Climb Safe With a "Figure 8 Knot"




Intro: Climb Safe With a "Figure 8 Knot"

 There are many things that a beginning climber needs to know, including several important knots. Perhaps the most essential knot is the Figure 8 Follow Through. This tutorial will demonstrate how to correctly harness yourself to a rope using a Figure 8  Follow Through knot. This knot is used primarily by rock climbers to provide a life-line. Since this knot is used as a life-line, it is very important to be able to tie it correctly (Your life could depend upon it!).  

Don't worry, with this tutorial and about 5 minutes of practice, you can have this knot mastered!

Things you will need:

- Climbing Harness
- Climbing Rope

If you are looking to learn this knot but dont have climbing gear, a belt loop and any rope will do.

Step 1: Dealing With the Rope

Throughout this tutorial, I will be discussing different parts of the rope. To make these instructions as clear as possible, I will define a few terms that I will use throughout the tutorial. The "Anchor End" of the rope will generally be at the top of the images. This is the end that would be anchored to the wall or rock, and does not move. We will not be doing much with the "anchored end". The "Tail End" of the rope is the opposite end that we will be dealing with. I will call this the "tail" for short.

Now that we have some terms to work with, lets get started.

Step 2: Tying the First Figure 8

This knot has several parts to it. The first part of the knot is just tying a basic "figure 8". To tie the first "figure 8", there are four simple steps.

 1 - Using the tail,  make a loop over the rope (as shown in the first picture), keeping in mind that there should be about 3 ft. of slack on the tail end.

2 - Wrap the tail back, this time go under the anchored end. (As shown in the second picture)

3 - Bring the tail down through the first loop. (As shown in the third picture)

4 - Finally, pull the two ends to make the knot a little bit tighter and easier to deal with. (Shown in the fourth picture)

After these four steps, you should end up with a knot that resembles a "figure 8".

Step 3: Looping Into the Harness

 In order to secure the rope to the harness, simply thread the tail end of the rope through the front loop in the harness as shown in the picture below. This step is obviously very important. 

To be even more secure, feed the tail end of the rope through leg loop and waist loop rather than the front "tie in loop".

Step 4: Following Back Through the Figure 8

After looping the rope through the harness, you have to thread the tail end of the rope back through the knot, following the first "figure 8". I have divided this process into five smaller steps in order to make it more clear.

1 - Coming form underneath the knot, bring the tail up through the near loop and to the left behind the anchored end of the rope. (Shown in the first picture)

2 - Wrap the tail around the anchored end back to the right, and down through the adjacent loop. (Shown in the second picture)

3 - You simply need to bring the tail back over the top of the knot to the left. (Shown in the third picture)

4 - Bring the tail end up through the far loop following the anchored end. (Shown in the fourth picture)

5 - Finally, pull the knot tight.* (Shown in the fifth picture)

As you can see, the first four pictures are simply tracing the knot back through with the tail end.

*For the last part, while you pull the knot tight, you may want to make small adjustments and rearrange how it all fits together. If the knot does not lay perfectly smooth and tight, it's NOT a big deal.

Step 5: Finishing the Knot

 After completing the Figure 8 knot, you will want to secure the tail end of the rope out of the way. There are a couple different ways to do this, the way that I will demonstrate is using what's called a "Stopper Knot". This secondary knot is pretty simple, but I have once again divided this process into several smaller steps.

1 - Start by wrapping the tail end around the anchored end. (As shown in the first picture)

2 - Wrap the tail back underneath the two vertical segments. (As shown in the second picture)

3 - Simply repeat the first two steps, wrapping the tail around again. (As shown in the third picture)

4 - This step in the fourth picture may look complicated, but all you need to do is insert the tail up through the two loops that you have just made.

5 - To finish off the knot, you will want to slowly pull the tail end while gently pushing the bottom of the stopper knot upwards. If you have successfully completed this knot, it should look something like the fifth picture. Ideally, the tail would be a little shorter than what I have shown.

Step 6: Ready to Climb!

 Now that you have mastered the Figure 8 knot, you can securely harness yourself into a climbing rope. Remember, there are many other skills that go into setting up an anchor and belaying a climber. This tutorial only covers the figure 8 knot. For more information, there are many great websites that demonstrate how to correctly set up a safe climbing system (I've posted a few below). If you are a beginning climber, I recommend that you read up on a few other climbing techniques. Also, you should probably go to a climbing wall or gym where there are experienced climbers that can "show you the ropes". Hopefully this tutorial has been helpful. Have fun and be safe.

