The Top 25 Rope Knots You Need to Know for Survival

by Anna

I can’t tell you how many situations I’ve been in with people who’ve needed to tie something and have absolutely no clue how to efficiently nor correctly.

Knot tying is something that is so often overlooked, but crucial for every survivalist to know. Time is of the essence when SHTF. Improving your survival skills with knot tying will forever make even the most practical of situations, such as tying a boat or a line for fishing, a breeze for you. Practice makes perfect. It’s hard to remember knots, but with time and the right motivation, you can learn these knots and apply them to situations in your day to day life.

There’s an endless amount of useful knots out there made for any survival situation, however, today we’re going to focus on 25 of the more important and practical knots that every prepper should know.

Important Knots to Learn and How to Complete Them

1. The Overhand Knot

The Overhand Knot is one of the simplest of the single-roped knots to learn. You most likely already know it if you know how to tie your shoes. The beginning knot to tie your laces, the Overhand Knot is mostly used as a starter for a more complex knot, or as a good stopper knot and is worth recognizing when practicing other survival knots.

1. Begin the knot by forming a loop in your rope and tracing the opposite end underneath the other side of the rope.

2. Tighten the loop to form and complete the Overhand Knot.

Note: The Overhand Knot has been known to slip easily and should not be trusted solely as is.

Overhand Knot | How to Tie an Overhand Knot

2. Single & Double Half Hitch Knot

The Single Half Hitch is mostly used as a base for other important knots. Rarely used alone, this knot will come in handy for others such as the Double Half Hitch, a top knot for any survivalist to know.

1. Pass the end of your rope around the object you’re wanting to tie to an tie an Overhand Knot (described above). This will complete the Single Half Hitch Knot.

2. For the Double Half Hitch, simply repeat with a second overhand knot in the exact same direction as the first.

3. To finish, secure loose ends of knot and tighten.

Half Hitch Knot | How to Tie a Half Hitch Knot

3. The Bowline Knot

The Bowline Knot, also known as a Tug Boat Bowline, is one of the most important and versatile survivalist knots out there. If you want to memorize just one knot, make sure you know this one. It makes for a secure loop at the end of a rope which is also good for securing two ends of two ropes. A simple knot, you can do this one-handed which is extremely helpful if you were ever to become injured.

1. Start by holding the short end and crate a loop around your hand.

2. Then you’ll pass the short end around the standing end of your rope.

3. While you’re still holding the short end, take your hand out of the loop.

4. The Bowline Knot is typically complete with a final overhand knot tied to the loop of the bowline.

Note: Be careful that your wrist could become trapped while forming this knot by a sudden strain. Always try to form this knot around your hand instead of your wrist for this very reason.

How to Tie a Bowline Knot

4. The Prussik Knot

This is one of the fastest and easiest knots to learn. As well, it is one of the safest knots to know when repelling or securing yourself to a line.

1. Make a loop of your cord and form a bight loop underneath the rope you want it tied to.

2. Loop the rope/cord over itself and the rope.

3. Pull the cord through and inside the bight and repeat 3 to 5 times.

4. Bring the rope through the bight one more time and tighten the cord to finish the knot.

How to Tie a Figure 8 Knot

5. Figure Eight

This stopper knot is an excellent knot to learn and is great for boating, climbing with a harness and survival purposes. It’s a basic knot that lies behind more complicated knots. The Figure Eight Knot is also good in the fact that it doesn’t become jammed easily and can be loosened out faster than alternative knots.

1. Take one end of your rope and fold it over itself. Always try to leave at least five inches of tail or extra rope at the end that is being tied to.

2. Twist the end over the rope itself to form a smaller loop.

3. Bring the end of the rope through the loop and tighten it.

Note: If you’re creating this knot to climb with or to secure yourself to a harness, at this point in time, you’d pass the knot through the proper place in your harness loops and then trace the original Figure Eight Knot to secure the two ends like below:

How to Tie a Figure 8 Knot

6. Figure Eight on a Bight

A much easier and quicker version of the original Figure Eight, the Figure Eight on a Bight can be extremely handy in the fact that you can grab any section of your rope and tie this knot fast and easily. This is helpful for repelling off of a tree, cliff, building, etc. or for making a solid, secure knot in seconds.

