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Having been in the outdoors for over 50 years, I can tell you without hesitation that there is only one knot that you REALLY NEED TO KNOW. It's called the Bowline (pronounced Bo'-lin). There are other versions of this same knot, such as "Bowline on the Bight", but you need to know the Bowline FIRST.

I learned this knot a hundred years ago using the "rabbit" example.

You take one end of a piece of rope and loop it around like you see on the left. The "Rabbit" is the loose end of the rope. The "Tree" is the long end of the rope. It goes like this:

"The rabbit goes up into the hole - around the Tree - and back down into the hole"

When you tighten the knot up, it will not slip. But, when you are done with it, it is very easy to UNTIE. That is its' biggest virtue. You do not have to cut off the knot later on because you can't get it untied.


This knot is terrific for making a strong loop in the end of any rope. If you pass the long end of the rope back through this bowline (loop) you have a lasso. It makes a great knot for clothes-lines, tent pegs, or any rope problem where you must have a knot that does not slip out. Mountain climbers and rescue workers use this knot daily on their climbing and scaling lines. They bet their lives on this knot on a daily basis. On a smaller scale, you can attach fishing weights to a line, and later on be able to change them to a bigger or smaller size.


When you need a strong knot to hang something from a branch or pole, tie it as you see it above. It's the same knot, tied upside down. The only difference is that the "rabbit" runs around the branch before it goes into the hole the first time. Try it. Hang on it. I bet it doesn't slip.

There are a lot of other useful knots out there, but the granddaddy of them all is the BOWLINE.

CHALLENGE: It is possible to tie a bowline around your body (tummy area) with only one hand. Can you do it? I can. I learned it in the military as part of rappelling training. ONE HAND ONLY.