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Knots

How to Tie a Bowline Knot

The classic climber's waist loop knot for ultralight, and the strongest single-line knot you can tie in cord.

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Bring the free-end around your waist in belt fashion.

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Lay your free-end hand atop the standing cordage, palm down.

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Take the free end and run it upwards through the loop …

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… around the standing end, and back down through the loop in exact reverse. “The rabbit climbs out of its hole, around the tree, and back down into the hole.”

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Look closely at the sample knot and how the loop is made. When tied incorrectly, the bowline turns into a slip knot.

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Bowlines are strong, but not that secure, for critical uses they should be backtied with a half hitch or other secure knot.

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For climbing use, snug up the waist loop until it’s belt tight around the narrowest part of your body, and backtie it.

Text and photos by Steve Howe

Need a primer on knot tying terminology? Click here.