Introduction: Hangman's Noose Pack Closure

I've had this military backpack for several years.  Over midterms the pull string closure broke.  Because it broke during midterms I had alot of time to think about how to fix it.  I had thought of several ways to fix it but I ended with what I thought was the best one.

In this instructable you will learn to tie a Hangman's Noose and a Monkey Fist and put them together to make an awesome closure for a military backpack

Wikipedia Background Knowledge

The hangman's knot or hangman's noose (also known as a collar during the Elizabethan era) is a well-known knot most often associated with its use in hanging. For a hanging, the knot of the rope is typically placed under or just behind the left ear. When the condemned drops to the end of the rope, the force is supposed to break the neck. The knot is non-jamming but tends to resist attempts to loosen it.

A monkey's fist or monkey paw is a type of knot, so named because it looks somewhat like a small bunched fist/paw. It also looks somewhat like a volleyball or an older style football. It is tied at the end of a rope to serve as a weight, making it easier to throw, and also as an ornamental knot. This type of weighted rope can be used as an improvised weapon, called a slungshot by sailors. It was also used in the past as an anchor in rock climbing, by stuffing it into a crack, but this is obsolete and dangerous.

The monkey's fist knot is most often used as the weight in a heaving line. The line would have the monkey's fist on one end, an eye splice or bowline on the other, with about 30 feet (~10 meters) of line between. A lightweight feeder line would be tied to the bowline, then the weighted monkey's fist could be hurled between ship and dock (or vice versa). The other end of the lightweight line would be attached to a heaver-weight line, allowing it to be drawn to the target easily.

The knot is usually tied around a small weight, such as a stone, marble, tight fold of paper, or a piece of wood. A thicker line will require a larger object in the center to hold the shape of the knot. Another variation of the monkey's fist knot omits the use of an external object as a weight and rather uses the spare end which gets tucked back into the knot. This results in a nicer looking knot of a lesser weight, minimizing the potential danger of hitting someone with the knot when hauling line.


If you decide to kill yourself or someone else with the knots that I teach in this instructable,  I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR STUPIDITY.

Step 1: Supplies

This is not a very supply intensive project.  There are only three things you need.

1) Rope

I used 5 feed of twisted sisal rope.  However,  you could use parashoot cord or anything else that slips through the backpack's grommets.

2) Dental Floss or a Lighter

If you are using synthetic rope you can simply melt the end of the rope with a lighter to keep it from fraying.  If you are using rope made from natural fibers you are going to need to whip the rope with Dental Floss.

3) A ball, nut, or bearing

To make a monkey fist that looks good you need a core to keep it's shape.  Without it, your monkey fist looks like butt

Step 2: Step 1: Protect the Ends

First you need to protect the ends of the rope.  Tying both a Monkey's Fist and a Hangman's noose is pretty hard on the end of your rope.  If you don't protect the end of your rope it'll fray and look bad

Synthetic Rope

Get your lighter and rope.  Go outside.  Burn the end of the rope with your ligher.  Let it cool down.  Your done!

Natural Rope

Whipping a rope
is an old skill that is very simple to learn.  You can find instructions in many places.  The link above contains instructions on how to do so.  I'm going to explain it to you from what I remember about it from scouts.  Below is an excerpt from the 11th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook

"Cut off any of the rope that had already unraveled.  Take a piece of strong string, preferably waxed and at least 2 feet long, and form a loop near the end of it.  Lay the loop near the end of the rope.  Tightly wrap, or whip, the string around the rope.  When the whipping is at least as wide as the rope is thick,  slip the end through the loop and pull hard.  Trim off the excess string,  then whip the ropes other end."

You probably don't need 2 feet and my excuse for waxed string is that dental floss is waxed.

Step 3: Step 2: Tie the Monkey Fist

'll be honest.  This step is a bitch.  Tying a Monkey Knot is no fun.  However,  it looks awesome.  If your not man enough you can skip this step.

Get your stone, marble, tight fold of paper, piece of wood, ball bearing, bouncy ball, or lug nut.

I'm not even sure how to tell you how to do this.  It took me 30 minutes to learn how to do it.  However,  I get you everything that I used to tie it.

Monkey Fist Wikipedia Article

Stormdrane ties a Monkey Fist on Youtube

Animated Knots ties a Monkey Fist

There are plenty of tutorials that help you tie a Monkey Fist.  Find one that works for you.

Step 4: Step 3: Tie the Noose

You've tied the Monkey Fist.  You've done the hard part!

Now for the easy part.  Tying the Noose.  If you were a bit rebellious as a scout you knew how to tie a Noose.  The leaders didn't like it but I personally didn't give a damn.

Take your monkey fist and feed it though the grommets in your backpack.

This part needs some trial and error.  I put my Monkey Fist end (Standing End) about 6 inches from the first grommet.  The next step is to take the Working End and form a bight that has it's curved end near the Monkey Fist.

The next step is to make 13 coils (It's not a Hangman's Noose without 13 coils) around both the standing end and the bight you just created.  after you do that you will take the working end and put it through the loop that still remains at the end.

Grab the end of the rope that is furthest from Monkey Fist and pull it.  This should draw the loop toward your coils until it stops around the working end of the rope.

Congrats!  Your done.

If that didn't tie you a good noose then you can try these sites to to get a better explanation

Wikipedia Article

Real Knots Explanation

Fallg51's Explanation


I am not in support of using the Hangman's Noose for anything except for what I have specifically outlined here.

Step 5: Step 4: Tying Up Loose Ends

Your Pretty much done.

Now you need to cut off the loose material from both the knots.

If you used synthetic rope this will be easy.  Just use your lighter like before.

If you used natural rope it will be difficult to whip such a short end.  I did a different whipping technique.  I simply crossed one end of the rope over the other and pulled tight until I had used about a foot of floss.

You can also seal it with hot wax.  However,  I've never been a fan of this method.

Enjoy your new backpack closure

I've got two questions for those of you who have done this instructable.

Firstly,  Do you know how to stop the rope from twisting from frequent use.

Secondly,  Can you recommend any cool patches.  I don't like the one that's on my backpack right now.


The Hangman's Noose is a very contested symbol and device.  Some police departments and schools detest the use of the Hangman's Noose.  Make sure it's ok to use one in your area before completing this instructable.