This guide will cover all the essential survival knots and their uses step-by-step. This is the only guide you will ever need for survival knots.
These knots are essential because they perform best and are easy to untie. There are plenty of useless knots that are not that strong and requires cutting because of the immense difficulty to untie.
However, with a survival knot, it is less likely that you will have to cut the rope because they are easy to untie.
There are hundreds of different knots with different survival uses, but there is only a handful you need to know.
Why listen to me? I am a survivalist, and I have 11 years of experience with almost every knots, and I am here to share all the important points right now.
In this no-BS visual step-by-step guide, I will how to tie 26 useful knots right now. If you are a beginner, I would recommend you check out Survival Knot Definitions You Must Know Now.
Let’s dig in.
As stated above in the definitions, a bend is a joining of knots. They are used whenever you need to lengthen a rope by attaching another rope to it.
Bends are a major part of an array of activities, such as climbing and caving.
Bends are considered to be temporary knots. Some are easier to untie than others – few keynotes before starting the first survival knot.
- Binding knots should not be used in place of bends because binding knots are more likely to slip.
- Some bends are stronger than others; some bends will cause unavoidable damage to the rope.
1. Sheet Bend
The first knot is the sheet bend. This must-know survival knot is one of the easiest knots to tie. This particular knot involves a thicker and thinner knot.
Before we go into the steps, let’s discuss the survival knot itself and a brief history.
The uses of the knot were for general purposes, are easy to untie, and is one of the best knots when joining two ropes of varying width. This survival knot can also be used to connect a stiff or wet cord with an ordinary rope.
As a brief history, the sheet bend was first recorded in the late eighteenth century and was commonly used to attach flags to posts on land and ships.
Follow these written steps closely, or watch the video below this text to learn how to make a proper sheet bend survival knot.
With the thicker rope, make a bight with an end. Close the rope down to create an eye. Then, slip the thinner rope through the eye of the rope.
Bring the thinner rope back under both working(active) ends.
Bring the thinner rope back across the top of the eye to the bottom, and while doing that, put the rope under itself, then pull it to form the sheet bend.
2. Carrick Bend
The Carrick bend is another easy and practical survival knot. Unlike the first survival knot, this knot is recommended to be used with two equal width ropes.
First, let’s talk about this survival knot itself. The Carrick bend, a general use knot, has many different uses, and in all of them, joining two equal width ropes perform the best. However, it can also be used for connecting ropes with slightly varying widths.
This survival knot was first recorded in 1883 and may have been named after the medieval carrack ships.
Again, you can either follow my written instructions or watch the video below me.
Take rope A and form a counterclockwise(moving left) underhand loop(goes below the cord.)
Place rope B under the loop. Pass it under a standing(inactive) part on rope A and over the working end or tail(the initial end you started out with.)
Continue across rope A, passing under itself, making a loop with rope B. Finally, pull both ends for a secure loop.
3. Hunter’s Bend
This is one of the strongest yet easiest to untie bends. This knot is slightly harder to tie.
This knot is typically used for sailing and mountain climbing. It can be under a lot of tension and will still be easy to untie.
This knot can be used with stiff and wet ropes, so if it started to rain, you don’t have to worry. This knot works best with two equal thickness ropes.
This knot is more modern, appearing first in the 1950s, and the original name being the Rigger’s Bend.
You can either watch the video below the text or follow the instructions with the text.
Form a bend in rope A and interlock the two knots to create a second bend with rope B.
Pass both of the ropes working end over itself overhand(goes above the rope) and counterclockwise(left direction.)
After that, thread a rope in the middle so it goes under itself and under both ropes. Do the same for the other rope. Finally, tighten for your complete survival knot.
4. Reever Bend
The Reever bend, also known as the Vise Versa bend, is a strong bend used for wet weather and bungee jumping.
At a glance, this survival knot is great for slippery, wet ropes and can even stick well when connected with stretchy materials for bungee jumping.
As a quick history overview, the Reever bend, first introduced in 1928, was used to knot the boat’s leather body panels together.
