How to tie camping knots. The subject sounds kind of nerdy … until you’re camping and you need to know how to tie a particular knot … like right now. Sure, the family car camper is not usually staking his or her life on knowing the right knot like a rock climber or a cave explorer does. On the other hand, it’s certainly not pleasant to wake up in the middle of the night with your shelter collapsed on your face because the breeze perked up a little bit and won the battle against your improvised-on-the-spot camping knots.
You might be able to make it through your camping life with nothing but lots of inelegant, inefficient, and hard-to-untie granny knots piled on top of one another, but there’s a better way! Especially when learning these four basic camping knots is so easy. While bungee cords, ratchet straps, and other devices are all welcome conveniences, knowing how to tie camping knots instills confidence in your outdoor abilities. These are also wonderful skills you can pass along with pride to your kids and grandkids.
These four camping knots – the bowline knot, the square knot, the mooring hitch knot, and the Blake’s hitch knot – will cover about 90 percent or more of your camping knot needs. While we provide basic ideas for uses, once you learn to tie these four camping knots and get some hands on experience with them, you’ll discover new “best uses” all the time.
If you want detailed instruction for how to tie each knot, the process is described in a "tip" video from 50 Campfires below. We've also included a repeating, slow-motion giphy video of each knot that shows the steps in detail. Get yourself a length of rope and practice each knot while the giphy plays. You’ll have the steps down in no time.
The bowline knot is used on a line or rigging that will be under tension. As long as the line is taut, it will never slip. However, when the line is slack the knot unties very easily which is another reason it’s so popular. Your orthodontist will thank you!
Camping Tip: How to Tie a Blowline Knot
This square knot is one of the most simple and basic camping knots. It can be used to secure a rope around a bundle or for tying a bandage. A big advantage of the square knot is that the knot lies flat and is not bulky. However, this is not a knot to use for survival situations. I can come loose when the rope is not under tension.
Camping Tip: How to Tie a Square Knot
The mooring hitch is a little more involved to tie than the bowline or square knot, but it offers the big advantage of adjustability. It’s great for something like tying a camp shower bag up in the tree, because you know it’s going to have to go up and down a bunch of times over the course of the weekend, but you’ll only need to tie this knot, one time.
Camping Tip: How to Tie a Mooring Hitch Knot
The Blake’s Hitch is a camping knot adopted from arborists – those guys who climb and rappel in the treetops to care for the trees. Their knots HAVE TO work. It’s a secure, but moveable knot that when tied properly will hold anything you need around the campsite. No more collapsed tarps in the middle of the night!
Camping Tip: How to Tie a Blake's Hitch Knot