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Samantha Daly

Top 5 Survival Knots to Know

Top 5 Survival Knots to Know

Whether you’re trying to keep supplies suspended off the ground or climbing up a rocky ridge to a higher vantage point, tying knots is a useful skill to have as a prepper.  However, not all knots are created equal.  Some are better for keeping materials strapped down, others are good for hanging objects from trees, and others are good for tying two ropes together to lengthen your cord. While you may be used to the classics like a square knot or a stopper knot, we want to help you find a knot for every situation. Here we give you the top 5 survival knots to know and how to use them most successfully in a survival scenario:


  1. Figure Eight Knot

Commonly used in sailing and climbing, the figure eight knot is one of the strongest knots (85% of strength of the rope) but, unlike the overhand knot, it can be easily untied after use. This is one of the reasons it is a great survival knot. These knots are most helpful as anchor knots in climbing situations.  You can also create stable loops in the middle of the rope to use as hand or footholds. 

Step 1: Form a single figure eight in the end of the rope and feed the tail through whatever you are tying up.

Step 2: Rethread the figure eight, following the same path as the first and pull it tight.

Step 3: Ensure that you have enough tail, as the knot will slip a bit when under strain. Check the knot by counting “two,” “two,” and “two” for the three visible doubled strands. They need to be lying flat and not crossing over themselves.

  1. Bowline Knot

One of the most useful knots to know. The bowline knots form a loop that will tighten as pressure is added and is easy to untie.  These knots are useful for hanging things and can be used to keep food and gear off of the ground.

Step 1: Bend the rope to form a loop. On one side of the loop you is a short “working” end (>1ft long) and a longer “standing” end.

Step 2: Create a small circle in the standing end of the rope by pinching the rope and folding it down about three inches.

Step 3: Run the working end of the rope through the loop from back to front.

Step 4: Run the working end of the rope around the standing end.

Step 5: Run the working end through the loop, from front to back and tighten the knot.


  1. Clove Hitch

The clove hitch knot is a simple all-purpose hitch, used to connect a rope to an object.  It won’t loosen or slip and you can change the length of the rope without undoing the knot.  It is useful to hang things, as you can lower and raise objects without untying the knot, and it is also useful in stabilizing a shelter.

This is used for a variety of reasons, but often to hang something from a pipe or stanchion.

Step 1: Wrap the free end of a rope around a post.

Step 2: Crossover itself and around the post again.

Step 3: Slip working end under last wrap and pull tight.


  1. Sheet Bend

The sheet bend knot allows you to tie two pieces of rope together.  If you need a longer rope than you have available, this knot is invaluable! It allows you to maximize the use of any rope scraps you  may find to create a useable line or net.

Step 1: Form a loop in the end of one rope. Pass the free end of the rope to be joined under the opening of the loop, around both parts of the first rope and back under itself.

Step 2: Tighten all four ends of the rope until secure.


  1. Trucker’s Hitch

Use the trucker’s hitch to tie down a load as tightly as possible.  If you’re attaching anything to the roof of a vehicle – firewood, tents, duffle bags of supplies, etc. this is the knot to use to ensure everything is secure.

Step 1: Tie one end of rope to fixed object such as car bumper. About mid-way on the rope tie a half hitch to form a loop in the middle of the line. It is best to make a slippery half hitch loop for this knot. Be sure the loop part is formed with the slack part of the rope or it will tighten down on itself under pressure.

Step 2: Make a wrap around another fixed point opposite the tie-in point and feed free end through the loop.

Step 3: Using the loop as a pulley, pull down with the free end as tight as you can and secure the knot with two half hitches around one or both lines.


Although there are hundreds of knots you can memorize, these are five of the most versatile.  Although the overhand knot or the square knot may be the most used knots, they may not be the most beneficial in a survival scenario. With these five knots in your arsenal of skills, you can handle any survival situation with the ease of an experienced Battlboxer, and it’s always smart to carry a survival pocket guide.


Have you used any of these knot tying techniques to help you in a survival situation?  Tell us your stories and strategies in the Members Only Facebook Page!






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