There are a lot of cool things about rock climbing, from the full-body fitness required to make it up many climbs, to the incredible ways that climbers can manage to keep their bodies on the rock, but one of the most underrated things about climbing has got to be the knots. After all, these knots aren’t just keeping shoes on your feet or a trash bag closed – they’re capable of keeping the full weight of a body from dropping right off the face of a cliff.
But you don’t have to ever step foot on the rock in order to take advantage of this knowledge, as most of the common rock climbing knots can be used very effectively for other, non-climbing purposes. Here’s a selection of climbing knots that every guy (and gal) should know:
1. Figure Eight Knot on a Bight: The Figure Eight is an incredibly strong climbing knot, and can be tied in at least two different ways – on a bight (meaning in the middle of a rope, not the end), and with a follow-through (see below). Tying a Figure Eight Knot on a bight can be a strong, quick solution to create a loop for securing an object, and it’s also really simple to tie. Watch the simple instructions below:
2. Figure Eight Knot with Follow Through: The Figure Eight with Follow Through is the bombproof method climbers use to attach their harness to the end of the rope, and it’s essentially the same as the above, except you’re starting with the end of the rope, not with a loop in the middle of it. If you can get that first figure eight tied, all you’ve got to do is take the end and follow the rope back around through the knot so that it ends up coming out the top, right next to the other strand. It’s easier to watch than to read about:
3. Clove Hitch: The Clove Hitch might be a familiar knot to many of you – even if you don’t know it by that name. It’s a very handy knot to know, as it’s easy to tie and to adjust, and I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of uses for it after you learn to tie it. But be sure to pay attention to how the loops lie, otherwise you’ll just end up with a coil of rope, not a clove hitch.
4. Bowline Knot: The Bowline is another knot used to fasten a climbing harness to the end of a rope (though not quite as common anymore as the Figure Eight). While it’s not the easiest to learn to tie at first, once you know how, it will be an indispensable tool for securing the end of a rope to just about anything. It also happens to be one of the knots which can be tied with one hand, which might just come in handy someday.
5. Water Knot: The Water Knot is the best way to join flat pieces of material (webbing, seat belts) together, but it also makes it possible to join two ropes together securely. Similar in concept to the follow-through on the Figure Eight Knot above, once the overhand knot is tied on the first piece of material, simply follow the webbing back through the knot from the other end. Again, it’s easier to watch than to read:
6. Prusik Knot: The Prusik is a classic ascending knot, oftentimes used for self rescue, but also incredibly handy for attaching an object to a rope. It’s easily adjustable, yet securely grips the other rope under load. It’s tied using a loop of rope (which can be secured to itself with a water knot or fisherman’s knot (below). Check out the video:
7. Double Fisherman’s Knot: The Double Fisherman’s Knot is an incredibly secure way of joining two ropes together, end to end, and while it might seem similar to the Water Knot at first, it’s actually a different knot altogether. It’s not the fastest knot in the world to tie, but if you’ve got a need to join pieces of rope securely, this one’s a charm.
[Image: CarbonNYC at Flickr]
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