All Socks BOGO 50% Off + Free Gift with Orders Over $50


Your Cart is Empty

by Austin Campbell September 15, 2016

Enter to win!

Increase Your Backcountry Skills by Learning These Knots

5 Knots Every Hiker and Backpacker Should Know

The right knot can be a life saver when you run into the unexpected in the backcountry. So if a granny knot is your go-to knot for every situation, it's time to upgrade your knot skills with these knots every hiker and backpacker should know. The 5 knots below are perfect for attaching loads to your pack, tensioning a rainfly, securely connecting two ropes, rescue lines and more. Best of all we've embedded Youtube tutorials from Backpacker Magazine's Knot School Series so learning each knot is as clear as possible.


1. Taut Line Hitch

The Taut Line Hitch is the perfect knot for securing the guylines for a rainfly or tarp. This knot gets its name because you tie it once and it easily adjusts to add tension to the line to keep things taut.

When to Use: guy lines and clotheslines.



2. Square Knot

The Square Knot was one of the first knots we learned and one we use frequently while backpacking. A Square Knot is great because it is fairly easy to untie even after being tightened under a load. Although a Square Knot works well for combining two lengths of rope for non-load bearing applications it should never be used for load bearing situations, instead use the Sheet Bend (see next knot). 

When to Use: combining non-load bearing ropes of the same size, tying items to your pack or to secure a bandage.  

Pro-Tip: Remember how to tie a Square Knot with this rhyme, "right over left, left over right, makes a knot both tidy and tight." 



3. The Sheet Bend Knot

The Sheet Bend Knot is the best way to combine two lengths of rope, especially of different diameters. It is much stronger than the square knot, but keep in mind it does have the tendency to loosen when not under load.

When to Use: To combine ropes of different diameter. Fix a broken shoe string, or guyline. 



4. Bowline Knot

The Bowline Knot is sometimes called the king of knots. Similar in structure to the Sheet Bend we just learned, the Bowline secures a rope around an anchor like a tree, instead of to another rope. If your hiking partner ever needs to be rescued after a fall the Bowline is the knot to use to anchor your rope. The Bowline Knot is easy to untie even after being tightened under a load but also tends to loosen when not under load, so as with any knot it is always good to check it before trusting your life to it. 

When to Use: Securing a rope around a tree or other anchor for use as a rescue line.



5. Clove Hitch Knot

The Clove Hitch is a simple knot that is useful for securing rope to tent stakes, branches or round posts. If you've ever watched an old western, you've seen cowboys use Clove Hitches to secure their horses. The Clove Hitch is also used when lashing poles together to create a wilderness survival shelter. 

When to Use: Securing rope to tent stakes, branches or posts. 



Additional Resources for Learning Knots

Pick up one of these books to learn more knots. We like to bring a knot guide on some of our backpacking trips so we can practice knots in camp. 

Austin Campbell
Austin Campbell

Austin lives in the Pacific Northwest where he enjoys hiking and backpacking in the Olympic and Cascade mountains.

6 Responses


June 22, 2018

All the videos don’t work now :(


June 22, 2018

All the videos don’t work now :(

Donna Bullaro
Donna Bullaro

March 19, 2018

I was trying to watch the videos but each one said video unavailable. Is there somewhere else to get them?


June 25, 2017

Your good knowledge and kindness in playing with all the pieces were very useful. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a step like this.
Thanks for one marvelous posting! I enjoyed reading it; you are a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and may come back someday. I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!

Brent Ransenberg
Brent Ransenberg

October 19, 2016

Your notes about the Bowline are missing a CRITICAL factor!!! You use this knot to create a loop in which to secure the person you are rescuing. REASON It is one of the few knots that creates a loop and DOES NOT Tighten!!! If you used two half hitches or a Taught Line Hitch the loop would tighten around the persons waist and could cause them injury.

Mark Moran
Mark Moran

September 16, 2016

The modern backpacker only needs to know how to tie their shoelaces and make 1 star hotel room bookings online. But even that is a struggle for some of them. lol

Leave a comment

Also in Hiking and Backpacking Blog

Whitney Thomas Interview: Embracing Freedom in the Outdoors
Whitney Thomas Interview: Embracing Freedom in the Outdoors

by Erin Gautier December 05, 2018

Though you probably do not know her name, Whitney Thomas is a true outdoorswoman.

When I set out to interview her about women in the outdoors, I had no idea how strikingly real and powerful her insights would be. Instead of lingering on the lack of quality, technical women’s gear (and how so much of it is pink) or on the gender gap in guiding, Whitney took time to talk over why she loves the outdoors, and what all it has offered her.

Read More
Our Favorite Gift Ideas for Hikers
Our Favorite Gift Ideas for Hikers

by Austin Campbell November 16, 2018

The holidays are here and it's time to find a thoughtful gift for everyone on your list. To help we've picked a few of our favorite gift ideas to help you find the perfect gift for the outdoorsy hikers on your list.
Read More
Tips for Finding Budget Friendly Hiking Gear
Tips for Finding Budget Friendly Hiking Gear

by Erin Gautier November 13, 2018

Where do you take friends and family when they come to visit?

Is it on your favorite hike, to a great coffee shop, to the biggest shopping mall, or somewhere else?

For me, though a few places make the list, bringing people to the most grand and gorgeous gear shop near me is an absolute must.

Read More

Join Us on the Trail

Size Guides

Sock Size Guides

Small 4 - 6.5 2 - 4.5 35 - 37  20.5 - 23
7 - 9.5
5 - 7.5 38 - 40 23.5 - 25.5
10 -12.5
8 - 10.5 41 - 45 26 - 28.5
13.5 - 15
11 - 13.5 46 - 49 29 - 31

MEN'S  US  UK Europe CM
Small N/A N/A N/A 20.5 - 23
6 - 8.5
5.5 - 8 39 - 41 23.5 - 25.5
9 -11.5
8.5 - 11 42 - 44 26 - 28.5
12 - 14.5
11.5 - 14 45 - 47 29 - 31


T-Shirt Size Guides

Small 2 - 4 Length: 26" Width: 15 ¾"
Medium 6 - 8 Length: 26 ½" Width: 16 ½"
Large 8 - 10 Length: 27 ⅛ " Width: 17 ½"
X-Large 10 - 14 Length: 27 ¾" Width: 18 ½"
2X-Large 14 - 18 Length: 28 ⅜" Width: 19 ½

Small 34 - 37 Length: 28" Width: 18"
38 - 41
Length: 29" Width: 20"
42 - 45
Length: 30" Width: 22"
46 - 49
Length: 31" Width: 24"
2X-Large 50 - 53 Length: 32" Width: 26"

Holiday Deals