Saturday, 19 November 2016

Tarp and Hammock Knots

I have previously completed a blog post about using my accommodation for the night into a knotting skills base on a cub competition camp (link here to the knots used). The list isn't a complete one however because I only listed the knots that the Cubs needed to know, which wasn't all of those that were/ can be used. I have therefore swiped some information of that page and added in the knots that I find that I use on a regular basis.

(L-R) Evenk Knot, Taut Tarp Hitch and Prussic Hitch

 Now the Evenk and Taut Tarp knots and Prussic Hitch are the three knots that are the minimum needed to erect a tarp over your head, you can use other knots but the first two are quick release and the latter is simply looped around the ridge line and is designed to be both loose and fixed. I've covered them on a separate blog page because I decided to show the tying of them stage by stage which would make a combined knot page rather big. And to make sure that the remaining knots didn't take up loads of room on their own I have declined to do individual how to pictures in favour of links to the excellent Animated Knots website. So the rest of the knots that I use or have used in no particular order are...

Clove Hitch

A rather handsome and symmetrical knot that I use if I ever use any type of  supporting pole to hold a side up at an angle. I often don't bother but in this instance I did because it gave me a way of utilising the knot for the competition. Animation here.


A knot that often gets the Cubs confused, all this tree and rabbit talk and all that. I often, but not exclusively use this to secure guy lines to loops, or elastic loops if on a Cub camp to absorb a clod hopper who catches the guy with their foot. It's no accident that they are both hi viz and reflective too. Animation here.

Round Turn and Two Half Hitches

Often depicted as a knot to hold a boat secure, the round turn and two half hitches is one of the knots that the Cubs often get right because of it's simple layout. Whilst I usually tie a bowline to secure a guy rope this knot will also do a job. It can also be 'slipped' to make it easier to un-tie (that means making the last half hitch into a loop by doubling the rope back). It is also the basis of the Anchor knot which sees the cordage threaded between the round turns and whatever the knot is being secured to. Animation here. You can also use the similar Anchor Hitch too (animation here).

Reef Knot

This isn't a knot which I often use so I utilised it in the making of a wooden tripod to hang my rucksack on to keep it both accessible and off the ground. A loop is tied and then loosely placed around the top of the three poles and then one of the poles (usually the middle one) is turned vertically through 360 degrees to tighten it. I deliberately used hi viz orange paracord for this to hopefully attract an attentive eye to it as it wasn't the most obvious of knots. I usually use a fisherman's bend which is essentially two overhand knots tied onto the ends of a cordage loop and pulled tight. Animation here.

Sheet Bend

Of the six this is the one knot that I probably use the least, although forming it in a tarp loop probably makes it a proper sheet bend doesn't it? What I did with this was to form up two different coloured guy lines with one and then attach it to a tree. Note the working ends should be on the same side of the knot. Animation here.

Double Sheet Bend

Animation here (it takes you to the Sheet Bend video but there is a tab to click for the double sheet bend underneath it).

Highwayman's Hitch

I've left this hitch until last as it's the showy one of the half dozen that the Cubs need to learn. As with a round turn and two half hitches often being associated with a boat mooring, the highwayman's hitch is usually associated with tying a horse up, although I'm not sure if it would work with reins as they are a loop. I use this knot to secure my footwear to a secondary paracord line that runs just under the tarp which is useful for hanging items off. It means that they are grabbable in the morning with a sharp tug but it isn't such a good idea if they are covered in liquid mud. Animation here.


Note it's use as a stopper knot in the double sheet bend picture. The overhand is quite a useful knot and a base for several other more complex knots (see here).

Figure of Eight

This, like the overhand knot above, is another good stopper knot. Animation here.

Overhand Loop

Shown without the tarp in place for clarity. Instead of actually using the loops they effectively form part of a slipped double overhand for securing an underblanket to insulate the hammock at night. Wikipedia information here.

Lark's Head (or Cow Hitch)

This knot has several uses such as hanging the tarp and hammock bags from the kit line to keep things like phones and watches in, securing a guy line to a tarp loop and fixing a small length of cordage at the end of the hammock and the extra line running under the apex (to wick rain away). Animation here.


Used for shortening a guy line and indeed can also form the first part of a waggoners hitch style tensioning knot which isn't featured on this page as I don't use it.  Animation here.

Prussic Hitch

Fisherman's Knot animation here (the animated knots website only  shows  double overhands being tied but single overhands are what I use) and Prussik animation here.

Chinese Button Knot

This is used in the adjustable loop on a 'Whoopie Sling' hammock suspension system and work in a roughly similar way to the Prussic Hitch mentioned earlier. It is effectively a fancy stopper knot to prevent the loop from pulling into the rest of the cordage and then be potentially unrecoverable. I got this simple idea from Adrian Rose's Northwest Bushcraft Youtube channel (see it in this video) and pimped it a little. The button knot is an embellishment but if you want to learn how to tie it I've covered it on this paracord blog page.

Whilst on the subject of Whoopie Slings if you don't use caribiners to connect to the tree hugging webbing then you'll need to learn how to make and more importantly set up a Marlinspike Hitch. I don't ever use it so I've not featured it but as mentioned it must be set up correctly.

Double Slipped Reef Knot

This is a shot I used from a tarp article that appeared in Scouting magazine which has Pablo checking my set up out. If you look at the green cordage in his left hand you'll see the supplied hammock lines for suspending it which I've replaced with the whoopie slings. They simply attach to the tree using a double slipped reef knot which I'm not going to feature a how to on because it is a technical name for the knot you tie a shoe lace with. I also used to double knot the 'bunny ears' too. 

Suggested further reading:- 

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