Knot Masterclass: Essential Wilderness Survival Knots

If you’ve ever found yourself in a picturesque expanse of nature, contemplating the vast beauty of the wilderness, then you already know the allure it holds. However, amidst its breathtaking landscapes and serene atmosphere, lies the potential for unexpected challenges. That’s where my blog, “The Survivalist Handbook,” comes into play. In my latest installment, I delve into the world of wilderness survival knots, providing you with essential knowledge and techniques to navigate the untamed terrain. So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a curious enthusiast, get ready to unravel the secrets of knot-tying mastery, and embark on your wildest adventures with confidence.

Basic Knots

Overhand Knot

The overhand knot is one of the simplest and most basic knots that every outdoor enthusiast should know. It is the foundation for many other knots and is often used to prevent the end of a rope from fraying. To tie an overhand knot, simply take the end of the rope and pass it over and then under the standing part. Pull it tight to secure the knot. This knot is reliable, easy to tie, and can be quickly undone when needed.

Square Knot

The square knot, also known as the reef knot, is a versatile knot that is commonly used for joining two ropes of equal size together. It is an essential knot for activities such as camping, hiking, and fishing. To tie a square knot, cross the ends of the rope over and under, then cross them over and under again. Pull the ends tight to secure the knot. It is important to ensure that the ends are parallel when tying this knot to avoid it slipping or becoming unstable.

Clove Hitch

The clove hitch is a knot that is widely used in camping and outdoor activities. It is commonly used to secure a rope to a post or tree and is known for its simplicity and reliability. To tie a clove hitch, start by wrapping the rope around the object and cross the ends over each other. Wrap the ends around the object again, but this time cross them under each other. Pull the ends tight to secure the knot. The clove hitch is easily adjustable and can be easily untied when needed.

Climbing Knots

Figure Eight Knot

The figure eight knot is one of the most important knots in rock climbing and mountaineering. It is used to create a secure loop at the end of a rope, known as a figure eight loop or follow through loop. This knot is strong, easy to tie, and provides a reliable connection. To tie a figure eight knot, form a loop at the end of the rope, cross the working end over the standing part, then tuck it under and through the loop. Pull it tight to secure the knot. It is crucial to double-check the knot before climbing to ensure it is properly tied.

Double Figure Eight Knot

The double figure eight knot, also known as the bunny ears knot, is an important variation of the figure eight knot. It is commonly used in climbing to create a loop that can be easily adjusted and untied. To tie a double figure eight knot, create a regular figure eight knot but leave a long tail. Then, create another figure eight knot with the tail and pass it through the loop of the first figure eight. Pull it tight to secure the knot. The double figure eight knot provides additional security and is often used in situations where the rope may be under considerable tension.

Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is a versatile and reliable knot that is widely used in climbing and various other outdoor activities. It creates a secure loop at the end of the rope that does not slip or tighten under load. This knot is known for its simplicity and strength. To tie a bowline knot, start by forming a small loop near the end of the rope. Pass the end of the rope through the loop, then around the standing part, and back down through the loop. Pull it tight to secure the knot. The bowline knot is easy to untie even after being subjected to a heavy load.

Knot Masterclass: Essential Wilderness Survival Knots

Fishing Knots

Improved Clinch Knot

The improved clinch knot is one of the most widely used fishing knots that is ideal for securing hooks, lures, and swivels to the fishing line. It is known for its strength and reliability. To tie an improved clinch knot, pass the end of the line through the eye of the hook, make five to seven wraps around the standing part of the line, then pass the end of the line through the first loop above the eye of the hook and back through the larger loop created. Moisten the knot, then pull it tight to secure it.

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Palomar Knot

The palomar knot is another popular fishing knot that is widely used for attaching hooks and lures to the fishing line. It is known for its simplicity and exceptional strength. To tie a palomar knot, double the line and pass it through the eye of the hook or lure. Tie an overhand knot with the doubled line, then pass the hook or lure through the loop created. Moisten the knot, then pull the tag end of the line and standing part in opposite directions to tighten the knot securely.

Uni Knot

The uni knot, also known as the hangman’s knot, is commonly used for attaching the fishing line to terminal tackle, such as hooks, swivels, and lures. It is versatile, easy to tie, and provides a strong and secure connection. To tie a uni knot, pass the end of the line through the eye of the hook or lure, then make a loop with the standing part of the line. Wrap the tag end around the standing part and through the loop four to six times. Moisten the knot, then pull it tight to secure it. Trim any excess line.

Campsite Knots

Taut Line Hitch

The taut line hitch is a versatile knot that is widely used in camping and outdoor activities to adjust the tension of a rope. It is commonly used for securing tents and tarps, as well as for hanging clotheslines and securing gear. To tie a taut line hitch, wrap the rope around the object, then bring the end of the rope inside the loop and wrap it around the standing part of the rope. Pass the end of the rope through the loop again, then tighten the knot by pulling the standing part of the rope.

