5 Basic Knots Everyone Should Know How to Tie

(Photo: Gabe Popa)

For many of us, untangling our earbuds is the extent of our survivalist knot knowledge. Tying knots is just for sailors and mountain climbers, right? Turns out, there are a few simple knots that you can actually use to enhance your daily life. From hitching up a hammock to making jewelry, the right knot can not only come in handy; it could save your life one day.  Here are our top knots that you need to learn this summer:

Square Knot – For Bundling and Decorating

(Illustration: Rain Blanken for Yahoo Makers)

The square knot is one of the easiest, and strongest, knots to tie. Whether you are tying hemp jewelry or bundling firewood, a square knot binds until it is untied.

  1. A square knot starts out just like tying your shoe. Overlap the left string over the right, then tuck it under and pull.

  2. Repeat, but this time, lay the right-side string over the left, then tuck it in and pull tight against the first knot.

(Square knots are useful, but can also be decorative. Photo: GA Kayaker)

These two knots, stacked on top of each other, lock up the rope to form a bond that will stay until it is intentionally untied. Square knots can be tied around straight strands in the middle to form wide, flat lengths of rope, as seen in macramé jewelry and décor.

Never use a square knot to bind two different ropes together, as twisting and pressure can make the knot unstable, often leading to injury or death where climbers are concerned. Binding two different ropes is a job best suited for a ‘bend’ knot.

Double Sheet Bend Knot – Join Two Ropes Together

(Illustration: Rain Blanken for Yahoo Makers)

A bend knot is used to bind together two ropes that will be pulled in opposite directions. The ‘double sheet bend’ is very useful for attaching the corner of any fabric to a rope, including hammocks and tarps.

  1. To start the sheet bend knot, hold the thicker rope in one hand, and make a loop at the end with a long tail.

  2. Pass the thinner rope through the loop.

  3. Wrap the thinner rope around the thick rope and tail of the loop.

  4. Tuck the thinner rope underneath itself and pull to tighten the knot.

(Use a sheet bend to secure tarps to lines. Photo: To the Woods)

This is especially useful if you’ve got a tarp to hang at a camp site, but there are torn corners or no grommets on the tarp. No need to throw out a tarp with a torn grommet if you know the double sheet bend knot.

Taut-Line Hitch – For Adjustable Tension

(Illustration: Rain Blanken for Yahoo Makers)

Probably one of the most useful camping knots you never knew about is the taut-line hitch. This is the adjustable knot that you’re looking for when trying to tighten the corners of the tent. A taut-line hitch is also useful for attaching tarps to truck beds, or even tightening fabric as a seat cover.

  1. Wrap the rope around the stake, then under itself.

  2. Loop around the taut portion of rope again, closer to the stake.

  3. Loop under the loose end of rope.

  4. On the other side of the first loop, wrap the rope around the taut line once more.

  5. Pull the knot tight on itself, and it should be ready to slide.

(The taut-line keeping a tent tightly drawn. Photo: Key of N1ABS)

This one has a few more steps than our previous knots, so make sure to refer to the diagram for a visual on the steps.

Lark’s Head Knot – For Quick Attachments

(Illustration: Rain Blanken for Yahoo Makers)

Also known as the ‘cow hitch’, a lark’s head knot can be used for attaching just about anything to a keychain or lanyard. This knot is unique in that you can use it with complete loops, like rubber bands.

  1. Fold the string in half, or find the spot on the loop that you’d like hitched up.

  2. Lay the fold of the line on the object you’re attaching it to.

  3. Loop the rest of the line through the bend and pull tight.

(A lark’s head knot used to create a pendant. Photo: Christine Linard)

The lark’s head knot is often used to start macramé projects, and to attach charms to cellphones. You can even create decorative hair bows by folding a hair elastic into a lark’s head knot over a length of ribbon.

Half Hitch Knot – For Supporting Weight

(Illustration: Rain Blanken for Yahoo Makers)

A couple of half hitches stacked together are the perfect way to secure a hammock to a tree. It’s also a great way to hang up your trash and food at night when camping so that no critters are tempted to make a mess of your supplies.

  1. Wrap the line around a tree, leaving a long tail for the knots.

  2. Loop the loose end of the rope over the taut end, then over the loose end.

  3. Wrap over the taut line again, to the right of the first loop.

  4. Bring the loose end over the loop and pull taut.

(The half-hitch knot at work on a dock. Photo: Gabe Popa)

Make sure to pull the half-hitch tight for a secure connection. Tie a small knot at the end of the rope to prevent the half-hitch from slipping.

Also on Yahoo Makers:  

Let Yahoo Makers inspire you every day! Join us on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.