Bowline Knot – How to Tie A Bowline Knot


One of the popular and versatile knots, the bowline knot is both easy to tie and work with. The bowline hitch can be tied using a single hand – this makes it extremely effective when one of your hands is holding something or injured. In addition to being easy to tie, the knot is also easy to untie – even after handling weight using the knot, you will just need a couple of seconds to untie it. 

In the following sections, we will show you how to tie the bowline hitch. We will also show you its pros and cons, where you can use it, and some of the precautions you should be familiar with when using the knot. 

A Step by Step Guide on How to Tie the Bowline Knot

  1. Lay the climbing rope across the left hand with its free end hanging down. In the line on your hand, form a small loop.
  2. Pass the free end through the small loop created in step 1 above. 
  3. Pass the end behind the standing part and then through the loop again. 
  4. Hold the tag end and loop and pull them to tighten your knot. Now, you should have the bowline hitch on your beginner climbing rope

An Easier Way to Remember How to Tie the Bowline Hitch 

The tying procedure described above can be remembered by the bunny mnemonic where the loop you made in step 1 is imagined to be a rabbit hole, the standing part of the rope is imagined to be a tree trunk while the free (tag) end is imagined to be a rabbit. 

When tying, the rabbit comes up the hole, goes around the tree, and then back down the hole. Once this is done, the last thing you will need to do is pull the rope to make sure it is tight. 

When to Use the Knot 

The bowline knot has many uses. The main ones include: 

  • If you realize that you need a longer rope length after donning your climbing shoes and climbing pants, you can use the knot to join 2 ropes. Simply interlock the loops of 2 bowlines to join your 2 ropes. 
  • When mooring a boat, you can use the knot to fasten the mooring line to a post or ring. 
  • It can be used to tie into a climbing harness
  • It’s tied around the waist during rescue operations. 
  • It is ideal for hanging hammocks using guy lines. 
  • You can use it to connect a handle line to a kite. 
  • It is great for tying the jib sheet to the clew of a jib. 

Precautions to Keep in Mind When Using the Knot 

Although the bowline knot has numerous uses, there are some precautions that you need to keep in mind to avoid accidents and complications. Below, we have outlined the precautions: 

  • You shouldn’t load the knot sideways. Loading it sideways can lead to slippage while rappelling
  • It is impossible to tie or untie the knot when you have a load on the standing end. Hence, you should avoid using it when, for example, the mooring line, may need to be released under load. 
  • When the bowline is unloaded, it can easily untie itself. To avoid this, the knot has to be loaded at all times. 
  • When using the knot for climbing, you should consider adding a safety knot to the bowline. This will increase your safety considering that the bowline can shake loose. The safety knot – often a Double Overhand – can be tied around the standing end (right) or the adjoining loop (left). 

Pros and Cons of the Bowline Knot 

The Pros

  • Under load, the knot does not bind or slip. 
  • Easy and fast to tie and untie. 
  • The knot does not jam. 

The Cons 

  • If there is a load in the standing end, it is impossible to untie or tie the knot. You should, therefore, avoid the knot in scenarios where you have to tie or untie the knot while it is loaded. 
  • Its ease of untying makes it less ideal for rock or mountain climbing. If the knot has to be used for climbing, you should tie it with a stopper knot (double overhand) for safety.  

Globo Surf Overview 

The bowline knot, as it is known today, was first mentioned back in 1961 in John Smith’s A Sea Grammar. Its discovery on the rigging of a ship belonging to the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu during the 1954 excavation shows how ancient the knot is. 

Usually tied at the end of the rope, the bowline hitch retains 60% of the line strength and has an average knot efficiency of 77%. This indicates that it is an impressively strong knot. By following the steps outlined above, tying the knot should be extremely easy for you. 

More Climb Reviews:

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!