Need to Know Knots for the Backcountry

Square Knot 

Simple and easy, the square knot can be useful in a variety of backcountry situations. This knot is used to tie two pieces of rope together. You can use this knot to attach things to your pack, or make extra line for a tarp. This knot is easy to undo, even if under tension.

How to Tie

Holding the two lines together at one end, take the left strand under the right, then right over left and under. Take the new left part of the line, put it over the right and wrap around. Pull the ends of both lines to tighten.


Sheet Bend Knot


Similar to the square knot, the sheet bend knot is used to tie two pieces of cord together. This knot is more secure than a square knot but can loosen when not under pressure. Use this knot when you need to combine lines of different diameters, like when fixing a broken shoe string or guyline. 

How to Tie

Fold one end of the thicker line back to form a bight. Then, slip one end of the thinner line through the bight from underneath. Wrap the end of the thinner line around both arms of the thicker line, crossing the short end first. Complete the knot by tucking the thinner line under itself and over the thicker line. Pull on both lines to tighten.


Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is a great anchor knot. You can use it to tie something to a tree, stake out your tent or tarp, or even use it to rescue another person. This is a very secure knot, but may fall apart when it’s not under any tension.

How to Tie

Make an inward loop in the line with the running end (the trimmed end of the rope) on top of the long end. Take the running end of the line through the loop from underneath and then around the long side of the line and back down through the loop. Pull both ends to tighten.


Girth Hitch

The Girth Hitch knot can be used to quickly secure something to a tree, carabiner, or your pack. The possibilities are endless with this simple knot. The Girth Hitch is also known as a Cow Hitch or a Lark’s Head knot. Be mindful that this knot can migrate, so remember to not use it in life threatening situations.

How to Tie

Make a loop with your rope and circle one end of the loop around the object you want to hitch to. Then feed the other end through the loop and pull to tighten.

Bring the line over the pole and pass the lead end over the other end of the line, bringing it to the left. Take the lead end behind the pole and bring it back through the loop. Pull both ends to tighten.


Taut-line Hitch

The Taut-Line Hitch is an adjustable knot. This knot is best utilized to secure guy lines on tents or tarps. It’s a great knot to know in case one of your linelocs breaks while pitching your tent.

How to Tie 

To tie this knot, wrap the running end of the line over the object you want to hitch to, leaving yourself a long tail to work with. Create a loop by crossing the running end over the long end of the line, then feed the running end of the line through that loop from underneath, then repeat the step. Cross the running end of the line behind the long end, then back over and up through the new loop created. Pull on the line to tighten. You can adjust the loop by pushing on the knot.


Double Overhand Knot

The Double Overhand Knot is the knot we use on all of our tents! This knot is considered a stopper knot. It is used to keep rope in place. You can use this knot to keep drawstrings in place or keep guylines from slipping through linelocs.

How to Tie

Make a loop and feed the end of the line through the loop. Take the end that’s outside the loop and pass it through the loop again. Pull both ends to tighten. 


Zpacks Corey

About the Author
Corey Gruber oversees Social Media at Zpacks and helps monitor trends within the industry.