8 Survival Knots to Stake Your Life On

There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who know their survival knots and the ones who don’t.

For some, knot-tying is a skill they learned early in their lives. Think the Boy Scouts, summer camps, and boating trips: these childhood experiences often lead to skills that last a lifetime. These boys grow up into outdoorsmen who can tie dozens of survival knots, each one with a specific purpose. More often than not, these knots help them get out of sticky situations.

In extreme cases, they can even save a life.

And then there are those people who think there’s only one knot to rule them all—and they most likely use it to tie their shoelaces and everything else.

The question is: which one are you?

Are you the prepper with on-point knot-tying skills? Or do those said skills need a bit of brushing up?

Here are 8 videos to sharpen your skills, or if you’re a newbie, offer a fresh light on how to tie the perfect knots for survival.

Back to Basics

This video is for the apt beginner.

It shows the 5 most basic knots for survival, camping, and hiking:

  • The half-hitch for setting up ridge lines
  • The fisherman’s knot for joining two different lines
  • The prusik knot for various climbing and mountaineering purposes
  • The trucker’s hitch to make a pulley system and…
  • The classic clove hitch for lashing

This tutorial takes it nice and slow and shows the purpose of each knot. The highlight is the prusik knot tutorial, where Craig from Nature Reliance shows the importance of cinching your parallel lines properly. He even does it twice if you didn’t get it the first time.

Step It Up

If you’ve gotten the hang of the basics, step it up and check this video out. It features the following survival knots:

  • Square knot (otherwise known as the reef knot)
  • Clove hitch (it shows how the clove hitch looks when it’s tied in a bight and at an end)
  • Sheet bend
  • Bowline and its varieties
  • Figure 8 loop, which is tied three ways
  • Round turn and two 1/2 hitches
  • Taut-line hitch

What’s great about the video is that it not only shows how to do the knots, it also describes the type of knot—whether it’s a hitch, bending, joining, or binding knot—among others. It also tells you the purpose and application of each one. Each knot is demonstrated close up, in a slow, easy-to-follow way that even beginners can figure out.

Figure 8 and Its Variations

The figure-8 knot has been a staple in sailing and rock climbing for years. It’s a stopper knot that jams when you pull it but is relatively easy to undo.

This knot has been used since the 1800s, so it’s developed many variations like the following:

  • Double figure 8 loop
  • Figure 8 noose
  • Flemish bend that’s great for round cordage
  • One-way sheet bend
  • Double figure 8 for climbing

Check the video out and see how many variations you can do.

Bowline Knot

Like the figure 8, the bowline knot is one versatile knot. It’s useful for camping, hiking, or just everyday fixes. The bowline’s advantage is that you can put a lot of pressure and pull on it without constricting the knot. This makes it very handy in rescue situations where you need to secure a rope around a person.

The video goes over the many uses of the bowline knot, such as rigging a hammock, rescue situations where you need to secure a rope one-handed, or when you need to help a person out. Heck, it even shows how you can use the bowline in assisting cows when they’re giving birth, so it’s really worth the watch.

What to Look for in Survival Knots

Sometimes, a tarp is all you have to protect yourself from the elements. In this video, Survival Lilly goes over the four most important knots for tarp shelters in the wilderness. She even teaches you the qualities to look for in a knot. Can you guess what her top 4 survival knots are?

Keeping It Practical

Knots aren’t just for survival or camping; they’re pretty darn useful in everyday life, too. Luke from Outdoor Boys shows 8 practical knots that you can use anywhere.

The video highlights the chain sinnet or the daisy chain to keep your ropes or lengths of cord organized, the farrimond friction hitch, which is stronger than a tautline hitch but is easier to dismantle, and the trucker’s hitch used to tighten down loads.

Marlinspike Hitch

The marlinspike hitch is a pretty awesome knot. From this handy little knot, you can make 4 other knots that are just as useful. It’s so versatile that some preppers insist that it’s the only knot you’ll ever need. Do you agree?

14 Knots

And last but not the least, here are 14 knots for survival and camping that you have to know. Most of these have been featured in the other tutorials above, so consider this as a sort of review. It also shows other cool knots like the alpine butterfly for creating loops midway along your lines and the strong but easily deployable canoeman’s knot.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people say they always forget their survival knots just when they need them the most, which is quite unfortunate because knots are pretty darn useful. The right one can get you out of a tight spot. On the other hand, using the wrong knot can lead to nasty accidents.

Say what you will about those knot-obsessed boy scouts when you were a kid, but survival knots are indispensable, both in everyday life and in emergencies.

The key to expert knot-tying is a lot of patience and tons of practice. If you’re new to knots, take time out of your day to practice and perfect this skill because it might save your life one day.

Any other cool survival knots we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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