insert the working end through the second loop
15. Fisherman’s Knot
The Fisherman’s Knot consists of two overhand knots which are symmetrical to each other and meant to connect between two separate pieces of ropes.
Each one of the overhand knots can slide along the standing part of the other, however, when colliding – they stop and create a solid structure. If the knot is under heavy load, you can create a double fisherman’s knot by adding more turns to the overhand ones.
In camping, we are many times forced to improvise. Not once I was trying to set up my tarp over my tent; however, the rope I had was too short to connect to the tree. With the Fisherman’s Knot, you can extend what you’ve already got to reach distant targets.
- Wrap rope A around rope B to create a loop
- Pass the working end of rope A through the loop
- Make a second loop by wrapping rope B around A
- Pass the working end of rope B through the loop
- Tighten both knots by pulling their short ends
- Pull the standing parts to drive the knots towards each other
What Kind of Rope is Best For Camping?
There are many kinds of rope and frankly, choosing the right one isn’t a simple task. When I was just started camping – everything seemed like Chinese to me.
Also, you should know that there no ‘best kind,’ since each one features its pros and cons. Although, allow me to present you with two types that I find to be most useful during my adventures.
What I like about the Manila type is its durability under tension. I’ve used this one quite a lot especially when I needed to drag heavy stuff, such as fallen trees – using the Timber Hitch Knot.
I wouldn’t use this type for lightweight hanging, like tarps or clothing, since its heavy when compared to other kinds.
You can also use the Manila to secure your gear on a truck, for example, by using the Trucker’s Hitch described above. The down-side in this type is that its fibers shrink under wet conditions so I wouldn’t recommend you taking one with you if you anticipate hard weather conditions.
Polyester Twisted Rope
Comparing to the Manila, Polyester Twisted rope is a bit weaker and wouldn’t endure radical heavyweight. I wouldn’t use it to secure my gear in the back of my truck, for example.
Instead, I recommend that you use this type to improve your tent durability and build yourself a shelter – using a tarp for example.
Polyester ropes also work well when exposed to water, since the outer layer is resistant to mold and mildew. Hence, if you anticipate rain, that type of rope would be a better choice than Manila.
One downside is that Polyester ropes tend to get untied quite easy. For that reason, I would use it to support light tension.
How Long Should My Rope Be?
Frankly, that’s a hard question. I will try to avoid the obvious answer – ‘it depends’ and give you my honest opinion.
When buying a new rope – you can never know which activities you will be using it in the future. Perhaps you need a rope for outdoor activities, like camping for exampling, although maybe one day you will try climbing as a new hobby.
For that reason, I think it’s better to buy a longer rope than you anticipate. If I had to buy a new one, I would get myself a 60 meters rope.
There is a good chance you wouldn’t be using it all – that’s fine, you can also cut yourself the ideal length for you.
However, I do think it’s wise to keep extra in the back of your garage. If you are planning on backpacking – consider weight as well and try to keep things light as much as possible.
Honestly, there are countless types of knots in the field of camping and describing all of them would be an irrational task. Still, I researched that topic deeply to provide with the fifteen that are most recommended, by me and others.
There is a long history for those knots and many implementations you can make in your campsite. You can use them to tie a rope for a tree, for example, to create a ridgeline that would hold your tarp and provide shelter.
If you anticipate some strong winds during nighttime, you can use a simple knot to make your tent more durable and resistant. Choosing the right knot isn’t tricky if you know what the possibilities are and for that reason, I’ve decided to write this article.
Regarding the right type of rope – I would focus on two, which are the Malina and Polyester Twisted Ropes. The first type works best when the weather is relatively dry, and you need a rope that would endure harsh tension.
The Polyester, on the other hand, is a bit more gentle; however, it wouldn’t develop mold and mildew on wet conditions.
Well, that would be it. I hope I was able to cover most of the essential knots and helped you in making your campsite more beneficial.
Let me know about your thoughts and other ideas by leaving a comment below!