The Importance of Knot Tying In A Survival Situation

Survival Knot Tying

Skill is what will save your life in a survival situation, and often times it is the simplest of skills that you have, which will be the most useful. Most of us already know how to tie a simple knot. We learned how to tie our shoes at a very early age, and possibly even learned how to lash our books together for easy carrying.

You can tie ribbons on gifts, and may even tie off certain cuts of meats, so knowing how to tie knots is not new, but the type of knots you may need in a survival situation may be new to you.

Knot making is a simple mechanical skill, a skill that you will never forget, but it takes practice, repetition in other words so the skills become natural. In stressful situations you want skills that come to you without thinking, where your hands and muscles know what to do without thought.

Cordage Is Essential In A Survival Situation

However, you must know how to make a knot that holds tight for cordage to do you much good. Cordage may be needed for climbing, for example, and knowing the right knot for climbing can mean the difference between surviving and not.

Even if you do not expect to be mountain climbing you may need rope to haul gear up or to lower gear down an incline. You may need to use a rope for a safer decent for yourself as well. Traditional mountain climbing is not the only time you would need rope to help you navigate through a wilderness area, so you need to know how to fashion a knot that will hold you and your gear secure.

You should know how to make a knot that will splice pieces of rope together to create longer pieces. You will need to lash shelter poles together, splice fishing line and know how to lash down tarps over your supplies so they stay in place in windy conditions.

You will need to know how to secure your gear to a pack and to tie down tarps for shelter. You may also have to restrain others in some extreme cases, and even secure food overhead to keep predators from dining on your food.

Start With the Three That Are Probably the Most Well Known and Useful

They are not listed in the order of importance, and after discussing the first three we will talk about a few more.

1.) Clove Hitch

Clove means to “cleave” or hold fast and this knot is ideal for tying a rope off to an object such as a stout limb or even to a tree. Use it to lash poles together for your shelter for example and use it to secure gear to your pack or to a vehicle. Use this knot to securely hang food from a limb to keep animals from getting to it.

2.) Square Knot

A square knot is commonly used to join pieces of rope together or to splice sections together in other words. Also use it to secure bandages to a wound, or to tie objects together such as bundles of firewood for carrying. Sometime this knot is also referred to as a “reef knot”.

3.) Bowline

If tied correctly the bowline knot will not slip making it ideal for some mountain climbing situations and rescue operations. Use this knot to secure shelter material such as tarps and ponchos. When the wind is blowing the knots will hold when tension/pressure is applied. Make the knot big enough to secure around your waist when descending inclines or when making river crossings.

Now For Some Other Useful Knots

1.) Taut-Line Hitch

A taunt-line hitch is an adjustable loop and is typically used on lines that are under tension. Use this knot when periodic adjustments are needed. This knot can be used to help you climb trees because you would have to adjust often as you climb. This knot is often times called a tent-line hitch or riggers’ hitch. It can be used to secure tarps over objects where you would have to undo the knot to retrieve goods or materials on a regular basis.

2.) Figure-Eight Knot

The figure-eight knot is typically used in both rock-climbing and sailing. The knot is used to keep the rope from running out of a restraining device. It will jam under tension but can be more easily undone unlike the overhand knot which usually has to be cut to undo the knot.

This knot is common in “prusik” climbing when used with a climbing harness, proper rope and a locking device. This allows the climber to ascend or descend more easily because the knot can be undone and of course keep the rope from running out the end of the device.

3.)  Blood Knot or Barrel Knot

The blood knot is normally used to attach sections of monofilament nylon line together while still maintaining the strength of the line. This knot is ideal when you find discarded fishing line of various diameters and lengths along a river bank, lake, or beach and you want to make a line long enough and strong enough for your fishing or other needs.


There are of course literally dozens if not more types of knots that you can learn, but in some cases you will find that some are simply variations of other knots, such as the ones listed above.

Practice with the cordage you expect to be working with, such as Paracord, fishing line and various other diameters of quality nylon rope. You want to keep things simple when in a survival situation, so trying to learn and remember a dozen different knots may confuse you.

If you plan to rock climb, mountain climb or plan to be on a boat then yes learn the knots essential to your safety in these situations and you certainly cannot always predict what situations you may find yourself in. Anyone that expects to be in a wilderness environment should know the basic rock/mountain climbing knots as well as the top three knots for general use around camp.