1. You’ll start by grabbing the section of rope you want to tie this to. You’ll want a bight, or two pieces of rope as seen below to tie this knot.

2. When you have the rope in hand, you’ll form the classic Figure Eight Knot (above) by creating the initial loop, taking the tail end underneath, around and back through the original loop.

3. You can then clip your carabiner, etc. to the loop end of the rope which cannot break free.

How to tie a figure eight knot on a bight

7. Figure Eight Bend (Flemish Bend Knot)

A knot that is very similar to the original Figure Eight, the Figure Eight Bend is good for securely joining two ropes without making it difficult to untie, even under a significant amount of pressure.

1. Make the original Figure Eight knot (loose) in your rope.

2. With the opposite rope, follow the original path in reverse, starting next to the tail and exiting beside the standing end.

3. Set the knot by tightening all the ends equally.

Note: It is not advised to use different sizes of rope for this knot. Always make sure the tail of the rope is at least five inches long.

Figure 8 Bend | How to Tie the Figure 8 Bend

8. Square Knot

The Square Knot (or Reef Knot) should not be left out on any prepper’s survival knot list. This can be a perfect knot to extend shorter ropes into longer ones for hauling survival matter such as firewood or gear.

1. To make this knot, you’ll need two ropes.

2. Tie the knot by overlapping right over left and then left over right (shown below). This is the same tie you use to tie your shoe laces, known as a Half Knot.

3. You’ll then bring the right-handed rope (rope originally on the right at the start of the knot) over the top of the other.

4. Repeat the same knot you created initially, just in the opposite direction and finish by tightening all four slack points with equal force:

How to Tie a Square Knot (Reef Knot)

9. Carrick Bend Knot

An excellent knot to join two ropes, the Carrick Bend is also known as the Sailor’s Knot and tightens under a load which will consistently remain secure. The Carrick Bend Knot will also come in handy if you’re ever needing to make a net for hunting or fishing.

1. Form a basic loop with the larger of your two ropes and lay the loop on top of and over the working end of the other rope.

2. Create another loop with your second rope and bring the initial end over the long end.

3. Cross over the second rope itself and finish it under the short end of the rope.

4. Tighten the knot by equally applying tension to the four ends.

Carrick Bend Knot | How to Tie a Carrick Bend Knot

10. Clove Hitch

In a time needed to lash together a quick shelter, the Clove Hitch is one knot you’ll want handy. It’s typically tied directly around a log/post to lash something else to it.

1. Start with the end of the rope you’ll need loose (the running end) after you tie the knot and wrap that half way around the post, timber, etc.

2. Cross the running end over the top of the wrapped rope which will form an x-shape. Then bring it back around the post.

3. Lift the “X” part of the rope and take the running end under the “X” horizontally.

4. Tighten the knot to finish the Clove Hitch.

Note: The Clove Hitch has been found to slip and bind. It should not be trusted as a knot by itself.

Clove Hitch (Rope End Method) | How to Tie a Clove Hitch (Rope End Method)

11. Double Overhand Knot

This is a simple extension of the Overhand Knot made with one addition pass. This knot is good for making a larger stopper knot.

1. Tie an overhand knot at one end of the rope and keep your knot loose.

2. Then you’ll pass that end of the line through the initial loop you made with the overhand knot.

3. Secure the final knot by tightening the ends while you slide your knot into place at the end of the line. Keep some of the tail of the rope sticking out from your knot.

Double Overhand Knot | How to Tie the Double Overhand Knot

12. Taunt-Line Hitch

The Taunt-Line Hitch is extremely versatile and can be great for tying a variety of things in the fact that it can hold a variety of tension.

1. A basic camping and survival knot, you’ll start the knot by looping the one end of the rope around the item you’re wanting to tie to. Give yourself a few feet of extra rope on the free end.

2. Coil the free end of the rope twice around the standing line working it back towards the post/item you’re tying to.

3. Make your last coil around the standing line on the outside of the previous coils made.

4. Finish by tightening the knot and slide it on the standing line to adjust the tension properly.

Midshipman's Hitch Knot | How to Tie the Midshipman's Hitch

13. Fisherman’s Knot

Perfect for joining two ends of top together, the Double Fisherman’s Knot (Improved Clinch Knot) is a quick knot to learn and helpful for tying fishing line and joining two ends of rope.