Some useful links:



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    26 Discussions

    Purple Guy

    7 years ago on Step 2

    I learnt the knot as:

    "The rabbit comes out the burrow,
    Goes around the tree,
    And back in his burrow."

    Just makes it easier to remember I think :)

    4 replies
    mtxePurple Guy

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That is a bowline AKA "Death knot"
    Which by itself shouldn't be used in climbing, however some variations can be...


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    You're right with the bowline, but I believe "Death knot" is mostly referenced when talking about joining ropes with an overhand knot, commonly called the "Euro Death Knot".

    caarnteddPurple Guy

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I think that's a bowline. I didn't learn it that way, but it sounds familiar. Check out and see if it is the one you think it is.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    it's quite easy to learn the figure of eight knot

    But I do no agree


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm a climbing instructor and I like this tutorial very much. However, the climber ties into the two "tie-in points" on the harness, not the belay loop. The reasoning behind it isn't arbitrary. All manufacturers of harnesses say to do this also. If we're trying to teach someone a skill, we should strive to teach them what is right. I strongly suggest that the photo be changed to show the proper place to tie into.

    Second, carabiners are rarely used to connect the knot to the climber. If it ends up being done, two carabiners should be used, gates opposite and opposed. This way, there's like a billion to one chance that both carabiners could come unlocked and allow the climber to become disconnected. It doesn't take much for one carabiner to scrape up a wall and become unlocked in the process, and then be twisted to a point where the gate can pop open. Scary!

    Third, instead of tying the "stopper knot" at the end to "get the rope out of the way," just use less rope to make the tail way shorter. A fist-length of tail is more than enough to be safe. Remember, even if the figure-8 becomes partially untied, it forms an "inline figure 8." So even when partially tied, it forms a knot; ironic right!?

    6 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Agree with the first part, but I have been frequently taught with only a single, locking, carabiner attaching harness to knot. Especially when there are a lot of climbers and you are rotating them round with only a couple of ropes.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    It is fine to use carabiners to attach people to ropes, but it should be done with two. Imagine a young kid climbing up and the gate comes loose and they don't know any better since they haven't really climbed. If the kid falls on it just the right way, they can come out of the system. The two carabiner thing isn't 'just because,' it is meant to minimize the chance of something really bad from happening.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    For the greater majority of my climbs, I use a single, double-locking carabiner. Only when on my highest climbs do I use two, sometimes three, of the same type of carabiner. So frankly, I think it's a matter of personal/professional preference.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I am a scout and have been abseiling and rock climbing countless time and have always only used one locking carabiner - not once has the locking mechanism (the bit you turn to secure the carabiner) ever budged. I personally would place my life on just one good quality locking carabiner.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hit the gate of a carabiner enough times and it will budge and possibly open, given the right circumstances. This is not debated, this is fact. Old carabiners are even easier to open. I have some that barely take any force at all to screw open.

    During certain instances, it is totally fine to use one carabiner: belaying, master point on an anchor, rappelling, etc. If a person is being attached to the rope by a carabiner instead of tying into the knot though, two carabiners should be used, gates opposed. An old carabiner can open so easily there is no reason to risk someone coming detached because only one carabiner was used.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry for my ignorance, i guess under the right (or wrong for that matter) circumstances, a carabiner could come open but I have never experienced this myself :)


    4 years ago

    your tying into the gear loop, is not correct. climbing harness has a tie in part that is engineered so is you fall your not upside down when ties properly. gear loops are for gear like belay devices using it for tying in ALSO places all wear and tear on the loop and reduced harness life.

    as a climbing instructor tying to the gear loop is an automatic belay test fail


    6 years ago on Introduction

    As a climber, I agree that this instructable is correct, as long as we observe what tymont12 said below. 2Tie in points for the rope, belay loop for belaying/ rappelling.  

    This animation is nice and can serve as a nice supplement:


    8 years ago on Introduction

    When tying yourself off, you use the two loops that are right on the front harness...

    When belaying, you use the smaller loop that joins them, no?

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I second this.

    the loop on the front of your harness is the belay loop and is for use with a carabiner for belaying


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i have also heard of it being done this way.
    also, what is your opinion of using a 'biner to attach to the harness?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    to me a beaner = bombproof (as long as you close it)
    but a beaner can twist and , um, cause discomfort...