You can watch the video or read the text as instructions to tie the knot.
With rope B, make an underhand to rope A(goes under the rope and then above)
You want to do basically the same thing with rope A. Now, you should have two loops, with both of the ropes interlocked in one another.
Now, cross the two working ends and put rope A’s working end through rope B’s loop and rope B’s working end through rope A’s loop. Finally, tighten, and this bend is finished.
5. Zeppelin Bend
The Zeppelin bend or the Rosendahl bend is the strongest bend known for its impossibility of jamming.
This knot is a strong knot that is ideal for heavy-duty carries. This is perfect for mooring (securing a boat to a location) and can always be untied easily.
This knot was made in 1966 and was named after the Dirigible airships.
You can either watch the video or read the text instructions to follow the instructions.
Do the 6 9 methods by making two loops, one looking like a 6 and one looking like a 9.
The six should be overhand(above the rope), with the top part of the 6 having about a foot of cord and the bottom part of the nine having afoot as well, and it should be underhand.
Put the six on top of the nine loops to make 2 levels of rope, with the 6 having the working end on the top and the 9 having a working end on the bottom.
Then underhand, tuck 6’s working end(tail) through the two-level loop. After that, do an overhand for 9’s working end through the two-level loop.
Finally, pull the two working ends and standing ends(other ends) to finish the survival knot.
This leads us to our next set of knots – binding knots.
As stated in the definition, a binding knot is a tied rope that holds an object or multiple objects together.
You usually use binding knots where items either need to be held in place or bound together.
Binding knots have all sorts of different uses.
There are two types of binding knots, the friction type (holds knot together best) and the knotted ends type.
6. Reef Knot
This is an easy knot to tie and was one of the first knots ever.
At a glance, this knot has many applications, setting aside the fact that it is already used to tie shoelaces and fastening belts.
This general use survival knot is used to fastening two objects together, and this cannot be mixed up with any bends. This survival knot works best with equal width ropes.
The reef knot dates back to the Neolithic era, 10,000 years ago, and was one of the first knots.
You can either watch the video and/or follow the written steps.
Put rope A(left rope) over rope B(right rope) to make an X shape. Then cross rope B under and back over to tie a half knot(first step in tying shoelaces.)
Then, with rope B, make another half knot. Finally, tighten the standing ends, and your survival knot is complete.
7. Miller’s Knot
The Miller’s knot, otherwise known as the Sack knot, is an easy to tie binding friction knot used to seal bags of flower tightly.
This survival knot can be loosened and tightened easily, great for sealing bags, and is commonly used for tying heavy hiking bags to tree branches.
In history, this survival knot was first seen in 1944 and has been used by millers(hence the name) to seal large bags of flour and is still used for similar purposes today.
You can either follow the written instructions or the video instructions.
First, make a cross by putting rope B over (right) rope A (left.) After that, with rope B, make a second round around the object.
Tuck out rope A half an inch and use the working end of rope B to go through the opening you just made with rope A. Finally, tighten, and you have your knot.
8. Boa Knot
The Boa knot is used to hold together multiple thin objects together.
The survival knots was designed to hold a large amount of long, thin object – poles and sticks.
This knot is about 24 years old, being invented in 1996. This knot is similar to knots such as the Strangle knot.
You can either read the following written instructions or watch the video.
First, make an underhand loop (loop that goes under the rope). Then create an overhand loop(loop that goes over the rope.) Then put the second loop on the first loop to have three levels of loops now.
Now, arrange it so that the standing ends are at opposite ends(one at the right and another at the left.) Next, twist the three-level loop to make the figure ∞. Now, put both loops over your object.
Make the bottom standing end go to the top and the top standing end goes to the bottom. Then tighten, and you have your knot.
9. Constrictor Knot
This is one of the most important knots ever. This knot has more uses than any other knot out there.
This survival knot is one of the most important knots you will need to know. This knot has much friction knot can be tied using almost any line and can be used to seal sacks, soft bags, or for attaching a rope to a nail. This can be a temporary or permanent knot.
