The clove hitch is one of the most useful outdoor knots that you can learn. This simple bind can be used for everything, from hanging a bear bag, to loading your anchors correctly to top-rope a rock climb.
The key benefit to a clove hitch is how easily it can be adjusted. This is helpful if you're working with a system that requires multiple points to be under equal tension, like a climbing anchor system. You can even use clove hitches as part of your hammock system. 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. Mastering both of these lets you tie the clove hitch around an object and as a hitch that is carabiner-ready, so you can just clip in and go in the mountains.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 part of 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.
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.
Step 3: Hold each 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.
Step 4: Attach your carabiner through both loops and make sure you screw the gate shut.
Step 5: Pull your hitch tight by pulling both the standing and working ends of the rope.
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. 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, backing up your knot is never a bad idea. Chances are, your clove hitch won't ever slip, but a simple figure-eight knot on a bite of rope at the slack end of the clove hitch prevents the rope from sliding through.
Use your clove hitch when you need an adjustable knot that you can rely on to hold a load.
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