8 Basic Knots for Rock Climbers

Solid rock climbers should definitely be able to show more than these 8 basic knots. Nonetheless, these are the knots I use time and again and they are all one needs to know for free climbing.

  1. Figure-Eight Loop. Absolutely essential knot used for tying rope to your harness. Take time to make it neat, nicely set. Undoing the knot will be much easier.


  2. Double Fisherman’s Knot.The strongest knot for connecting two ropes or two tails of a cord to form a loop. Eats quite a bit of rope, and is pain to untie after being loaded, but totally safe.

    Double firsherman's knot

  3. Figure-Eight Bend.This is an alternative to Double Fisherman for binding two ropes, but muuuuch easier to untie. My favorite.

    Figure-eight bend

  4. Water Knot.The perfect knot for tying webbing! My choice for tying accessory cords into loops. It’s slightly weaker than Figure 8 bend, but quick to tie, and uses very little rope.

    Water knot

  5. Clove hitch.Can’t praise this one enough. Great for tying to the anchor (allows readjusting your anchor without the need to untie first). Another use: slinging a horn for pro with this knot fixes the sling in place.

    Clove hitch

  6. Klemheist. A superb friction knot. Faster to tie than Prusik, easier to loosen after it’s been loaded. Works only in one direction though. You can use it with slings as well.

    Klemheist knot

  7. Munter hitch.For safe belaying (much better friction than belay plates or figure 8). Can be used for emergency rappel too, but the rope will suffer from kinking.

    Munter hitch

  8. Girth hitch. Simple hitch with many uses: attaching sling to rappel loop on your harness for clipping in; connecting two loops of cord quickly; slinging badly placed pitons.

    Girth hitch

And while you are at it, why not to learn 3 more knots that every climber may find occasionally useful: Mule knot (for locking off your belay/rappel device to free your hands), Bowline (a loop that is really easy to untie, however, take care to tighten it up for safety) and Alpine Butterfly (for tying in to the middle of rope, roping up on glaciers). Printer-friendly version of this page can be found at 8 Basic Knots for Rock Climbers (for print).

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4 Comments on “8 Basic Knots for Rock Climbers”

  1. Steven Says:

    the zeppelin bend is as strong as the figure8 or the double fisherman’s knot — and it remains easy to untie after loading.

  2. Andy Tate Says:

    Glad to see you mention the Klemheist. It is very versatile and I use it with a short nylon (not spectra) webbing loop when recreational tree climbing. Works well and unlikely to be tied incorrectly. Steven also mentions my favorite for joining or making loops in a tow rope, the Zeppelin bend. Even after pulling a car out a ditch its easy to untie. I think of it as the 69 knot ! Go and look at animated knots and you’ll see the connection.

  3. Mark W. Says:

    bumped into your site – really enjoying it. I do very little recreational climbing but did a lot of industrial climbing in the day (rock and roll and motion picture work) and learned my knots for safety, self rescue, and for the enjoyment of rapping back out of the ceiling or sky or wherever. You lay things out very clearly – knowing something and explaining something are related but not the same thing.

  4. هيئة المهندسين التجمعيين – corps des ingenieurs du parti du RNI

    This is my expert

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