20 Life Saving Survival Knots You Need to Know

survival knot

The history of knots dates back to 13000 BC. During those times it was mostly used as a tool for survival. Today, knot tying is still a valuable skill for adventure-loving people and provides practical solutions when you go camping, climbing, river crossing, and setting up a tent.

Importance of survival knots

Knowing survival knots is very important if you go for any activities mentioned above. At whatever terrain you are in, it makes your life safer and easier. From coast guards to firefighters, everyone gets training on survival knots to face dreadful situations.

Knowledge of knots is also beneficial for fishing or hunting purposes, and it can save your life when you are starving in the woods.

Types of Survival Knots

There are thousands of knots that have various applications and it’s a challenge to learn them all. Here we will discuss the 20 most essential survival knots which will be very beneficial for your outdoor activities.

Binding Knots

Binding knots help keep multiple loose objects bound together by a rope passing around them at least once. The knots used in shoelaces and bag openings are the most common examples of binding knots.

1.Square (Reef) Knot

square knot
Source: https://vt.audubon.org

Reef or square knots are usually made by two ends of a single rope such that it protects something like a bundle of objects or cords. Sailors traditionally used it for furling sails, but now it is used to tie triangular bandages and to produce textiles also.

2.Boa Knot

boa knot
Source: https://notableknotindex.webs.com

Peter Collingwood invented the boa Knot in 1996, and it is helpful to grip numerous thin objects together, cylindrical in shapes such as sticks and poles. It is very problematic to open this knot. Hence it should not be used when fast untying is needed.

3.Constrictor Knot

constrictor knot
Source: https://jostel.co.uk

The constrictor knot is an essential survival knot, and it is widely practiced when doing any adventure activity. It is a very harsh knot and is very difficult to untie once tightened. It is utilized to seal bags, sacks and fix a rope to the nail.


Bends are the joining of knots, and it is applied when you need to extend the length of any rope by tying another to it. These temporary knots are primarily used in activities like caving and rock climbing.

4.Sheet Bend

Sheet Bend
Source: http://wiki.6ksg.org

The sheet bend is a vital survival knot that is used to join two ropes of different widths. This easy-to-tie knot is helpful to connect strings with anchor, ring, or hook. It also manages to attach a flag on ships and land. The fishnet is the most common example wherein a series of sheet bends are used.

5.Hunter’s Bend

Hunter Bend
Source: https://www.wikiwand.com

This bend is among the most effortless and most potent, but it’s hard to tie. It connects two ropes ideally of the same width and can be very stiff even when the rope gets wet due to rain. A Hunter’s bend knot is generally practiced during mountaineering and sailing.

6.Reever Bend

reever bend
Source: https://www.wikiwand.com

It is also known as vice versa bend knot, which is a firm survival knot. This knot is customarily used in bungee jumping as it glues very well with a stretchy rope. It is also helpful to connect two cords that are slippery or wet.

7.Carrick Bend

carrick bend
Source: https://scoutpioneering.com

The Carrick knot or Sailor’s breastplate is a very straightforward bend that is ideally made to join two ropes or cables that are too large and stiff. It looks beautiful when tied; hence it is also practiced to make decorative mats and hangings. It can handle critical loads and is used mainly in climbing.


Loops are knots that are typically used for making handholds and footholds anywhere across the rope while climbing. It is tied at the end or in the middle of the rope. It is also beneficial for capturing animals and for attaching fishing gear. 

8.Overhand Loop

Overhand Loop
Source: https://wolfandiron.com

An overhand loop knot is easy to tie though harder to open and can be made anywhere in the rope. It is very weak when applied using synthetic fiber ropes but very effective when used with natural fiber ropes. This loop is also favorable to connect hooks and clips and is widely used in climbing.

9.Bowline Knot

bowline knot

The Bowline knot is a very ancient yet famous survival knot used to grip the object like a ring or post when tied. This essential and robust kind of knot is needed primarily by sailors and is also tied around the waist of the climbers as a safety backup.

10.Angler’s Loop

angler loop
Source: http://www.handymariner.com

Angler loop knot is also known as a perfection loop that can be opened very frequently and rapidly. It can be life-saving with wet or slippery ropes and tied around hands for holding the rope efficiently.


Hitches are the forms of knot that are tied to some immovable objects like the ring or trunk of a tree. It is also helpful to tie two ropes together. Hitches are applied in tying cattle, making tents, holding boats and much more. 

11.Clove Hitch

clove hitch
Source: https://www.educatedclimber.com

A clove hitch or waterman’s knot is a very ancient and vital survival knot. This hitch is advantageous to attach a rope to a mast, tree trunk, spar, etc. It jams very quickly and is also used to tie boats along the railing in seas and rivers.

