3 Must-Know Knots

Video best tie down knot

This article was originally published in Issue 1 of our magazine.

Using the right tool for the right job makes all the difference. Sure, you can get away with using a flathead screwdriver on a Phillips screw, but every time you do so, you run the risk of stripping the screw. It’s much better to use the correct driver for the proper fit to avoid damage to the screw and the driver. Similarly, using the right knot can be a huge factor in the success of accomplishing a job, easily and safely.

Unless knots factor into your daily grind like bungee jump operator or first mate of the S.S. Minnow, the majority of people may only use one or two knots on a daily basis — or if you have Velcro on your shoes, maybe even none at all. Whether or not you have ever been taught what sort of knot is used for what, or if you have, it’s probably been a long time since you earned your merit badge in that endeavor. Let’s take a look at a few useful knots that can get you out of a pinch or simply help you get things done quicker.

There are countless knots out there as well as multiple variations for many of them. Each knot was created for a specific application. Realistically, unless it’s part of your everyday life, it’s difficult to remember how many of these knots are tied. We’ve picked out three knots that are strong and versatile that can be used in just about any situation.

The Bowline

The Bowline forms a secure, non-sliding loop. When a load is placed on the Bowline, it will not slip or jam, but when the line is relaxed, the knot can be easily untied. The loop may pass around or through an object such as a railing, pole, tree, or a fence, during the making of the knot. When no longer being used, the knot comes undone relatively easily, even after being used under great load. For this reason, this knot is not recommended for uses such as climbing or rappelling.

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  • Hoist or lower objects from an elevated position
  • The loop can be tied around just about anything you need to pull or drag
  • Use as an anchor point when tying down cargo. When using it in this manner, finish off tying the cargo with the Trucker’s Hitch.
  • Tying off a boat to prevent drifting

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Trucker’s Hitch

Commonly used by truckers, the Trucker’s Hitch is used to tie down loads securely and with great tension. The loop formed while tying this knot acts as a pulley that tightens up slack to keep even heavy loads in place. The Trucker’s Hitch is actually a system of several knots used together to great effect.


  • Cinch down heavy loads on roof racks, car roofs, and truck beds
  • Securely tie down tarps

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Double Fisherman’s

This knot is used to tie two ropes of similar width and strength together. If you don’t have a single rope long enough to get the job done, use this technique to tie two ropes together. What you’re essentially doing with this knot is tying two knots, one on each rope. When pulled toward each other, the two knots come together, tighten, and form a secure method of combining two ropes.


  • Joining two ends of shorter ropes to make a longer one
  • Joining two ends of the same rope to make a secure circle or loop

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Rope Care

It’s always important to check your ropes for kinks, debris, and frays. Keep your rope away from water if possible, unless it is designed for it. Damaged and weakened rope that is under a lot of tension can break and cause serious injury or death.

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The origin of knots has been lost to time, but what we do know is that they have been in use for thousands of years by many ancient civilizations. This human knowhow now lives on the surface of the planet Mars. NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity features cables that are bundled together with hand-tied knots. The knots keep the cables bundled without wearing them out like cable ties would.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>