At a brief look at its history, this survival knot dates back to the ancient Greeks, almost 4,000 years ago.
You can either watch the video or follow the written instructions.
First, put the cord completely around your object, making an X shape.
Place your standing end under the X. Then, tighten the knot, and you are finished.
Now that we’ve covered binding knots, it’s time to jump into hitches.
As stated in the definitions, hitches are knots that you attach to some object, usually an immovable object.
Hitching includes the tethering of animals, the mooring of boats, and much more.
These survival knots date back thousands of years. In those thousands of years, many types of hitches were made.
Some work well in varying conditions, and some work well for different applications.
Hitches are considered to be temporary, although hitches typically won’t go undone if there is the immense force being exerted.
Surprisingly, hitches can also tie two lines together but must not be confused with bends because they cannot hold.
10. Clove Hitch
The Clove hitch or the Waterman’s knot is easy to tie and works best with thick, rugged lines.
At a glance, this simple survival knot should not be used in any life or death scenario because it can easily jam. This line works amazingly if equal loads are applied to either end of the cords.
The Clove hitch is an old survival knot discover in 1769 by a sailor.
You can either follow the written steps or watch the GIF to follow the instructions.
First, put the rope all the way around your object, making an X shape.
Put the standing end under the overhand(top rope) and tighten. You have just completed the knot.
11. Half Hitch
The Half Hitch is the easiest to tie knot that is extremely useful as a fortifying knot.
At a glance, this knot is actually not very strong on its own and unravels faster than the other knots we have covered. However, this is a very useful survival knot for applying to the end of another rope as a fortifying knot.
This knot goes so far back that scientists can’t even estimate where it came from, so it is unknown.
To tie this knot, you can either read or watch the video below.
Perform an overhand knot by making a loop with the working end over the standing end and then pull the working end through the loop and tighten. Finished.
12. Prusik Knot
The Prusik knot or the triple sliding hitch, one of the strongest knots commonly used by climbers as a friction knot, is powerful.
The Prusik knot is used by climbers and also rescue teams for ascending a rope. Other common uses include climbing poles or other upright objects.
The Prusik knot was invented in 1931 as the ideal knot for climbers.
You can either follow the written steps or watch the video.
First, make an X shape with your rope. With the above rope, pass it under and over twice. Do the same again to make a second.
Use the other(opposite) side of the rope and put it on your object. Now, pass the rope three times over by setting the opposite side of the rope down and pulling the rope through three times. Done.
13. Highwayman’s Hitch
The Highwayman’s hitch is a useful survival knot that is ideal for tying up a rope that will need to be released with a shock load.
At a glance, the Highwayman’s hitch is great for any rope that will need to be released at speed, from a distance, or when moving carefully is difficult. This knot is also the easiest to untie.
This knot was created by highwaymen(robbers), and the exact date it was made is unknown.
You can either watch the video or read the written instructions.
Make a bight with a long end and a shorter end, and then place the bight behind your object.
Now, with the longer end, pull it through the loop of the bight and make another bight inside the bight. Now, form another bight with the shorter end through the new bight. Finally, tighten your long and short ends, and you are finished.
14. Rolling Hitch
The Rolling hitch is an old survival knot that has two different main applications.
This survival knot can be used to tie to another rope as a one-way friction knot. Another application is for it to be tied to a pole or similar objects.
At a glance at its history, this survival knot was initially used in the 1700s for ships.
You can either follow the written or the video instructions.
Take an end and pass it around your object twice.
Now, with your working end, pass it across diagonally and around your object. From here, tuck your working end under the loop you made by the diagonal cross.
15. Timber Hitch
The Timber hitch is for attaching to cylindrical objects with friction(this is a friction knot.) This strong survival knot is commonly used to secure a rope to logs.
The Timber hitch has a strong grip and is simple to untie. This can be made with any type of rope(thin, thick, wet, etc.)
At a glance at this survival knot’s history, the Timber Hitch first appeared in 1625 in a knot book called the Treatise on Rigging.
