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The ultimate adjustable knot: How to tie a clove hitch

A clove hitch knot is easy to make with this simple guide

The clove hitch is one of the most useful outdoor knots that you can learn. This simple bind can be used for almost everything, from hanging a bear bag, to loading your anchors correctly to top-rope a rock climb.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Any type of rope

The real benefit to a clove hitch is just how easily it can be adjusted. This is handy if you're working with a system that requires multiple points to be under equal tension, like a climbing anchor system, or want to get the perfect tension in your hammock setup. The adjustable hitch lets you quickly re-tension the system without having to retie knots, saving valuable time and effort.

There are two methods for tying a clove hitch — around a fixed point, or carabiner ready — and our guide will have you mastering both in no time.

Tying a clove hitch for a fixed point

Tying a clove hitch around an object is the way most people learn this hitch. This is useful for securing bear bags onto tree branches or tying to a fixed anchor position in the mountains.

Step 1: Place the working end of your rope over your chosen anchor. Ensure you have enough rope to go around the anchor three times and still leave several inches of tail.

Step one of tying a clove hitch, a rope draped over a branch

Step 2: Wrap the working end around your anchor again, crossing over the first wrap. You should now have two wraps and your rope should look like an X.

Rope crossed over itself on a branch as part of tying a clove hitch

Step 3: With your final wrap, tuck the working end under the previous wrap. You should still be able to see the X on top of the whole hitch.

Feeding the working end of a rope through a clove hitch

Step 4: Pull both ends tight and make sure you have a few inches of tail on the standing end. This will stop your clove hitch from untying easily.

A clove hitch tied to a fixed point

Tying a carabiner ready clove hitch

If you need to tie a clove hitch in the middle of a length of rope, you don't want to have to pull meters and meters of rope around an anchor three times. Tying a freestanding clove hitch lets you attach your knot at the chosen point in your rope and this method is best used for clipping a carabiner to your clove hitch.

Step 1: Make a loop in your rope, with the working end on top of the standing line.

Making a loop in rope to tie a clove hitch

Step 2: Make a second loop in the same fashion, with the working end on top of the standing line. You should have two identical loops next to one another. If you're over a certain age — looking at you, dads — this looks a little like the spool on a cassette tape.

Two loops in a rope as part of tying a clove hitch

Step 3: Hold one loop in either hand, keeping the working end of the rope on top. Move the loop in your right hand behind the loop in your left hand.

Two loops of a clove hitch being moved past one another

Step 4: Attach your carabiner through both loops and make sure you screw the gate shut.

A loose clove hitch tied onto a carabiner

Step 5: Pull your hitch tight by pulling both the standing and working ends of the rope.

A clove hitch tied to a carabiner

There are endless uses for the clove hitch and it is one of the most valuable knots in your outdoor tool kit. We only recommend tying a clove hitch around rounded objects, as even blunted corners can give your clove hitch some room to move and this can work your hitch loose over time. Clove hitches may also come loose if they are repeatedly loaded and unloaded — such as a docked boat bouncing in the wind — and the rope may work itself through the hitch over time.

If you're leaving your clove hitch in place for a long time or loading it up with something important like your body weight, it's a good idea to back up the knot. Chances are, your clove hitch won't ever slip, a couple of quick half-hitches,

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