How to Tie the Perfect Knot

eHow Outdoors Blog

Follow these easy instructions to tie a perfect square knot. 

I approach life like I approach filling a toolbox. A few tips here and few tricks there make for a well-rounded set of skills that can be used in any number of conditions, whether you are on the trail or on the train. In order to fill that toolbox, there are a few important lessons that every novice outdoor enthusiast should master early on. Some require a little more practice in the environments they are meant to be used like building a decent fire, successfully purifying water, or hanging a bear bag, and some simply require patience and a little dexterity like learning to tie a proper knot.

The most commonly used knot in the history of knots is the square knot, a.k.a the reef knot, depending on which scout troop you ask. It is a simple binding knot used to tie two lines or a single line with two free ends together in an effort to secure somethingThat “something” can be a bundle of kindling or a handful of wildflowers, as long as you can remember the clever little mnemonicRight over left, left over right, makes a knot both tidy and tight,” you can become a square knot boss.


  • Two different colored pieces of cord or rope. I am using 4mm Sterling climbing rope.


1. Take two ropes, in this case one red and one blue, and lay them one on top of the other.


2. Cross the red rope over the blue rope, and make sure the blue rope is underneath.


3. Take the red rope and swing it under the blue rope. Now the end of the red rope should be pointing down.


4. Pull the end of the red rope up again, creating a half pretzel-looking “U” shape. Both ends should be pointing up.


5. Cross the red end over the blue end, almost like an upside down heart.


6. Bring the red rope down behind the blue rope.


7. Pull the red rope through.


8. Tighten and enjoy your perfect square knot.


Now keep in mind, there are all sorts of knots for all different kinds of things. Complex knots used in sailing, climbing or search and rescue are to be taken quite seriously, but there are a few basic knots that can be adopted for decorative arts like macrame or making friendship bracelets. I often use these knots to make plant hangers or water bottle slings with nylon paracord or climbing rope.

All photos by: Jeanine Pesce

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