There are a variety of paracord knots that can be used in bushcraft, each used for different situations and purposes.
In this guide, I will attempt to run through the most useful and widely used paracord knots for your bushcraft needs.
What is the easiest paracord knot?
The easiest paracord knot to tie has to be the overhand knot which we detail below.
With that being said, you can easily master many different knot types through practice, so don’t be overwhelmed.
Start with the overhand and then move on to the more advanced ones.
You will soon become a paracord master!
Good quality paracord is supple and can be tied into a variety of knots very easily. It is therefore ideal for securing items and providing support.
There are various paracord knots that you can use, depending on what you are aiming to achieve.
Before we begin though, there are a few terms that we need to understand.
- Working end: this is the end that you are tying the knot with.
- Standing end: this is the opposite end to the working end.
- Standing part: any part between the two ends.
- Bight: a section of cord that is formed into a U shape, without crossing over the standing part.
- Loop: formed by turning the working end back on itself and crossing the standing part.
Now we have the terminology sorted let’s move on to a selection of paracord knots that will cover most situations in the field.
One of the simplest and probably one that most people already know is the overhand knot.
It can be tied on one piece of rope or cord or used to tie two pieces together in a parallel fashion.
One use for the single overhand knot is to tie a stopper knot, to keep something in place on the cord.
Another is as a distance aid if you want to measure the distance you have travelled during navigation.
A simple overhand knot in a piece of cord every 100m will aid you when you come to total up the distance covered at the end of your walk.
The overhand knot is also very good for joining two pieces of paracord together, should you want to make a lanyard or form a loop of cord, as shown in the image above.
How to tie overhand knot:
- Take the section of cord that you want to tie a knot in and form a loop.
- Take the end of the cord and pass it through this loop and pull tight.
The Reef Knot (Square Knot)
The reef knot, sometimes known as the square knot, is also well known.
It is a useful knot for tying two pieces of cord together for simple tasks and also provides a flat surface, which comes in useful if using it in certain situations such as first aid.
There are better and stronger knots available if you are looking to tie two pieces of cord together and put them under strain, which we will cover later.
Indeed, you certainly shouldn’t be using a reef knot for any type of load.
However, for a simple and quick knot for securing items, such as binding down equipment, etc, the reef knot is a valuable one to know.
How to tie a reef knot:
- Hold one end in your right hand (working end) and the other in your left hand (standing end), with both ends facing upwards
- Take the working end and pass it over the standing end, then tuck underneath and bring back up – both ends should now be on the opposite side to where they started.
- Then take the working end (now on left) and pass it over the top of the standing end, tuck underneath and bring back up.
- Pull together to form the knot.
Remember the adage: right over left and under – left over right and under.
Following the above will ensure that you tie the reef knot and not the less useful granny knot.
The Prusik Knot
Designed by Austrian mountaineer Dr. Karl Prusik, the prusik knots original purpose was to allow a climber to ascend a rope in an emergency (or unplanned) situation.
However, aside from climbing, the prusik knot is also very handy for bushcraft and outdoor purposes.
One of the most common bushcraft/survival uses is for stringing out and tensioning a tarp whilst using a ridgeline.
How to tie a prusik knot:
- Create a loop, known as a prusik loop, by tying two of the paracord ends together. You can use a double fisherman’s knot for this or similar.
- Next, take the opposite end to the knots and form a bite.
- Assuming your chosen pole/branch/rope (that you want to tie onto) is laying horizontally, take your bite end and place over the top of this and then back underneath, so that your bite end and knot and are on the same side and pointing towards you.
- Take the knot end and place through the bite end.
- Dress towards the pole/branch/rope.
- Take the loop that is on top (that was the bite) and take it back over and around again, mimicking the first step.
- Again, take the knotted end and place through the loop.
- Dress this down to create the prusik knot. You should be able to count four wraps in total.
How it works:
When loaded, the knot tightens securely around its subject. It does this as it is a friction knot.
This allows the user to tighten and secure against this knot, allowing them a fixed point to secure to.
When the knot is unloaded and the tension released, the prusik should loosen, allowing the knot to slide along the rope and re-grip at the next intended point.
This allows the user to move the knot along the rope, to the next required point and then load again.
This allows for a very useful knot, that can be secured and quickly moved as required.
The Clove Hitch
The clove hitch is used to tie onto a pole or branch and is a handy knot to start a lashing or binding with.
It’s not the best of knots if used on its own, as it slips quite easily and needs to be combined with another knot or lashing to be properly secure – but it is a handy knot to know nonetheless.
How to tie:
- Take the end of your cord and place over the top of the pole of or branch that you want to secure to.
- Take underneath and back around, so that the working end crosses over the first wrap of cord.
- Go around once more and feed the end underneath the ‘cross over’ loop that you just formed, so that the cord runs parallel with the tail end.
- Dress together and you will have a clove hitch. This can be confirmed by checking that you have a cross formation, as shown in the above image.
The Bowline Knot
If you want to tie a fixed loop at the end of your paracord, the bowline knot is a solid choice.
This knot is great as it locks the loop in place and stops it slipping.
How to tie a bowline knot:
- Take the working end of your cord and form a loop in it, where you want the knot to form – the loop should follow an anti-clockwise direction, with the working end should sit on top, and should now be facing downwards, towards you.
- Take the working end and thread back through this loop, on the right-hand side, passing it behind the standing end and bringing it back around through the loop again.
- Pull tight to form your fixed loop.
You now have a bowline.
The Alpine Butterfly
If you want to create a loop in a length of paracord, without having to get the ends involved, then the alpine butterfly knot is a good choice.
It enables you to tie a strong loop that you can tie onto, whilst maintaining the strength of the main line.
This provides a variety of possible uses, one example would be to provide the loops for a trotline, to tie your mono-filament hook-lengths onto.
All in all, a very handy knot to know.
How to tie the alpine butterfly:
- Take some slack and wrap the cord around the palm of your hand 3 times.
- Take the middle section and tuck it underneath the right-hand section.
- Bring it around the front, to the left, and over the original left-hand section.
- Take it underneath the other two sections, and bring out on the right-hand side.
- Grip the loop on the right and pull the two rope ends to form the fixed loop.
You now have the alpine butterfly.
And now the video run-through of the above…
I hope you find the above article useful for learning and tying your paracord knots. Please let us know how you get on in the comments below.
Thanks for reading