camping, camping tips, family camping

Camping Knots, Learn A Basic Skill That Helps With More Than Just Camping

Most scouts learn basic camping knots to help them with their scout skills. From staking down a tent to just tying down equipment on your car or even putting up a dining fly,technically you don’t need to know how to tie knots…any old knot you can manage will do in a pinch.

But once you learn to tie a few simple, basic Boy Scout knots, your guy lines, tarps, and stakes will go up and down a lot easier and be a lot sturdier, not to mention your campsite looking a little neater and don’t forget the pride you feel by knowing how to tie a know...and knowing the names of a few knots. Once you learn them, you might even find that your camping knots can be put to good use in your day to day life even when you are not camping!

When Is A Knot Not A Knot?

Well, when it is a hitch or a bend of course! Didn’t know there was a difference, did you? While they all look like knots, and most people call them all knots, each type has a clear distinction.

A KNOT is a when the rope is tied onto itself, such as a square knot or a bowline knot. What you use to tie your shoelace is called a bow square knot (see…you already know how to tie a knot!)

A HITCH is when the knot is tied onto another object, such as tying your horse to a tree or a pole, or tying a tarp to a stake. Some examples of these are a clove hitch or a taut line hitch.

And a BEND is when you tie two ropes together, such as a sheet bend.

Learn By Practicing

When we are teaching the camping knots to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (and even with the adult leader trainings), we give a three- to five-foot or so length of manila rope to each person, teach them to whip the ends of the rope to keep it from unraveling, and then once they learn these camping knots, they keep the rope to practice tying and untying over and over again until they get it. If you want to learn how to tie knots, having a portable piece of rope to practice on is a great idea.

Natural Rope Is Best

Your rope is considered part of your basic camping equipment. There are different types of rope, including synthetic nylon type ropes or natural cotton fiber ropes, but for our purposes we use an inexpensive twisted natural fiber, the manila rope. Ideally, you will be purchasing a bulk amount of rope, measuring and cutting it into appropriate lengths, whipping the ends (great activity for the kids to do), and then packing it up to bring as part of your camping equipment.

Caring For Your Rope

Our ropes are stored in an old pillowcase so they can breathe and come with us on all of our camping trips. You never know when you might need them and to us they are an important part of our camping equipment If cared for properly, these ropes will last for years and years. Essentially this means coiling them up nicely when you put them away so they don’t get all tangled up and, (ahem) knotted, and making sure they are dry when you store them so they don’t get rotted and mildewed. If they are wet when you are packing up your campsite, you can put them away for the trip back, but, just like your tent, make sure you hang them to dry once you get home before you store them.

Our Favorite (And Most Versatile) Knots

Here are a couple of knot tying instructions for the camping knots we use most often, along with how we like to use them. The links will open in a new window and show you exactly how to tie these camping knots with step-by-step instructions, along with a clear knot tying illustration for each one to help you learn how to tie it.

HOW TO WHIP ROPE: Whipping keeps the ends of your rope from unraveling, and should be done to both ends of all of your pieces of rope. It is an important step to make your rope last a long time.

TAUT LINE HITCH This is another of the camping knots we use most frequently. It is an adjustable knot, meaning you can adjust the tension of your rope that is attached between two objects, when you use this knot. You use this knot when it is important for the line to be pulled taut if it should sag. Some of the ways we this knot are for the guy lines on our dining fly, when putting a tarp over our tent as a rain fly, and for putting up a clothesline. Since it is a hitch as opposed to a knot, some will say you cannot use this hitch for the guy lines as it must be tied to a pole or rigid structure. We use this for our dining fly and rain flys all the time, tying it directly to the rope itself, and it has served us well for many years.

BOWLINE KNOT Another basic camping knot, the bowline knot makes a loop with a knot that does not slip or jam when under tension. If you want a loop that does not get tighter and tighter, but will not loosen under a load, this is a good one. Use it to secure a line around an object, such as a tree (such as for one side of a clothesline..then use the taut line hitch for the other side so you can adjust the line and it will not sag). We also use it to secure the rope to the anchor and the thwarts on the canoe when we are canoeing.

So to summarize, these are a couple of the basic camping knots we use. However, I just wanted to mention a few other Boy Scout knots that we like to use, including the square knot, sheet bend, and clove hitch.

If you would like some more knot tying instructions, Animated Scouting Knots by Grog is one of my favorite resources to learn how to tie knots with an animated, easy to follow knot tying instruction for each knot you want to learn.

PopShops™ affiliate stores

Finally, this video showing how to put up a clothesline on a campsite is a great demonstration of both the bowline knot and the taut line hitch:

Want To Put Your Camping Knots to Good Use?
Build A Dining Fly Using Your Camping Knots

Return To Home Page From Camping Knots

[?] Keep up with the latest additions to this site as they are added by subscribing to this site's RSS Feed

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines

camping jewel tweet button

Burning Issues

Ask Camping Jewel

  • Have A Question?
  • Need Some Advice?

Can't Find It?
Search This Site:

Custom Search

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
"Around The Campfire"

You Will:
  • See the latest in camping conveniences to make your camping trip more comfortable, safer, and fun for all.
  • Break out of your camping meal rut...receive great camping recipes you can enjoy whether at home or when eating outdoors.
  • Discover great new places to camp from coast to coast.



Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you
Around The Campfire.

Copyright© 2007-2009.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

page hit counter