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Hacks / March 6, 2016

How to: Tie a Spanish Bowline

Written by: Matt Minich

Most of us have learned (and forgotten) the simple bowline a dozen times or more. It’s relatively easy to learn, and it can take all the tugging and pulling you can give it without tightening up and becoming difficult to untie.

The Spanish Bowline is a rescuer’s variant on this staple. The knot produces two sturdy loops in a butterfly—this works as a makeshift harness that can be used to lift or lower someone who is injured, stranded, or just plain overwhelmed.



1. Middle the rope, then pull the bight beneath the two standing parts, creating two opposing crossing turns.



2. Twist both crossing turns inward 180 degrees around their standing parts to form elbows in both legs.



3. Overlap the two crossing turns with the right one over the left.

Grab the right leg of the left crossing turn through the right crossing turn and pull it through.



4. With the original left crossing turn pulled through the original right one, there is now a new crossing turn around the standing parts.



5. Reach through the backs of the original twin crossing turns.

Grab the right leg of the third crossing turn with the right hand; grab the left side of the third crossing turn with the left hand.



6. Pull both sides of the third crossing turn through the original twin crossing turns to form two loops.



7. Pull the loops tight to finish the knot.


Step-by-step directions from The Field Guide to Knots by Bob Holtzman. 

about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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