Advanced Knots For The Beginners

Being able to tie a variety of knots may not be something that comes to mind when you are preparing to survive in the wilderness (or in an urban environment after an economic collapse) but knowing a few advanced knots can save your life. Knots are useful for building shelters, constructing traps, securing a fishing line, and climbing steep terrain. If you use the wrong knot for any of these situations, you may have to cut the knot when you can’t untie it, or have it slip out and come undone. Here are five advanced knots that amateurs can master – and they each have unique applications in survival situations.

1. Square Knot
The square knot is the one that you’re most likely familiar with already. It’s a very basic not that can be applied to lots of different situation. A square knot attaches two ropes together. It is tied by simply tying two overhand knots using the end of each length of rope. Tie the knot right over left, and then left over right. This type of knot is useful when you don’t have a long enough rope – and many survival kits have several smaller lengths of rope rather than one long one. The main drawback of the square knot is that it will only work with two ropes that are made of the same material and of equal thickness. Otherwise, the knot will slip out.

2. Clove Hitch
The clove hitch is the best knot to use when you are assembling a temporary shelter. A clove hitch is used to lash one pole or support to another. Typically, you will want to tie the clove hitch in the middle of the rope. This is because there will usually be tension applied to both ends of the rope. The clove hitch will hold firm and won’t slip or loosen quickly, although in high winds that are rocking the supports back and forth, you will have to tighten it occasionally. After the bowline and sheet bend knots, the clove hitch is probably one of the most important to know in a survival situation. This is also the knot that is used by climbers to secure an anchor. Not only is the clove hitch simple to tie and untie, it’s also designed so that you can lengthen or shorten the trailing rope without untying it. The main drawback of the clove hitch knot is that it is not as strong as more advanced anchor knots. It can also loosen if it isn’t tightened securely after you tie it. Finally, the clove hitch is not as effective when you’re working with a wet or frozen rope.

3. Bowline Knot
The bowline knot is essentially a combination of the applications of the square knot and the clove hitch. This is truly a multipurpose knot for camping. It can be used as a climbing knot, but because it’s a more advanced knot than the clove hitch, it will never slip when it’s properly tied, even if you have not fully tightened it. A bowline knot is perfect for hanging supplies out of the reach of scavenging animals, and it is also very useful in rescues, since it makes a loop that someone can grab onto or use as a foothold. Finally, a bowline knot is the best option for securing livestock and other animals, as it won’t tighten or slip on the animal’s neck.

4. Taut-line Hitch
The taut-line hitch is a pretty basic camping knot, but it’s very useful for securing tents and other items. You can use a taut-line hitch on a tent by attaching it to the tarp and then anchoring it on a stake or branch. Because the knot is designed to be adjustable, it can be easily tightened whenever the line pulls slack without having to rework the knot itself. This knot is also an excellent choice for attaching different gear to your survival pack. You can use the taut-line knot to hang the gear from your pack, and tighten it if it gets loose with just a single pull on the end of the rope.

5. Sheet Bend Knot
Bend knots are knots that tie two different ropes together, and there are lots of different kinds. While the sheet bend knot – like so many knots – was originally developed for use in sailing, it has many applications in camping,hiking, and wilderness survival. It is often used to make netting by tying many thin lines together, and it can be used for the same application in survival situations, or simply to attach two very thin lines to form a longer one. It is essentially an advanced version of the square not – and its main advantage over the square knot is that it can be used to attach ropes of different thicknesses or material.

What is your favorite go-to knot? We would love to hear your feedback and see any pictures or videos you might have of your favorite knots and what you use them for.

~ Clayton Krebs

Clayton Krebs is a preparedness consultant and team member of The Ready Store.  He writes informative articles and information for the ReadyBlog, the Ready Store's blog and educational section pertaining to topics of the economy, resiliency, and preparedness issues. 

Full disclosure: Based on our existing relationship with The Ready Store, will receive a small commission as an affiliate for purchases made through the Ready Store. This will not impact the price you pay and the proceeds we received will be immediately invested to fund new features and functionality for this site.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I mean, if the square knot is "advanced", then what is a non-advanced knot? (But true, you did make me look !:slight_smile:
However I do appreciate the explanation and the drawings, the more times we re-visit knot-making the more chance we use them correctly when in the need. Or even just to think of using a knot.

Actually I believe there is nothing bad about a simple knot, in fact they can be quite advantageous. Have you ever been in a situation when you wanted a knot that would not loosen, so you looped it over and under and to another hitch site once, twice or four times, just to come back to it after the job was done, and spend 20 minutes to try to untie it from the convoluted way it was tied (or have this trouble with someone else's securing attempt). It is invaluable to know what a knot can do and how to use it, so not only a trip under stress can be safer, but a vacation trip can be more joyful. For me it is very useful to know that a bowline (or sheet bend - they are essentially the same in different circumstances) is never be hard to untie unloaded, no matter how large a load had been on it earlier. 

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Everyone who aspires to be prepared should know how to tie all of these knots. Rope and line are extremely useful in unlimited applications. As the author and Gaborzol both point out, an essential characteristic of a proper knot is that it is easy to untie after being loaded.
I learned to tie these and many more as a boy scout and now, as a sailor, use them all frequently. But these basic knots are just the beginning. Once the knots are mastered then lashings to secure poles together are a great next step. Properly done, lashings are better and stronger than metal fasteners and clamps. I have seen large buildings being worked on from scaffolding held together by nothing but rope.

There is also a great deal of satisfaction to be derived from splicing a loop into the end of a mooring line or finishing the end of a rope with a neat whipping.

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