How to tie 10 essential Scouting knots
KNOT-TYING HAS LONG BEEN a part of the Scouting program — for good reasons. It promotes discipline and focus, and it teaches useful skills that can be used immediately. Most people can tie just one knot (the “overhand”); many Scouts know more than a dozen.
Here’s how to teach these knots to your Scouts.
The square knot can be used to join two ropes together. Generally, it works best with two ropes of the same diameter, and should not be used to hold a heavy load.
To create an adjustable loop that stays in place, use the taut-line hitch. This is the knot to use for staking out the guy lines of your tent.
The clove hitch is a versatile knot that is often used in Scouting activities, including servings as the start or finish to many lashings.
SHEET BEND AND DOUBLE SHEET BEND
Need to tie two ropes together? This is the knot for you. The sheet bend won’t slip when ropes of dissimilar material and size are entwined.
When tying the knot, be sure that the working ends are on the same side; otherwise, the knot might be unreliable. If you tie a thick and thin rope together, use the thick rope to form the “stationary loop” and the thin rope as the “working line.”
For greater security, especially with plastic rope, use the “double sheet bend” by taking an extra coil around the standing loop. The double sheet bend can be used when you’ve tied two ropes together and the knot absolutely must not fail.
This knot is popular among mountaineers, climbers, sailors and others. Use the bowline when you need a non-slip loop at the end of a line. The knot won’t slip, regardless of the load applied.
Begin by forming a loop or “rabbit hole.” The “rabbit” (working end) of the rope goes up through the hole, around the tree, then back down the hole. The knot will slip as it tightens, so allow a long working end.
The trucker’s hitch is a powerful pulley with a locking knot. Use this when you need a locking pulley with a 2-to-1 mechanical advantage, such as hanging a bear bag, tying a canoe on a car or guying out a tarp. Unlike the taut-line hitch, this knot won’t slip when used with slippery line.
Form the overhand loop. Then pull the loop through. Make the loop exactly as shown; it won’t work if you do it backward. Run the working end of the rope through the loop and then pull hard to form the pulley.
Secure the pulley to a stationary object (like a pole or branch) with a quick-release half-hitch or, for extra security, two or more standard half-hitches.
Use two half hitches to tie a rope to a tree, ring or dock.
If you need more security, take a second turn around the tree, or just add more half-hitches.
A prusik hitch can slide up or down a stationary rope, but it will hold fast when weight is applied. It’s used in a number of self-rescue situations. Mountaineers use the prusik for footholds to help them climb a vertical rope. Campers use it for rigging rain flies or rescuing rock-pinned canoes in a river.
First, use a sheet bend or double fisherman’s knot (instructions below) to make a loop from a length of parachute cord or rope.
Then, wrap the loop around the main line three times. The prusik hitch will slide easily along the rope, but it will jam when a load (horizontal or vertical) is applied.
DOUBLE FISHERMAN’S KNOT
Use this knot to tie together the ends of one rope, forming a loop. The loop of rope can be used for many purposes, including the prusik hitch, shown above.
The timber hitch is often used to drag a log across the ground or to start a diagonal lashing.