Whether you’re an experienced outdoorsman, an avid hiker, or simply someone who enjoys the serenity of the great outdoors, one skill that is undoubtedly useful, and even potentially lifesaving, is the ability to tie effective and essential survival knots. I have relied on these essential knots countless times in various situations. Here, I present the top five knots every survivalist should know, explaining their utility and providing a step-by-step guide on how to tie each of them.
1. The Bowline Knot
The bowline knot is a staple in the survivalist’s toolkit and is often referred to as the ‘king of knots’. It is secure, reliable, and doesn’t tighten or slip under tension. This knot is ideal for creating a fixed loop at the end of a rope, which can be used for securing tarps, hammocks, or even for rescue operations.
To tie a bowline knot:
- Create a small loop (the “rabbit hole”) in the line.
- Bring the working end of the rope (the “rabbit”) up through the hole, around the standing line (the “tree”), and back down into the hole.
- Tighten the knot by pulling on the standing line.
2. The Square (or Reef) Knot
The square knot, also known as a reef knot, is perfect for joining two ropes of similar size. It’s easy to tie and untie, making it ideal for temporary lashings.
To tie a square knot:
- Start with an overhand knot (right end over the left end and through).
- Repeat the process but reverse the order (left end over the right end and through).
- Pull both ends to tighten.
3. The Clove Hitch
The clove hitch is used when you want to secure a rope to a tree or a post. It’s quick and easy to tie and untie, but it’s not the most secure knot, so it should be used in non-critical applications.
To tie a clove hitch:
- Wrap the free end of your rope around the post.
- Cross over the standing part of the rope and wrap around the post again.
- Slip the free end under the last wrap and pull tight.
4. The Taut-Line Hitch
The taut-line hitch is adjustable, making it perfect for securing tent lines on camping trips. Even when under tension, the knot slides easily for adjustments yet holds firm under load.
To tie a taut-line hitch:
- Wrap the free end of the line around the standing part of the line twice.
- Make a third wrap on the outside of the loops, closer to the free end.
- Pull on the standing part of the line to tighten.
5. The Figure Eight Knot
The figure eight knot is often used by climbers as a stopper knot because of its strong hold and the fact that it doesn’t easily come undone. It’s also quite easy to inspect, which is vital in safety-critical situations.
To tie a figure eight knot:
- Make a loop with the free end of the rope passing over the standing part.
- Pass the free end under the standing part and then through the loop.
- Pull on both ends to tighten.
In conclusion, mastering these essential survival knots will provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to become more adept in the art of survival. Remember, practice is key, so take every opportunity to hone these skills. Knot tying is a hands-on skill, and these descriptions are just a starting point. Seek out videos, illustrations, and in-person instruction to fully grasp these essential knots. Finally, always double-check your knots for safety, especially in survival situations where reliability is crucial.