You can either follow the video or the written instructions.
First, pass the rope over and under the log. Then, form a bight over the standing end.
After that, make a loop by doing a twist, then do at least two more twists. Finally, tighten both ends, and you are finished!
This leads us to our next section, loops!
As implied above, a loop is made by doubling a line back on itself and then tying the working end to the standing part.
Loops can act similarly to hitches and bends. However, loops do have a couple of differences and should not be used in place of a hitch or bend unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Loops were commonly used in sailing and are still used in sailing today. Loops are also used by climbers, fishers, survivalists, and many more people.
There are two categories of loops, loops at the end and loop in a bight.
16. Overhand Loop
The Overhand loop is one of the easiest to tie survival knots that is weaker than most of the knots discussed in this article.
At a brief glance at the Overhand loop, this survival knot is effortless to tie, harder to untie, and weak with synthetic material ropes(works best with natural fiber lines). The Overhand loop works with any type of rope(thick, thin, wet, etc.) and is commonly used with fishers.
This knot’s history is unknown, mainly because it was so basic, and even neolithic people used them.
You can choose to watch the video or read my instructions.
Make a bight at one end and twist that bight around your standing part and then pull the bight through the hole. Finally, tighten, and you are finished.
17. Bowline Knot
The Bowline knot is a strong, popular, old knot and is a must-know survival knot, and is the most frequently used knot among sailors.
This survival knot is used to tie around objects with grip. This is also used as a safety harness when tied around the waist or even as a backup system for climbers. This knot can go through immense tension and still be easily untied.
The Bowline is first seen in 1627 in the book Seaman’s Grammar.
You can either read the following instructions or watch the video.
Make a small loop on the side of your rope, leaving over a foot at the end.
Now, with the working end(the foot of the rope), tuck it under your loop, then under and above your standing part back to the hole. Finally, tighten, and you are done.
18. Angler’s Loop
The Angler’s loop is a general loop and can usually be untied fast and easily, although it can jam.
The Angler’s loop is a simple knot that can be untied at speed. This knot can jam, so using natural fiber ropes would prevent a lot of that. When applied under tension, this knot will become increasingly hard to untie.
At a glance at this survival knot’s history, the Angle loop first appeared in the 1700s.
You can either watch the video or read my instructions.
First, make a small overhand(rope over the other piece of rope) loop about a foot at one of the ends.
Then, make an underhand loop using the working end to wrap around the standing part, making a ∞ shape. After that, put your working end in the middle of your ∞ shape and then pull the underhand loop into your overhand loop to finish off.
19. Alpine Butterfly Knot
The Alpine Butterfly knot or the Butterfly loop is an extremely strong and standard climbing knot to attach itself to the center of ropes.
This survival knot is a very strong knot used by climbers to attach themselves to the center of their ropes.
This is a friction knot, and this survival knot can also act as a bend for reattachment of broken rope ends. This rope is easy to untie and can work with any type of rope (thick, thin, wet, etc.)
At a glance at the Alpine Butterfly knot history, this knot was invented by climbers in the 1900s.
You can either follow the written or video instructions.
Wrap the rope around your hand three times. Then, pull the middle rope about a foot up. After that, go under the ropes and then tighten to finish the survival knot.
Now, let’s cover another important section – slip knots.
Slip survival knots or running survival knots are broken down into two different categories.
The first category is for fastening a tie to a particular object, and that automatically tightens when the rope gets a load. The second category is knots that secure one rope to the center of another rope.
These knots can be used from everything from a hangman’s noose to animal traps to mooring boats to climbing.
20. Slip Knot
The Slip knot, an obvious member of the slip knot family, is a simple knot with diverse uses and is popular with hunting.
The slip knot, a temporary knot, is commonly used to trap small creatures and is also used to tie packages. This can also be used in climbing as a tie-off point. This can be tied to any type of rope(thin, thick, wet, etc.)
This knot is a very old knot that was used as a noose and has been for hundreds of years.
