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Learn How to Tie a Square Knot in 6 Easy Steps

The square knot — also known as the reef knot — is one of the first knots you learn. In fact, you've most likely been tying it almost daily without even realizing it. The square knot is two overhand knots tied in opposite directions and is the knot we use to tie our shoes and hiking boots — albeit with loops. Sounds easy, right? Well, the good news is that it is, but it's also easy to get wrong and we recommend practicing so you don't end up with a granny knot instead.

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5 minutes

What You Need

  • Any type of rope

The square knot is a quick and easy method of attaching two ends of a rope together. It creates a knot that sits flat against a surface and that can be tightened while you tie it. This makes the square knot perfect for tasks like bundling up firewood, securing packs together, and even tying off bandages if someone gets injured.

This type of knot can slip through onto itself, and it isn't recommended that you trust it with your body weight or with important items when securing them to your kayak or paddleboard.

How to Tie a Square Knot

It's easy to get the square knot wrong and end up with a granny knot, which is not as secure and won't sit flat like a square knot. Practice these steps to make sure you secure your firewood properly.

Step 1: Hold the two ends of the rope in either hand. Place the left-hand end of the rope over the top of the right-hand piece.

Step 1 of tying a square knot around a bundle of wood

Step 2: Twist that same end under the right-hand piece of the rope.

Step 2 of tying a square knot around a bundle of wood

Step 3: Pull the rope tight around the bundle or package and keep some pressure on the working portion of the knot.

Step 3 of tying a square knot around a bundle of wood

Step 4: Take both ends of the rope in your hands again and place the right-hand end over the left-hand piece.

Step 4 of tying a square knot around a bundle of wood

Step 5: Wrap the right-hand end under the left-hand piece of rope.

Step 5 of tying a square knot around a bundle of wood

Step 6: Pull your square knot tight and ensure that it's seated correctly to prevent it from twisting over itself.

A finished square knot tied around a bundle of firewood

The square knot has many uses and is just one of many outdoor knots that it is important to know when you head into the backcountry.

Next time you need a quick and easy knot to tie up a package or bundle up your firewood, you'll be ready with your square knot. Tying this knot tightly at either end of a bundle of firewood not only keeps it secure but gives you points to carry it from. When you tie your shoes in the morning to go to work, remind yourself that you're practicing a valuable skill for the next time you're outdoors.

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