9 useful knots that every cottager should master

Bowline knot

Whether you need to secure a canoe or kayak to your vehicle’s roof rack or rig a tarp during a rainy day, knowing how to tie the proper knot can make a huge difference in determining whether or not you enjoy your time spent outdoors. And, if you do learn each of the knots below, you’ll be so useful that you’re pretty much guaranteed future invites to cottage and camping trips.

1. Square knot/reef knot

This classic knot has likely played a part in your life since you learned to lace up your own shoes. But it’s also quite handy for simple tasks around the cottage. You can use it to tie up packages, like bundles of firewood, or secure something in place, like the cover on your sail. But while this knot is nice and easy, it should never be used to ensure safety.

2. Bowline

This versatile knot, which is strong enough to support body weight, creates a loop at the end of a rope that won’t shrink or expand. It’s used by sailors to tie up their boats and by rock climbers to secure their harnesses. For those who are more into relaxing, this one’s perfect for easily stringing up and taking down a hammock. Backwoods campers can use this knot to hang bear bags from trees in order to keep their food safe.

3. Figure 8 and figure 8 follow-through

The figure 8 knot creates a stopper at the end of any rope. Sailors find it useful to prevent their lines from sliding up under their mast. It’s also a great way to keep the ends of a rope from fraying. A double version of the knot, the figure 8 follow-through is considered the safest, most secure knot for rock climbers, especially when they’re climbing outdoors in dangerous conditions. The great thing about a figure 8 is that even when it’s jammed up against something, it rarely tightens to the point that it has to be cut.

4. Clove hitch

Because it’s so easy to learn, the clove hitch is the go-to knot for quickly tying ropes to cylindrical objects, such as trees and poles. You can tie up your dog to keep him off your neighbour’s dock, stop wobbly tent pegs from slipping out of place, or secure a tarp on a rainy day.  The clove hitch is strongest when the diameter of the pole or tree is wide. It also has a tendency to slide down over time, so you may have to hike it back up or use a back-up knot below.

5. Fisherman’s knot

As it’s name suggest, The Fisherman’s knot is essential for anyone who plans on catching dinner on the lake. It can be used with other types of rope as well, but it works best with thin string and twine. For an even stronger version, try the double fisherman’s knot.

6. Blood knot

This handy knot, which weaves two ropes of similar size together, is a favourite of fishermen who want to join sections of leader or tippet or mend a broken line. The strength of the knot increases with more wraps and fishing experts recommend doing so at least five to seven times.

7. Sheet bend

The sheet bend is another knot that helps bring two wayward ropes together, but unlike the blood knot, it works better with materials of different types and thickness. It’s perfect for throwing together a makeshift clothesline or orchestrating an epic tug-of-war battle with whatever rope is on hand. The knot is also known as becket bend, weaver’s knot, and weaver’s hitch.

8. Taut-line hitch

The taut-line is an adjustable loop that can be used to secure a rope to an object or attach two ropes together so one can slide along the other. Campers who are securing their tents will love how easy it is to adjust the height and tightness of their guy lines. It’s also wonderful for setting up adjustable hammocks and clotheslines.

9. Trucker’s hitch

The trucker’s hitch is definitely one of the more complex knots to learn, but it’s well worth the effort. Truck drivers hauling major loads use this heavy-duty knot, but it’s also a lifesaver for cottagers who need to transport large objects. If you’re driving the canoe up for the summer or picking up a massive family Christmas tree, the tucker’s hitch is the way to go.