You can either follow the written or video instructions.
First, make a small loop with over a foot at the end. Then make a bight with your working end and pass it through the small loop. Finally, tighten, and you are finished.
21. Tarbuck Knot
The Tarbuck Knot can take shock loads and be used as a general slide or grip loop(friction knot.)
This easy to untie survival knot can absorb shock loads, and similar to the Prusik knot, this will lock the position under tension. This knot is commonly used for tethering boats.
At a glance at the Tarbuck knots history, it was invented in the 1950s by Ken Tarbuck.
You can either watch the video or read the instructions.
Make a large loop and wrap the working end two more times inside the loop.
Wrap across the loop under and back around the standing end. From there, tuck the working end above the new loop you just made by wrapping it across.
22. Running Bowline
The Running Bowline survival knot is used for an array of purposes, including a noose, an object retriever(similar to a lasso), and many more things.
The Running Bowline is different from the Bowline and can be used as a noose for carrying large sacks, and can also be lowered into deep waters to retrieve objects. This knot is a friction knot and can be used with any rope.
In history, the Running Bowline was made in the 1600s, as the name suggests.
To tie the knot, watch the video or read my instructions.
Put your rope under your object and form a small loop with the working end, and put the working end under the standing part and through the small loop.
Then, with the working end, put it under the working part and back through the loop. Finally, tighten both ends, and you are finished.
This leads us to our final section, stopper knots.
Stopper knots are used to prevent the rope from unraveling or to stop an object from passing through a small opening.
Stopper knots were used by sailors and is still used for the rigging of sails. They are also used as guylines for pitching tents. In addition to that, they can also be used to make hand and footholds.
Most of these knots are permanent, strong, stable, and may be easily untied. If not permanent, they can be undone more easily when tied with thicker ropes. Most stopper ropes are tied at the end of the rope.
These survival knots can be summed up in two categories, single strand knots for tying with one rope and multi-strand knots for tying with multiple ropes.
23. Double Overhand Knot
The Double Overhand knot is a simple stopper knot, typically used to make rope easier to grip.
The Double Overhand is used for easier grips by being tied at intervals. This knot can be tied to any material or line. This knot is semi-permanent.
At a glance at its history, this is so simple that the invention date is unknown.
You can either follow the video or written instructions.
Make an overhand loop and use the working end to go through the loop twice and then tighten to finish.
24. Stevedore’s Knot
The Stevedore’s knot is used for unloading cargo and ensures that no line slips.
This knot is used as a rope pulley and secures a rope. This knot is also considered a great stopper for suspending conkers from a thread or even stringing together beads.
This survival knot was made by longshoremen(ship unloader) in the 1890s.
You can read the instructions or watch the videos.
Make an overhand loop and twist it to make interlocked elbows, and then add two more twists.
Tuck the working end under the loop and then tighten both ends to complete the knot.
25. Ashley’s Stopper Knot
This knot is used for sailing and pitching tents and is easy to untie.
This thick survival knot is recommended to heavier ropes and is commonly used for camping and boating. This is an easy to learn knot, and it is also easy to untie.
At a glance at this knot’s history, this knot is named after Clifford Ashley in the 1940s.
Here are the basic instructions for tying your knot:
Make a bight and then fold it down to make two loops. Put the left loop into the right loop and the working end into the left loop. Finally, tighten, and you are finished.
26. Diamond Knot
The diamond knot or the Lanyard knot is hard to tie multi-strand knot used for general purposes.
This permanent knot is a general-purpose stopper knot and can be tied with as many ropes are you want.
This knot has been used for centuries and originated by a boater.
Here is the easiest way to tie the knot:
Pull the rope(s) through your middle finger, creating two strands. Make an underhand loop with your right strand and lay it on your left strand.
With your left strand, go under your right strand and bring it back over to itself and go under itself and over the right stand’s loop.
Now, bring the right strand under the left strand and under and through the middle loop. Do the same with the left and grab your two ends and then tighten in all directions.