1. Start by grabbing the two ends of the rope.

2. Cross the rope in your left hand in front of the right-handed rope so that it is behind the loop and pointing down.

3. Pull the left rope through the loop and up to the left side which will then create a smaller loop on the top of the larger loop underneath it.

4. Then you’ll pull the left-handed rope in through the smaller loop from the back to the front.

5. Tighten the loop just made with both hands to create a knot on top of your larger loop. You should then be able to adjust your loop size by pulling the right-sided rope.

6. Pull the left end of the rope through the large loop from the back and upwards to create another small loop on the top of the larger one.

7. Take the right-handed end of the rope through the smaller loop from the back of the knot and pull to tighten.

8. Finish the Fisherman’s Knot by pulling the larger loop’s sides equally.

14. Double Fisherman’s Knot

This knot will be useful for securing two ropes together and can fasten the ends after to make a secure loop. Not typically used in finishing, the Double Fisherman’s Knot is essentially two knots that slide together when tightened to form the final knot.

1. Take the two ends of your lines or rope and make them parallel to each other.

2. You’ll then take the free end of one of your ropes and coil it twice around the other rope.

3. Pass the end of the coiled rope back through the inside of the coils.

4. You’ll then repeat the last step with the second rope, but in the opposite direction.

5. Pull the free ends of your rope to tighten the knot and then slide your two knots together to finish the Double Fisherman’s Knot.

How to Tie the Double Fisherman's Knot

15. Sheet Bend

The Sheet Bend Knot is great for tying almost any type of material together as well as joining two ropes at different thicknesses.

1. Take the thicker of the two ropes and form a “J” shape similar to a fish hook.

2. Grab the other rope through the fish hook from the back and wrap it around the entire fish hook one time.

3. Tuck the smaller rope or material under itself and secure ends of knot to finish.

Sheet Bend Knot | How to tie a Sheet Bend Knot

16. Water Knot (Ring Bend)

The Water Knot is one used mostly for securing webbing or straps together. It’s excellent for boating and fishing, but also in survival cases when you need a stopper knot quickly to securing a more complex knot.

1. Start with a loosened Overhand Knot at one end of the rope.

2. Pass the other rope in the opposite direction, mirroring that of the original Overhanded Knot.

3. Take the two rope’s ends and pull the knot tight to finish.

Note: The Water Knot (Ring Bend) has been known to slip with certain types of rope or webbing. You can help this by leaving longer tails on the ends and fixing them with a stopper knot.

Water Knot | How to Tie the Water Knot

17. Trucker’s Hitch

This knot will help with securing items such as tarps or shifting loads with its ability to tighten lines into their final place.

1. Start by making a Figure Eight Knot with a loop of the line.

2. Pass the free end of the rope around what you’re wanting to secure (wood, shelter, etc.) and back around through the loop.

3. Pull the free end tight and finish by adding Two Half Hitches just below your loop.

How to Tie a Trucker's Hitch

You can also check out or step-by-step instructions and photos for tying a trucker’s hitch here.

18. The Barrel Hitch

This is an excellent knot to know for when you need to secure a barrel or cylindrical object and lift it in a balanced matter.

1. Place your barrel or object to be raised on top of your line.

2. You’ll then need to tie an Overhand Knot across the top of the barrel and open the knot until it wraps around the top sides of your barrel/object.

3. To finish, tie the ends of your line together with a Square Knot and you’re ready to lift!

Note: When using the Barrel Hitch, stabilize the item being lifted by keeping the rope encircling the barrel or object above the center of gravity, but as well far enough from the top of the barrel to avoid it slipping off completely. Always double-check that the rope is centered underneath your barrel.

Barrel Hitch | How to Tie a Barrel Hitch

19. The Sheepshank

A quick knot to know for shortening line without having to cut it. The Sheepshank Knot will come in handing for making rope shorter and not having to ruin a line.

1. To tie it, you’ll first need to fold your rope in the length that you need it it and create a Half Hitch in one end of the continuous rope.

2. Drop the continuing rope over the loop and make another Half Hitch in the other, standing end.

3. Take the Half Hitch in the standing end of your rope and drop it over its adjacent loop.

4. Tighten the ends of the knot equally and slowly to finish the Sheepshank Knot.

Sheepshank Knot | How to Tie the Sheepshank Knot

20. Tripod Lashing

Mostly used for shelters, it’s useful for survivors and peppers to know in any scenario when making a shelter with three poles or items to tie together.

