Knot of the Week HD: Can a One-Handed Bowline Save Your Life? - ITS Tactical
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September 29, 2015Loops

Knot of the Week HD: Can a One-Handed Bowline Save Your Life?

Knot of the Week HD: Can a One-Handed Bowline Save Your Life?


Today’s Knot of the Week in HD features one of my favorite knots that I wind up practicing on a fairly regular basis; the One-Handed Bowline. Not only is it fun to tie, unless you really had to in a lifesaving situation, but it can get competitive amongst other knotty friends to race and see who can tie one the fastest.

As the One-Handed Bowline has a lifesaving application, it’s important that you know the limitations of the knot that I address in the video below. This isn’t a loop that should be placed around your chest/armpits to pull you to safety up the side of a cliff, you could potentially asphyxiate before reaching the top.

One-Handed Bowline » Loops

(Strength: 2/Security: 2/Stability: 4/Difficulty: 4) See below for what these ratings mean.

The One-Handed Bowline is great for tying around your body in an emergency situation, like hanging on for dear life on a tree limb to prevent getting carried away downstream by raging rapids. Without letting go of the branch, you could maneuver a line thrown to you around your body and tie the One-Handed Bowline with, well, one hand.

Be careful with the application of this knot in emergency situations, just like with climbing knots, an improperly tied knot could produce a dire situation and safety must be observed at all times.

Not that you’d necessarily have time to tie a backup in a One-Handed Bowline, but I’ll mention that the strength and security ratings above for the standard Bowline are both increased if backing the knot up is feasible.



Each knot will be assigned a rating from 1-5 (1 representing the lowest score) based on the following four properties:

Strength – All knots will weaken the strength of  a rope, however, there are knots that are stronger than others. The scale here will reflect how strong the rope remains with the specified knot.

Security – The security scale refers to how well the knot will stay tied, and resist coming loose under a normal load.

Stability – Stability refers to how easily the knot will come untied under an abnormal load (i.e. the knot being pulled in a direction it was not intended to) A lower score here represents instability.

Difficulty – The lower the number, the easier a knot is to tie.


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