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3 Classic (and Helpful!) Boy Scout Knots

Updated on August 2, 2011

For some reason or another, Boy Scouts have been getting a bad rap. Apparently, the skills they learn and the things they do make them seem... off. But really now, a lot of the things taught in Boy Scouts are helpful skills that are really handy in the right situations. Knots for example. Whether you need to secure a rope to yourself, set up a tent, or simply make a longer rope, knot tying is an invaluable Boy Scout skill. Here are three of them that I have found to be handy.

The granddaddy of all knots: the square knot.
The granddaddy of all knots: the square knot.

The Square Knot

The square knot is basically the first knot every scout is taught to tie. It's the knot made specifically to tie to lengths of rope together (provided the ropes are the same size/material). It is a knot that will not come apart, no matter how hard you pull. Without further ado, the steps are listed below:

  1. Hold one end of a rope in one hand, and another end in the other
  2. Put the rope end in your right hand over the one in the left and tie an over-and-under knot (you know, the one used to tie shoes with?)
  3. Next, put the rope end in your left hand (the one that was previously in your right hand) over the rope now in your right hand and tie that in an over-and-under knot.
Now pull the two ropes taut and there you have it! Square knot!

The Taut-Line Hitch

The taut line hitch is a cool knot that can be used for quite a few purposes. Mostly, it is used to tighten (or loosen) a tent guyline by pushing the hitch up or down.Instructions:

  1. Pass the line around a stake of some kind.
  2. Bring the end of the rope under and over the standing end of the rope, making a loop, and repeat the step inside the loop. Basically, you should make a loop and then wrap the rope around the inside of the loop (see the diagram for clearer instructions).
  3. Now pull the rope end outside of the loop and make a second loop away from the first (farther up the line).
Now, work any slack out of the knot: you should be able to move the knot you made up and down the rope. There you go.

The Bowline Knot

Personally, my favorite. It is a simple knot that forms a loop that won't slip, yet can easily be untied. It can be used to secure lines to yourself, if you need to be pulled in from dangerous situations, amongst plenty of other uses. 

  1. Make a small overhand loop in the standing part of a rope.
  2. Bring the rope end up through the loop, around behind the standing part, and back down into the loop.
  3. Tighten the bowline by pulling the standing part away from the loop.
There is also a shortcut method which I prefer using which is in a video below. I didn't make the video, but hope its informative!

the bowline shortcut video


Well, I hope that you have enjoyed this quick overview of knots. It's difficult to understand them by just reading, so I encourage you to take a good, hard stare at the pictures. Try them out, and use 'em if you need them sometime!


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    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I remember these knots from fact, I remember just about everything from the Boy Scouts! I had a great time learning and going on adventures when I was a kid. We hiked a small part of the Appalachian Trail (50 mi.) and did so much in the outdoors. Thanks for the nostalgia! Voting Up! Thanks for sharing.