By the way, here are 24 of the best paracord bracelet patterns.
Why Learn Survival Knots?
Survival knots are essential for all sorts of things, such as climbing, bouldering, camping, hiking, etc.
These survival knots will make you better prepared for whatever the world throws at you.
Learning these essential survival knots is a great place to start, and once you have mastered the knots above, you can expand your knowledge of knots.
Having a wider array of survival knots will help you navigate different terrain and make life a lot easier and safer.
Survival knots can save your life because they can also be used as a fishing or trapping knot when you may be starving.
Everyone from firefighters to coast guards studies survival knots because they need to be prepared for a life or death situation.
That is exactly why you should master these 26 survival knots, practice them frequently, and even get creative with them.
Survival Knot Rope Care
You should toss out ropes that have passed their life expectancy. If the cord has been induced with a lot of water or acidic chemicals or just showing signs of deterioration, you should toss it out, depending on what you are planning to do with it.
If you are climbing, you should toss it out if you see signs of deterioration(tears, fraying.) However, if you are using rope for unimportant tasks, you can probably still use it for a little longer.
According to WeighMyRack, the life expectancy is about five years.
Rope Lifespan Graphs
Rarely (Twice a Year)
Occasional (Once a Month)
Regularly (Several Times a Month)
Frequently (Every Week)
Constantly (Almost Daily)
Less Than 1 Year
Avoid Rope Deterioration
A rope’s strength can only last so long. You have to take care of the rope to ensure the best quality.
After years of testing, I can truly recommend one rope, the Typhon East polypropylene braided nylon rope on Amazon.
There are a couple of key points to avoid most deterioration.
- Avoid contact with animals that like to gnaw or scratch.
- Avoid contact with acidic chemicals like chlorine, markers, oils, paints, and petrol.
- Avoid constant dampness.
- Avoid extreme or prolonged heat.
- Avoid direct contact with dirt; it causes long-term damage.
- Avoid sharp edges(metal, glass); they can easily cut or tear the rope.
You should have designated cleaning periods for your rope.
You don’t need any cleaning supplies.
All you need are your hands, some mild soap, and cold water. To clean your ropes properly, hand wash them with cold water and mild soap(hand-wash soap is okay.)
After that, do not dry it with the sun or any artificial heating source.
Flaking is a great practice to remove kinks and maintain a smooth rope.
First, straighten the rope by taking out any knots.
Then, lay it on the ground and find one end and pull the rope through your loose fist until you reach the other end.
There is an array of techniques to coil rope. Coiling prevents tangles and kinks.
My personal method of coiling is to hold one end of the rope with your right hand, and with your left hand, wrap the rope around your right elbow and right hand. After your run out of rope, then grab the rope in the center.
Then, fold the foil in half and then use the loose end(not the end you used at the start) to tie tightly around and then tuck the last bit under the last wrap. This pretty should be easy to untie.
Survival Knots & Rope History
People have been using survival knots since the Neolithic ages(12,000 years ago), when men tied stones to sticks to make weapons.
The Neolithic men later used rope as a big component, from making shelters to making bridges. People started to see how useful knots can really be.
Ropes and knots were soon a part of daily life for rising civilizations like the ancient Egyptians and Romans.
Some civilizations even used rope for medical purposes; the Romans used rope as slings for broken or wounded limbs.
Beyond survival knots being used to manufacture items and hold things together, knots were used for communicating, like the Inca, which tied different types of knots instead of writing on paper.
Ropes have even been linked to religion and even dark magic.
Another use for rope includes decoration and other crafts.
As humans quickly evolved, we soon used knots for mainly sailing ships, and today we still use knots for all kinds of survival purposes.
Today, we covered 26 of the best survival knots you need to know as a survivalist and prepper. There are many uses of the knots discussed above. I hope you will test some soon.
If you liked this article, you will probably like 24 DIY Paracord Bracelet Patterns With Visuals, How to Start a Fire in the Wild: 7 Reliable Techniques, or maybe Spearfishing for Beginners (The Ultimate Guide).