Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Three Main Tarp Knots

I've detailed all the knots that I use for putting a tarp and hammock up elsewhere on my blog but I've separated out the three main knots onto their own page so that if you don't learn any others will at least get your tarp up and secured and indeed, if you are ground dwelling, no more would be needed. As they are key knots I've used a fairly large image at each stage of tying which would make a page with all the knots on rather large!

The Evenk Hitch 

The Evenk Hitch (or Slippery Figure-of-Eight) is the first knot to tie when erecting a tarp. In this picture the standing part (the length going through the tarp loops) is in my left hand, the working part (the end of the cordage). This knot can also be done the other way around too.

After going around the tree trunk the standing part is wrapped around the fingers of my outstretched left hand in and over, under and over motion.

You then hold both the working and standing end in your right hand and then point the fingers of your left hand down which should bring the standing end both close and parallel 

Then bring your left hand up to the position shown in the picture (which is effectively an anti clockwise motion as viewed).

Then reach over with your left fingers and grab the working end securely between your index and middle finger.

Pull the working end through the loop, releasing your fingers at the same time and then gently but firmly pull the loop with your left hand whilst pulling the standing end in the same manner. 

Keep going with this motion until the nearly completed knot is close to, but not tight around the tree

The reason that this should be the first knot that you start with is evident now. It can be slid up the tree trunk to whatever height you desire and if you are using a hammock under your tarp that's usually as high as possible.

And this is the completed Evenk hitch. Although there's no need to I often put a forked stick through the loop to help secure the knot which is probably all in my mind, and some folk make extra loops through the first loop too.

Once you've had a practice it's actually a knot that has a sort of rhythm to it when tied and is actually quite easy to do. If you click on the above image it will show you it being tied in a shot clip.

Tarp Taut Hitch

Once the Evenk Hitch is tied and the ridge line positioned it's time to secure your tarp with the Tarp Taut Hitch  (which I also see written as the taut tarp hitch). Again as before the standing end is in my left hand, the working end in my right.

Predictably as before take the cordage around the second tree

Pull the working end towards you taking up any slack.

Then take the working end across the tree to the left as shown above. I usually take it under the standing part but I see no reason why it can't go above it as well.

Noe the working end is taken over the standing part and is now facing to the right, again as shown above.

The stage between the above and the previous picture is key to getting the line taut. The working end should be pulled as tight as it can be to get tension into the standing part  (this may even see the standing part pulled in a little towards the tree) and passed from the right hand to the left hand as shown above. 

The working part is passed around the trunk (still held as taut as possible) and finish up being held near where it was looped over the standing part.

Form the working end into a small loop over the standing part which the right hand holds. If you tip your head to the right and look at the small loop of cordage formed in my right hand you can see it looks a bit like an upper case D. Don't lose the tension at this stage.

Form another small loop with your left hand and push it through the small D shaped loop in your right hand. 

If you can keep the D shaped small you won't lose much tension once you've pulled the second loop through.

Like the Evenk Knot you can put a small forked stick through the loop or do another (and another!) loop if you wish. Both knots are tried and trusted but I like the extra step for piece of mind.

The completed knot. If you've managed to keep the tension you should be able to pull down on the standing part of the cordage and get a 'Dung' sound from it. This should help towards you getting army bed sheet straightness in your tarp.

Again like the Evenk I've also done a small movie clip of the knot. Click on the above picture to watch it.

Prussic Hitch

Whilst a taut ridge line will contribute to a crease free tarp it is not the only thing that will help. The orange loop attached to a gated clip is a Prussic (or Prusik) Knot. It is well known to climbers as a loop that can me moved freely along a rope but can be locked quite securely in any given position too. This quality is used to attach the tarp securely at each end and work in tandem with the taut ridge line.

The loop that supports the Prussik Hitch above is secured using a Fisherman's or Double Fisherman's Bend. It needs a loop forming first. Use about a foot-and-a-half (45 cms) length of paracord and secure the two ends together using a Fisherman's Bend (animation is here although the Animated Knots website only  shows  double overhands being tied but single overhands are what I use). To save a long line of pictures of the Prussic knot being tied I've included another link to the Animated Knots website and here. To be honest my version differs from the animation in that I take two turns on the outside of the loop and put the final turn through the loop...It still works but I might get a furrowed brow and pursed lips from a climber if they ever saw it. 

Finally there are two other knots worthy of mention; the Adjustable Guy Line Knot and the Falconers Knot. The former, as the name suggests is used to tension a guy line that has no loop on it. I don't need it and that's the reason I've not included it on this page but Paul Kirtley has done a good article  in his blog about it here. The latter again has a clue in the name and is favoured by falconers because it is not only a quick release knot but it can be tied one handed. It can be employed in tarp erection but that said I've barely used it to the point where I would now be a bit ham fisted tying it. Evenk and Tarp Taut knot all the way for me. 

Suggested further reading:- 

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