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#43131 - 07/07/05 07:07 AM What are your 10 most important knots?
survivalperson Offline

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 85
Here is my list of favorites. I chose these knots for their versatility rather than knowing 200 knots that are perfect for only specific purposes.
1) Bowline on a Coil
2) Double Figure Eight
3) Clove Hitch with Quick Release
4) Water Knot
5) Munter Hitch
6) Swiss Seat
7) Hasty Rappel
8) Kleimheist
9) Tautline hitch
10) Double Sheet Bend

I believe any one or a combination of these will fill every emergency need.

#43132 - 07/07/05 04:21 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
Try a butterfly knot for an omni-directional loop, almost anywhere in a line. It allows for the creation of a quick 2:1 when you need to tighten up a load. There are two ways to tie a butterfly; with a little practice you can tie one in seconds.

Butterfly Knot


#43133 - 07/07/05 04:38 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
groo Offline

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 722
Loc: Florida
Cool thread idea. But one thing I've always found missing from lists like this is when to use a particular knot. And some discussion of when not to would be good too. I think it'd be great if we could just come up with maybe five knots and examples of when to use each.

Categories (maybe):
  • Tie rope to post
  • Join two pieces of rope
  • Shorten a rope
  • Tie two posts together
  • Tie tent to tent peg (taut line hitch?)
  • Loop at end that won't close up (bowline is the standard I think, but the Double figure of eight looks easier / faster to me.)

What are some other likely surivival scenarios requiring knots? Some knots may be compromises for certain situations, but I don't see myself remembering 10 knots and when to use 'em. Anyone have a good knot diagram in a wallet size?

I don't know what you call it, but the knot used to wrap cord around an object (like paracord around a staff or knife handle) is very useful and very simple.

#43134 - 07/07/05 05:33 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
I realize that knots are my passion and bread and butter for technical rescue work, but like anything worth doing (knife sharpening, fire starting, etc.), are worth doing well. Many knots have very unique characteristics, are better in some types of cordage/rope then others and may have significant pros and cons for use in different applications. I would suggest reading up, either from on-line sources or from one of the standard knots guides/manuals and then practice. That is the only way I know of to become both familiar with knot characteristics and knot tying proficiency.

The selection of the ” best” knot/hitch choices can be just as contentious as selecting the “best” knife, flashlight, multitool, etc.

For example I can think of 7 knots/hitches off the top of my head, to tie a rope to a post and I am sure there are many others:

Clove hitch
Figure 8 reweave
Butterfly with half hitches
Several half hitches
Girth Hitch


#43135 - 07/07/05 06:11 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
Craig_phx Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/05
Posts: 715
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Great subject!

I have a son that has gone from Tiger cub to Eagle Scout. I have learned most of the Scout knots. I am not familiar with several of the knots you have listed. To earn Boy Scout first class you have to demonstrate a few knots. I don’t know that these are the 10 most important. They are:
Square knot
Two half hitches
Timber hitch
Clove hitch
Lash poles using:
Square, shear, and diagonal lashing.

I like the Fisherman’s knot for tying all line and cord together. I don’t trust the sheet bend. I have tied the double sheet bend. It is better but I still don’t trust it. I like the Bowline, Sliding Bowline, and Bowline on a bite. The Bowline will not fail. The taught-line and two half hitches are needed for pitching tents. The clove hitch is great for use with lashings. You can take 3 poles and lash them together, set them up, and you have a framework for a shelter. The Cow hitch is great for hanging things on a cord around your neck. The figure eight is a great stopper knot. I don’t remember the name but the slip knot used to tie horses is useful. You twist a loop and they pull a loop, and pull a loop through that. It locks in place and comes loose with a tug of the loose end. Also the trucker’s knot is good for securing things.
Thermo-regulate, hydrate and communicate.

#43136 - 07/07/05 06:14 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
groo Offline

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 722
Loc: Florida
I've tried on and off to learn some knots. Bought some books, practiced, then lost most of it when I'd stop practicing. As a programmer, there's just not a lot of call to use what I've learned, so out it goes...

