The Essential Knots

This article is taken from Bear's book How To Stay Alive.

There are around four thousand knots in the world of safety ropes but there are three key ones we, as a team recommend knowing. These top three will have you covered in more or less any survival situation. As long as you know your overhand from your bowline and clove hitch, you'll be ok!

Practise them at home or wherever you can so they are engrained in your muscle memory and become second nature. One day they might just save your life and when the time comes, in a high pressure situation, you'll be grateful knowing these handy little knots off by heart.

Overhand Knot
It's the easiest one of all and is what our hands would automatically do if we were handed a piece of rope or string and told to put a knot in it.

A key thing to know about this one, if you tie it around something, it can be undone easily. So this one is primarily used as a 'stopper knot' – useful for stopping the end of a rope slipping through a hold or to stop the ends of a rope fraying.

Three steps to the perfect overhand:

Bowline Knot
A BG favourite and used by adventurers worldwide, the bowline is made by a loop at the end of a rope which won't slip or tighten. This one is easy to tie around someone's midriff to get them out of a dangerous situation (firemen are taught this trick as part of their training). Having this knot up your sleeve could end up being a lifeline to someone you are rescuing.

Three steps to the BG knot of choice:

Handy trick to know about Bowlines, they can be tied one handed - invaluable if you're hanging off a cliff!

Clove Hitch
This one's a quick and memorable knot that can be used to attach a rope to a pole or a carabiner.

It may slip on a smooth surface so be careful to make sure it's pulled tight.

Fun fact about the clove hitch, it's one of the most commonly used knots by the Scouts!

Three steps to a flawless Clove Hitch:

If the worst comes to the worst and you can't remember the exact technique for a particular knot, fear not, just remember this phrase, 'if you can't tie knots, tie lots!'

Disclaimer: The information in this article is presented as general guidance in relation to the subject addressed. It is not a substitute and not to be relied on for medical or other professional advice on specific circumstances and in specific locations. So far as the author is aware the information given is correct and up to date at the time of publication. The author disclaim, as far as the law allows, any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use, or misuse, of the information contained in this article.