follow us:
Shoulders of Giants is closed. Click here for more information
Survival / March 16, 2016

3 knots you should know

Written by: Matt Minich

Solid rope skills are the mark of a serious and capable outdoorsman (or woman). Of course, certain rope skills are also the mark of a serial killer.

We’d rather give off the former image. So we get our knot knowledge from Bob Holtzman. He’s the author of several wilderness survival essentials, and his Field Guide to Knots includes more than 80 sets of simple, step-by-step instructions.

Bob’s publisher won’t let us publish his whole book online (go figure), but they did grant us permission to share the instructions for three of our favorite outdoor adventure knots.

For the roof rack: Trucker’s Hitch


Photo by Bob Holtzman.

If you only learn one knot from this post, make it this one. The Slip Knot Trucker’s Hitch is easy to learn, and we’ve found at least one use for it on every trip we’ve taken in recent memory.

The knot basically works like a ratchet strap. It can be used to affix boats, skis, or other gear to the roof of a car, or to tighten down guylines for a tent.

Learn it


For rescue: The Spanish Bowline


Photo by Bob Holtzman.

Most of us have learned (and forgotten) the simple bowline a dozen times or more. It’s relatively easy to learn, and it will 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.

Learn it


For showing off: The Monkey’s Fist


Let’s be honest—the Monkey’s Fist is mostly just a cool looking knot. It’s got a cool name, too, which is just as important.

And of course, it also has a purpose. The Monkey’s Fist is a “heaving knot”—it’s meant to make a rope easy to throw with distance and accuracy (just try tossing a rope without one).

Learn it

Have a go-to knot you think we should teach our readers? Email [email protected] to let us know.

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.

read more
hit the outdoors

Sign up for the inside scoop on new products, member discounts and inspiration from our giants.