The Bowline Knot




This is a very useful knot to learn. It is one of the strongest knots that becomes tighter when put under pressure. It is often referred to as the "King of the Knots," because of its strength and reliability. Typically used at sea, this knot dates back to the 17th century during the time America was discovered. Though it is widely known as one of the most durable knots, it may not hold well when tied with certain materials. Therefore it's use for life threatening situations should be avoided.


At least 2 feet of rope

Step 1: LH Starts

Hold rope near the top with left hand.

Step 2: Thumbs Down RH

Grasp middle of rope with right hand making sure thumb is in front of rope, NOT under.

*Should look like you are giving a thumbs down.

Step 3: Thumbs Up RH

Still holding on to rope, turn right hand up making a loop in the rope. Loop does not need to be big.

*Should look like you are giving a thumbs up.

Step 4: LH Fasten Rope With Thumb

Adjust left hand grasp on rope by securing the "X" where ends of rope cross with thumb. Also, point index finger in left hand letting top piece of rope drape over it.

*There should be an opening between rope and index finger in left hand. This is very important.

Step 5: Up Through the Loop

Looks confusing but DO NOT freak out. Take piece of rope that was hanging down and insert it UP through the loop with right hand. This is where it should resemble a pretzel with three openings. IT IS IMPERATIVE that you keep middle finger left hand in the middle opening, and fourth finger/and or pinkie in the left opening.

*Again, it should look like a pretzel here.

Step 6: Around the Tree

May look even more confusing but DO NOT freak out. Take end of rope that you inserted through the loop and wrap it UNDERNEATH the piece of rope that is draped over LH index finger, hence "around the tree." This is where that opening between LH index finger and rope comes into play. Now BREATHE.

Step 7: Down the Rabbit Hole

Take same piece of rope that went around the tree and insert down through middle opening. It is important that left hand keeps middle finger in middle opening and fourth finger or pinkie in left opening.

Step 8: LH Holds Loop & RH Holds Ends

Let right hand hold both ends of rope. Let left hand middle finger release middle opening/loop and pull loop held by fourth finger.

Step 9: Pull

Pull both ends of rope with right hand and loop with left hand.

Step 10: Tighten Knot

Pull loop with both hands to tighten knot.

*If knot does not tighten that means you may have pulled the wrong loop back in step 8.

Step 11: The Finished Look

Should have a loop and two ends of rope with a super strong knot.



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3 Discussions


3 years ago

Tightening the knot by pulling it that way distorts it and makes it less stable.


3 years ago

I like the thumbs down to thumbs up method - thanks for that!! It'll make teaching my Sea Cadets a bit easier!!


3 years ago

I find knots fascinating! Thanks for breaking this down into easy to follow steps!