Knot of the Week: Threaded Figure-Eight

by May 18, 2009 05/18/09
Threaded Figure Eight

Continuing on our Knot of the Week climbing mini-series, we introduce the Threaded Figure-Eight. Rather than just simply teach the standard Figure-Eight, we’d like to demonstrate the more advanced way of tying the knot to teach its versatility.

The Threaded Figure-Eight is an essential climbing knot which has many applications in all types of climbing, and can be easily tied. It has a unique shape that is easy to recognize when checking a buddy before a climb.

The reason to use a Threaded Figure-Eight, instead of a normal Figure-Eight, is to allow the knot to be tied directly onto anchors. With a traditional Figure-Eight tied on a bight, the climber would have to use a carabiner to attach the rope to an anchor.

When the Threaded Figure-Eight is used to attach the rope directly to a Lead Climber’s harness, it becomes very advantageous in the event of a fall. The knot will self-tighten under load, and actually absorb some of the shock placed on an anchor system, which is a good thing.


A note to mention here is that in a Lead Climbing situation the threaded figure eight should ALWAYS be used when being attached to a harness. Using a standard Figure-Eight and then connecting it to a harness (using a carabiner) can introduce a weak link.

The carabiner can become cross-loaded in a fall, where the it becomes twisted and the shock is caught by the gate of the carabiner (which carries a reduced strength). The kN (Kilo Newton) rating of a carabiner only holds true if the carabiner is loaded appropriately.

*** The photos below show the exact thing we’ve just told you NOT to do! We did this simply for the sake of the demonstration! ***

Threaded Figure-Eight » Loop

(Strength: 5/Security: 5/Stability: 4/Difficulty: 3)

Please refer to our Knot of the Week introduction post for a description of what these ratings mean.

Make sure to leave at least 12 inches of length in the tail of the knot in order to back it up. We’ve shown the backup below with two overhand knots to stick with what we’ve already taught here on the site, but most stopper knots will work just fine.


  • Tying a rope into an anchor
  • Attaching a rope to a Lead Climber’s Harness in belaying


  1. Make a loop at the end of the rope
  2. Wrap the working end around the standing part (front to back)
  3. Feed the working end through the loop
  4. Pull the working end and standing end away from each other to slightly tighten
  5. *This is the stopping point for a standard Figure-Eight Knot*
  6. At this point ensure you have the appropriate tail length
  7. Feed the working end through your attachment point
  8. Now you’re going to trace the knot, contouring it’s shape
  9. Ensure the lines are even and parallel when tracing!
  10. After threading the working end through, tie two overhand knots to back it up
  11. The backup will act as a stopper in the unlikely event the knot slips

View the gallery below and follow along with the steps above!

Check back next week as we continue our Knot of the Week mini-series with the Climbing Rope Coil

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I have alwased yoused this nor for joing two ropes is this a bad idea?

Austin Kopp
Austin Kopp

Using anything other than a dynamic rope while climbing is a dire mistake. 550 cord is a great substance, no doubt about it, and it takes a lot of weight, but it is simply not made to take the weight and force of a person falling any distance between their last anchor and their current position on the rock or icefall. Also, the overhand knot on the traced figure 8 is not really to stop the rope from slipping. If the knot slips, it was not tied tight enough, and you are pretty much screwed anyway, unless you are VERY lucky. The overhand is really to keep the slack out and away from the climbers feet so it doesnt fray.


Not that I recommend ever taking shortcuts, ever... but there is something that makes this much easier. The single 8, and then rethreading it takes quite a bit of time when you're in a hurry. We were taught, that to save time, you could take the rope and fold it over where you will need your loop. You can make the loop as big or as small as you want (this would even work in the rappelling guide to save anchoring time). Practice your 8 with a single rope, and once you are doing alright with that, practice folding your rope over, and folding your "double 8" with two ropes kept side by side. Basically, take a short rope, fold it in half. Let the loose ends hang to one side (your left or your right depending on dominance). Now pretend you are holding one piece of rope, and keep the two strands together (as if maybe holding a thick, akwardly shaped tape or web). Then tie your figure 8. Viola, you have your loop, now tie on your slipknot, and hit the wall.


Wow I had no idea an ocean current could do that kind of damage! Do you think in a dire emergency 550 cord would be sufficient to hold the body weight of one adult (say 200lbs at max)?

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Sure, it would be just as effective. I wouldn't use 550 cord in a life saving application though. I've seen plenty of 550 break with the right force applied to it. Ocean current in particular can snap 550 and even tubular webbing!


Would the threaded figure-eight be just as effective using 550 cord? Would the knot lose any strength, security, or stability? I've practiced the knot with 550 cord and it seems to be very strong.



the figure 8 is one of the strongest knots you could tie. the line will fail before the knot will.

We use them in the FD. quick and easy.

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