12.Prusik Knot

prusik knot
Source: https://www.wildernessarena.com

Prusik is a kind of hitch that is helpful to tie a thinner cord to a thicker rope. It is potent and strong and used chiefly by climbers. However, it is also used in caving, canyoneering, zip-lining, and rope rescue.

13.Half Hitch

half hitch
Source: https://www.survivalworld.com

It is a straightforward hitch that is very beneficial to protect the end of the rope tied to itself after it is fixed along a piling or ring. Though it is not a firm knot, it is untied faster than most of the knots.

14.Highwayman’s Hitch

highwayman hitch
Source: http://www.handymariner.com

It is a quick-release hitch that is used to let go of the weight immediately, safely, and efficiently. It is ideal for the cord, which needs to be untied from a distance instantly. Highwayman hitches help tie boats and animals.

15.Rolling Hitch

rolling hitch
Source: https://eoceanic.com

A rolling hitch is an old and essential survival knot useful in tying a rope to a pole, rod, and another string. It is a kind of grip and slide knot that supports lengthwise pull along an object. It is beneficial in sailing, scouting, and pulling up hoses from a fire truck.

Stopper Knots

Stopper knots are suitable in preventing the rope from slipping when it is tied to another cord. This stable and robust knot creates a narrow passage through which thicker strings are passed. It is significant for purposes like climbing, sailing, and fishing.

16.Double Overhand Knot

double overhand knot

It is the most straightforward kind of stopper knot, which makes the rope easier to hold. It is tied at specific intervals on the string so that the climbers have it and climb the rock or mountain easily.

17.Figure 8 knot

figure 8 knot
Source: https://www.mountainproject.com

This type of knot is firm and is favorable for rock climbers and sailors to stop the ropes from going out of locking devices. It is quick and easy to untie and tie the figure 8 knot, and it is less prone to failures.

18.Diamond Knot

diamond knot
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

A diamond or knife lanyard knot is a stopper tied at the middle of a small cord-like rope or paracord. It can be made with a single string or multiple cords and used for general purposes like holding key chains, zipper pullers, tying handkerchiefs, etc.

Slip Knots

These knots are also known as running survival knots, and they can be classified into two categories.

The first one is useful to automatically lock a particular thing or object when weight is applied to the rope. The second one is the knots that tie one rope towards the center on another string.

19.Tarbuck Knot

tabuck knot
Source: https://www.flickr.com

Tarbuck knot is a slip knot that is useful for general sliding and gripping the loop. The climbers use this non-jamming knot to move along a rope, but it will be jammed or locked if sudden weight is applied to this knot.

20.Running Bowline

running bowline
Source: https://www.boatbuilding.xyz

This type of knot is an essential slip knot that has many purposes. It forms an adjustable loop that tightens when the load is applied to the rope. It is useful in rigging situations, sliding purposes and is also tied around posts and trees securely. It is also helpful in tree climbing or raising a heavy object.

Knot rope maintenance

Ropes that are life saviors outdoors should properly be maintained and stored to avoid getting spoiled. Few steps needed to take care of the ropes are:


Ropes should be cleaned at specific intervals of time using mild soap and cool water. Do not use anything else to wash the cord. For drying, please do not keep it under the sun or any heating source as they may destroy the strength of ropes.

Life Expectancy

You should not use the ropes which have exceeded their life expectancy or show the symptoms of deterioration (fraying or tear). The age of strings used for adventurous activity typically stays perfect for five years. However, if you:

  • You have never used it’s 10 years.
  • Used twice a year, it’s 7 years.
  • Used once a month, it’s 5 years.
  • Used many times a month, it’s 3 years.
  • Used every week, it’s 1 year.
  • Used daily, it’s less than a year.


Ropes should be stored properly so that it doesn’t they do not decay and get harmed. To avoid wearing and tearing of cord, you should:

  • Store it to not come in contact with oils, paints, petrol, chlorine, and markers.
  • Store it in a dry place with cool temperatures.
  • Keep your pets away from the ropes, especially those scratch or nibble.
  • Cover it with something so that dirt does not come in contact with it.


Flaking is a process wherein one removes the dirt of the rope and to make it smooth also. First, you need to remove all the knots from the string and lay it straight. With one end, pull it through your loose clenched hands till you reach the other end.

Final Words

These are a few of the essential survival knots that should be practiced and learned if you are an adventure seeker and go out for climbing, camping, river crossing, etc. These knots are not only crucial for survival but also add fun to your outdoor activities.