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QUESTION

I once tied a bear bag with a haphazard bundle of knots, and despite being seemingly impossible to untie, it came loose when lowering the bear bag and nearly smoked my friend standing under it. What are some good knots to learn for most stuff encountered while camping / backpacking?

{ asked by whatsisname }

ANSWER

Tying knots is actually a bit of an art. Depending on what you need it for, there are knots that slide, create loops, tighten under load, and do tons of other things. Here are some backcountry essentials:

Bowline Knot: Use this when you need a knot that absolutely, positively will not slip (unless loaded wrong). When I was in camp, we'd use these when making climbing harnesses out of webbing, since they were so safe. [link]

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Double Overhand Knot: Use this when you need to make a section of rope chunky so it doesn't slide or is easier to grab onto: [link]

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Noose (or Hangman's Knot): Use this when you need to make a loop of rope that slides easily to tighten around or pull things. [link]

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Double Fisherman's Knot: Use this when you need to attach two ropes together, as it holds very well when force is applied in the direction of the rope. Essentially just a double overhand knot on two ropes tied around each other. [link]

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Slip Knot: Use this when you need a knot, but you'll be undoing it frequently. It is easy to undo, even if it's been under heavy load. [link]

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Once you've mastered these, you should start understanding the dynamics of how knots can make ropes do all sorts of cool things. It's important that you practice these and know them well. You don't want to make a mistake and then trust a heavy load or your safety to a knot that might slip.

Be careful, and good luck!

{ answered by Hartley Brody }
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