1. Start with your three posts or poles to be tied together by lying them on the ground next to each other.

2. Take one end of the rope and tie it to one of the poles with a Clove Hitch and then wrap the rope around all three poles five times or so.

3. Wrap the line between the poles two times each and work your way back to the Clove Hitch.

4. Lastly, tie the free end of your rope to the free end from the original Clove Hitch. Tighten and then you are ready to spread the three poles to create your shelter’s structure.

Tripod Lashing | How to Tie a Tripod Lashing

21. Square Lashing: A fun knot to know for building anything from bridges, chairs and more, the Square Lashing is used often to bring and secure two different poles together.

1. Start the Square Lashing by tying a Clove Hitch to one of the poles near the crossing of the two separate poles.

2. Take your rope and wrap it around the two poles’ junction, going underneath the lower pole and over the top of the other pole.

3. Wrap five or more times, spiraling outward with the rope.

4. Wrap the rope between the poles and tighten it.

5. Use the Square Knot to tie the free end of your rope to the free end from the Clove Hitch you made initially and tighten to finish the knot.

How To Make A Tripod - How To Tie A Tripod Lashing Like a Boy Scout

22. Rolling Hitch

A good knot for when you want to add another ‘arm’ to your rope, the Rolling Hitch is a simple and quick to learn and great to add to your prepper survivalist knots list.

1. Grab your free rope that you’re going to tie to the existing line and loop it to the existing line two times.

2. Then, take the end of the rope you’re connecting (originally the free rope) and wrap it around the two loops you created.

3. Lastly, tie the end of your connecting rope to the opposite by making a simple overhand and tightening the knot.

Note: Modern ropes can often be slippery in which case the Rolling Hitch will not hold well.

Rolling Hitch | How to Tie a Rolling Hitch

23. The Slippery Hitch

The Slippery Hitch is ideal for any possible survival situation where you’d need to untie your quick and simple like. This hitch will stay secure on the object it’s tied to, but can be undone with a simple tug of the line for a quick-release.

1. Start by taking your rope and making two loops both inverse to each other.

2. Pull your left loop through the right and pull the right loop tightly to secure it.

3. The loop that is then made by doing this is the one you’ll be using to fasten to your object of choice.

4. You can pull the free end of the rope to tighten the knot around the object. Then when you’re done, you can take the loop off and pull either end of the rope to release the entire knot.

Slippery Hitch - Hot Knots 2

24. The Slip Knot

Not to be confused with a noose, the Slip Knot is an excellent stopper knot that can be easily undone after its use has been fulfilled.

1. Form a loop in one end of your rope.

2. Make a bend in another part of your rope, outside of the loop, and insert it into the loop and tighten to finish.

3. To release or ‘slip’ it, pull on the shorter end of your rope.

Slip Knot | How to tie a Slip Knot

25. Noose Knot

This knot is excellent for hunting in which case it can be used as a snare. You can also use the Noose Knot to hold objects securely at the end of your rope.

1. Start by forming a loop at one end of your line.

2. Make a bend in your rope and insert it into the loop.

3. Following the first two steps will make a noose which you can then pass around your object.

4. Finish by tightening the tope by pulling the tail of the rope.

Noose Knot | How to tie a Noose Knot

Knot tying might not be the first thing survivalists or preppers think about, but a solid knowledge of even a few of the above knots could save your and others lives in an emergency situation or TEOTWAWKI.

Learn at least a few of these knots by heart and develop the skill in such a way to use them under pressure, with your eyes closed (in case of black out or night situations) or under water for a variety of survival purposes.

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2 thoughts on “The Top 25 Rope Knots You Need to Know for Survival”

  1. These are ALL great knots. As a Scoutmaster for the last 20 years, I think it may be the ONE thing that the boys remember when they leave.

    You MUST learn the Big Eight: Over hand, Square, Sheet bend, Clove hitch, sheep shank, timber hitch, Bowline, and two half hitches. They are the ones we use on our Camp-O-Rees. Next you MUST learn Lashing, Diagonal, Square, Shear, Round, and Tripod.

    Great vids!


  2. Great tutorial. We teach a lot of these knots my son’s cub scout classes. I am by no means an expert but I am getting better at them.


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