How to tie camping knots

By Bridget Brennan 22 February 2010
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These four basic, multi-purpose knots will give you solid grounding to make secure ties when you’re setting up camp in the bush. Scouts honour!

Bowline (Illustration: Michael Zagoridis)This simple and useful knot is used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope.

Best for: Attaching a canoe to a tow-bar or trailer or hanging a hammock. No matter how much stress is put on this strong loop, the bowline can always be untied easily.

1. Make a small loop on the rope.
2. Pass the end of the rope through the loop and then around the main line of the rope.
3. Take the end of the rope back down into the loop; tighten by pulling the main line of the rope away from the loop.

Reef Knot
Reef Knot (Illustration: Michael Zagoridis)This knot (also known as a square knot) is a binding knot that joins two ends of the same rope or two pieces of rope together.

Best for: Joining two lengths of smaller rope to make one longer rope (though not for holding excessive weight) or in first aid to tie bandages together.

1. Lay the ends of two ropes parallel.
2. Put the right end of one rope under and over the left rope end (as you would when you tie your shoelaces).
3. Tie another this time putting the left end under and over the right rope.

Timber Hitch
Timber Hitch (Illustration: Michael Zagoridis)This knot attaches a single piece of rope to a piece of wood or a tree trunk.

Best for: Creating a clothesline, putting up a tarp and dragging wood to the campfire.

1. Wrap the rope around your object (such as a log).
2. Pass the running end under the rest of the rope.
3. Wrap the end of the rope around the loop several times and then pull tight.

Rolling Hitch
Rolling Hitch (Illustration: Michael Zagoridis)
Used for making an adjustable loop to secure a guy rope around a tent peg or stake.

Best for: Adjusting the tightness of your lines attached to tent-poles or pegs.

1. Pass rope around pole.
2. Take the running end and loop it around the standing line and pass it through the loop. Then make another firm pass through the loop again in
the same direction, so that there are two wraps of the rope made through the loop.
3. The knot should hold itself in place while you tie a final loop in the opposite direction to the first two.

Source: Australian Geographic Adventure Sep/Oct 2009