Tying a Bowline knot

One skill I have never had has been tying different types of knots. Over the years I have wasted a lot of rope using the wrong knot in different applications. Recently I have been working on that and learned how to tie a useful and very easy knot called the Bowline.

The Bowline is useful in that it is both easy to tie and untie – even after a heavy load has been placed on it. Although this knot provides a very strong hold on a load – it can work itself loose when not under a load. Therefore I wouldn’t suggest lowering yourself from a cliff with this knot otherwise you may make it to the bottom…..prematurely. Regardless – this is a great knot to hang something, lower something, or lift something up – that is under constant load.

Here are a few pictures showing how to tie the knot:

Step #1:


Step #2:


Step #3:


Step #4:


Step #5:






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10 thoughts on “Tying a Bowline knot”

  1. Thanks for showing the steps for the bowline knot and the warning that it will come loose when not under a load. There is a really good knot tying site that I found and wrote about several years ago, http://whatifitistoday.blogspot.com/2011/07/knot-today.html . The site, Animated Knots by Grog http://www.animatedknots.com/ makes it look so very easy. He has things to buy if you want but also shows all the steps on this site, without making a purchase.

  2. Apparently we are thinking along the same lines; I recently purchased a knot tying book. Very useful. Now, I just need to figure out what knots to use in what situation.

  3. Hey Rourke, great write-up!
    In the scouts, we learned a real easy way to remember the bowline.
    After you make the initial loop in the rope, you say to yourself: “The rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree and back into the hole”.

    The “rabbit”, of course, is the loose end of the rope.
    This is a knot to practice and memorize. The bowline is a rescue knot.

  4. Ben is absolutely correct. The bowline is a rescue knot and is one of the most useful knots you can learn how to tie as it is used for many things. The thing it is most used for is lifting and lowering loads. We used it in the Boy Scouts and the Navy for lowering stretchers over the side of inclines and to get up and down cliffs and inclines. It can also be used for cargo knots.

  5. Great demo, Rourke! The bowline is a knot that every adult should know how to tie. Along with several other basic knots. There are a lot of great knot-tying books around; everyone should have at least one.

  6. I remember trying to teach the Boy Scouts how to tie knots. The retention period was minimal. What we did, especially with the Bowline, is have races between the Scouts to see who could tie a proper knot the fastest (this can be used with your family during family night). I still remember how to tie those knots that I learned years ago. We would wrap a rope around our waists with the short end in the right hand while holding the long end in the left. In front of our bodies we would cross the right hand over the other rope inside of the left hand then, while still holding the short end in the right hand, wrap around and back underneath the long end and back up inside the loop. While still holding the short end in the right hand, we would then wrap the short end to the right and under the long end being held in the left hand then pull the short end through the loop around our right wrist, making a Bowline knot. We decided to use this method in case the Scouts ever needed to use a Bowline to either get hoisted up or down a mountain side for rescue purposes.

  7. That was a great example. Maybe you could do a knot of the week/month and list what that knot us useful for?

    My favorite knot is the clove hitch. I am always using it around the garden.


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