Wilderness Skills: Knots

At Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, you won’t find guides who just specialize in one activity. We have guides who are so passionate about the outdoors that we take up all kinds of hobbies! Your mountain biking guide probably rock climbs on the weekends, or your hiking guide can tell you about the time they got caught in a rain storm on an extensive backpacking trip. What this means is, we have to be well-rounded individuals who can adapt to anything the wilderness may throw our way. One of the most invaluable skills I have as a guide who enjoys rafting, backpacking, hiking and rock climbing, is knot tying. Knots are useful in many situations, and should be quick to tie, strong under pull, and relatively quick to untie despite heavy loading.

 

Technically speaking, any time you tie a rope, you have yourself a knot. Likely, in your daily life you only have to tie a bow knot when tying your shoes. Those of you who enjoy fishing probably know a few more, such as the improved clinch knot or the palomar knot. Or, if you frequent the climbing gym, you could likely do the figure 8 knot in your sleep. Beyond these common knots, I’d like to show you three handy knots which are considered “essentials” if you are looking to expand your wilderness skillset.  These knots are: the bowline, a trucker’s hitch, and the clove hitch.

The Bowline Knot

The Bowline Knot

The bowline is a reliable knot which puts a loop of a fixed size at the end of a rope. While making the knot, you can pass it around or through an object to secure items. This knot is very easy to tie and untie, and is primarily used for tying small water crafts to shore. It can also be used in rescue scenarios for its simplicity, which allows you to tie it with one hand. 

A mnemonic used to teach the tying of the bowline is to imagine the end of the rope as a rabbit, and where the knot will begin on the standing part, a tree trunk. First a loop is made near the end of the rope, which will act as the rabbit’s hole. Then the “rabbit” comes up the hole, goes round the tree right to left, then back down the hole.

The Trucker’s Hitch

The Trucker’s Hitch

A trucker’s hitch knot is a useful knot which creates a mechanical advantage system which is useful for cinching and securing items. Once you have made a trucker’s hitch, you can run the end of the rope through the loop and pull to the desired tension using the knot as a pulley system. You would then secure the rope with a few half hitches, which are secure and easy to untie. For example, when securing a tarp when backpacking, this knot can allow you to tighten the corners of your tarp in order to create an effective rain shelter.

The Half Hitch

The Half Hitch

Similar alternative to the trucker’s hitch.

The Clove Hitch

The Clove Hitch

When engaging in various outdoor activities, you may need to secure gear to your pack, tie up food to keep it away from bears, or to tie off rope to an object like a tree or limb. This knot allows you to do so in a quick and simple manner.