Bowline on a Bight

The bowline on a bight is a knot that creates a secure loop in the middle of a rope that does not slip or tighten under load. It is useful for creating a fixed loop to attach equipment or to form a seat or harness in emergency situations. To tie a bowline on a bight, create two loops in the rope, similar to forming two bunny ears. Pass one loop through the other loop, then pass the ends of the loops through the larger loop. Pull it tight to secure the knot.

Trucker’s Hitch

The trucker’s hitch is a powerful and effective knot that is commonly used for securing loads and creating tension in ropes. It is often used in camping and outdoor activities for securing tarps, canopies, and other equipment. To tie a trucker’s hitch, start by tying a slippery hitch or a half hitch around an anchor point. Create a loop with the standing part of the rope and pass it through the anchor point. Pull the loop tight to create tension, then secure the loop with several half hitches or a slippery hitch.

Knot Masterclass: Essential Wilderness Survival Knots

Rescue Knots

Prusik Knot

The Prusik knot is an essential knot used in rescue situations and climbing. It creates a friction hitch that allows a rope to be attached to another rope or a fixed object. This knot is often used for ascending or descending ropes. To tie a Prusik knot, wrap a smaller diameter rope or cord around the larger rope. Pass the end of the smaller rope through the loop formed, then create a second loop by passing the end of the smaller rope over and through itself. Adjust the knot by sliding it up or down the larger rope.

Munter Hitch

The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch, is a versatile knot that is commonly used in climbing and canyoning. It can be used for belaying, rappelling, or creating a lowering system. The Munter hitch is quick to tie, load, and release, making it a valuable knot in emergency situations. To tie a Munter hitch, form a loop with the rope and twist it three times to create three friction wraps. Pass the loop through the carabiner, then clip the carabiner to the belay loop or rope. Adjust the knot by applying pressure on the standing part of the rope.

Buntline Hitch

The buntline hitch is a knot that is commonly used to attach a rope to an object, such as a post or ring. It is a secure and reliable knot that resists slippage under tension. The buntline hitch is easy to tie and untie, making it a versatile knot for various situations. To tie a buntline hitch, pass the end of the rope around the object, then pass it under the standing part of the rope. Wrap the end of the rope around itself several times, then tuck it under the final wrap. Ensure that the wraps are snug and pull it tight to secure the knot.

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Sailing Knots

Sheet Bend

The sheet bend is a knot that is commonly used in sailing to join two ropes of different diameters together. It is a reliable and secure knot that does not slip even under load. The sheet bend is easy to tie and untie, making it a versatile knot for various applications. To tie a sheet bend, form a loop with the thicker rope and pass the end of the thinner rope through the loop from underneath. Then, pass the end of the thinner rope over the loop and back through the loop from underneath. Pull it tight to secure the knot.

Round Turn and Two Half Hitches

The round turn and two half hitches is a useful knot that is commonly used for attaching a rope to a fixed object, such as a post or ring. It is known for its simplicity and reliability. The round turn provides additional security by creating an extra turn around the object. To tie a round turn and two half hitches, pass the end of the rope around the object, then make two wraps around the standing part of the rope. Complete the knot by passing the end of the rope through the two wraps and pull it tight to secure the knot.

Anchor Bend

The anchor bend, also known as the fisherman’s bend, is a knot that is commonly used for attaching a rope to an anchor or a chain. It is known for its strength and security. The anchor bend is easy to tie and untie and is designed to withstand heavy loads and high tension. To tie an anchor bend, pass the end of the rope through the eye of the anchor or chain, then make several wraps around the standing part of the rope. Finally, pass the end of the rope through the loop created near the eye of the anchor or chain and pull it tight to secure the knot.

Animal Trapping Knots

Noose Knot

The noose knot is a versatile knot that is commonly used in trapping to create a loop that tightens around an animal’s neck or limb when pulled. It is a reliable and effective knot for catching game or securing emergency shelter. To tie a noose knot, create a loop with the rope, then wrap the end of the rope around the standing part. Pass the end of the rope through the loop created and pull it tight to secure the knot. Adjust the size of the loop as needed.

Snare Knot

The snare knot is a simple and effective knot that is used in trapping to create a secure loop that tightens when pressure is applied. It is commonly used to catch small game or to set up warning systems. To tie a snare knot, create a loop with the rope, then twist the loop to create several more loops. Pass the end of the rope through the loop, then pull it tight to create the snare. Adjust the size of the loop and the number of turns based on the size of the game you are targeting.

Figure Four Deadfall

The figure four deadfall is a trap that is widely used in survival situations to catch small game. It is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. The figure four deadfall utilizes a lever system to create a trap that is triggered by the animal’s movement. It is important to exercise caution and follow any applicable laws and regulations when setting up traps. To set up a figure four deadfall, create a four-legged structure by interlocking four sticks. Place a heavy object on top of the structure and attach a trigger stick. The trap is triggered when the animal disturbs the trigger stick.

