Knot of the Week: Tarantula Hitch - ITS Tactical

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Knot of the Week: Tarantula Hitch

By The ITS Crew

Tarantula Hitch

The Knot of the Week continues this week with a knot submitted by one of our users, Mr. Max, via our comments on the Highwayman’s Hitch post.

His brilliant knot, the Tarantula Hitch solves the tendency of the Highwayman’s hitch to pull through whenever weight is applied to the load bearing line of the knot.

Another wonderful benefit of this knot is that the release line cannot be pulled when the load bearing line is under heavy tension.

We’ve tested the Tarantula Hitch and it does in fact hold the weight of a 180 lb. person, but without putting it though further testing it’s hard to tell if it could be used as a lifesaving knot.

Tarantula Hitch » Hitches

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

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

Ensure the Tarantula Hitch is tight, or it won’t hold whatever you’ve tied up. Also pay particular attention to the start of this knot, as the working end of this knot becomes the release end.


  • Tying up a Zodiac to dock cleats
  • A situation where you need to release a knot with one hand
  • Towing another boat or canoe that would need to be quickly released
  • Tying up your horse to rob a stagecoach

Tying Instructions:

  1. Begin with a loop and at least two feet remaining on the working end of the line
  2. *The first photo is just a reference to show which section will become the working part
  3. Make a turn around the desired object you’ll be tying up to
  4. Continue the working end around the front of the loop you’ve made
  5. Ensure at this point that as you’re pulling the working end around the object, the the line crosses behind the standing part
  6. Form a bight in the working end and thread behind the standing part
  7. Finally, pull the bight through the top loop and tighten up the Tarantula Hitch
  8. Tug on the release end to make your quick getaway

Click here to view step by step photos on Flickr.

Check back next week as we continue our Knot of the Week series with the Sheepshank

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  • MrMax

    Well done.

    i have just a few tying conditions to add:
    I’ve tried all sorts of poles/pipes and supports to anchor this knot, and i would recommend that the place you tie this knot is at least 3 to 4 times thicker than the diameter of the rope you use. It tends to collapse and shrink a little on anything smaller. Larger is no big deal, although I’ve never tied this on a 12″ pipe.

    I have tried this on a square shaped anchor point, and it works. However, I wouldn’t recommend anything but “round and horizontal” for self rescue/belay without further testing.

    I will test the following and get back to you.
    1. Diameters of rope and anchor points
    2. Horizontal vs. inclined
    3. Pounds of weight
    4. Differently shaped anchor points

    If anyone else wants to add tests and input, it’d be great to know.


  • Aunt Jan

    I am very impressed with this knot and plan to try it for myself for a quick release, reliabiltiy and stability.

  • BootlegGucci

    Great job on developing this knot Mr Max. I couldn’t agree more about the tendency of the Highwayman’s Hitch to slip. This Tarantula Hitch is definitely much more secure.

    I tested this knot using 550 cord on a smooth 1.5″ bar that is a part of my bed frame. More often than not, the Highwayman’s Hitch would slip almost to the point of coming undone, no matter how tight I made it. The Tarantula Hitch is rock solid and rarely slips.

    Great work and thanks to you and ITS for sharing.

  • Scott Troiano

    Any way to get a video of this?

    Just wondering. Hard to follow some of the photos….

    Thanks, even if the answer is no….


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