There are plenty of good books available on knots, the best being Ashley's Book of Knots, which is far too exhaustive and expensive ($120) for most people. A Fresh Approach to Knotting and Ropework by Charles Warner is very good and inexpensive(about $12). There are also some good climbing websites with information on knots eg "Animated Knots by Grog". Wikipedia is also a good source for less well-known knots eg. Zeppelin bend. There are often two or more methods of tying the same knot but I have just chosen the method I normally use. The first six of these knots are handy to know for general bushwalking and canyoning/abseiling.

Use: Excellent for securing the end of a rope to any object
1. Pass the end of the rope around the object (in this case the pack's haul strap).
2. Take it around again (without the rope crossing over itself).
3. Take the end across the standing part of the rope and round behind it to make a half hitch.
4. Take the end over the standing part once more and bring it up through the loop to make a second half hitch. Cinch up tight. If you take the first half hitch under the turns this knot becomes an Anchor Bend and is even more secure.

(Used to form a loop that will not slip. Useful as a body loop placed in tape and passed over a person's head and under the arm pits)
1. Work out how big you want the loop and make a small loop in the standing part of the rope by taking the end over the standing part.
2. Take the end of the rope behind and up through the small loop and around the back of the standing part. (The rabbit [end] comes out of it's hole [small loop] and around the back of the tree [standing part].)
3. Pass the end around the front of the standing part and back down through the small loop [the rabbit goes around the tree and re-enters it's hole ]. Pull up snug and tight and make sure you have a tail of at least 15cm. For extra security eg when using the bowline as a body loop, you can use the tail to tie an overhand knot in the end or around the main loop. Climbers and scouts learn to tie this one-handed, forming the main loop around the body first up. Known as the Body Bowline it is easy to learn but difficult to illustrate. Get someone to show you.

Used to form a loop in the rope when you do not have access to either end. Very handy for making foot/hand loops to form a rope ladder or if you need to clip into a length of rope other than the end.
If tied incorrectly it can become a slip knot. Test it before applying a full load on the standing rope.

To Tie:
1. Loop the rope over your hand three times.
2. Take the middle loop under the outer loop.
3. Continue to take the middle loop back over the top of the other two loops.
4. Take the middle loop under the other two, towards the finger tips and pull through to form the main loop (after removing your hand).
5. Pull on the standing rope on both sides of the loop to complete the knot.

Uses: often used to join abseiling ropes. Strong but can be difficult to untie after a heavy loading. This knot needs plenty of practise to master. Tied incorrectly it can be deadly. Make sure you leave tails of 20cm or more after completing this knot.
1. Take one rope end and make a loop around the other rope.
2. Continue taking the end around to make a second loop around both ropes.
3. Put the end through the second loop and take it behind where the two loops cross. Bring it out through the first loop.
4. Pull the end through and tighten. You should have a 'tail' of 20cm.
5. Now repeat steps 1 to 4 with the second rope. Start the end off in the opposite direction or just turn the ropes around before starting. Pull the two knots together. They should mate snugly.

Uses: An excellent knot for joining abseiling ropes provided you make the tails 20cm or more. Some people claim this knot is less likely to get jammed than a Double Fisherman's when pulling the ropes down from an anchor point. Compared to the Double Fisherman's it is a much easier knot to untie after a heavy loading eg descent of a large party.

1. Make a loop by passing the end over the standing part and continue over the standing part and around the back.

2. Bring the end around to the front and take it back through the loop. You have now tied a figure-of-eight knot.

3. Take the end of the second rope and trace the figure-of-eight knot, beginning at the end of the first rope.

4. Pull the ropes snug and tight, leaving tails of 20cm or more in length.

This knot is often used by rock climbers in a single rope to tie into their harness. The first figure of eight is tied about 50-60cm back from the end of the rope which is then passed through the harness loop and taken back to retrace through the figure-of-eight knot.

Well known by rock climbers as an emergency belay it can be used to abseil in the absence of a descending device. I recently had to use this hitch when the leader's 12mm rope would not pass through the slots in my ATC; it worked well but put a lot of twist in the rope. Naturally with doubled ropes (as is usually the case when canyoning) this hitch would generate a lot more friction.

1. Form the loops first as per the illustration. Clip in the carabiner, attach it to your harness, close the gate and lock.

2. Allow the left hand strand to fall and grip with brake hand. Test for friction before descending.

Used for joining two ropes. This knot is much easier to use for joining abseiling ropes if speed is of the essence but great care must be taken to leave long tails (30cm or longer) and snug the knot up firmly due to it's inherent danger of slippage. Lay the two rope ends side by side and tie together with a normal overhand knot. Snug the knot up nice and tight. For extra safety some climbers use the long tails to tie overhand knots around the standing part of each rope, which makes it rather bulky.


I find this hitch handy for attaching pegs to my fly's guy lines. It can also be tied in a different manner just using one end of the rope.

1. Make a loop in the cord.
2. Repeat for a second loop.
3. Place the second loop behind the first.
4. Place the loops over the end of the peg and tighten the knot.

Use: for joining two ropes of unequal diameter.
1. Form a bight in the end of one rope.
2. Pass the end of the second rope up through the bight and around the back of the doubled strand of the first rope.
3. Take the end of the second rope under it's own standing part and over the bight.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 and work the rope up snug and tight.

Use: for tying down trailer loads firmly.
Allow the free end of the rope to drop down behind the anchor point eg trailer rail.
1. Take a double length of rope and place it over the standing part.
2. Use the standing part to throw a hitch or loop around the double section.
3. Bring the free end up around the anchor (eg trailer rail ) and through the lower loop of rope.
4. Pull the end down tight and throw a couple of half hitches around the lower section. Alternatively tie a round turn and two half hitches around the rail.
5. The hitch can be made more secure by throwing a half hitch around the upper standing part with the doubled rope.