Intro To Survival

Square Knot (aka Reef Knot, aka Hercules Knot)

The square knot is an easy knot to remember. With a quick tutorial and a few practice tries it should stick in your memory for all of time.

How To Tie a Square Knot

The best thing to remember with this knot is Right over left. Left over right.

Think of it as a standard double knot except instead of going under, under you go under, over.

Is it a strong knot?

The square knot is a good knot, but it is by no means the strongest. It’s most secure when used with a ridged or coarsely braided rope, string or yarn.

If you try to tie this knot on a smoother finished rope or cord such as nylon it has the tendency to loosen and slip.

The square knot is linked to a high death rated and it’s misuse has reportedly killed more people than any other knot.

It is misused as a bend (a secure way to tie two knots together), but SHOULDN’T BE. This rope is merely for fastening or binding two ends of the same rope to snugly tie something together.

In other instances failure isn’t necessarily because the knot didn’t work, but quite commonly because it was accidentally tied into what is known as a granny knot which is far less secure and easily mistaken.

When to use a square knot

A square knot is commonly used to tie a line around an object. More often than not it’s modern day use is to bundle a package or gear.

Also commonly known as a reef knot before being Americanized to the square knot, sailing expeditions used this common knot to secure sails aboard boats as well.

When NOT to use a square knot

Do not use the square knot to tie two separate ropes together.

Do not use the square knot for safety or rescue situations.

Do not use this not unless there is tension at both ends of the knot.

Square Knot Demonstrations

Step 1.

Hold your two working ends. One in each hand.

Step 2.

Cross the lines with the right rope crossing over the left rope.

Step 3.

Tuck the right rope under the left rope and pull it back over to create a twist.

Step 4.

Take the left working end (originally the right) and cross it over the right.

Step 5.

Tuck the left rope under the right rope and pull it back over creating a second (and identical) twist.

Step 6.

Grip both working ends and pull tight. If you can tuck your remaining fingers under the standing ends of the rope pull those too. You’ll get a tighter cinch.

Often for package tying it’s useful to have someone put a finger on the first/bottom twist while you pull the top one tight.

Coming Soon
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Common square knot variations: Backup Square Knot, Thief Knot, Slip Square Knot, Double Slip Square Knot

Similar knots: Granny Knot

Alternative Knots: Heaving Line Knot, Monkey’s Fist, Sheep Shank, Sheet Bend

Tim Seidler

Tim's not your typical outdoor guy. He's the guy that buys all the gear and then rarely uses it. But that's all changing now. He moved to the Pacific Northwest and has dedicated himself to learning everything there is to know about survival and the outdoors. What he lacks in experience he makes up for in natural curiosity, enthusiasm, and good looks.

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