On one side, there are knot lovers who know a bajillion different knots and when to use 'em. On the other side are people who know two... Shoelace knot and granny knot. There has to be a way to transition from one to the other without learning all of it at once. From my own limited experience, I'd say something like:
  • Tie a line to a pole? Double half hitch.
  • Make a loop that won't close? Bowline.
  • Tie tent to peg? Taut line hitch.
  • Tie two ropes together? Figure eight.
  • Quick way to "whip" rope or string? Blood knot.
  • Tie a string on a package? Square knot (learn to tell the difference from a granny knot.)

It can't be all or nothing, or you'll have people using granny knots for everything and wondering why the tarp won't stay up.

#43137 - 07/07/05 06:55 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
wolf Offline

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 329
Loc: Michigan
I picked up a set of plastic cards (five, I think) from REI for 5 bucks and tied some line to it to practice the knots when I get bored. I forget the company that makes the cards.
"2+2=4 is not life, but the beginning of death." Dostoyevsky

Bona Na Croin

#43138 - 07/07/05 07:00 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 900
Loc: Germany
Believe it or not but in face to face instruction most ppeople learn the bowline faster and can tie it faster that the double eight. There is trick for it. You can make an eye and pull a loop from the working through it. Push the loose end through that loop and size the bowline. Now you can pull on working end to get the knot tight. That´s it.
The bowline is easier to tie when you can´t reach over the top of the post.
If it isn´t broken, it doesn´t have enough features yet.

#43139 - 07/07/05 07:01 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
Be aware Bowlines can and do fail. A Bowline can, under certain circumstances fail into a slip knot:

From: Bowline Stability

“The Secret Flaw of a Bowline
Many people are surprised that their beloved Bowline has a secret flaw. It holds securely when arranged and applied in the normal way, with the standing part attached at one end and a weight suspended from the loop at the other end. But jerking the tail of a Bowline to one side can deform it, just as with a Square Knot. If you happen to snag it so that the tail and the right leg of the loop are yanked hard in opposite directions, the structures may not be stable enough to resist deformation. The bight will straighten out and disappear. The hitch that circles the bight will be transformed into a slip knot which has little squeezing power- as well as little to squeeze against. The deformed hitch will not be able to create enough friction to hold and can be easily stripped off. Every time I demonstrate this phenomenon to a group, someone responds "Wow," and someone else calls out "Do that again." “
Additional Info:

Bowline Security

Bowline Breaking

If using a Bowline add a single or better yet a double overhand knot with the running end to the loop part, just above the primary knot (part “L” of the diagram) and snug it against the primary knot.


#43140 - 07/07/05 08:00 PM Re: What are your 10 most important knots?
haertig Offline

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 1903
Loc: Colorado
I like to tie knots. I guess this really shows, if you look at my long list of favorites below! Astericks indicate my "go to" knots for the most part. Not necessarily the "best" (there is no such thing), but the ones I use most often. Coincidently, those asterick knots add up to ten, so I did end up addressing the OP's question (by accident though!)

(1) Bends - for tying two ropes together: the *Zeppelin Bend or it's close relative the Hunter's Bend (a.k.a. Rigger's Bend) Other favorites are the Shake Hands (less well known) and the Butterfly Bend. Double Fisherman's is good too.

(2) End Loops: *Angler's Loop (a.k.a Perfection Loop), Butterfly Loop, Double Dragon, Eskimo Bowline, ABOK #1045 (unnamed, described as "Another Compact Loop" by Ashley)

(3) Middle Loops: *Alpine Butterfly

(4) Double Loops: *ABOK #1100 (unnamed AFAIK, but I call it "Double Butterfly Loop")

(5) Sliding Loops and Nooses: *Exploding Sliding Sheet Bend, Adjustable Grip Loop, Scafford Knot

(6) Hitches - for tying rope to a post: *Buntline Hitch, *Round Turn And Two Half Hitches, Ground Line Hitch (rope-to-rope knot actually)

(7) Bindings - for holding things together: *Slipped Constrictor, Boa Knot, Pole Lashing

(8) Stoppers - for keeping a rope from sliding out of a hole: *Ashley's Stopper

(9) Misc: *Marlinspike Hitch

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