Top 8 Ways to be Knotty

Knots of all kinds have been useful for all purposes throughout history.  I myself learned all about them and how to tie them through many years in the Boy Scouts of America.  A number of these knots would be useful for prepping needs.  Lets talk about a several few of them, how to tie them, and how to use them.  I  still use them almost every day.  Remember: ALL rope-work is potentially dangerous, please use caution and common sense.

The Knots

The Bowline

The Bowline is used for climbing and/or securing something to the end of a rope.  It’s relatively easy to tie by following a few simple steps.  Take the end of a piece of rope and make a small loop in the size you need.  Next, make a smaller loop in the rope where you want the loop to stop.  Run the end of the rope through this loop from the bottom and then around the back side of the main rope and then back around through the smaller loop.  You can see exactly what I mean here.  The bowline has many uses, but was original used for nautical purposes hence the name “bow line.”  It can also be useful to secure objects or people to the end of a rope such as in a search and rescue operation.  Under load (tension) it will not untie.

The Overhand Knot is used for many things.  One of the most common is as a stopper knot or to keep the end of a rope from fraying.  To tie an overhand knot, simply take the end of the rope, make a small loop and pull the end thru and snug it tight.  I bet you already knew that one, but didn’t know what it was called!

Do you need to attach the end of a rope to something snugly?  A Half Hitch is the knot for you!  To tie a Half Hitch run your rope around the object forming a loop then pass the end of the rope thru the loop and snug tight.  Now you should be able to pull on the rope and drag the object.

Square/Reef Knot

A Square or Reef Knot is probably one of the most well-known knots and was the first knot I learned in Scouts if memory serves correctly. I learned it by learning to repeat, “Right over left, left over right.” In other words, you can tie by twisting two rope ends together crossing the right side over the left first. Then you cross left over right, pull it snugly and it’s done. Double check you work here. The Square/Reef knot is good for binding things, but can come undone when not under a load and fail. However, it’s good for tying your shoes, teaches you how to tie a half hitch/half knot, or any other use where safety is not crucial. Keep in mind too; if you tie it backwards you will get a Granny Knot.

Surely you have times when you had to attach two different ropes to each other and if you haven’t the knot.  You need is the Sheet Bend.  To tie it, make a loop in the end of the large rope and hold that with one hand.  With the smaller rope pass through the loop you just made, circle around the backside and then slide the end under itself.  It can only be tied when loose, whereas the Square mentioned above can be tied under tension.

I mentioned a good stopper knot above, the Overhand Knot, but an even better one is the Fiqure 8 Knot.  The Fiqure 8 is tied by taking the end of the rope and forming a small loop.  Once you go under and around this smaller loop and pull the tail through, you form a Fiqure 8, hence the name.  Unlike an Overhand Knot, the Fiqure 8 will not bind up when used as a stopper and therefore is easily untied.  However it can come loose.

The Slip Knot is often confused for a noose, but that is not the case.  It makes a good temporary stopper knot that will “slip” out easily.  To tie one, form a loop in the end of a rope and make a bend in the rope.  Insert the bent part into the loop and snug tight.  To release or “slip” it, pull on the short end and it will come loose.

The last knot I want to tell you about is the Noose Knot.  The Noose Knot can be used for animal snares or to hold objects securely at the end of a rope such as runaway livestock.  As above with the Slip Knot form a loop at the end of the rope and make a bend in the rope.  Insert the bent part into the loop.  This will form your noose you can pass around the object.  To tighten it up pull on the tail of the rope and snug it down to the desired tightness.

Boy Scout Handbook

Rope, Reference Books, and other Supplies

Of course to tie knots you need some good rope or cordage.  Paracord is always great with many colors and varieties available on the market.  I always buy military spec paracord in 550 lb test so I know its good.  If you were going to do some serious rock climbing or rappelling you would want to get a dynamic climbing rope or static rappelling rope respectively.  Please DO NOT do any climbing or rappelling without proper training and/or instruction!

I think the Boy Scout handbook is a great manual to have.  This is what got me started in prepping!  Two other good knot books I recommend are: Morrow Guide to Knots and The Encyclopedia of Knots.


Knots are useful for a number of things.  Just like our other prepping related skills, practice makes perfect.  Keep learning new knots and please share more in the comments section below.  Be safe and happy


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