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Summer Trail Smarts: Tie a Figure-8 Loop

Learn to tie a figure-8 loop–one of the most common and useful knots.

Behold the king of loop knots! The figure-8 is just a slight variation of the overhand loop, but that extra turn makes a huge difference: This knot is more secure and easier to untie later. Typically, for camping and boating, you’ll just tie a standard figure-8 loop as shown here: fast and easy. It can be at the end of the rope or anywhere along it.


1. Begin with a long bight of rope. Start to tie an overhand loop, but add another wrap.


2. Tuck the working end through the loop.


3. Snug the knot up and try to uncross the strands so it will be a bit easier to untie.

Climbers routinely use this same knot for tying a rope to their harness. In that scenario, you simply tie a figure-8 a few feet from the end of the rope, then thread the working end through the harness, and retrace the first knot. In theory, you don’t need to tie a backup overhand knot for a figure-8 loop, but many climbers do as a precaution.

1. This loop starts with a figure-8. The working end then goes to the harness or an anchor.


2. Now thread the working end back into the knot.


3. Retrace the first knot with the rope.


4. To finish the knot, snug the strand pairs.

Three new BACKPACKER Falcon Guides cover knots, medical emergencies, and backpacking fundamentals. This is a sampling of an essential skill you get in a pocket-size, battery-free form ($13, falcon.com).

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