If you were once a boy or girl scout, you probably learned a few basic rope knots for camping, sailing, or everyday use.
And unless you’re an avid knot enthusiast, or ended up using these knots all the time, you probably forgot a lot of them. But tying knots is an extremely useful skill to have if you camp, hunt, sail, or are just interested in bushcraft and survival.
Tying knots have been a part of human survival for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest rope and knot fossils are said to be over 15,000 years old! And throughout history, ropes and knots have had a great impact on both civilization development and culture.
Ancient Incan natives used “Quipu” ropes as a means for record-keeping and writing, and even farther back, ancient Romans used ropes for siege weapons, sailing, and farming.
In this article, we’ll discuss the most useful knots for camping. Everything from tying downloads in your truck bed to setting up impromptu shelters in the wilderness.
The seven knots we’ll cover are:
- Ashley Stopper
- Adjustable Grip Hitch
- Prussik Knot
- Slip Knot
- Square Knot
- Trucker’s Hitch
So without further ado, let’s learn how to make these seven useful knots for camping.
The Bowline Knot is one of the most versatile and important knots in any outdoorsman’s repertoire. It’s a simple knot to tie and can be used for everything from tying down loads in your truck bed to creating a makeshift rescue harness.
To tie a Bowline Knot, start by forming a small loop in the rope on the left side. Leave about a foot of rope beneath the loop.
Then, thread your working end under and up through the loop. Pass the working end under the rope above your original loop, and then bring it back down through the loop and pull it tight. This forms a small “eye” in the knot.
Uses of Bowline Knot
- Make a tent stake loop
- Throw a rescue line to someone drowning
- Use as a leash and dog collar
- Hang a bear bag
- Secure a cooler
- To make a clothesline
Ashley Stopper Knot
The Ashley Stopper Knot is a great knot to use for anchoring or stopping ropes. It’s primarily used at the ends of working lines that are secured to tents or tarps, ensuring the rope doesn’t slip through the rivets.
It’s also very easy to tie and can be done with just a few simple steps.
To tie an Ashley Stopper Knot, start by tying a Square Knot (see instructions below). Then, instead of pulling the two loops tight, leave them in the shape of two small “doughnuts”.
After, pull your stopping point through the loops. This forces the doughnuts to tighten up and grip the rope very firmly.
Uses of Ashley Stopper Knot
- Use as an anchor for climbing
- When you want a knot that won’t easily unravel
Adjustable Grip Hitch
The Adjustable Grip Hitch is great for smaller ropes because it can be easily loosened or tightened when needed without having to untie the knot.
To tie an Adjustable Grip Hitch, start by making a loop in the rope and placing it over the object you’re attaching it to. To practice, use a carbineer clip or a hook.
Once your line is looped, pull the working end through the loop and over-under it along one side of the loop. Typically, you should do this two or three times.
Then, pass your working end under your original loop and under the last wrap you did and pull it tight.
Uses of Adjustable Grip Hitch
- Can secure a guy line to the ground to help set up tent fly
- Can be used to suspend a hammock
- Connect two ropes or lines together
The Prusik knot is primarily used to secure one line to another in a perpendicular fashion. You can use the Prusik knot for securing a tarp to a staked line or a tight line that’s strung between two trees.
Most tarps have rivets at the corners and along the edges, so you can secure your working line to the tarp with an Ashley Stopper knot! Look at that, a double-whammy.
To tie a Prusik Knot, start by creating a loop and positioning it underneath the rope you’ll be attaching it to. Then, pass your working rope over and under the loop as many times as you want, and then pull the line taught.
The loops should not overlap.
Uses of Prusik Knot
- Attatch a tarp shelter to a ridge line
- Hang items from a ridgle line
- Create an adjustable anchor point
No, not the band. You’ve probably seen slip knots around before; they are very common on necklaces and bracelets because they’re adjustable. Slip Knot is a very simple knot to tie and is a useful knot for camping because you can make them to easily carry cumbersome gear, like sleeping bags, tents rods, or kindling.
Plus, the slip knot is so named because it’s easy to undo. Unlike the Ashley Stopper, the slip knot has a quick release, so you won’t have to struggle to pry the knot apart.
To tie a Slip Knot, start by making a small loop in the end of the rope. Make a bight in the knot below the loop, and then thread the bight through the loop. Pull tight and boom, finished.
Uses of Slip Knot
- To use as a temporary knot
- When you need a simple knot that will release when pulled
The Square Knot is one of the most basic knots, and is also known as a “reef knot”. It’s a basic paracord knot that’s used for connecting two ropes together and is often used for macrame and weaving.
Start by taking the right end of the rope and making it into a small loop.
Then, do the same with the left side of the rope—but put it through the opposite way so that it comes out where the first knot is.
Next, take the right end of the rope and put it over the left, and then through the hole.
Do the same thing with the left side of the rope.
Pull tight, and you’ve now tied a Square Knot.
Uses of Square Knot
- To secure a rope or line around an object
- Tying a plastic garbage bag
- Tying your shoes
This is the most complex knot to tie on this list, but it’s one of the most useful knots too. As the name suggest, it’s great for securing payloads on your truck bed, and was often used by truckers before ratchet straps became an everyday item.
Since this is a fairly complex knot, instead of describing it, here’s an animation to help you along:
Uses of Trucker’s Hitch
- Secure something down
- Tension a guy line to the tent
- Hold something together
Common Knot Terminology
Describing how to tie knots can get a little tricky, so we’ll be using some common knot terms to help the process:
Working end – The end of the rope you’ll primarily be working with.
Standing Line – The side of the rope that won’t be used to tie a knot.
Bight – making a U-shape with the rope end. The bight isn’t a loop, it’s usually an inverse U that you will thread through loops.
Overhand knot – A very basic rope knot that resembles a pretzel. The idea of the overhand knot is that the opposing directions of the line will increase its security.
Why Learn These Useful Knots For Camping?
Learning to tie knots can be frustrating at first, but after an hour of practice, you’ll be able to tie these basic knots in your sleep. And they have many practical applications, to name a few:
- Arts and Crafts
These are just the most basic knots, too! As you get more proficient, you can tackle more complex knots like the Alpine Butterfly Loop or the Munter Mule Combo!