Tent and Shelter Knots

Lark’s Head Knot

The lark’s head knot, also known as the cow hitch, is a simple knot that is commonly used to attach a line or cord to a tarp, tent, or other shelter material. It is easy to tie and untie and provides a secure attachment. To tie a lark’s head knot, fold the line or cord in half and pass the folded end through a grommet or loop in the material. Then, pass the ends of the line or cord through the folded end and pull them tight to secure the knot. The lark’s head knot allows for easy adjustment and can be quickly released when needed.

Clove Hitch on a Bight

The clove hitch on a bight is a knot that is commonly used to secure a line or cord to a pole or post. It is reliable and can be easily adjusted or untied when needed. To tie a clove hitch on a bight, form a loop with the line or cord and pass it over the pole or post. Cross the ends of the line or cord over each other, then pass them under the pole or post and through the loop. Pull the ends tight to secure the knot. The clove hitch on a bight is often used in camping to secure guy lines and tent poles.

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Guyline Hitch

The guyline hitch is a knot that is commonly used to secure a tent or tarp to the ground or to create tension in a line. It is simple, easy to tie, and provides a reliable and adjustable attachment. To tie a guyline hitch, start by staking down the corner of the tent or tarp. Form a loop with the guyline and wrap it around the stake, crossing the ends over each other. Pass the ends of the guyline under the standing part of the line, then pull them tight to secure the knot. Adjust the tension by repositioning the knot along the guyline.

Rope Management Knots

Bowline on a Coil

The bowline on a coil is a knot that is commonly used for bundling and storing ropes. It creates a fixed loop that can be easily opened and closed. To tie a bowline on a coil, start by forming a small loop near one end of the rope. Pass the end of the rope through the loop, then wrap it around the coil several times. Finally, pass the end of the rope back through the loop and pull it tight to secure the knot. The bowline on a coil is a useful knot for organizing and preventing tangles in ropes.

Butterfly Coil

The butterfly coil is a rope management knot that is commonly used to quickly and neatly store a long rope. It is often used in climbing, caving, and search and rescue operations. The butterfly coil allows for easy dispensing of the rope and prevents tangling. To tie a butterfly coil, create a large loop with the rope, then make a smaller loop in the middle of the large loop. Repeat this process, making alternating loops until the desired length of the rope is coiled. Secure the coil by passing the end of the rope through the center loop and pulling it tight.

Alpine Coil

The alpine coil, also known as the mountaineer’s coil, is a method of coiling and carrying a rope for easy carrying and deployment. It is commonly used in mountaineering and rock climbing. The alpine coil is compact and can be quickly untied and deployed when needed. To tie an alpine coil, start by making a loop with the rope, then wrap the remaining rope around the loop in a spiraling fashion. Continue wrapping until the entire length of the rope is coiled. Secure the coil by tying the end of the rope around the coil and tucking it under several loops.

Decorative Knots

Monkey’s Fist

The monkey’s fist is a decorative knot that is commonly used as a weight or lanyard end. It is known for its ornamental appearance and is often used in keychains and zipper pulls. The monkey’s fist can also be used as a throwing weight or line heaving knot. It is typically tied around a small object, such as a marble or ball bearing, to create a dense knot. There are various methods to tie a monkey’s fist, involving multiple wraps and passes around the core object. It is a visually appealing knot that adds a touch of elegance to any project.

Turk’s Head Knot

The Turk’s head knot is a decorative knot that is commonly used for embellishing handles, walking sticks, and decorative objects. It is known for its intricate appearance and can be tied in various sizes and patterns. The Turk’s head knot is typically tied by passing the working end of the rope multiple times around the standing part to create a series of interlocking loops and crossings. It requires patience and practice to tie, but the result is a stunning and elaborate design that adds a touch of sophistication to any project.

Matthew Walker Knot

The Matthew Walker knot is a decorative knot that is commonly used to prevent the end of a rope from fraying. It is known for its symmetrical appearance and is often used as a stopper knot or a button knot. The Matthew Walker knot is typically tied by wrapping the working end of the rope around the standing part while creating multiple tight loops. The loops are then secured by threading the working end through the center of the knot and tucking it under several turns. The Matthew Walker knot adds a touch of elegance to any rope project and serves a practical purpose by protecting the rope from wear and tear.

In conclusion, mastering a variety of knots is essential for any outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re camping, climbing, fishing, or simply enjoying nature, knowing how to tie the right knot for the right situation can make all the difference. From basic knots that provide a foundation for other knots, to specialized knots for specific activities such as climbing or trapping, each knot serves a unique purpose. With practice and understanding, these knots can become second nature, empowering you to navigate and thrive in the great outdoors. So grab a rope, start practicing, and become a knot master. Your wilderness adventures will never be the same!