5 Survival Knots Every Survivalist Should Know

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Knot-tying is an essential skill that any prepper or survivalist should master, with no exception. After all, having a rope or a paracord with you is of no use if you can’t tie a proper knot. And I’m not talking about the knots we were taught as kids when we were trying to tie our shoes. There are hundreds of knots and each one is useful in a specific situation, but there are 5 particular knots that will help you most in a survival situation.

If you master these 5 knots, you’ll be able to manage rope and paracord like a pro, in any survival situation. They’re not complicated at all, you don’t have to be a marine or army veteran to get them right. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be making these knots in no time. All you need to do is follow a few simple instructions (you can even print them and take them with you, if you want to).

#1: Figure Eight On a Bight Knot

Bight Knot

You can print the picture above and put it in your bug-out bag if it’s easier for you. Although this knot is so simple, you’ll remember the steps without any effort:

Steps 1, 2, & 3: Grab a bite of rope and form the classic figure eight.

Step 4: Pull tight and clip in. Fast, simple and secure.

That’s it. Anyone could make this knot, from a 10-year-old to a senior with arthritis. And the benefits of this knot do not stop at its simplicity. You’ll be amazed to hear that it preserves 85% strength of the rope, so it’s a good, solid AND easy knot anyone can make in an emergency situation.

#2: Figure Eight Follow Through Knot

Survival knot

This is a bit more complicated than the one above, but it follows the same principle. It’s usually used for tying two ropes together. It may take you a bit of practice at first, but don’t worry, you’ll figure it out before you can say “Figure Eight Follow-Through Knot”.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Form a single figure eight at the end of the rope and feed the tail through your harness. Some harnesses require that you feed the rope through certain straps. When tying in, I like to feed rope through the same harness straps that the belay loop occupies (not pictured), others prefer to use the belay loop (as pictured). Still, others prefer to tie into a steel locking carabiner, or two aluminium locking carabiners, gates reversed, which have been clipped into the appropriate harness straps. There are pros & cons. Consult your harness manual for the recommended tie-in point.

Steps 2 & 3: Rethread the figure eight, following the same path as the first. Pull the knot tight (though some climbers prefer to leave it a little loose to absorb force from a fall). Make sure you have enough tail, as the knot will slip a bit when loaded. Check the knot by counting “two”, “two” & “two”, for the three visible doubled strands. Ensure they each are lying flat and not crossing over themselves.

Step 4: An optional step. If you find yourself with too much tail, or are paranoid about the figure eight slipping, tie a stopper knot with the remaining tail.

It is recommended that you check your partner’s tie-in knot, and get them to check yours before climbing.

#3: Two Half Hitches

Survival knot1

This knot helps you tie the paracord to any tree or pole securely. So if you need to climb down a cliff to rescue someone or to get food or if you want to tie secure something to a tree, this is the knot you’ll need.

Here‘s what you’ve got to do:

Step 1: Wrap around the standing end to make the first Half Hitch.

Step 2: Wrap around the line in the same direction again to make the second Half Hitch.

Step 3: Pull it tight.

Congrats, you’re done with Two Half Hitches. Now, for extra insurance, you can tie an Overhand knot in the free end of the line to keep the Two Half Hitches from slipping. Which brings me to the next knot:

#4: Overhand Knot (aka Transport Knot/Mule Knot)

Survival knot2source: www.wilderness-survival.net

This one is used for securing the transport tightening system and it goes like this:

Step 1. Pass the running end of the rope around the anchor point passing it back under the standing portion (leading to the far side anchor) forming a loop.

Step 2. Form a bight with the running end of the rope. Pass over the standing portion and down through the loop and dress it down toward the anchor point.

Step 3. Secure the knot by tying a half hitch around the standing portion with the bight.

And here are some checkpoints, to make it all even easier for you:

Checkpoint 1: There is a single overhand slip knot.

Checkpoint 2: The knot is secured using a half hitch on a bight.

Checkpoint 3: The bight is a minimum of 12 inches long.

I’ve got one more crucial knot for you:

#5: The Bowline

Survival knot3source: www.outdoors.org

It’s as simple as it gets. In fact, it’s child’s play: “The bunny comes out of the hole, runs around the tree, and goes back in the hole”. This actually makes it easier to remember, but I’m going to give you the “adult” instructions as well:

Step 1: Take one end of your rope and pass it behind a tree or rock (or simply bend it to create a loop)

On one side of the loop, you will now have a short end (the “working” end) and a longer piece (the “standing” end). The working end usually needs to be about a foot long, but can be longer if you want a larger loop.

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. 5 and 6. Run the working end through the loop, from front to back and pull the knot tight.

If you want to add knots to the list, be my guest. The list is open and it’s waiting for your completion. You can never learn enough about survival, so any input is most welcome. Don’t forget to stay safe and well informed!

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3 thoughts on “5 Survival Knots Every Survivalist Should Know

  1. Good advice from the scoutmaster. I use the taut-line hitch more than any other knot because it allows you to tighten up your line.

  2. Your Two Half Hitches could useful be replaced by the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches. Take the line two full turns around the anchor point before tying off the half hitches. It’s much stronger and safer. Also, even though my knot would hold me, I wouldn’t want to trust my weight to paracord, let alone mine and a rescued person’s combined weight.

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